Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

Ciao from Italia! – 6 – Florence and the Tourist Tidal Wave

By the River Arno

The Big City. Michealangelo’s David. The Renaissance of Learning. We’d been saving it up until this
point in the trip.

Amazingly, we found our way to the stadium and swimming pool part of town (always a good bet with a motorhome)
and admist street after street of pay by the hour parking, we found a huge, mostly unoccupied sprawling car park
for free. It was within walking distance of the town, via a bridge across the second biggest train station in Florence.

Almost immediately, we were stunned by the sheer volume of people. Bear in mind, this was a mid-week, and after the
Easter holidays. Great swathes of tourists, a gabbling United Nations, getting in their own, and everybody else’s – way.

There's some statues in there somewhere.....

A plethora of flag -waving blue-toothed tour guides leading packs of kids and pensioners this way and that, commanding
them to ENJOY the wonders that Florence contains, should you care to join the unfeasibly long queues. – and they’re
just to get an ice-cream – the prize for doing so being the pleasure of handing over four euros for the privilege.

Don’t get me wrong, the buildings, the Public Statues (or should that be pubic statues?) are amazing and awe-inspiring,
but so, in an entirely different way, is the carpet of humanity that is so indecorously lain across it all. Before you say it, I know
– we’re part of the problem, but it doesn’t make it any easier.  This poem formed itself in my mind as I reflected on our day
in Florence:

People like pigeons
with their tat and their crap
Alighting in millions
Adjusting their hats
With Florentine logos
Pinocchio brims
and 5 bucks a latte
For their touristy sins

Like human patina
They’re spread everywhere
Spreadeagled on walkways
For want of a chair
Defiling the beauty
They purport to enjoy
They queue round the block
For Michaelangelo’s boy

I know it can’t happen
Firenze tranquil
But body on body
Is making me ill

I longed to enjoy it
Together, alone
But people like pigeons
Are driving me home

Kev Moore Florence May 2011

We visited the San Lorenzo market where I fully intended to treat myself to an Italian leather jacket if I found the right style, but the incessant,
andf I DO mean incessant haranguing by the stallholders drove me to my knees. Now, Miki, unlike myself, is not a natural shopper, but I
can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of ’em. If we’re looking at shoes, I leave Imelda Marcos in the dust. But here, my God, they wouldn’t
even let you so much as glance in their direction and they were on you like a rabbit in heat. I wanted to haggle to bargain, but after just 30 minutes
amid the stalls, all I wanted to do was RUN.  A word to these master salesmen: I don’t know if it works with other nationalities, but as a Brit, LEAVE
ME THE HELL ALONE WHILE I LOOK AROUND AND MAKE UP MY EFFING MIND!!!!  By the end of the day, given a choice between losing an arm
and trying to look for a jacket, I would have begged to use the saw myself.

People-watching...not a hobby in Florence, more of a compulsory discipline...

Bizarrely, after managing to get back to The Boomobile, we had a really peaceful night’s sleep, right there in the Stadium car park.
The next morning, we decided to quit Florence and head for the hills. I thought I knew the way. I spent around 2 hours wandering around the same couple of
streets, bottlenecked, with cars, scooters, piaggios, pedestrians, all moving at a snail’s pace. Well, the people were positively sprinting compared to the
traffic. Eventually, fearing a traffic-induced embolism, I just followed the first major signpost I saw, regardless of direction, just to get out of town.

Thankfully it worked, and I live to tell the tale, dear reader. But it does make you think, having wasted an entire morning going round and round
and round. One of the main characters in ‘The Magic Roundabout’ was called Florence…….

Kev Moore

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May 8, 2011 - Posted by | travel, writing | , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. What a unique perspective. I love your poem — not the type you’d normally see in a travelogue. I’m sorry you didn’t get that leather jacket. I love Italian leather!

    Comment by shelleymhouse | May 11, 2011

  2. Thank you Shelley! 🙂
    I’m happy you liked it. I’ll get the jacket someday – and there will be pictures!

    Comment by kevmoore | May 11, 2011


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