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david and carol

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


David and Carol




Day 9


This morning we are on a mission. We woke up refreshed after a good night's sleep, had a quick breakfast at the hotel of rolls, juice, coffee, cereal, and that wonderful Nutella-like chocolate spread. We had risen early today in hopes of beating the mad rush of tourists at the Galleria dell' Accademia to see the world's most favorite statue, Michelangelo's David.
The line was long when we arrived at 8:25 A.M. When we finally got inside to the ticket counter, we realized that we did not have the correct lire for admittance tickets. So, back out the door, a mad search around the block for a bank machine, quick walk (run) back to the Accademia and the back of a thankfully short line, then we were in.

The REAL David
Seeing the David once again after so many years made us both cry, as did the magnificent other sculptures such as the Quattro Prigioni ("four prisoners") by Michelangelo - wonderful "unfinished" works of figures seemingly struggling to escape from their "prisons" of marble. In a couple of places it is easy to see Michelangelo's chisel marks.

Michelangelo's David
The Accademia was the first school in Europe, perhaps the world, established for the purpose of teaching technical aspects of painting and sculpture to students by encouraging them to copy the works of the Masters. It was awesome and emotional to see the David again after thirty years. He still looks like he is ready to step down off his podium and walk amongst us. The David had originally stood for many, many years in the Piazza della Signoria, near where a copy now stands, but was moved for safety into the Accademia around 1840.
The Accademia had many rooms full of wonderful paintings and sculptures by various artists from the 11th century up to today. There were also a few very old musical instruments to view, as well as a room of many varied plaster figures. We spent about one and a half very emotional hours in this extraordinary building, and were very sad to leave.
We then walked the few blocks to the now very familiar Mercato San Lorenzo, where the vendors have actually come to know and recognize us. We visited again with Oscar, who was tired from dancing the Tango until 3 in the morning. We bought more leather trinkets, such as beautiful hand crafted leather cigar holders.
After strolling around the leather stalls and once more into the fragrant Mercato Centrale, where Carol bought some bottled delicacies from a friend of Oscar's, we went back to the hotel and packed for the last leg of our Magnificent Journey - the trip to London.
After packing and resting, we walked to the Mercato Nuovo, another, smaller leather market, where we wanted to find more trinkets and souvenirs. Came up empty but stumbled upon a quaint little aromatherapy shop where Carol bought delicate vials of scented oils for her sisters, and I bought a small box of Italian licorice root for brother Jim.

Rubbing the bronze pig's nose for good luck at the Mercato Nuovo
We continued past the Piazza della Signoria and the splendid Uffizi museum, down several winding streets to the remarkable ancient gothic Church of Santa Croce. This is one of the largest churches in the area, and within its walls are buried Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Enrico Fermi, Rossini and many, many other Italian luminaries and religious figures. The wooden ceiling, far above us, was built in 1363 and its colors look astonishingly crisp and beautiful today, in 1999. It continually astounds us how the architects and builders, so long, long ago, could create these splendid masterpieces of architecture. Again, another very emotional hour spent contemplating this vast beauty and the lives of the great people buried here.

The tomb of Michelangelo at the Church of Santa Croce
We found it hard to leave Santa Croce, but we decided to search for Cohibas for my friends, and the tabachi near trattoria Za Za where we had seen them earlier was closed for the mid-day "siesta." We walked back to the hotel but stopped at a sexy lingerie shop nearby called "Intermizzi," where Carol tried on and bought some very sexy white lace underwear. While we were paying the bill, one of the salesgirls looked up and said something to another salesgirl about me and they giggled. The other salesgirl said "My friend thinks you are very handsome," and pointed to my beard. Embarrassed, I stammered something and we thanked them and left for the short walk to the hotel.
After naps we walked the few blocks back to trattoria Za Za, a small distance northeast of our beloved Mercato San Lorenzo. [This is exactly where the leather market was situated in 1971 when Jim and I spent the summer backpacking through Europe.] It was very windy and Za Za seemed to be ignoring us, so we left, but fortunately the tabachi was open again and I was able to buy a few precious Cohibas.
We walked several blocks, past the hotel, to the restaurant that Eleni had originally told us about two days before, the one that was closing as we arrived, called Uvafragola, in Piazza Santa Maria Novella. Carol ordered insalada caprese (salad with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and olives,) and a delicious ravioli with cream, ham and peas. I had my favorite prosciutto and melon, and spaghetti con fruiti di mare. And, of course, the house wine. A young French couple sitting next to us thought I was "le directeur" in the "peignoir noir." Then the woman thought I was "le acteur." I was wearing a black silk shirt and probably looked Italian to these French kids…
Following dinner we walked one last time to our favorite square, the Piazza della Signoria, where we had espresso and delicious tiramisu. We then walked, arm-in-arm as usual, past the usual street vendors, the divine Duomo, the shops, the gelati vendors, the cafés, through this spectacular, ancient Italian city full of Renaissance wonders, and back to the Hotel Romagna, early to bed to be able to catch the morning train to Pisa and our flight to London. It was quite sad to reflect that this was to be our last night in wondrous Firenze and glorious Italy…

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