Into the Renaissance

Florence, Italy
November 2005

Neptune's Fountain

Neptune’s Fountain

Five hours by train from Naples to Florence, south to north. The weather in Florence is frigid, hard drizzle, like a head cold, like Munich last year. Street markets at Santo Lorenzo around the corner from my hotel. Rick’s hotel.

Yes, the irony is the Hotel Accademia is booked full with Americans on a Rick Steves package tour. Mostly middle-aged ladies. Over breakfast two women from Houston tell me what they visited the day before — the Uffizi Gallery and the statue of David, no reservations needed in November. They are all very nice. I’m convinced you could get laid on a Rick Steves tour, not that you’d want to.

Florence isn’t my thing. I don’t get Renaissance art. Too many paintings of Jesus: Jesus on the cross, Jesus carrying the cross, Jesus taken down from the cross, the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus, Adoration of the Magi, Adoration of the shepherds, Adoration of the Magi and shepherds (with and without sheep), Jesus baptized, plus Saint Sebastian shot up with arrows for good measure.

I miss the statues of voluptuous nude women in the Borghese in Rome and the pornographic art at Pompeii. I miss the Roman women. Sunny Tuscany isn’t so sunny this time of year. But there’s a great food market, and the food more than salvages things. It is all as promised off the beaten path.

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