This morning I sit high above Florence, in the hills of Fiesole. I look out over a verdant valley dotted with villas, olive groves, vineyards. I am sipping cappucino brought to me by the owner, who wears yellow pants. He has built this hotel in the manner of a villa and supervises the final touches on the extraordinary outdoor swimming pool, fit for a Caesar. Nearby are the doctors who are here as well, chatting and laughing in a manner uncharactristic of American MDs as they prepare to head to Florence for their annual medical society meeting. Florence is overrun with these men and their wives. We like the men....
Milan is a blur of Prada, Duomo, Nambuca and the darling Ambasciatori Hotel with its blue doors, coral leather sofas and wonderful reception people. Miss Rhonda played the Mileage Plus VISA Marathon in Milan, outlasting those bastards in Evanston, Illinois to successfully use her credit card in the manner in which it was intended. What would make VISA security think that they could keep us down under any circumstance? While we did come here to pray and to reflect, we came here to shop, too, and so far...so good...(insert small wry smile here).
I am the subject of a certain curiosity as I write to you this morning, sitting on this exquisite veranda, with the magic of the valley and hills spread out as a fan at my feet. I wear my MONTANA work out shirt and my Oakleys and all the doctor stare, unaware I an see them perfectly behind my glasses. They wonder, what the hell is theese MONTANA? Where the hell is eeet? I, of course, act completely uninterested and wholly unapproachable to exacerbate their curiosity. Score at the end of the first half: North Idaho 1, Italia 0. Not many can play with the girls from CHS <insert very small wink here).
I seem to have gathered a certain notoriety with my traveling compansions, Miss Rhonda and the Princess Alexi. Seems I "got" the first butt pinch and the next day, the follow up dry knee hump from Mario, the gr-AA-test WAY-ter een oll off EEEEE-ta-LEE. Quite clearly, Ma-DRE-o is attracted to women who think, with a certain intellect, and who process internally. I'm just about sure that's what he sees in me (sunglasses off, lip curled here) (the service was great, by the way, and I do not think we would have ever order the cantelope gelato by ourselves, which we loved). sigh. Use 'em and leave 'em.
The trick is to save a part of yourself from it all--a part that maintains a sliver of sanity, the part that helps you understand why it's so beautiful and why it almost haunts you, it's so beautiful.
First, the hotels and villas are completely restful becaue they are quiet. No vacuum cleaners in the villas because the marble and composite floors are best kept with damp mops, improvised in some cases by wraping the push broom they just washed and swept the veranda with with a wet rag. Small but important point. No shouts of "HOUSEKEEPING!" up and down the halls.
No paper plates, napkins, cups. Therefore no litter or debris anywhere. Least of all along the walkways and streets or in your wastepaper bakset in your room.
The hot weather keeps the pace brisk but civil and wonderfully, elegant and deliberate.
Miss Rhonda is fascinated with the manner in which the motor scooters, bicyclists, walkers, cars and buses all share the road with no mishap. They all live together peacefully, none claiming victimization at the hand of the others.
Princess Alexi is seen by one an dall as the local with Miss Rhonda and me, her houseguests, hospititi de casa. We love that. (insert happy little huge to self here)