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Travelogue
Visita il Mugello, culla dei medici, a due passi da Firenze e le bellezze toscane
 

Travellers in Tuscany

 

 
 

Piazzale Michelangelo

«Do you think they'll come ?»
«I dont know. I hope so. They said they would meet me here.»
«What time is it?»
«Almost noon.»
«I dont think they'll come . This place is too out of the way.Why not pick someplace a little easier to get to, someplace in the center. We should have taken the bus. That walk up the hill just about killed me.»
«Relax. They'll come. Its a beautiful day. Not too hot and it only took forty-five minutes to walk here from the hotel.»
«Ya, sure. Forty-five minutes of your walking. Not like regular human being walking. I damn near had to run to keep up. I'm sure I walked twice as far as you.»
«Twice as far as me? How do you figure that?»
«Ya. I had to take twice as many steps as you. That means I went twice as far.»
«That makes complete sense.»
«How long are we going to sit here waiting?»
«Whats wrong with sitting here waiting. Take a good look around. Look out there and tell me that there could possibly be someplace better to be. I love this view! Look at the way the Duomo sticks out and the Palazzo Vecchio not far away and then the mass of red roofs that fan out from there.»
The young men sat on the ledge of the low wall at the edge of the Piazzale Michaelangelo. The sun was high in the sky and the blue stretched to all horizons. There was no wind and hardly any sound as they sat there waiting for the two American girls. The girls were from Nebraska and their names were Jody and Holly and they had promised to meet one of the boys here.
They had first met on the train from Nice. The girls were fresh faced 19 year olds from the University of Nebraska and being in Europe was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to them. They were on the train from Nice to Firenze and so far everything was perfect for them.
They had met the young man in the train corridor. They stepped out of their compartment and there he was, standing there looking out the window. The window was open and he was leaning on the top of the glass looking at the passing scenery. They were travelling along the Mediterranean coast and the view from this side of the train was perfectly picturesque.They had left the station just about an hour ago and were still on the French Riviera. They looked at what the young man was watching. Blue sky,blue sea,quaint houses,fruit trees and grapes and olives. It was all too perfect. He felt their eyes on him, watching him, and he turned his head abruptly. His sudden movement startled them and they jumped back a bit. He realized that he had scared them and so he quickly smiled in the friendliest way he knew how. The girls giggled, almost tittered, as they exhaled and relaxed. Holly, the dark haired one spoke up first. «Excuse me, do you speak English?.» He said nothing for a moment as if surprized by her question.
«Ahh.... yes.»
«Would you know where the barcar would be?
« The lounge car ... sorry barcar, is about four or five cars that way,« he said pointing toward the back of the train. His mannner was nonchalent and after he had answered them he returned his attention to the passing countryside.
« Excuse me again,but you wouldn't happen to be going there soon. We are a bit hungry and thirsty but we dont want to go alone. We dont speak any Italian.» Holly finished and squinted her eyes , crinkled her nose and pulled up her shoulders demonstrating a certain helplessness. Jody just stood there nodding in agreement.
«They speak French, too.»
«We dont speak French,either» The crinkled expression now appeared on both their faces.
«Well then ... hi. I'm Nick and yes I was planning to go to the barcar soon.» Nick reached out to shake their hands. The girls were a little surprised by the friendly gesture but took his hand eagerly. «Okay, lets go.»
The train had left Nice early in the morning and would arrive in Pisa in the late afternoon. There they would transfer to a train going to Firenze, arriving there in the early evening, about seven. The day passed quickly in the bar car. The girls were talkative and Nick was quiet so they made a perfect threesome. They told Nick everything there was to tell about themselves and just about everyone they knew. Nick had no idea that there were that many people in Nebraska.
That was two days ago and since then he had bumped into them on two other ocassions before he had decided to ask them to meet him here.
«What are we going to do if the girls come?»
«Well, we'll start with lunch over there.» He said, pointing toward a small restaurant on the edge of the hill. It had a terrace that afforded a similar view to that of the piazza.
«Looks expensive»
«It is and the food's not really that great but the view makes it wothwhile.»
«Why do we have to go there if the view is just as good here. I really dont have a lot of money. I'm trying to do Europe on the cheap and I didnt budget for expensive lunches. Why dont we get some wine and some bread...»
«...and some cheese...yes,..I know ..and have a picnic somewhere. I suppose that would be the thing to do.»
The young man stopped speaking and looked out over Firenze.
«Okay ....how about I pick up the tab for lunch and if everything is good with the girls then we'll do the picnic thing. Maybe we could take a bus to Mugello. Its pretty there.»
«You are going to pay for everyone? Are you rich or something?» the other one asked.
«Look! There they are!» Nick said excitedly but more from relief than anticipation. The girls had just left the bus and were standing on their toes, looking around. Nick ran over. «Holly! Jody! Over here!» The girls looked over the crowd of tourists for the familiar sound of their names. Nick waved as he came closer.
«Hi Nick! Sorry we're late but we took the wrong bus the first time» said Holly. Jody giggled and shrugged her shoulders.
«That's okay. I'm glad you made it. I brought a friend along. Is that alright?»
«Oh sure Nick, that's fine. Sounds like fun.» Nick turned toward Michael who was still sitting on the ledge and waved him over.
«Holly. Jody. This is Michael. I met him the other day and he seemed like such a lost soul that I decided to adopt him while he is here.»
«Very funny, Nick. Just because I had mistaken you for a local doesn't mean I couldn't manage» Michael said with a laugh of mock indignation. He reached out to shake their hands.
«You know, Nick, now that Michael mentions it...»
«Don't tell me you think I look Italian?» asked Nick with a laugh.
«Not exactly Italian but something different» Holly said.
«Something different? What exactly does that mean?» Nick could see that Holly was getting a little exasperated by her inability to say what she meant and he was having fun at her expense. «Do you mean not American? That kind of something different?»
«I guess so. I guess you dont look American. That must be it. «Jody was nodding her head in agreement.
The piazza had emptied and the four of them found themselves completely alone.
«This is a great view, Nick» said Holly as she walked toward the ledge. «What's the name of that bridge, the big one. I keep forgetting.»
Before Nick could say anything Michael answered, «Its the Ponte Vecchio. It means Old Bridge.» He seemed very happy with himself.
«This is incredible Nick. The city looks so beautiful but it looks a lot smaller than I thought it was. Everything looks so close to each other.» Holly's eyes scanned the area between the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio and Sante Croce.
«Well, the old part of the city is not that big but the newer parts stretch quite aways out. There is a whole industrial type area in the northern part of the city. Though thats not the Firenze most people are interested in. But ya, the city is beautiful.»
«You been here before, Nick?»
«Yes. I was here with my parents when I was 15. We spent a summer travelling Europe. I knew then that I had to come back.»
«And here you are» Holly said with a laugh.
«And here I am. And so are you. And arent we lucky.»
They walked along the low stone wall that separated the piazzale from the steep hill it rested on. They saw Jody and Michael standing at the base of the David that occupied and dominated the space. The yellow and red flowers planted at the base of the statue were in full bloom giving the green background of the hills beyond some added contrast.
«Have you seen the original yet?» Nick asked the girls.
«No, not yet» replied Holly.
«How about we do that today after lunch. Take a good look at this copy because you'll see how much better the original is.»
«I don«t know if I could tell the difference» Michael said with a laugh.
«Me either» chimed in Jody.
«We'll find out soon enough. Michael and I thought we would have lunch over there. «Nick was pointing to a restaurant at the edge of the hill.
«Oh! That place looks expensive.« Holly stopped and looked at Michael and Nick.» We really can't afford to eat at places like that.« She opened her large handbag and pulled out a bottle of wine, a chub of salami and a loaf of bread.
«Where's the cheese?» asked Nick with a laugh as he looked at Michael and shrugged.
Jody reached into her own bag and pulled out another bottle of wine and a large slice of cheese.
«It's called garden something. Smells foul but everyone says it tastes great.» Jody crinkled her nose in her usual way.
«Its gorganzola... and yes it is wonderful cheese... Well, it looks like a picnic afterall, Michael. I had planned to treat you all to lunch but since you girls came so well prepared I say lets find a shady spot under those trees over there and get to lunch.»
The girls giggled and shrugged their shoulders. They took the arms of the young men and headed towards the shade at the edge of the piazzale.
Nick looked around and saw more buses pulling in. He looked out over the redness of the city and thought of how lucky he was. How very lucky.

 

 

Text by Bryen Lebar
Picture by Sandro Santioli

 
 
 
   
 
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