Monday, July 10, 2006
Florence - tourists in the picture
We spent the day in Firenze (Florence). The centre of the city is gorgeous. Full of things only seen in books. It was overwhelming, visually – I needed to stop seeing by the mid-afternoon. Truly exhausting, however, was the constant fight through the crowds to get across town. I don't see line ups for concerts like the one to get into the Duomo cathedral or the Uffizzi gallery. Legions of tourists. I can't believe that people actually live here and put up with this. I started taking pictures of people getting between me and the fabulous vistas and the famous art. Pictures of people taking pictures. It was easier than getting a good view of anything.
It made me think that perhaps Centro Historico of Firenze, with its touristy markets, jewelry shops, hotels, and cafes, is living in its own past, and is effectively a dead city. People can't live in the kind of spaces we passed through. It's a tomb, a very busy and inspiring tomb, in which nothing new will grow.
It's good to travel with Bea. Most grand pieces of culture and architecture don't impress her. She enjoyed the city, but a good meal satisfies her better – something tangible that is before her, a part of her life.