Milano to Firenze today was the big adventure. We packed our belongings and made our first attempt at using the public transit to go from our Milano home to Milano Centrale - the main train station that would connect us to our Trenitalia trip to Firenze. The subway reminded me of any other major city with a little bit more of a San Francisco feel than others. I hopped the Red line [which my Chicago brain loved] and transferred to the Green line, hopping off to find my way to the larger train system. It was all a bit like going to Union Station and finding the right Amtrak or Metro train but Trenitalia is super fast, super super fast - think 200 miles per hour as the countryside flies by. I did it though, made the way to station where I discovered that I forgot to download my train ticket [better to buy ahead online than to get in the crazy long lines] and that my data plan wasn't working. Deep breath, push the panic back, hop on and see what happens.
side note: supermarket people do not seem friendly here as I entered the exit and had several young men sort of yell and point for me to go back out and come in the entrance. okay, okay, already. water secured.
I cannot describe how fast the train was! Omigod, it was so fast that the countryside was hard to focus on. I buried my nose in a good book and waited for the conductor to come along and kick me off because I didn't have a ticket. Alas, no conductor ever came and asked for the ticket so my anxiety was just another example of how my head takes over my body.
Coming out of the train station was overwhelming. Gobs of people and a hot Tuscan sun, combined with a lack of food [anxiety kills any hunger] and the use of a new city app almost did me in. However, I persevered [yay new app! CityMap2Go works offline], finding the Duomo where I knew my home was near.
Okay New Yorkers, Firenze sidewalks and streets are narrow and make NYC look expansive. Shut your traps about the congestion in NYC because the 15 minute walk I had amongst the crowds, cars and scooters was a prime example of being able to find grace under pressure. But make it I did! Alain the host of my AirBnB met me and showed me around the place, giving me maps and more information than I could absorb and keep.
After Alain left, I felt like heat exhaustion was upon me and immediately stripped down and stepped into a cool shower and drank a huge glass [or two] of water. It was at this point I realized that I hadn't any food and felt close to losing my mind to being hangry. I decided that I needed to eat dinner and then find a grocery store so I could stock up.
Walking around the corner from our home, I found a lovely ristorante in the shadow of the Duomo and sat down for a civilized meal. Beef carpaccio with salad and a plate of fresh pasta with a truffle & porcini cream sauce. Beyond beautiful! And I had a lovely little friend, a sparrow, who begged bread. I love him.
Wandering around the Duomo I set off to find a supermarket when the skies begin to look very much like the dark thunderous skies of Chicago that I just left. It's been so hot that I decided to keep walking and to hell with the rain. Unfortunately I did not find the supermarket but I did find a museum gift shop which I perused and left, hoping that maybe I would still find the market. No luck, so as the heavens begin to pour I made our way home.
Oh but the heavens had only just begun! The rain fell in drenching, soaking, wet to your undies, dripping off your hair kind of way and it was delightful. I'm sure I looked the madwoman dancing in the courtyard and letting the rain wash over me. I felt a hundred years of emotional dust washed away, my spirit becoming lighter and lighter as the rain fell harder and harder. I have a little tent covered with a corrugated top in our yard which created the most delightful drenching shower you could possibly imagine. I took full advantage and I laughed at how wonderful and right it all seemed. Which of course meant that I needed to head out once again to find wine.
I walked a couple of blocks and found a little pastry/pizza shop that sold me a bottle of Chianti and two little cornetto's filled with pistachio cream. The sweet boy smiled at me and said, "I make you a gift." and gave me a couple of pieces of pizza to take home as well, no charge. We chatted a little - he saying that he only knew a little English, me saying that I only knew a little Italian. But smiles are the universal language which we shared.
Sloshing through puddles I made my way home, opened the windows to let the refreshingly cool air into my home. Stripping off the wet clothes and putting on my nightie, I sat outside under the beautiful sky, drinking my wine and eating my pastries, the sunset glinting off the golden ball at the top of the Duomo.
Rain? Thunder? Lightening? All on my first night in Florence? This is not one night that I will ever forget. And I am so grateful for all that led to this moment. This now. This breath. Cleansed and anew, awaiting the next adventure.