Monday, June 27, 2016

Always Two Sides

Yesterday morning the amount of screeching and banging in my flat indicated my upstairs neighbor was once more honing her career skill set. She was moving the furniture this way and that, again and again, trying to place every item in some imaginary van. I knew enough to wait patiently for her to finish before trying to work, but then I heard men's voices and the sound of steel striking steel. Perhaps the noise wasn't being made by my neighbor after all.

I peeked out the window and realized the gods-who-hate-complainers had meted out my punishment. I should never have written that blog post about my noisy neighbors. For there, in the street, I saw a huge truck filled with steel poles and men who seemed bent on destroying what little peace and quiet I'd managed to achieve.

It seems Florence has decided another sinkhole will never harm their city again as it did this May when a water main break "sunk" dozens of cars, so they're in the process of checking several water lines in town. These men will be using jackhammers to tear up part of the street each day from 8:00 until 5:00 all this week. My street. This week. My last week in Florence.
The sinkhole that is still being repaired. Stock Photo
I escaped the flat early yesterday afternoon, friends took me for a pity-drink after class, and I went out for dinner with Jenny who'd just returned from walking on water. (She's not a deity, just an admirer of artist Christo's work. She walked the orange floating piers he created on Lake Iseo in northern Italy.) Then we ambled over to the best gelato spot in town at Piazza Passera.

But I couldn't postpone going back to the flat forever. At some point or another, I'd have to face the destruction those men and machines had created. Jenny kindly went out of her way to walk me home and to tell me to look on the bright side. A blocked street meant no buzzing vespa motorscooters at night.

That's when I realized there are always two sides to everything.

My neighbor at the Toscanella Restaurant, who had to be even more inconvenienced by the havoc than I was since patrons are not usually attracted to the ambience created by jackhammers, used the blocked street to his advantage.

He placed some painted screens to hide the jackhammer machines and torn up street, added white tablecloths and colorful chairs, placed a flower arrangement and candles to add dimension, and called it al fresco dining under the stars!

This wonderful man created one of the loveliest, albeit ephemeral, dining spots in all of Florence. He took a disaster and turned it into a gift.
I have been in Florence for almost four weeks and have learned a tremendous amount about Renaissance art and Florence itself. I can now talk somewhat knowledgeably about Michelangelo and Leonardo. I know the best places in town to shop and to eat.

But if I remember nothing else from this month in Florence--if I forget the definition of contrapuntal or chiaroscuro, or if the name of the leather market fades--I hope I will always remember one thing. I want to always remember the lesson I learned last night.


  1. Si Si, that's Italia. ALWAYS something being renovated. They learned from the Romans and they wouldn't change a thing.

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