Friday, May 2


Forty-three hours after getting up to leave for the airport I was standing on Via Vacchereccia at the front door to my apartment building. There I stood at the entrance, flanked by the street numbers for the building. Lucky number “7” on the one side and “13” on the other. Below were the brass address plates for the businesses within. Only some of the building is now converted to residences. Among a dentist and a lawyer was the sign for the Pension office for Invalids and people with “unfortunate maladies.” I wondered if “7” or “13” would be my fate?
Eleanora arrived, as I stood mesmerized by the discovery that Google Earth had misled me. There are actually three gelato shops across from my apartment and a candy shop. Oh yes, Michelangelo’s David was also there, just 100 feet off to the right.
The building entrance is plain stone, simply cut and fashioned. The entryway if ancient off-white plaster with green marble flooring. After this anteroom is the stairway and elevator area. There is a single large imposing oil of some Renaissance geezer just above the about 18 ancient wooden mailboxes.
The elevator is the size of a stackable double coffin. The two 12 inch double-doors on two sides allow you to view the strata of building materials as you make the trip. Generally, you make it to the same level as the requested floor (give or take five or so inches). If I didn’t tend to anachronistic remarks I would say the elevator was a retrofit from the Middle Ages.
Most of the building’s doors are a quad-cut-pattern burl-like mahogany. My apartment was gleaned from a larger space. These two spaces share another locked double-door entrance. The owner’s med-student son Giermo, I think that is his name, is in the other apartment. Down the hall is my door (yet another of three locks and look-a-like keys to confuse and confound me). The apartment is much nicer than I had imagined from the pictures. An entry space with actual art. A long hall off of which is the bath, then down the hall to the bedroom and a right turn down a short hall to the kitchen and living area. Ten-foot ceilings make for a spacious feel. The old doorways are only 75 inches high as are the solid double-door covered, double-shuttered windows. Spacious and airy. White walls, “cotto”, and wood and tile floors with lots of Klimt and Maxfield Parish prints. There is a Kilm type rug in the main room.
I walked Eleanora back to her car at the train station in the Santa Maria Novella. Where my apartment is located and throughout the historic district is termed the “red” zone. This area is for pedestrians only. There seem to be a few exceptions; one being a handful of taxis. Also no scooters. There are a number of horse-drawn handsome-cabs. One of these is…piloted…by a woman who has an old fashion “ooga” sounding foot-petal contraption to scoot pedestrians out of the way.
After seeing Eleanora to her car I went shopping for dinner and something for breakfast. As the Novella area if very ethnic I stopped for Egyptian kabobs. Eleanora had mentioned it as the best in the city. A crumbling hole in the wall taste delight. The whole area is filled with the flavor of Marrakech. As I went further I stopped at an Indian grocery for minimal supplies. These ethnic areas aren’t frequented by many tourists so the prices are better.
As I ventured back to the Pza. Della Signoria I got my first gelato. It was not 8:30 pm and most of the army of picturesque gawkers-of-history had gone. Those left were the arm and arm old Italians, romantics and boisterous gesticulating Italian boys showing off for their adoring girls (to whom this must be comparable to a “chick flick night out”). They and I were left milling about listening to the amplified flutist. The air was balmy. The scents of springtime and musty damp stone. As I came down the street parallel to the Uffizi there was the flutist I heard in the distance. Behind him was the David and the Adam and Eve, and to the left the groined Loggia della Signoria with twelve wondrous sculptures. One by Pio Fedi that outshines the David many times. As people walked around the Loggia intense lights cast shadows throughout the statue forest under the vaulted groined ceiling. Chilling. Schmalchy yes; the musician was playing Oh Danny Boy as I walked into the center of the Pza. della Signoria. I was just turning around and around looking at the Renaissance views and gazing upwards at the silhouettes of the stonework against the darkening night sky. It was emotionally chilling. Then the song ended. It gets worse. Next was Unchained Melody. Sylvia McNair wasn’t there but her rendition is my favorite and it played along in my head with this unknown street musician and all but brought me to tears. Ok, ok! I was also really tired.
I went back home, ate and unpacked. All went smoothly until I plugged the power strip (with attached Italian plug converter) into the 220 electrical socket. The force of the resulting incompatibility and my reaction to the fireworks pushed my ass across the highly polished wood floor. Thank you Marianne and Susan for the little flat flashlight. I needed it to get Giermo to show me the main electrical box. Enough excitement, I hit the bed.
Except for one saxophone solo from the restaurant down below in the space between buildings it was very quiet. And the saxophone playing wasn’t bad.
Next morning I awoke to the muffled sounds of the area coming to life. The clomp of metal clad hooves, distant voices below bouncing against the buildings and the creaking sound of window to window clotheslines that I have painted but never heard. All these sounds were seeping through the ancient stones into my quiet little apartment to say…get your ass out of bed!