I arrive, finally, and take a cab to the hotel. It’s a very simple, minimalist space inside an apartment building in a residential area. The manager is helpful and kind. The room is entirely no-frills, but very clean and with a few attempts at hotel-like touches — an artificial flower on the dresser and a small plate holding a lollipop on the night table. There’s also a rainfall showerhead – lovely after who knows how many hours of traveling.
Settling in leads to the discovery of the next small snafu – my adapter doesn’t work. Freakin’ Best Buy sold me the wrong kind. But the nice man has one he says I can use. (When I leave, I will accidentally on purpose forget to return it, and I swear, this will be the only act of larceny I commit during my travels. I think).
I venture out, toward Piazzas San Marco and del Duomo. On the way, I pass some men selling replications of famous art to university students.
San Marco is underwhelming, but the Duomo is pretty impressive — a sprawling space surrounding buildings painted in green and white. It starts to rain – I was warned about this – but it’s not too bad.
I purchase the first of countless gelati I will eat during my stay and find my way to the Piazza della Signoria, where the entrance to the Uffizi Gallery is. Today I am just trying to get my bearings. Those who know me know I have an atrocious sense of direction. The phrase “your other left” was all but invented for me.
Moving back toward the Duomo, I decide to follow dessert with dinner and find a tiny hole in the wall pizza shop that is populated not only by Italians, but old Italians. That’s key to getting a taste of traditional foods: find where the native elderly are eating. The pizzeria charges per… I don’t recall what unit of measurement, so I ask for two euros worth of pizza pomodoro and it’s delicious. I eat it while walking around the piazza.
It’s dark now, and the piazza is still crowded. A Native American (Native Italian? Whatever the political correct term is) duo performs and a crowd gathers. Two men are swathed in traditional garb, feathers included. One plays music, the other dances.
I watch for a bit and head back to the hotel.
And bienvenutto jet lag.
It is 9:13 p.m. Florence time, which means it’s 4:13 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. To me, it feels like it’s about one in the morning. And please, don’t ask me which morning.