Not all is perfect or amazing or kind or wonderful. We are having a day or two of that. I don’t have the luxury of complaining to someone or really being cranky. Julia is somewhat responsive when I tell her that the day is frustrating me and I have a head ache which is pretty good for her. I am at the point in the trip of really missing adult contact. Unfortunately, the Florence contact that I had was not responsive when I tried to get in touch and I didn’t pursue him further. On the train to Venice, I see that was a mistake. There was no conversation in the breakfast room at the convent. We went early and late depending on the day but the most there would be would be a single person either leaving as we entered or coming as we left. Breakfast was not impressive-juice, bread, butter, jam and coffee or milk-which was fine to start our day but it was pretty basic and others may have gone out for breakfast. I am growing a bit lonely but still grateful for the ability to write here and the comments and likes that kind readers offer.
On another note, breakfast always included a jar of Nutella and Julia has managed to eat Nutella every day of this vacation. She has not tired of pasta and last night recognized the dish she wanted on the menu in Italian. Speghiti con pomodoro e basilica. Not a great translation feat but I was proud of her. She is also ready to have pizza for any meal and has found Italian chopped liver to be very good. Me too for that last one. The chopped liver we’ve eaten in Italy is generally more saltier and pasty than the Jewish variety that David made.
It has been hot. Almost 100 degrees for the last two days and the forecast is for more until Sunday. Heat in the country where we could look forward to the pool at the end of the day was okay, but city heat feels relentless. We are very lucky to have good air conditioning in the convent we are staying in but it can be hard to get us out of the room in the afternoon. I find it hard to be willing to get lost over and over following my imap when getting lost means being in the heat for a longer time. We carry water bottles and fill them whenever we get the chance. Julia asked for ice yesterday which is unusual for her. Ice is used very sparingly in Italy although the water is always at least cool if not cold in restaurants but always without ice.
I brought only one pair of very light palazzo pants with me and I’ve been wearing them for the last three days. Julia has more light options. Her sleeveless dresses have been wonderful. To go into churches women need to cover their shoulders. We’ve used light scarves opened as shawls. Most churches also have plastic capes for immodest women. I have no problem with dressing to show respect in any sacred space although the sexism of respect still bothers me. A men can wear short shorts and the skimpiest of sleeveless tee shirts and they are deemed appropriate, but a woman with a skirt covering her knees and a conservative top without sleeve sends priests and guards a flutter. This in a country where the art of the naked human body is everywhere.
Florence is crowded. It is like Christmas at Disney world. Far too many tour groups walking through the streets with their guides in front carrying flag. Of course, I remember that that was us in China. The 2015 groups wear ear buds and have the soothing sound of their guides feeding them information. I’ve noticed a lot less necessity for groups to huddle together, all the better in the heat.
For the first time in Italy, we are seeing Asian tourists in Florence. Some families traveling independently, some groups. I’ve also noticed that Julia and I are stared at less often. I have not been sure why people are looking but I have the feeling that it is the lack of visible Asians. An old Chinese lade came up to me yesterday, like old Chinese ladies always do all over the world, to ask in French if Julia was from China. She was from Shanghai and recognized the name of Julia’s province. We agreed it was hot in Florence and China. And that was the end of our possible conversation.
The experience that I had in mind when I began this writing happened during the fresco painting class that we took in Florence. I found the class through the a travel blog and registered through an agency. Before registering I asked if the class would be appropriate or could be modified for Julia. No problem at all was the reply. And indeed the content was fine, Julia got the idea quickly and was able to take some direction from the instructor. There was only four of us the class and the afternoon was very hot which slowed everyone down. I had a good time. Julia finished first and went to drawing in her sketch book. Towards the end of the class, I began to feel slightly uncomfortable but could not pinpoint the feeling. As the class was drawing to a close, I was aware that the other two participants were hanging back and were not going to leave with us. At that point, I just wanted to leave and once outside I was almost sure that those left behind needed to talk about us with the instructor. Although we have seen very few people with any kind of disabilities in Italy, tourists or natives, I have not felt singled out here, And this was that, I am sure. I had noticed the exchange of glances during class. It saddened me.
Three days in Florence was not sufficient. We did find a favorite gelato shop that we managed to stop in three times, but it wasn’t until the last night that I felt comfortable. We found a delightful little restaurant that I would have revisited given the chance and streets were just beginning to make sense when we left. Of course, Florence is where the taxi driver struck up a conversation with us and finished it off by telling me to move to Italy and perhaps I’d find a good Italian man here.
Our entry into Venice went very smoothly until we got off the vaperto and needed to walk to our B&B. I lost my internet data connection and imap stopped working. There were very bad directions to our lodgings on the B&B’s web sight and I was relying on the computer. We eventually found it thanks to a woman who stopped to help us but the proprietor was no kind words or anything like an apology. I didn’t need a great apology but some acknowledgement of my difficulty would have eased my mood. It took a walk to San Marco palazzo, a sit in an old, lovely but undistinguished, church, and a beer with supper to repair the spirits. And an early bedtime.