For any of you who are worried that I am wondering around getting lost (hi mom), let me clarify, I had a map and was following one of the tourist office’s walks around Fiesole. I just took the wrong tour and missed a closer look at the swanky Villa San Michele. Despite the climbs, heat and misstep, I highly recommend Fiesole.
Next up was San Lorenzo Basilica which was stunning on the inside despite the incomplete facade. The ticket also included entry to the tombs under the church which was full of surprises. First, there was the tomb of Cosimo Medici which was an enormous square shaped marble crypt build into the central column of the church, literally and metaphorically placing Cosimo in a position to hold up the church. Then, a few feet away was the tomb of Donatello. In a separate room, still underground, was a display of relics. Despite reading about relics in art history, I was still taken aback when I realized what I was seeing in the temp controlled glass cases. I thought the oval shaped, silver encrusted frames, with little circular windows were displaying some type of family tree. But upon closer inspection, I realized there were little objects in each window…little pieces of bone, hair, teeth…corporal souvenirs for people to worship for hundreds and hundreds of years! And that they do. The Forentines speak of the Medici, a family that died out many generations ago, with reverence and gratitude.
The whole experience makes me consider the intrinsic value of objects, whether it be art, literature, architecture, or relics. (Bear with me, spending is much time alone makes me rather introspective.) The line between animate and inanimate blurs as I come to better understand the power of objects for humanity throughout history. I am reminded of the Tom Robbins novel Still Life with a Woodpecker which will certainly change the reader’s view of the objects in our lives.
Studying the art commissioned by the Medici family, one will notice the frequent image of oranges which were a sign of power and life. As I ascended from the crypts, I arrived in a small beautiful courtyard and immediately noticed an enormous orange tree in the center heavy and fragrant with big bright oranges. Reminders of the Medici are very much alive!
I then headed to the post office which has so many names, it was hard to find. A kind waiter laughed as he helped me with directions. I was standing right in front of it! Thankfully, I’d read about the Italian post office procedures, or I would have never made it out of there with my tasks completed. It is like a major appointment to go to the PO for business. I needed to mail letters to Paige and Phoebe and needed to exchange American money to Euros which required lots of patience and more Italian than I’ve previously attempted.
By now it was after 7:00 and I was again famished. Thanks to Cathy and Jim Wilkins, I was able to get off the tourist dining circuit and walk to a residential area for dinner. On my way to dinner, I passed a few impressive street artists as well as a store that made me think of my sweet grandmother, Nana. I was the first to arrive at 7:30 and they even let me in a few minutes early. Still a bit anxious about dining alone, this place could not have been more accommodating and comfortable. The chef trained in NY for 8 years at some hot Italian restaurant and returned home to open Garga with his mother. I got to meet him and the restaurants encourages diners to draw on the table cloths. There were some statues around to serve as models so between the food and the drawing and the welcoming staff, it was pretty heavenly. I’ve never had a salad that I ate slowly to postpone the end. And the focaccia bread made me moan like those people who moan when they eat which I’ve found irritating. It was a struggle to be quiet and the perfect way to end a long, adventurous day.