Monday, October 8, 2018

Vieni a vivere e di persona da Firenze

This is going to be short because I'm writing on my Chromebook that has a keyboard too small even for my teeny-tiny hands and everything takes much longer to write because I have to backspace damn near every word to correct typos. 

real pizza margarita
Why, you might ask, am I writing on this thing instead of on my trusty big Mac? See, I can't get to the big Mac right now because I am in Italy tromping around Firenze (Florence for those who have not experienced Firenze) with my best partner in adventures, Jen from Israel. We're on a grown-ups only tour to study the art and architecture of Renaissance Firenze well as eating our way across the city. I'd truly forgotten how good Italian food can be, being that in Minnesota there is no real Italian food, just like there is no good Chinese food because everything has been diluted for the local palate or lack thereof. Meanwhile, the pizza I had for Friday night dinner (I was tired and desperate for food) was like the pizza I grew up with. Shabbat dinner at the kitchen table of my Airb&b just blocks from the Great Synagogue was heaven. 

Yes, I went to shul on Shabbat morning where there was an aufruf which made me feel a little less sad about missing an aufruf and wedding back in Minnesota. The amazing part was I had no trouble following the service and the Torah reading, praying, or talking to the women in the women's section. Some of the tunes might've been different...and one guy reading Torah chanted in an almost Gregorian was just like home. The people were lovely and welcoming. I was invited to lunch, but jet lag was calling. By the time Jen arrived, I was ready to rock'n'roll.

Feet under the.....
Seeing things in person that I have only read about, studied, and even, albeit briefly, taught about, is a paradigm shift. The lecturers and the guides put that which we are seeing into perspective, so much so that all the theory that has danced in my head for decades is now becoming very up close and personal. Having read much about Filippo Brunelleschi and the construction of the Duomo, standing beneath it was the stuff of dreams....his, the Medicis, mine. The engineering did not exist to build such a massive thing, so he invented the tools to make it happen. The sheer length of time and labor that went into this undertaking boggles the imagination. 

Here, time is almost meaningless. History less than 500 years old is modern. Ancient history is present in the buildings, the streets, the layout of the city. As you contemplate how the people of Firenze survived the wars, the pestilence, and recently, the extreme floods, time wraps around itself so that the daily bull-oney of our lives in America seems trite and petty....until you see this:

Then you realize the pettiness does not go unnoticed by the rest of the world. 

Let's go back to the synagogue for a moment.

Sinagoga Maggiore Israelitico
Did I mention the shul is behind a wrought iron fence, or that armed Italian soldiers (not the Carabinieri nor the Polizia) stand guard at the gates all day? This is precautionary because the threat is real. Just like the threat was real in northern Virgina this week where a JCC was vandalized with swastikas. 

We live in a dangerous world. A man was just confirmed to the highest bench in the land, despite credible allegations of sexual misconduct, by a senate that forced out a senator for a jokey photo taken in public, for the public, on an entertainment tour where no assault actually took place. Regardless of the allegations, this man deported himself as an intemperate bully and liar under oath, yet the senate confirmed his appointment. What does that say about our senate? That their rules are different from the rule of law? Or that if you're a party member, you can do or say anything you want? 

This is not a tempest in a teapot. This is a real and credible threat to the health and safety of all women. When an Italian waiter asks me how I can allow this to happen, I can only shrug and say I fought against it and lost.

The shining beacon of hope we once were to people across the globe is dimmed, tarnished, and losing visibility. I can only hope that like the city of FIrenze, we can weather this storm and come out, on the other side, stronger and more learned for the experience. 

The Wifely Person't Tip o'the Week
If you have not been to Italy, you should really go.
Perspective is a good thing.

Filippo Brunellschi's death mask.
This is what crazy genius really looked like.


  1. I like Florence as well, but there is very good Chinese food in the Twin Cities! Italian is harder to find, but there are a few...

    1. I knew a very good Italian in the Twin Cities but then he moved.

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