October 17th, 2008

alan - joshua tree bloom

Morning -

Fully breakfasted, with a view of the moon in the sky, we are now on our leisurely way to Florence, with a good-bye to Siena, home of legendary Santa Caterina.  
Book Cover

Evening in Florence!



This is part of the view from the roof-top of where we are staying, the Santa Maria Novella Hotel in Florence, which is exquisite, and as centrally located as one could want.

The drive from Siena to Florence was unimaginable.   We rose and rose and passed through the Italian countryside which glowed.  Autumn is clearly here and the leaves are falling.   I read the guidebook and see that what I've been calling golden light is known as amber.

As we traveled along, immersed and absorbed in the countryside, I felt my heart lift higher in my chest.   It kept rising as we easily found our hotel and checked in.  We walked to "our" church, Santa Maria, and then, to "the church," the duomo.   Oh, my!   First, we stood outside, awed, and then, we gently entered, and walked around and sat and all the time my heart was expanding, and I understood the word uplifting in a new way.  I always thought it was about the head, but it is about the heart, being lifted up on a pillow, like a chalice.   We walked outside and realized we could go up in the cupola.  They have a warning about the heart.  They might have mentioned claustrophobia.  It is over 400 steps and you go round and round in a narrow little chamber, and then, you come out, and walk around up in the air and look down.  Oh, my!

Then, you go higher and are outside at the top of the cupola, looking down and around 360 degrees, at all of Florence, and the surrounding hills.  That would be more than enough, but then, you go down a little and come out, where the painting is on the dome, and you are looking eye level, close as can be, at a foot, a leg, all of it, and the faces are intricately painted and there you are.   It is impossible to describe the experience.

We went down and again sat and absorbed. 

I have decided the reason the Italians are different is because they are continually being stimulated in a left-brain, right-brain way.  You curve on the streets. You go round and round.   We certainly curved going up and down in the duomo and dome.   I think we have too many straight lines in the U.S.   The walls here wave.   We are staying in some old hotels, though this one is pretty straight.  It has a teeny-tiny elevator to the roof and there is Florence.  I watched the sun go down from the roof.

Now, I'm dressed for dinner.  Soon we head out.   I am enchanted!