I think in Verona you can visit Romeo and Juliet’s balcony, which is just silly. There aren’t any places like that in the Centro Storico of Florence. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of places to acquire Crappa Touristica throughout Italy. It just hasn’t been taken to the Disney level we experience in the US. The most heinous and simultaneously, funniest thing I saw was a pair of boxer shorts with THE David’s glory parts emblazoned on the front in the colors of the Italian flag. Disney would be proud.

Florence is entirely different from Rome. If Rome is a classic Greek sculpture with a saucy wink and her skirt lifted for a peek, Florence is a Botticelli painting. Radiant, peaceful and full of the promise of life. You wouldn’t guess that from the train station which is cold, grey and wildly unattractive, but the world outside is beautiful.

There is no dog poop here. If there is,it’s beautiful, Floren-TINE, dog poop and as such it’s not a bother. The hotel, again thanks to the internet, is cozy, well situated and just perfect. I’m wondering where the towels are in the bathroom while clutching several blanket sized waffle weave dish rags. That’s when I realize those are the towels. I feel grateful not to have called down to the front desk to have towels sent up.

Then there is the small matter of the bidet. To me, it’s an idea whose time has come. To teenagers it’s a funny piece of plumbing that looks like a toilet and a sink. I’ve taken to calling it the butt washer. You can take the girl out of grade school but you can’t take the grade school out of the girl. Ellie tries it and proclaims it odd, but refreshing.

We tour the sights, settle in, acclimate to the time change and I practice my toddler Italian on all. The Italian Rosetta Stone program has taught me several things and I think it pretty much has us covered. As long as it is a conversation about a horse who either is or is not eating a carrot, or if I will give discourse at great length about blue and yellow plates. For everything else there is sign language and emphatic pointing. One sweet girl begs me to speak English please – while I attempt to explain that my daughter the horse would like to eat some chocolate carrots, on a blue plate….

My other piece of language acquisition is one I plan to use as a talisman to ward off Anti-American feelings. I’ve learned how to say The Crazy Cowboy if anyone mentions our Fearless Leader George Bush. What we find instead is sympathy. In fact, one gentleman makes a point of telling us, look at some of the bozos we Italians have had as leaders and leaves it at that. It is the same pretty much everywhere we go. I will post the picture of the graffiti we found on the wall of a home. It’s a stencil of George with devil horns with the caption below – Give me a banana – in Italian.

Actually there are two phrases I can carry off quite well “Due Cappuccini per favore, or due vini rossi! Those magical commands bring lovely, fatigue erasing, coffee or lovely, fatigue erasing, red wine. Either way we cannot miss!

Next stop Venice.

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