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david and carol

Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 1
Europe 1999
London, Paris, Venice, Florence


David and Carol




Day 8


Woke early, ate quickly at the hotel, and hurried back to Piazza San Lorenzo to see what we could spend our money on today. I went back to see Olsi at Roberto's and negotiated a good price on the leather backpack he had shown us the previous day. Bought souvenirs and spent a good bit of the morning there. We saw our new buddy Oscar again and visited with him for a while, then went back to the hotel to deposit our loot.
Today we had planned on visiting Fiesole, a beautiful ancient Etruscan and Roman village just a short bus ride north of Firenze. We walked towards the train station to hunt for the correct bus. As we stood there confusedly attempting to decipher the Italian bus schedules, a kindly couple from Great Britain took pity on us and came over to offer advice. These lovely people were Bob and Nora Banks, a young couple in their seventies from Newcastle by way of Glasgow.

Bob and Nora from Newcastle, England
With Bob's help, we were on the right bus in no time. He cautioned us to punch the tickets a certain way in the special machine that each bus apparently has. Bob seemed to be an old hat at all this, so we asked if they minded if we tagged along. Bob was a character - a vibrant fellow, full of energy, strong Scottish accent with a lot of British slang - wonderful music to my ears. As an added bonus, Bob was an avid history buff, and spent the day educating us about the history of Italy, the British Isles and the planet in general.
Bob was originally from Glasgow, but met his bride, Nora, while in the Royal Navy, and they settled in Newcastle, in the north of England, not far from the Scottish border. We were enthralled with Bob's history lessons, and after the bus deposited us in hilly Fiesole, we found a small café where the four of us sat and had cold Italian beer and hot sandwiches while Bob kept us on the edge of our seats.
Fiesole was an ancient Etruscan village, and we found an old Roman tomb, then wound around to the Roman amphitheater and baths, dating back to the first century B.C. It was dreamlike, being in the shade of some Italian olive trees in this postcard-beautiful Tuscan setting, amongst stones carved by masons almost two thousand years ago.

Carol, Bob and Nora at the Etruscan / Roman ruins
It was very warm, and after spending some time exploring the ruins, Carol and Nora and I found a restaurant near the museum where we had water and rested while Bob explored the museum. After a while we became concerned about our friend Bob, so I went into the museum to search for him (Nora said she loses him all the time.) The museum was full of ancient Etruscan and Roman art, artifacts, tools, urns and a few skeletons. I saw a skeleton of a Longbord (long beard,) and the panel describing their lives many, many centuries ago was very interesting. No sign of Bob, though. We decided to head out of the grounds of the Roman village to search for Bob, and that was exactly where we found him. He had explored every inch of the museum.
We spent about four hours in Fiesole, exploring the ruins, listening to Bob enlighten us on the history of it all, then it was time to board the bus for the trip back down the "mountain" and into Firenze. It was about a half-hour ride, and we said sad goodbyes to our British pals and walked back to the hotel.
We showered, dressed and went out in search of yet another fabulous Florentine trattoria. We found a wonderful place called Trattoria Angiolino (Via Santo Spirito, 36R) across the Arno, not far from the Ponte Vecchio, where we enjoyed the house wine and Carol ordered tagliatelli con pesto and I had spaghetti with tuna and olives to die for. Around us at other tables were a young Dutch couple and a Japanese couple and their twentyish daughter. We all laughed heartily when we discovered that we all had the exact same camera - in fact I saw our Canon Elf frequently throughout the trip - must be the camera du jour.
After a scrumptious dinner, we wandered back across the Arno and once more into our favorite café in the Piazza della Signoria, where we had wine, olives, cashews and crackers and a delicious Cuban Cohiba. We happily listened as an orchestra serenaded us from the stone steps of the Palazzo Vecchio, under a full moon. Walked through the square, found a gelato vendor (my favorite was the coconut, but the chocolate was also exceptional) and then strolled arm-in-arm back to the Hotel Romagna where we fell into bed and slept with smiles on our faces.

Previous Day

Next Day

Day 1 London/Paris | Day 2 Paris | Day 3 Paris

Days 4 and 5 Paris/Venice | Day 6 Venice/Florence

Day 7 Florence | Day 8 Florence | Day 9 Florence

Day 10 London | Day 11 London | Day 12 London

Day 13 Home | Reflections

 copyright 1998 / david and carol lehrman / all rights reserved

 email david@davidandcarol.com