Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Florence Day 7: Piazzale Michelangelo (and Hitting the Wall)

The only time we ventured out of Florence's main historic center (other than our group tour out in the Tuscan countryside) was to walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo, a public square and gardens on a hill across the river.
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Everyone had said that it was a can't-miss sight, with spectacular views of the city.
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So for our last adventure on our first day in Florence, we wandered across the Arno in hopes of seeing the sunset from this overlook. It sounds wonderfully romantic and dreamy--yet I have to confess that sadly, this evening ended up being the low point of our entire trip!

It had been a long day: an early alarm, navigating the chaotic Naples mass transit system one last time, a cross-country train ride, checking into a new B&B, touring the Uffizi Gallery and Santa Croce. In retrospect, our itinerary was a bit overambitious, especially for day 7 of our vacation. We were exhausted and overloaded.

The moral of this story/the photo above? Happy smiles in snapshots don't tell the whole story. Effusive blog posts gushing about Italy don't tell the whole story. Even dream vacations are shadowed by the sin and brokenness of this world. People you see online aren't perfect--their lives aren't perfect--and the fact is, perfect, unspoiled joy doesn't exist this side of Heaven, no matter how hard we chase it. 

After finally, mercifully, finding a restroom (never before had I been so glad to pay someone to use a bathroom) we staked out a spot to sit and rest on these steps. Unlike the photo below, they were absolutely PACKED with people. You could hardly pick a path through all the couples and groups.

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Steve was really, really quiet, and when I asked him what was wrong, he finally said, "Ten days is too long for a vacation." He was feeling weary, overwhelmed by all the newness, missing our boys...just generally out of sorts and longing for the familiar.

But I wasn't exactly sure what to do with this revelation, given that we had no choice but to stay in Italy for three more days...! So we watched the sun set over Florence, but it wasn't the picture-perfect romantic evening I might have imagined or longed for. We sat in silence, tired and grumpy and disconnected.

The view really was gorgeous, though:

Once the sun had gone down, we used our Firenze Card passes to get a free bus ride back to our B&B. It was a long, quiet ride, and we returned to our room and crashed.

Steve may have been the one in a funk this time, but I hit the wall myself a couple of days later. Never would I have imagined that ten days would be too long for a vacation, but it seems that it sort of was--at least the way we planned the itinerary. It turns out that the brain (or at least our brains) can only absorb so much. We saw SO many ancient ruins and Renaissance paintings and ornate churches with frescoes that we reached a limit where we were unable to appreciate any more.

It feels almost obscene, to think of being in the presence of such greatness and not enjoying or appreciating it, but I have to admit it is true. Even Italian food got tiresome! We didn't enjoy Florentine food nearly as much Roman or Neapolitan--and while some of that might be personal preferences for certain regional specialties over others, some of it was also that we just plain got tired of pasta. Our bodies were in rebellion from lack of vegetables I think!

So, lest you think we have this perfect life and enjoyed a perfect anniversary was not without its bumps and frustrations.

After we processed a bit and had a chance to rest, we texted our host to ask where we could find good takeout pizza in the neighborhood. He immediately responded with a suggestion just down the street, so we ventured back out to grab a late supper: pizza from Tre Merli

The first menu we looked at did not have descriptions of the pizzas, only titles, and we were a bit confused to find both "Margherita" and "Napoli." In Naples, Neapolitan pizza *is* Margherita pizza (tomato, cheese, basil). So we decided to order both: Margherita con prosciutto crudo (basic cheese pizza with ham):

And Napoli--which, we then discovered, means "capers and anchovies" in other parts of Italy besides Naples itself. Well...we'd been told we *had* to try anchovies on pizza, so why not?

The verdict? Now we can say we tried bite was all I wanted. SO SALTY. And

We took our pizzas back to our room and polished off both--with a glass of wine for Steve and a Fanta in a wine glass for me. Because I'm classy like that :)

We headed to bed relatively early, looking forward to a pre-determined guided tour the next day and having learned some important lessons. Among them: we would need to plan a daily siesta for the last two days of our trip so as to avoid further crashing and burning!


Danielle said...

I get what you're saying here. I've only been on 7 day vacations and I can attest that I'm usually ready to go home after 7 days. I think I would not do well, on say, an around the world trip like Tsh from The Art of Simple went on. As cool as it sounds, I think I'd be done pretty quick! Smaller spurts would probably be better for me.

Amy said...

It's such a shame because *getting there* is the most expensive part! Easier to pay for a couple of extra days tacked on when you've already covered airfare, than pay for airfare a second time. Alas. Epitome of #firstworldproblems I guess!