I have arrived. Travel is related to art; both involve living on the edge of cliffs. The more you don’t know, the more exciting it is, for better or worse. Lurching into Amerigo Vespucci airport after 3 flights, I felt that molasses-like buzz of jet lag, exhaustion, and stress sweat. It was 16 hours of wearing a mask on Iberia air, which still requires masking in the plane, and my nose and throat were sore from rebreathing my mask air. It was night and there was a long line for taxis outside. I was having credit card problems that concerned me— would I be able to get cash? (More on this later.) And I was traveling alone, so no one was there to share the decision-making burden.
It all started to go right for me when I decided to take the T2 tram into the center instead of depending on the taxi to deliver me to the door. I had small luggage and was mobile, so I could walk to my place from the end of the tram line. Feeling lost, I did a travel trick and picked out an appealing stranger to follow. He was a chubby, friendly man carrying a musical instrument and he was heading toward the tram. He helped me buy a ticket— turns out he was English and I had no idea. He laughed when I told him I followed him. I was able to give him some advice as well. These “angels” are everywhere, but it involves giving up control, using your intuition, and asking for help.
Immediately, I was in lovely laughing Italy. The door closed and the car filled with people talking, singing, shouting, living. I was out of the commercial tunnel of air travel at last. At the end of the line I walked out with my little rolling bag and small purse pack into this scene. Sometimes you have to give up control, then a “flow” starts, and you are in the place, not thinking about it or struggling with it. Do you know what I mean?
This psychedelic setting encouraged me— it was like wandering through a dream. Vendors were shooting luminous fairy lights high into the air and they drifted down the sides of the green and white fantasy cathedral like wired angels. I arrived at my studio apartment, my little refuge for my time here.
My guardian spirit for this trip is Dante. He is everywhere in Florence, so that’s nice for me, because I want to be everywhere in Florence. I am collecting Dante images. The church of Santa Croce, where the young lovers in E.M. Forster’s “Room with a View” met, is steps away, along with Dante and Very Big Kitties. It was just a brand new suburban development when Dante was in town.
The credit card fiasco? I figured it out, but here is your travel tip, Americans… know your credit card 4-digit PIN numbers. No, not your debit card PIN which you use all the time, the ones for your credit cards. No, not your 3-digit secret code which you also use all the time. Scott had to wire me cash with Western Union, which made me feel like I was a teenage backpacker. Even then, I never had money wired to me! The credit cards are fine now, but for the first time in years I am walking around with strange cash in my wallet. On the travel edge, again. It’s beautiful to have cash. The Euro is now the same as the dollar. This lunch “menu of the day” , written on a blackboard in a neighborhood bar, cost me 16.5 Euro/bucks total: salmon, fennel, glass of white wine, bread, espresso and small dessert. 1 Euro tip. Paradise, with some sword-and-cliff edges to get there.
If you want to read more travel writing, and more of the Over Underworld sketch/myth series, simply scroll down, and feel free to comment here, right on the blog, or in all the social media things. It’s nice to know that people are reading!