A view of a room with a view

Posted July 2nd, 2006 by Sylvia S Tognetti and filed in Living in Post-Normal Times, Trip reports, Tuscanophilia

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Firenze June 23, 2006. Florence it seems, has become the ultimate backdrop for the world stage. The eyesore pictured above is the view from the rooftop of an apartment building in downtown Florence, home to a friend from the years I spent in there in middle and high school – I hesitate to say how many years ago but I had a long break from school during the big flood in 1966, and then witnessed the immediate aftermath, when mud flowed from the water faucets. I was actually on my way to Florence from Pisa when it happened but my train was fortunately cancelled (after I was on board). The place has changed. In the opposite direction are building cranes as far as the eye can see. Sideways, in the iconic hillside landscapes, Galileo’s telescopes are still there. So too, the Ponte Vecchio, though it was closed off for the evening for use as a runway for a Roberto Cavalli fashion show, to sell what has become Italy’s best known product ever since Marcello Mastroianni jumped into the Trevi fountain in La Dolce Vita – the male image. The show was part of “Pitti Immagine Uomo” – which, according to the local newspaper, Il Firenze, confirmed the image of the contemporary man as “sportivo-vanitoso” i.e., a vain and sportive type, who wants to be exclusive and sought after at all costs. With the exception of the Cavalli man of course, who strutted his stuff in a multiple use scarf worn as a tie, red violet colors, a shirt with finishing touches in white python, and what have you (I didn’t actually see it and have no idea if it was real python skin – I’m just trying to make sense of the description and my Italian is a bit rusty – but its coming back).
Some things haven’t changed at all. Ulisse Sifossifoco, a Florentine blogger, for whom the Ponte Vecchio is the shortest way to walk home from work, was having none of it. Upon being told the bridge had been acquired for the fashion show and was therefore closed for the evening, he kindly offered to provide a soundtrack for the “brubbrú” parade (boors all dressed up in party clothes), in a “rap di moccoli” – a rap of colorful cussing – which, in the mind of other Italians, is associated with Tuscans as much as is Dante. Though perhaps it is the reason Dante became famous to begin with. After writing in Latin about the eloquence of the vulgar tongue (i.e., the Tuscan vernacular), and after being forced into exile, he wrote The Divine Commedy in what later, in a more polished form, became known as “Italian.” Sifossifoco actually takes his “nom de blog” from a poem by Dante’s verbal sparring partner, Cecco Angiolieri. This poem presents a more archaic male image, as one who, rather than being sought after, seeks after, not women but, younger women – exclusively! But getting back to the problem of crossing the Ponte Vecchio to get home, Sifossi also, of course, offered the option of simply letting him cross it, and was promptly escorted across by two police officers. As he put it, it was like when Pinocchio was brought home, dangling from the arms of two “gendarmi.” (armed guards).
I didn’t witness this one myself or get pictures so I had to take Sifossi’s word for it when I finally had the opportunity to meet him in person. Sifossi, who happens to be the author of a blog I have been reading for a few years, together with another Florentine blogger, La VisContessa, organized a repatriation of bloggers, in Piazza Brunelleschi. And since I just happened to be packing my suitcase when this was announced, and it wasn’t far out of my way, I decided to cover it for The Post-Normal Times
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As a delightful evening drew to a close, I was escorted to my friend’s place – i.e., the room with a view of a room with a view by “Volpe”, on the back of that other great product of Tuscan Pisan design – the vespa. Only to be awakened and embarassed by a soundtrack provided by drunk Americans in the street, singing trying to sing, America the Beautiful. Since most of those buildings don’t have air conditioning, I surely wasn´t the only one sleeping with open windows. It must have been 3 am. The least they could do is get it right. It might even improve international relations – on a personal level anyway. At international scientific meetings, where participants often sing songs from their own countries, Americans actually have a reputation for not being able to sing.
For the Post-Normal Times, this is Sylvia Tognetti, aka, the Ronin Geographer, reporting from a room with a view of a room with a view – of Florence.Italy.
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Postscript: The delay in posting this is because I went off radar shortly afterwards – this time, Italy was on the way to Nairobi, where I went for a workshop, and didn’t have much time for the internet at times that it was accessible – once I finally found a decent connection. I also didn’t have enough time to explore Nairobi enough to blog anything interesting about it, or to go on any safaris, but I did actually notice a man wearing a scarf as a necktie – actually, a french participant in the workshop I was attending. He swore it was nothing new. Italy is also on the way back from Nairobi, And there are a few other stops on the itinerary before getting back to DC, so stay tuned.
Since I’m having internet conection problems, I’ll put additional pictures of the Florentine blogger repatriation, in a trip report, after I get back to Muddy Spring.
Also, in order to content the Viscontentessa, who claims to have lived happily ever discontented, an Italian translation, in the next post
Nel prossimo post, una traduzione in Italiano, per contentare la Viscontentessa – che Visse felice e scontenta… Siccome ho problemi di connezione internet, altre foto della rimpatriata dovranno aspettare il mio ritorno a Muddy Spring, quando scriveró una cronaca di viaggio.

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