A family travels Italy day 13-14: grumps

My husband gave me a time out today in front of the Pitti palace. I was on my fourth shot of espresso. I was vibrating with annoyance and he was right to banish me. I stomped over to a pigeon poopy end of the ticket booth area and concentrated on calming the heck down. He stayed in line for the Boboli gardens with the kids behind a flock of young nuns.IMG_3760

I looked ridiculous in my sassy striped INC wrap dress with bare legs and my bright purple and green Pumas. My sandals were starting to hurt already and I knew this would be a 7 hour walking day and I was all out of shirts to wear with pants and my husband said leggings would be too hot so this is ALL HIS FAULT. Not really. It’s my fault for not packing one more shirt.

At breakfast my daughter said to me, “Mom, you’ve lost so much weight” for some unknown reason. This is entirely UNTRUE. Everything is too tight. I had to sew a new button onto my jacket in Palazzo because the bust point one went BING across the room with too much pressure. So, I snapped at her, “Don’t discuss my weight at the table, don’t discuss my weight in front of other people especially, thee is no reason to ever bring up the subject ever, at all.” She looked down in that crushed way she does when I’ve been entirely unfair. So I’m fat AND a terrible mother. AND ungrateful because I’ve been traveling in Italy and I should be freaking HAPPY ALL THE TIME! i’m like this pigeon. I’m like this pigeon staring down bobbing its head pick pick pick, shitting on priceless statues. How could I waste my time being grumpy in Florence?! How could I do that?! What is wrong with me that I can’t rise above the heat and the ovulation and the noise and the constant bumping of elbows and just bask in the beauty of all this architecture and history and beauty?! IMG_3775

Tourists and their screaming kids were still all around me at the Pitti palace pigeon poop corner. F’ing tourists. F’ing go away, it’s F’ing MARCH! I muttered to myself all the things I wasn’t saying out loud to my family: “I don’t CARE right now if you can’t remember if you left your tights on Bowen or Vancouver or at your Dad’s! Can you please just LOOK UP and see the incredible Duomo?!” “How am I supposed to know if we turn left here, I’ve never been here before!” “If you pretend to pick pocket me one more time, gouging into my purse pulling at my shoulder like an oaf I’m going to F’ing clock you one!”, “how about you get off your GD$%&% phone and enjoy this world wonder that I am PAYING for you to see?!IMG_3754

Our airbnb is central, too central. It’s beautiful and well priced but it seems a favourite road for large swarms of youth to travel from ponte Vecchio to the Uffizi, herded by obnoxious guides on megaphones. We are bombarded by enthusiastic sight-seers by day and drunken youth by night. It was a fitful sleep. Then, in the morning, the throng was joined by a trumpet player and an accordionist right beneath my bedroom window. I whipped open the shutters in my nightie. The musicians looked up with such big sweet smiles, it disarmed me. They called up “good morning” with open palms, I couldn’t help but smile back and then blow them a couple of kisses instead of curses (or euros).

Yesterday felt like a waste. We slept in and the boys went out shopping while I proof read Nora’s five postcards because we hadn’t sent the DAMN THINGS off yet and they were becoming the bane of our existence. We did buy her Dad a decent gift and then we hunted down Rivareno gelataria which was absolutely heavenly. I had some sort of crema with orange and lemon and a chocolate hazelnut. http://www.gelateria.firenze.fi.itIMG_3749

Yesterday evening the kids made dinner and they did a pretty darn good job: a nice red sauce over gnocchi with a fresh salad and a side of chicken cutlets. They argued a bit over the preparation, but over all they’ve been great together. Very chummy. We discovered they are rather chummy over their complaints about us. One of their complaints was that they could understand my husband’s innuendo, like in the market: “Should we buy sausage?” “I’ll give you some sausage.”

I was contemplating all this while in my time out. Scott had been very good natured this morning. There was just that one moment. One of those street shillers tried to sell him a leather belt and he said kindly, “I have belt, graze”, while sipping his $30.00 cappuccino (I told him to drink coffee at home). Then the shiller tried to press a leather bracelet into his hand and Scott yelled with his full firefighter-in-a-blazing-inferno voice, loud enough for everyone on the street to turn around: “NO GRAZIE!” The shiller RAN he RAN away.

This made me chuckle. Okay. I think I’m ready to join the line behind the nuns. I’m ready to enjoy the rest of the day. I just needed ten minutes completely alone.

The nuns were in full habit but they didn’t have the wedding rings on and most of them looked like young teens. Nora gazed at them awestruck. “Married to Jesus, Mom, I think that’s really beautiful. Did you ever consider being a nun?” My husband chuckled, “I think she probably knew early on she wasn’t cut out for it.” I gave him a sly stare. “Actually, I did think about it honey, but I did always know that I wanted a family. You can become an Anglican nun though, and get married.” Nora looked up a bit dismissive, “Oh I think that’s cheating.”IMG_3781

We headed into the Boboli gardens. Finally, fresh air and SPACE. It was the perfect choice for today. We wandered up to the view point and looked over the city of Firenze. We strolled near Neptune and his pool full of fish and wandered past the ancient Egyptian obelisk. The gardens were made for Eleonora di Toledo, Cosimo I de’ Medicis wife, a petite fashionista from Spain who pumped out eleven children before she died of Malaria at the age of 40 (along with her two sons)

We enjoyed the costume gallery as a nice change of pace, then wandered down the garden paths under flowering fruit trees towards the Roman amphitheatre. We were greeted by a heron who hopped onto a statue of a goatish man who was also a fish and a rooster and had a monkey on his chest. Why not? Two little Italian girls played beside us in a field of clover, rolling their Rs effortlessly over big beautiful words, part of their everyday vocabulary.IMG_3790

We took a side step on our way home to find my friend Lawrence’s favourite gelateria in Firenze: Il Gelato di Filo. It took us through a pretty cool neighbourhood. It was a little hole in the wall and they displayed the gelato out in the air which is typically a no-no, so I was like, “Lawrence, Lawrence, really? And you call yourself a gelato snob?” But OH OH OH – was it ever fantastic. Don’t judge a gelateria by it’s cover! They use such fresh fruit and high quality ingredients. I had pear and then some kind of honey apple cream and it was so smooth and so vibrant at the same time. Scott had chocolate and orange and we kept talking about its incredible flavour all the way home. Thank you, Lawrence!

My mood was greatly improved, I was back to my buoyant happy travelling self. Scott however, decided to look at his Visa bill…

Suffice it to say we tag teamed with our moods. I won’t bust his nuts and share the experience but it wasn’t our best evening out. It included him saying that when he retires he will not travel like his father did, he will buy a farm and stay there and never ever leave. I think the Zenith was when the kids ordered slender little cans of Sprite that ended up costing seven dollars each. He apologized for being unreasonable and I said I didn’t think his reaction was unreasonable, especially regarding the Sprite, but we should make a plan for the next four days that we feel comfortable with.

Our children have zipped ahead, overly confident navigating their way home along the narrow cobblestone streets, their pizza take out boxes teetering in their hands, I’m sure Nora’s hopscotching will overturn a Vespa. It takes great restraint for me not to call out.

Halfway across a beautiful evening bridge over the Orno, my husband grabs my hand and says, “Hold on a sec-” and he pulls me towards him and kisses me in that newlywed way and it stops time for a minute. Tourists step by us and I hear one lady sigh wistfully.

He whispers, “I think we travel together fairly well. I’d give us about a 93.7%.”

I take his hand and follow him. I think I might give us a little bit less, perhaps 78%, but still close to an A. Days like this can happen and it’s all part of the big okay.IMG_3793


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