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Firenze/Fiorenza/Florentia/Florence

Written on: Monday January 5th, 2009

A journal entry from: Nuovo Anno

This is the city, the single place, in which we spent the most time: 3 nights and the better part of 4 days.  It was not planned to be that way, but it worked out nicely.  Many things contributed to this: the gracious hospitality and encyclopedic dining suggestions provided by our hosts, Alessio and Asumi of Hotel Cestelli; the fact that our car was parked 2.27 kilometers away (the last half kilometer of seemingly impossible vertical proportion); the fact that the world-reknowned Italian fashion was on sale at better than 50% off; the fact that Firenze is a beautiful and historic city with much to see and do; the fact that we badly needed to do laundry.

We walked a lot in Firenze.  The city itself is very crowded with pedestrians, two-wheeled and four-wheeled traffic.  The city itself is Zona a Traffico Limitato, meaning that unless you have a permit, you will be ticketed (82 Euro/$115 I heard!) for simply entering the city.  Because of this we parked at the Piazza Michaelangelo on a hill overlooking the city.  The Piazza is an incredible introduction.  From this vantage point you can see all of the significant buildings of Firenze as well as the river Arno and its bridges.  Crowded with tourists of every stripe, as well as cars, tour busses, RVs and the omnipresent scooters.  It has the added benefit of offering free 24-hour parking, a true rarity in Firenze.

I want to preface the next paragraph by disclaiming the following: I do not like to shop.  Truth be told, Katharine does not particularly like to shop either.  However we are in Firenze, the rival to Milano for the fashion capital of Italy.  On top of that we arrived at the onset of the post-Christmas/post-Epiphany sales: better than 50% everything at most stores.  If you happen to hit a fashion boutique, and *horrors!* can stand to clad yourself in last season's styles, the discounts get as steep as 70% to 80%.  Naturally, we were forced to indulge.  When in Rome...err Firenze....  I came away with some nice cashmere digs (in the manliest Salmon Pink you have ever seen), jeans, a jacket and, my personal fancy, a new hat.  Katharine got some sexy soft leather boots, a small rainbow of pashmere scarfs and, her personal fancy, two snow globes.

Thanks to our new friend in Milano, Ravelry's Typesetter (Sylvia), Katharine arrived in Firenze armed with a map of the Local Yarn Shops.  Especially important was to find and meet Beatrice, a local yarn institution.  Sadly she is closing up shop in March of this year so it was especially important that we find her.  In this regard the Google failed us: it plotted her shop in the wrong location half-way across town.  By pure chance we did manage to find her literally on our way out of town.  Her shop was situated along the path we hiked in with all our bags, and that is how we found her on the way out.  Katharine's keep eye spotted her and in we went.  She geeted us, complete strangers, with so much hospitality.  I guess the knitters have a global sorority: like Masons a knitter anywhere is a friend.  We both with Beatrice the best as she transitions to the next thing in her life.  She even talked of traveling the world to visit the friend's she's made in her 40 years in the yarn shop.

That's it for Spoleto.  One stop left on our tour: Pistoia.  After Pistoia we return to Milano and our flight home.