Florence, Italy Day 64

Piazza dell Republica. Florence, Italy.
Piazza dell Republica. The post office is under those arches, the source of my pain and suffering today.
Today I almost went postal… literally. I haven’t seen my nephews in 3 months and they sent me letters and some drawings to pick up at the post office in Florence. Sounds simple enough, right?

Well, welcome to Italy! They sh*t their pants if you try and put your feet in a fountain or sit on some steps, but try and send a parcel, pick up mail or even buy stamps? All sense of order goes out the window. My sister gave me the instructions on how to pick it up; go to the post office and pick it up at window 23/24. I get there and there’s no window 23/24. 

I see that I need to get a ticket and wait in line. I go over to the ticket dispenser and there are 4 types of tickets you can take for different purposes, all written in Italian. My Italian is petty well nil, except for the typical phrases tourists need, so this was going to be a challenge. I just take one of each and figure I’ll talk to the first one that comes up. 

When my turn comes the first woman hardly speaks any English and somehow manages to tell me (with a combination of words , gestures and frustrated sighs) to go outside and around the corner. I do this and wind up in a vestibule looking confused. The man behind the counter tries to help, but also doesn’t speak English, so he calls his buddy over. He takes me back to the post office and directs me to the empty info. booth.  The woman is apparently on an extended coffee break, but I finally get my turn with the surly b*tch and she tells me to take a “P” ticket (for parcel) and talk to them. 

I get the ticket and look at my number. P276. I look at what number they’re on. P178. So there are over 100 people ahead of me? I look around, there weren’t even 50 people in the waiting area. WTF?  So I wait for about half an hour and the numbers only advance by about 3 and I decide to abandon ship and try again tomorrow. That’s an hour I’ll never get back.  
After all of that pain and suffering I needed some art therapy so I went to the Uffizi Gallery. I was here 10 years ago and it’s funny, I remember both Florence and the museum seeming so much bigger! I guess now that I’ve seen London, Paris and Rome everything else will seem small town! 

This is such an incredible museum. It’s most famous painting is Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. It’s a stunning work of art, I almost wept the first time I laid eyes on it. But I have to say, the iconographic art is still my favorite, and the Uffizi Gallery has probably one of the best collections of it.  I think I can safely say that my Virgin Mary and baby Jesus count has gone up by at least 50 today… it was the favoured image back in the day, and this museum has no shortage of them! 

 I heard one of the men who works at the museum tell someone that 7000 people go through the gallery every day. Isn’t that incredible?
Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. So much gorgeousness.
My beloved iconographic art. Mary and baby Jesus sighting # 102…
Then I went to Pitti Palace. Remembering back to what I said about not really being into palaces, I take it back… this palace was astounding. And I think the reason I liked it was two-fold. It wasn’t very busy with throngs of people, and the walls were absolutely covered with masterworks, just covered! It was amazing. I would show you but no photos allowed! 

Luca Pitti wanted to build a palace that would be bigger than anything the Medici’s owned so he commissioned this in the mid fifteenth century. Ironically the Medici’s bought it 100 years later and made it their official residence. That shows you what trying to be the biggest and the bestest gets you!  

My heart was so filled with good arty happiness that I didn’t mind that it started torrentially raining as I started to walk back to my hotel for a little rest. Looking at all of that art is tiring, and the burn out rate is high. I was going to go to Boboli Gardens as well (part of the palace) but they were closed because of the rain.
Pitti Palace.Florence, Italy.
Pitti Palace.
I discovered a new artist that I love! Her name is Elisabeth Chaplin, and about 10 of her paintings were in the modern art gallery in the Pitti Palace. I think she might be the only female painter in the whole place. Go girl!
Self-portrait done by Elisabeth Chaplin. Florence, Italy.
Self-portrait done by Elisabeth Chaplin.
I had a really delicious lunch at a little place close by the Pitti. If you look hard enough, you can find some really good places to eat that are cheap, cheap! Yesterday I had a beer and plate of pasta for 14 euro right off the largest piazza in Florence. There was no meat on it, just pesto! A total rip off, but my own fault. Today I had beef carpaccio with a nice big salad and a lovely red wine, for less than 10 euro. 
Gelato popsicles in Florence, Italy.
Gelato popsicles.
Palazzo Vecchio, AKA City Hall. Florence, Italy.
Palazzo Vecchio, AKA City Hall.
There’s a gallery in the Palazzo Vecchio as well, and I really want to see this show, but it’s 10 euro to get in, and my pass doesn’t cover it (of course it doesn’t!)  Damien Hirst is such a sh*t disturber, it will be sure to be a provocative show. The piece that everyone wants to see is a human skull cast in platinum and has hundreds of diamonds pave set into it. It’s only been publicly shown twice… imagine there insurance on that thing? Do you think he got the funding through Kickstarter? LOL!
Damien Hirst For the Love of God show in Florence, Italy.
Beautiful little shops are all over Florence.
Beautiful little shops are all over Florence.
Rainy street in Florence, Italy.
The heavens opened up and dumped buckets of rain on Florence.
Candy and pastries in Florence, Italy.
Sweets anyone?
Man wearing a balloon animal hat in Florence, Italy.
After I came out of the post office I was so annoyed, then I saw this guy and he totally cheered me up! He had his face painted and was wearing a funny little sweat suit and wearing a balloon animal hat!
I happened to be walking by the post office from hell again later that day and thought I’d give it another try. Thankfully it was much less busy so the waiting time to see someone was really short. Unfortunately (again) the first guy spoke zero English. He passed me off the guy next to him. He spoke a tiny bit of English, but not enough to understand what I was asking. He tells me to go to the info. booth (I’m primal screaming inside my head at this point!) I WISH WISH WISH my foreign language skills were better!

I tell this guy what I want, and he is confused. I explain one last time. I’m ready to just give up at this point, I’m frustrated and everyone is so rude.  Something twigged in him though, and he finally clued into what I was talking about, and I got the letter!!!!!! I’m so glad a I persevered. Mainly because I would have felt bad that my nephews had gone to the effort of sending it for nothing, but also because then I would have missed the happy feeling in my heart when I read the letter and saw the drawings they sent me. Thanks guys! I love you!

Art work by J.
Here’s a little excerpt from his letter.
“This is a picture of you and your friends that you made. You are holding juice. I just wouldn’t like it if you didn’t know what it was.”
Hmmm…. that juice looks an awful lot like beer!

Art work by J.

Here’s a little excerpt from his letter.

“This is a picture of you and your friends that you made. You are holding juice. I just wouldn’t like it if you didn’t know what it was.”
Hmmm…. that juice looks an awful lot like beer! Age 6

Artwork by M. Age 3



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2 Responses to Florence, Italy Day 64

  1. Anonymous June 8, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    The Italians are really not into making their day-today life workable but they can take the most mundane thing in the world – a faucet for instance and design it so that it is like a piece of art. I guess you can’t have both those things together, at least not in Italy.

    xo Mom

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