In which Geek Magnolia sets off in search of herself.

Hello again Geeks!  It’s been a weird 2016 so far, what with the layoffs and such.  I’m still trying to figure out my next step in life, and as stressful as it is, it is in a way, liberating.  Yes, I have to watch my money, and searching for a job is no fun, but I also have a little bit of freedom to figure out what I want to be, and how I want to approach life.

I won’t say that I’ve been depressed, because I’ve seen depression, and I don’t think my struggles have been that hard.  But I have been down, waffling between hope and exhaustion.  In order to kick-start my mood and tell myself life will still be good, I decided to indulge in my favorite thing ever, travel.

Thanks to Turkish Airways, I was able to get a round trip ticket to Italy for a steal.  So tonight, I’m sitting in my AirBnB apartment in Florence, looking out my window at the bell tower of Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Il Duomo), and blogging about my adventures.  Pretty okay, right?

A Room With a View
A Room With a View

Warning:  Image heavy.

My flight went through Istanbul, and I opted against taking the connecting flight that would have brought me to Rome at midnight.  Fortunately, Ataturk Airport has an airside hotel where you can rent rooms in blocks of 3 hours.  So after a nap and a blissfully hot shower, I was able to catch a flight that put me into Rome around 9:45 in the morning. I followed that up with a train ride to Florence, watching the Tuscan countryside fly by.  Everything was green, and there were huge orchards of what I assume were olive trees, and lots of cows.  Once in Florence, I met my AirBnB host and proceeded to drag my stuff up three flights of stairs, to a tiny apartment in the top of a building on Via del Corso, two blocks east of the Piazza del Republico, and two blocks south of Il Duomo.  And then I climbed yet ANOTHER set of stairs to the bedroom.  Frankly, I feel no guilt for anything I eat here.  Between the walking and the stairs, I’m getting plenty of cardio.

Once my heart slowed down and I could manage to move again, I unpacked as much as I could and sat down and looked out the window.

Worth the four flights of stairs. Mostly.
Worth the four flights of stairs. Mostly.

One of the reasons I chose this particular trip was to kick-start my creativity.  Many of you know that I’m working on a novel, and these old cities are a perfect place to get in the headspace of my main character.  The interaction between people and their environment are one of the key things that a good author gets right when they’re describing a setting.  Houston, while a great place to live, doesn’t really offer what I need in this respect.  

This city and this space where I’m staying have already started to work their magic.  I actually say down and sketched yesterday afternoon.  I haven’t done that in years.  I’ve been journaling and people-watching and studying architecture.  Tomorrow is the big touristy day, capped off with a cooking class.  In retrospect, I could spend another few days here, but hopefully I’ll get the chance to come back some day.

So, now to other impressions/experiences so far.  I haven’t downloaded the pics from the good camera yet, so you’ll have to make do with what I’ve gotten with my phone.  I promise a better set of photos in the future.

All I really had time to see last night was dinner and a couple of shops.  

Oooh. Leather.
Oooh. Leather.
Ristorante Paoli
Ristorante Paoli


The best cantaloupe I have ever eaten.
Melon and Prosciutto

This was quite possibly the best cantaloupe I have ever eaten.  It was vibrant, sweet, and icy cold, and was a perfect foil/companion to the salt and fat of the prosciutto.  I could have just had a second plate of this for my entree.

Main Course

Ravioli Paoli
Ravioli Paoli

This is a spinach and ricotta ravioli with a creamy tomato sauce.  There are also mushrooms, fresh peas, and chopped ham in the sauce.  It was good, but not mind blowing.  Really, I could have had another plate of the melon.

And then back to my little perch and sleep.  So much sleep.  

My tummy wasn’t feeling great this morning, so this afternoon was pretty chill.  Had a light lunch and then wandered the streets, buying a few small gifts.  After gelato and coffee

I am planning to elope with the coffee here. And cheat on it with gelato.
I am planning to elope with the coffee here. And cheat on it with gelato.

I wandered up to Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore and spent between 30 minutes and an hour just gawking and taking pictures.   The picture here does not do justice to the architectural and decorative details on the buildings.  I’ll post more pics when I download shots from the ‘good’ camera.  Note that this is the same tower I can see from my apartment.

 Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

I finished up my afternoon/evening with dinner at Gilli, in the Piazza del Republico, watching the passersby.

Piazza del Republico, viewed from Gilli
Piazza del Republico, viewed from Gilli

The carousel in the piazza that is absolutely beautiful.  The detail work on the inset paintings is lovely, and the lights give it an almost magical air.  By the time I’d gotten close enough for pictures, they’d taken the plumes off of the ponies, but it was still gorgeous.  

Carousel cherub
Carousel cherub
Carousel landscape
Carousel landscape

And then a quick 2 block walk back home, and up the mountain again.  Not a hugely eventful day, but it was a nice precursor to tomorrow.  Now I’m off to do a little writing and fall into bed.  Goodnight Geeks!  More adventures tomorrow!

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