Today I left the island of Sicily and went to the Italian mainland, the city of Florence, the nucleus of the Renaissance.
The Coin of the Day is from Taras.
Coin of the Day
Didrachm of Taras, 281-272 BCE
Obverse, Horseman. Reverse, Taras on a dolphin and waves.
Taras is commonly referred to as a Greek colony in Calabria, and Calabria is the “toe” of the Italian “boot,” just across from Sicily. Surely an appropriate choice for the Coin of the Day when traveling from Sicily to the Italian mainland.
There’s only one problem with this. Taras is modern day Taranto, and Taranto is in Apulia, not Calabria! Apulia is the “heel” of Italy.
It turns out that “Calabria” used to refer to all of the far southern parts of the Italian mainland, hence the confusion. And (whew) the coin is still relevant.
Flight to Florence
Enough of this group of twenty-odd people is going on to Florence that we took up a significant percentage of seats on the regional jet that made the hop.
I took this picture of the Strait of Messina from the air. Appropriate, because in essence we are crossing it.
On arriving in Florence we took ground transport to downtown; most of the group stayed in a hotel in downtown Florence. They were sold out (surprise!) by the time I finally made my reservations, so I picked a different place, also downtown, not too much further away from anything except for the Academia than theirs.
It’s hard to say whether I got a worse place than they did. They were in a “bathroom down the hall” hotel, and had to wait in shifts for the toilet and shower, and I wasn’t, but mine had no air conditioning whatsoever, and it was still hot. The “anomalia,” as a Sicilian newspaper called it in a headline I spotted, was continuing. They protested that the air conditioning had been shut off on September 21, but I pointed out that their hallways were cool. (I tried finding another place to no avail.) I was able to cool the room by leaving the window open and hoping the mosquitos stayed away. They did.
In fact, I had astonishingly little trouble with mosquitoes for almost the entire trip. I’m usually their preferred dish at the animal blood buffet line.
I could even cross-ventilate for a couple of hours in the early evening by leaving the door open and the lights off (to avoid attracting bugs). But I figured this out a day or two later.
We landed in Florence (Firenze) about 2:30 PM and took cabs to our hotels, except for me. Two people in our group were going to yet a third hotel; I decided to try to join their cab. The cab driver flatly refused to drop me at my hotel even though it wasn’t that far from their hotel, and when I asked him to drop me at their hotel, he refused to do that too.
OK. Well, obviously it’s some sort of deal between cab drivers (this guy was trying to force me to take another cab), and there was no way I was going to reward that, so I took a bus.
I got there early enough to find a laundromat, a place that sold bottled water, etc., etc. Other than the hotel room itself, logistics were very easy here, instead of nearly impossible like in Sicily (other than Mussomeli). There was even a place to ship stuff home. That was important because European airlines are very strict about carry on allowances, and I had a bunch of fragiles I didn’t want to check, accumulated over the course of the trip. Monday is going to be a down day with not much open (state-run museums in Italy are closed Mondays) so I’ll ship a bunch of stuff home then–everything I don’t absolutely need for the rest of the trip.
Cool. Other than this hotel, Florence won’t be a pain in the butt.
I did find this church, the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella (does this mean that she was the patron saint of medium-short fiction?), a short walk away from my hotel (apparently there are landmarks all over the place here), and discovered a place offering tours of Pisa, even on Mondays (good thing to do for the down day), but I held off, thinking I might find enough things to do locally then, museum closures or no.
Dinner was on my own, and even though it was at a “real” restaurant, reasonable.
Tomorrow: Renaissance architecture and David.