Finished Rome today…the final walking tour with our Italian friends, accomplished pianist Marco Clavora Braulin and the brilliant Francesco Morettini.  Though thoroughly non-religious, we spent the day shuffling through 2,000 year-old churches and dipping into enough gelato shops to walk the border of insulin shock.

Sacreligelato (def) the act of consuming Italian ice cream in church

Then, in an homage to Pinocchio, we told the story of Signore Craig, the man who traveled across the world to achieve his lifelong dream of one day seeing the inside of the Rome Opera House, where even Pavarotti felt a little quiver in his plump knees.  This was right after we’d been told the place was absolutely closed! Here’s the result:

Ninety-minute train ride to Tuscany.

When they invented the word quaint, they were looking at Florence, birthplace of Michelangelo and home to Brunelleschi’s Duomo.

Exit train to garlic scents.  Even at 7:00 am, a lonely accordion echoing through cobblestone streets can transport a man to another era.  The Medici bankers lived here six-hundred years ago and the yellow faded plaster buildings and crenellated porticos are the type of antiquated touch you’d pay some serious Ben Franklins for on the other side of the pond.

Outside Il Duomo, long tourist lines lift limp chins and ogle at the massive white Church.  Once you’ve seen the Vatican though, few things can impress.  It’s sort of like winning the lottery and then finding a hundred grand on the ground.  Still, it is gorgeous, original, and if you feel the urge to drop to your knees for something other than a good time, not a bad place to have a go.

Passed through Florentine streets and took photos of Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi Museum where Botticelli sets his paintbrush’s sights at Renaissance porn.  Hit the Ponte Vecchio – old and famous bridge where lovers lock locks in adherence to the legend that locking a lock here will keep them together – and made our way to Palazzo Pitti where four American athletes could be found placing fresh mozzarella, prosciutto and tomatoes on just-baked bread before falling asleep on the ground in the middle of Florence.  In American this would be the equivalent of passing out in front of the Library of Congress, only here, no one kicks you and steals your wallet.

Fate is fickle friend, but tonight she proved generous.  Vogue magazine hosts its annual fashion show throughout the city, which means thousands of gorgeous and well-dressed people wander the feudal streets in search of fun.  DJ’s send modern verse down dark passageways as runway models snap high heels against stone and sport fabrics sheer enough to make Jenna Jameson blush.

Had a few Paparrazi moments when my travel mates decided to “leak” to the crowd that I was a famous designer, but rumor has it those photos are now headed to a vault somewhere North of the Swiss border.

Final thoughts on Italy tomorrow….

By ccxander

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