Travel: Italy (Day Two)

The day began with the sun glorifying the gold cross on top of the Duomo.

It was a wonderfully cool morning, so we walked up the street to Artigianale’s for a croissant and cappuccino. From there we made our way through the early morning bustle of the office workers and arrived at the Uffizi Gallery Florence precisely on schedule.

The Uffizi is like walking through the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It just never stops. You will either suffer from Stendhal Syndrome (being overwhelmed by such wondrous works of art) or Florence Disease (simply by being overwhelmed by the sheer abundance of art.) And there is much to see.

And don’t forget to look up, because the ceilings are just as beautiful…

As we finished we stopped for some fizzy water then made our way to the Santa Croce Basilica. So much beauty…

We sat with this view and spent some time in prayer before walking the inside perimeter and seeing the side chapels. I had no idea. This is the place where some of the greatest minds in history have been buried. When I say greatest, I mean…

And many more. The floor is a maze of grave makers so worn that you can no longer read the names and for me, I found myself walking around them or between them so as not to “step” on anyone. From there we made our way into the church museum and again, just so much to see…

It was then that I simply decided to focus on one small detail of the works we were seeing. It allowed the opportunity to truly absorb a small piece of what was being offered.

All this could only be followed up by some tasty food, so we made our way over to Oinos Ristorante / Pizzeria where I had lots of water, Penne al Chianti, and a nice glass of Chianti. We went on from there just wandering the city where we encountered the boar at the Boar Market and found a nice glass of wine in Signorvino along the Arno River.

Of all that I’ve been amazed with outside of the city, art, and food, it is the mass of people. So many here to take pictures of what they see but it does not seem that they take it in. They are moving so fast that it is not possible to form any real attachment to the art or to understand it. That’s not a judgment, I just find myself standing in front one piece that “speaks” to me and not really worrying about the rest. Lectio Divina is the method of reading until the text elicits a response from you. Seems art should do the same. You don’t go until you’ve seen everything there is to offer, you go until something speaks and then you let it write its message on your heart. I’m going to remember this as I make my way through the next two weeks.

The day ended with the sun setting behind the duomo.

Buoyant note, amici!

Travel: Italy (Travel Day One and it was close to 48 hours long!)

Travel and travel and travel… I almost missed only one flight when I messed up the time zones. Fortunately I was sitting next to the gate when I realized it was boarding, otherwise, I would have only made it as far as New York / JFK.

Any way you slice it, it is a long trip. The backside gets sore, there are NO comfortable sitting positions for an 8.5 hour flight, and the boredom sets in to the point where you’re simply watching the miles click off, but then you hear the engines begin to slow and your ears begin to pop as the altitude decreases and suddenly, those 8.5 hours are a distant memory.

Following the flights, we took a 1/2 hour train to Rome. Between the graffitied walls and towering apartment buildings, you may catch a glimpse of something far more ancient but mostly it will be the orange poppies that grow all long the tracks that will draw your eye.

The 1/2 hour trip (and a WILD taxi ride through the narrow streets of Rome—made Enid drivers look like Mario Andretti) and we arrived at the Roma Termini, which is the main train terminal in Rome. I kept expecting a NY subway but…

It’s an airport on wheels and a zoo but once you figure out the system you will get to where you want to go, which in our case was Florence.

The ride includes a series of tunnels and each tunnel is like a small jump further and further into the country and farmlands. Hay, other crops, and vineyards (we’ll have more of those later this week) and with a train that clicks along at about 120 mph, you cover the 200 miles rather quickly.

We did do some touristy things but for the most part were a bit pooped out, so we walked the streets and just enjoyed being in Italy. What is so remarkable is when you take into consideration how long these places have been around. For example, I decided to take a picture of a beautiful statue of Christ crucified high on a pillar. Near the base was a plaque. The statue was erected in the year 1338.

In addition, throughout the old city there are small niches, mostly at corners, with images of the Blessed Virgin Mary and/or Jesus. These are two of the images that worked out:

What an amazing day and perhaps the most moving bit occurred as Heidi, Scott, and I were sitting at the Cafe’ Cibreo enjoying a light snack and a beverage (they were having a white wine and I was enjoying an iced coffee). Heidi stopped in mid-sentence and said, “We’re in Italy!”

Yep. That about sums the day up. We’re in Italy and… yeah.

Travel: Italy (-1 day)

The flight leaves tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m. so I’ll be up and going by 3:30 a.m. That may sound like a complaint but I’m certain no one would listen seeing as how I’m on the way to Italy for fourteen days (a week in Florence and a week in rome). It’ll be tough! The weather sounds absolutely miserable (highs in the low 80s and lows in the low 60s and mostly sun) but I will endure.

I’ve had a passport for at least 30 years and this is the first time I’ve ever used it. That sounds crazy but life happened along the way. As I sit here in a hotel room in OKC I can’t stop myself from smiling. Trust me. I know exactly how fortunate I am to have such an opportunity, so I plan to take you all along with me.

The goal is to post once a day but I’m not going to turn it into a job. I definitely want to enjoy the trip and take it all in, so if I miss a day, I won’t be losing sleep.

Tomorrow I go from OKC to Atlanta to JFK to Rome. I’ll arrive there at 7 a.m. and meet my friends at the airport in Rome. How sexy is that! “Oh, yeah. Just meeting some friends in Rome. No big deal.” HA!

Not sure where I’ll write from next but at the moment I’m thinking JFK. For now…

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