Everyone is More Beautiful in Italy
Today, we visit the Uffizi Gallery, one of the greatest art collections on the planet, and the Accedemia, home to Michelangelo's David, the Renaissance masterpiece that defines the age. Where Rome was about history, Florence is about art and beauty. And this beauty is not just in the museums, but is found everywhere, and in everyone.
In fact, everyone is more beautiful in Italy.
Here's the logic: I know I am more beautiful in Italy, therefore, everyone is more beautiful in Italy. How is it possible to be more beautiful in one place compared to another?
Let me explain. First, the country provides a great frame for a pretty picture. It's sunny here. The rich colors and architecture of the buildings against the blue sea against the varying greens of the trees create the perfect backdrop for anything set against it. When the surroundings are beautiful, it's hard not to be in tune with that.
Second, it's not just the scenery, but the details are beautiful. The way a table is laid, the placement of vegetables in a market stall, the flowers everywhere. It's how the tomatoes are arranged with the mozzarella and basil, the crispness of the cotton shirts, the memorable photo on a simple museum ticket.
Third, you will find some of the greatest, most beautiful art in the world here: David – perfection in sculpture and painters likeTitian, Della Robbia, and so many others. It's not just a coincidence that some of the world's greatest collections are here. The collectors certainly had an eye for beautiful things. And how do you not feel beautiful when in the presence of these?
Last, it's the people. People look at you here. They look and they smile. Not in a creepy, stalking kind of way, but in a “hey, I notice your beauty” kind of way. In my self-defense classes, I teach that when walking down the street, it's a good idea to look people in the eye. This is one country where my glance is met and returned, often with a smile. I'm not just some faceless person in the crowd, I am present, I am noticed, I am beautiful.
Not only am I beautiful here, but I am clever as well! I am hugely enjoying the patience of just about everybody that I meet to let me try to speak Italian and to correct me (kindly) as I stumble through. I've been studying Italian with Rosetta Stone since l got back from Camino last summer and can put together a few words, but sometimes get the verb conjugations wrong. I love being able to speak the little bit of Italian that I can muster and I am so appreciative of the Italians whom I've met who will allow me to do so. It's nice to be rewarded for all of that study!
I experience the complete opposite of this phenomena in France, and sometimes Spain. I'll start to speak in French, and they will finish my sentence in exasperated English. Or, they'll look at me funny, I'll repeat it again, and then they give me another funky look and say, “oh, you mean (whatever I said)”, repeating it as if I said it wrong, but it sounds just how I said it. Perhaps it's meant to be helpful, but it comes across as condescending.
Unfortunately, I was explaining this whole language thing to Susie while on the bus today and, only too late, noticed that there was a French couple sitting in the seats right in front of us. Arrgh! Fortunately, they got off before telling me how I insulted them and their country! I'm hoping they didn't hear me.
After visiting the museums and lunch (don't ever order papa di pomodoro – it sounds nice, but it's just bread soaked in tomato liquid, oh, and never put cheese on it!!) we took the bus up the hill to the medieval church of San Miniato to hear the Gregorian chants that are offered before sunset. The echoes of the seven long-robed monks played among the columns of the crypt. Beautiful!
Outside, the sun was setting and we had a glorious view of Florence on the Arno. One more stop at the Gelato Fest and we were back to the apartment, packing up for our trip to the Cinque Terre tomorrow.
And feeling beautiful!