Like every similar event, first thing was a parade of all participants, Florentine ladies, soldiers and many other characters to the Piazza della Signoria, followed by a renaissance dance by said ladies. Now I was squeezed in between French, Florentine and American people. And unfortunately I have to say the American were the rudest. About an hour into the show, just when the last group presented their “piccolo squadra” choreography, one woman really asked if she could stand between me and an Italian woman. Before I could say something, the Italian said what I was thinking “We have been here for several hours. Of course you can not”. I have to say that after that there was also a French couple that did not behave properly. But her reaction was what made me even more angry. First she asked me to stop photographing because she wanted to make a video for Instagram with her selfiestick. Then her question and her reaction. She stomped off bragging to her friend how rude we were. But in words that were not really nice. But fortunately, she tried it somewhere else and left us alone.
The presentation of the small group was followed by the big group. Honestly, I couldn’t decide which group was the best. One group did amazing acrobatic elements, another had an overall awesome show making it a bit more military and not having just a choreography for the flag throwers, but also for the drums and trumpets. The official Bandierai of Florence did not participate. Just with their smallest (up to 14 years if I remember right) and the seniors (over 40/50 years) out of competition. I have to say they were really cute with their small flags and costumes. I am sure they will one day be as good as their fathers and the other “big” ones!
The beginning of this month was also the end of my university course. Just when I started to really feel comfortable. Well at least I improved my knowledge and language, got some nice words from my professor and the others about the time I committed to catch up with typologies we never used in Germany and was encouraged to do the oral exam. I don’t want to do it, but hey, at least I can use it as replacement for my exam in Germany!
To fight against me missing university, I not only went to the aperitivo of my language school, but decided to take my camera and do a small night tour through the city. Although it was already well after 10 pm, the river was still a bit crowded. I started from Piazza Santa Trinita, took nice pictures of the Ponte Vecchio and its reflection, before following the river up to the Galleria degli Uffizi.
I continued with the Palazzo Vecchio and was amazed by how dark the sky seemed to be, the building standing against a black background and dark grey clouds. It almost seemed like it was 1480 and not 2018 –except for the guys selling stupid toys. Seriously, I never see someone buying these things and if you dare to stop in front of one of the main sights they approach you no matter if you have a child with you or not. It always takes several attempts to get rid of them and even if they leave you be it seems like they are staring at you planning how to get your wallet. And they start their blinking-lights-propeller-things the exact second before you take a picture so that you have a picture with a blue or pink light in the middle of it.
From there I took the main “shopping mile” to the Duomo after avoiding it for weeks. Honestly, I have to admit that I forgot how amazing it is to wander through the streets and finally see the Duomo rise in front of you. One step after the other, revealing more and more of its beauty as you approach the Piazza Duomo. And it is even more beautiful at night, when the white marble appears to glow in front the dark sky.
The last stops were San Lorenzo and the Ospedale degli innocenti, which were almost abandoned when I reached them. The second thing I did next day was to walk beyond Piazza della Libertá and visit the Stibbert Museum. Two villas in a park where Frederick Stibbert had collected all kinds of armoury, weapons, paintings and art from all over the world to make typologies of them. The museum actually houses one of the biggest collections of Asian Armoury. The rooms themselves were also impressive and a perfect scenery for the objects. Really impressive was the room of the cavalcade– a church-like room with models of rider’s armoury of Italian, German and eastern origin. The only sad part about the museum is that you cannot see all rooms. The visit is only possible by an hourly tour in Italian. You get a brief introduction to the rooms visited and then have some minutes to look at everything yourself. There was just a bit more information about one display with Etruscan and roman metal objects and to Egyptian mummies. For me, this was a pity because it was not enough information. Maybe I got the wrong co-visitors –two families with children that touched everything even after the woman doing the tour asked not to touch anything for the tenth time. I would recommend the museum but there could be done more!
After the first week of may, the rain came again. There was a huge storm with floods of rain during practice; flooding smaller cities in the Chianti and forcing me to leave my gear in the rink and walking to the locker without my skates. Of course we did not have the lockers directly at our rink but on the other side of the complex that day.
Fortunately, the weather got better for some days. I was visited by the parents of a boy I used to teach extra lessons after school and we climbed the 414 steps of the Bell Tower (Campanile di Giotto), before we visited the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo and the Baptistery. After a small city tour to the Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Pitti and Ponte Vecchio, we ended the day with dinner at the Fiesolano at Fiesole. The GPS took us on a crazy route through small and curvy streets, but that way we had an awesome panoramic view over the city. Well fed, I returned after 11 pm, editing my pictures and just resting in my bed after that. I would get the theme of my oral exam the next day.
Following the climb of the tower, I went to the Giardino delle Rose and the Giardino dell’Iris the next day with language school. We did not take the “easier” way crossing the Rose garden. We took the classic, steep stairs up to the lower entrance to the Rose Garden, enjoying nice views and beautiful smelling roses. From there we continued to the Piazzale Michelangelo, crossing it and entering the Iris garden. Because of the strange weather, there were again just some flowers in bloom. I enjoyed it anyway, but one of the other students not so much. She was nice and friendly, but she was complaining a bit too much. Sure, it was a really hot day and the sun had no mercy, but the trip was not mandatory. The teacher joined us on the way back to Ponte delle Grazie, and from there I continued with the other student to a bus stop. We figured out she lived close to me, just two stops with the bus, and the next day, we even met when I was on my way home from the supermarket!
Except watching the IIHF worlds via Youtube, I spent most of the time reading articles about Neolithic tool exchange. I just managed to do a trip to San Gimignano on a Saturday and hoped the weather would be better as it rained almost everyday. Turned out I was really lucky. I had the perfect weather for my trip. Around 23 degrees, a mild sunshine, almost no clouds, really low humidity and a little bit of wind. First thing I did was of course buying Prosciutto and oil at Bazar dei Sapori, where I got recognized and had private service although the shop was packed with tourists. After that I got to enjoy the view from the Torre Grossa almost on my own. It was magical and I spent half an hour up there. I could see the rolling green hills, fields and olive groves for kilometres –up to the point where it seemed like the hills touch the blue sky. From there I wandered through the city. I discovered a free museum (San Gimignano 1300) just behind the Torre Grossa. It is basically one room with a big terra cotta model of the town in der 13 hundreds. Nice to see, a lot of effort in there, but there is a lack of information. I think I saw some information cards in English and Italian at the souvenir table, but they were about Etruscans. In my opinion there should be clear information about medieval San Gimignano and just a mentioning about previous civilisation there.
I wandered the city in search for San Lorenzo in Ponte, a small church that was new among the included sights of the civic museum ticket. It was still closed when I reached it so I walked around the quarter and then entered. It is beautifully painted and there are plates with information about each fresco.
The last stop that day was of course the Gelateria Dondoli, where I had to wait between two Japanese tourist groups that wanted me to give up my place in line for them to take pictures. In the end, I got my gelato (lime, passion fruit and strawberry), walked to a shady passage nearby and sat down to eat it before heading back to the bus. Unfortunatly I had to wait almost 2 hours for on Saturdays busses just drive every 2 hours. One of the main tourist attractions in that part of Tuscany and on one of the main lines. In the middle of high season. Do I have to say more?
For the remaining month, there was not much to do. It was either raining or incredibly hot and humid outside. My third wheel broke during practice; and of course I have none left to change it, so I continued with 7 instead of 8. My next trip was a short one which went not far. I took the bus to the church of San Miniato al Monte, which celebrates a millennial this year. The church fits in the classic florentine/Tuscan style of simple design and a richly decorated apsis. Sadly, I was the only one paying the “entrance fee” of one euro for the sacristy which had to be put in a wooden offering box. From there I walked back home, enjoying the city during late afternoon and the nice and less crowded view you have from the stairs leading to the church.
I had to do a 9 hour security course in which I basically learned how to store paper and how to behave in a biology laboratory. That was followed by packing things for the next month and studying.