24 January 2008

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore and aliens

Mass was said in Italian, of course. There was this one father who we absolutely adored, he was so cute. He made us think of that old man in the Pixar short who plays chess against himself. He was really small but spry and when he spoke in English to the group of students sitting in front of us and to the right it was the most beautiful thing ever.

“I’ma go-ing tooo neeed seex (holds up fingers) ung prsuns for theee co-lection. Yoo cana dooo eet?”

He also kinda looked like the guy who played Bilbo in LOTR, but with less hair. That made it even more amazing. It was fun during mass to half listen to what was being said, and invest the rest of my mind in looking around. Brunelleschi’s dome is pretty sweet when viewed from directly beneath, lemme tell you. Wow. Also, all the bishops and fathers and whoever (sorry Mackenzie, apparently I still don’t know much Catholic stuff) were sitting off to the side were uber fascinating. One guy was sitting with his head so far forward, it looked like his neck operated horizontally. Another who was sitting more in the back spent the entire mass just looking at his hand and picking at it. I guess God was really intriguing that guy.

After mass we walked around the church a little and then went home, changed, and spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the market, getting yelled at to buy purses. Guys kept on coming up to Ariel and saying, “Hola,” we thought that was pretty funny. The next day, Monday, when we ended up at the market again trying to find the things that Maggie and Ariel had decided over night that actually they really did want, there were almost no people there, and we got called to a lot.

“Ladies! Ladies! You drop something! Drop your style and pick up this new jacket!”

“Hey, there are three of you, two of us; but tha’s ok, we make it work….i like long legs!”

And the most adorable: “I’m single!” Yes. You are. What a wonder… :D

And that’s why, if you’re not good at the whole “just keep walking” thing, you should not go to the market when there aren’t any other tourists there. It’s amazing how many tourists there are otherwise. Really, it’s a given, there are going to be cheesy Americans and classy Brits (and vice versa, yes) everywhere you go. But after struggling at a cafĂ© to order something with the Italian server and hearing only Italian on your way out of your hostel neighborhood, it’s strange to hear English around the corner next to the Gucci purses.

I can’t remember which night exactly this next story happened, but I’m pretty sure it was Tuesday or Wednesday, because I was exhausted. That is my only excuse. I’m going to tell the following story from Ariel’s perspective.

“We had gone to bed about half an hour before, which wasn’t that late. It was only like, 11:30. Michelle’s phone went off and since it was up by me I was looking at it, checking it, when I start hearing something funny. It sounded like someone was talking, and it was coming from Michelle’s bunk, right below me. So I lean over a little, with my head over the side of the bed, right? And I hear her say ‘No….mmmph…..the aliens.’ I was trying so hard not to laugh, but I asked, ‘Michelle, what are you doing? Are you…talking in your sleep?’ There was a pause and I heard Michelle say, ‘No!... Maybe…Shut up.’ She then proceeded to roll over and not talk to me at all. I was laughing so hard the bed was shaking and my only thought was, ‘I can’t wait to tell her about this in the morning.’”

So apparently, if you get me tired enough by walking me to death and then keeping me up as long as possible, I will talk about aliens in my sleep. I actually remember the last part, when I answered Ariel. I remember hearing her question, and immediately saying no because I don’t talk in my sleep. I don’t move or talk and fall out of bed or anything. But then I thought, if she had to ask…. Haha. I’m laughing at myself just writing about it.

On Monday in Firenze we went on a historic walking tour of the city. It was free, and led by Lucia, a woman working at the hostel. I think I would like her job. She does something else which I can’t remember, but on the side she gives tours to mostly student-age audiences. Or maybe it just sounds cool to me to be able to pick my favorite city and live there for the sole purpose of introducing other people to it. The tour lasted from 10 until a little before 1 and we went back to the hostel like old women and hung out.

Tuesday we walked to the Galleria dell’Accademia to see the David. David is…big. The rest of the Academy museum was moderately interesting; the paintings were of a rather intense Renaissance style. They were so uber Catholic. I know that might sound funny to some of you, but they were. Maggie and I were actually pretty interested in them; I spent a lot of my time in front of the paintings looking for idiosyncrasies. Some of the Resurrection shots were funny to me, with Jesus up in the sky with the filmy veil across his legs, and his hand up in the air doing some sort of salute. One painting seriously made it look like Jesus was thinking, “Booyah. I did it. Look at me. I’m hot.”

There was a separate room in the museum that was entirely plaster statues and busts and I really liked that. First, it made me feel like Elizabeth walking around Darcy’s house looking at his art collection. Second, I love statues, I’ve discovered. They’re just so cool. I mean, it’s a statue. It could almost be a real person, except it’s…not.

After the museum we walked in the rain to Santa Maria del Fiore again to climb Brunelleshci’s dome. It was 643 steps up to the top, took us about half an hour, and cost 6euros, but was completely worth it, no question about it. Going up, we kept on running into other climbers. Normally this would be ok, but the passages were so narrow, every time you met up with other people, you had to move either backward or forward a couple of feet so that their group or yours could go past. A couple of the sections going up are stone spiral staircases which go up for about three stories before stopping. That was fun.

The top of the dome is wonderful. You have a complete and unhindered view of the entire city, and though almost every building looks exactly the same, you can also see all of the cathedrals and piazzas and markets, and all the little people walking around with their umbrellas. From there you can also see the mountains. Those were easy to forget about since we were always surrounded by buildings and people. They were even more beautiful because of the rain. The water in the air made it look like someone had just laid out a clean sheet of haze over the thick greenness of the mountains, making them almost visible, more like they were there because you remembered them being there, not because they were.

After the Dome we staggered home. I say staggered because we were so exhausted from walking almost four hours every day and then climbing all those stairs that it was really difficult to make our way on the cobblestones. I mean, the streets aren’t all that bad. There are really only a few places where you really truly need to watch where you’re going. But for some reason, when you’re tired it’s that much harder to lift up your feet. Who knows what we did when we got back. Probably passed out or something. Or ate crackers.

Forgot to say that during almost this entire trip, our lunches have consisted of saltine-sque crackers, pinotti or nutella spread, wheat bread, and blood oranges. Oh, the oranges. I think I love them, and I’m going to marry them. It’s like eating sparkling orange juice. I’m really glad that Maggie and Ariel have been here with me because apparently I’m hopeless when it comes to peeling oranges without dropping them, which is sad. They’re good lunches, and for the lot it only cost about 11euros, and lasted us more than three days’ worth of lunches, since we also snacked on the crackers nonstop. They’re like the saltines we’re used to, but with a bakery sort of taste to them. Like the bastard children of saltines and fancy tea crackers. Lovely.

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