When once in a while on my travels I see someone (usually a woman) writing in a journal. I am intrigued. I want to strike up a conversation with her. I want ask her what she writing, I want to read what she written. Of course, these are against all my rules of privacy, ethics, moral values, confidentiality, solitude, secrecy (my computer thesaurus just gave me those). Never, never, never read anyone else’s journal/diary!
The other day at one of my go-to-writing cafes, a women sat down at a nearby table, took her journal our of her purse, wrote for a bit, put the journal back, and sat pensively; she repeated the procedure two more times. She purchased no coffee.
This journal writer wore a print frock with a matching bow in her graying hair. She appeared to be in her sixties, but trying to look younger. When she left I was tempted to follow her, but alas, I didn’t because of all those rules that extend past reading someone’s journal to include prying into her life.
Sometimes I just hate my rules because I want to discover secrets that are not mine to know.
(I’ve thought long and hard about breaking my rules by posting her photo, but have concluded she will remain anonymous. You may agree, you may not. It’s a decision up for grabs.)
I ate supper in my apartment last night and after a lazy debate with myself I decided at 8:20 to take an evening stroll along the Arno. In going through the Uffizi courtyard, I noticed that the museum remains open until 10 on Tuesday evenings. Carpe diem.
Without hesitation I flashed my Amici degli Uffizi card, breezed through security, and began the climb up the three flights of stairs tp the main gallery. I was so excited that I failed to take any pictures until I arrived at the Botticelli rooms. There I was, alone with La Primavera and Venus. It was a magical moment.
The corridors were empty, the city shone through the upstairs window. I enjoyed Michelangelo’s holy family with a man in a wheelchair. Then I took the elevator to the ground floor and out I went to walk along the Arno.
In the book The Secret of San Miniato (Renzo Manetti) a father tell his son: As long as anger and arrogance fail to gain a foothold in your heart, you will be able to find the beginning of the path. He’s referring to the path to God, to peace, to wholeness, whatever you name it.
As I wander about Florence by myself, it feels relatively easy to release anger and arrogance from gaining much of a foothold on me. Acceptance can usually replace anger—acceptance and adjustment. For example, I accept that bicyclists weave in and out among the pedestrians and thus I have adapted to the universal, unwritten rule—keep walking and the bicyclist will peddle around you. Arrogance has always been more of a challenge than anger; in Italy I am continually humbled by my lack of language learning.
One of the benefits of solo travel, or of taking appreciable amounts of time alone, is that I have the opportunity to step away from the anger and arrogance I feel in my every day life with others. Instead, I have time to practice love and humility, to wipe the state clean.
Random observations from a rather frequent solitary traveler to Florence for the past ten years. Some things change, others stay the same.
In the change department—since I was here in April:
• Cover/service charge now added to restaurant bill
• African males are not on the streets selling
• Street artists display an official permit
• Gypsies and their family business have disappeared
• In leaving the Pitti Palace you must show your ticket
In the stay the things stay the same department
• Stone buildings are still standing.
• Cappuccino still costs 120 euro
• Shops on the Ponte Vecchio only sell jewelry
• It still takes 463 steps to reach the lantern of the Duomo
• I am still taking pictures of everything I see
I think of my first twenty-four hours in Florence in two parts: arrival day after successful travel minus sleep; this morning, after successful sleep in my comfortable apartment located between the Duomo and the Piazza della Signoria. I’m ready to go.
This morning’s walk was strange because usually I start out about 7 when the city is getting ready for the tourists.. Today I stopped by the Uffizi to renew my Amici degli Uffize card for 2018, before joining the crowd along the Arno and crossing the Ponte Vecchio. I am now enjoying my second cappuccino at Gelateria Ricce at Piazza Spirito, my go-to early morning writing café. I’ve got to keep going so I’ll post this and then walk up Via Romana to the out of the way entrance to Boboli Gardens. Buona giornata.
Don't know why this pictures are lying on their sides. Maybe they are tired.
I’m off to Florence in two days, for two weeks. Other than a day trip to Siena, I intend to stay in the city and it’s environs (Fiesole) the entire time. I have two general plans: walk around with God and live in the city.
When I tell people about walking around with God, I never offer a further explanation nor doesn’t anyone ask me for one. They know what I means; they know that I know what I mean.
As far as living in Florence, let me simply explain. I rent an apartment a few blocks from the Piazza della Signoria and the Duomo. I write in the cafes in the morning, shop at the local markets for cheese, lettuce, and prosciutto for my lunches, visit museums and churches in the afternoon, and go out to dinner before an evening walk. I seek out no conversations; I live these two weeks in solitude.
Here it is, a slide show of simplification; of how simple it is to get rid of a thirty year old couch in preparation for a new one.
The ease was all about Handyman Russ who figured out how to get the HEAVY couch out the sliding door and down the driveway to where it is now waiting for someone to see the “For Free” sign and come by with a pickup truck and haul it away.
The rules are simple: have a strong and clever helper friend, and give it away. Now, all we need is faith there is a lucky person out there who will want it, need it, and love it.
The other day on A Solitary Travel section on this blog I posted about my upcoming trip to Florence. Where to post? Any solitary traveler plans inherently overlap with the purpose of this blog—for those who long for silence, solitude, and simplicity, and who sometimes like to be alone. For a while I kept Solitary Traveler for articles, but I’ve changed my mind on that, at least for a while. They overlap.
In anticipating my two weeks in Florence (9/4-19) I find myself settling into a more intense longing for solitude that I usually feel during my regular home routine. Ah, the chattels of leisure—books, puzzles the Red Sox. And then there is walking. But best of there is the sitting in the silence in the waning days of summer.
Last night I completed a 1000 piece puzzle--minus about 30 pieces. I knew something was amiss as I was finishing up the border--minus about 20 pieces. But I kept going, because I don’t really care whether a puzzle is complete or not. After all, my life has missing pieces, and I like to think that I have accepted some of my imperfections. Well, actually, I have no choice, do I?
I have puzzle friends who won’t start a puzzle if there’s a note on the box warning, “3 Pieces Missing.’ Like me, they probably know they have missing piece in their life, but perhaps they like to work on something perfect. That’s a good choice, too.
This puzzle turned out to be one of the most challenging I have taken on, not because of the missing pieces but because much of the picture was on the diagonal. But, aren’t pieces of life askew? I’m glad I stuck with it, imperfect and off kilter as it was.
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4/30/15 Finishing up VG.