Monday, 3 December 2012



My birthday present to myself is my first visit to Florence.

High Mass well sung in Latin in the Duomo. Not a very large congregation. 

Practicing my Romanian on the beggars, at least one of whom was not a gypsy, so she said, but a Romanian who claimed not to be able to find work as a cleaner.

Next door to my hotel is a Romanian alimentar stocked with Romanian products for Romanians nostalgic for home. The owner who has lived here for ten years tells me that there are 10,000 Romanians in Florence, half of whom are gypsies. He has never had any experience in his eleven years here with xenophobia or racism, thanks he said to the left wing regional government. He does not like Italy though: too many taxes, too many rules; too much legislation.

I queued for only twenty minutes for the Ufizzi, but I spent less than two hours there because the sun came out.

Florence is not stunningly beautiful in the way Rome and Venice are. Most of its treasures are indoors but in the December sunshine, without many tourists, it is a delight. I gorge on Renaissance sculpture. 

Some good Florentine meals, which are very simple. Cuts of meat cooked with herbs.

48 hours was far too little and I shall return but in winter again. I am sure I should not like the place thronged in summer. I am sure it absorbs tourists less well than Venice or Rome which both get far too many.

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