60 Years Ago Today

Saturday, 5 July 1952:

Knock, knock, knock! At 5:30 in the morning no less. I didn’t get off until 6:30 a.m. though. We went up through the hills and found an Arrow Route War Cemetery and olive groves. Next was Fiesole which was a thriving Etruscan town in 5 b.c. Fiesole had always been of great importance throughout history because of its high scenic location.

The Villa Medici at Fiesole was one of the oldest Renaissance residences with a garden and also one of the best preserved. Villa Medici Cathedral in Fiesole was dedicated to Saint Romulus. They had an early mass with a beautiful glass chandelier. All early churches faced west.

Also, there was a tower like the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Once more in the tower we saw a panoramic view of Florence. At the Franciscan Mission and Museum the Italians were burning something for their early mass. Then we saw more archeological relics.

Next on the tour was the cemetery where Elizabeth Barrett Browning was buried. Then the Michelangelo Square where there was a copy of the statue of David. We journeyed back to the hotel for breakfast. I had red hot donuts in the alley and fresh orangeade at the corner joint. It was cooler and cheaper than the first one we had gone to. At 10:15 a.m. we were off for new fields to conquer.

We trekked to the San Marco church where Christ is surrounded by medals. And then to the National Museum. Now back to my favorite café for lunch. It was just like home now. I had every meal here—breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Buca Niccolini Ristorante.

Dante’s Inferno hit us as we stepped onto the sidewalk. We passed the Palazzo Vecchio. David Neplone and the rest of the crew were standing ready to greet us. Still there were buildings that were mined by the Germans in World War II. The bombs were electronically controlled under buildings, streets, cathedrals. I saw a man repairing the street with bricks. We drooled over the luscious shops built along both sides of Vecchio Bridge.

Then we moved to the Pitti Palace where the pillars were painted to look real in room one. There was a green huge marble Medici bathtub in the middle of room four and later a jewel case presented to Catherine II. In room seven there was a stunning chandelier.

Along the river we passed kids swimming in the Arno River. Some of us went back to the hotel and six of us took off for Santa Croce. However, I decided to follow an American speaking guide around. He opened a painting to show old murals behind the painting. He also pointed out all the graves of the famous men buried here.

Then Henry acted as a guide to get us back to the hotel. One street over from the cathedral I bought a pencil at a street-side shop. Left behind I had to find my own way back. I went through a street market covering several blocks clear to the hotel corner. The kids were waiting in the lobby to go with Herr Watkins to visit his teacher.

I decided to stay back and get things done. I went for a bath and the bathtub water gushed out really strong. I managed to squeeze in the small bathtub (Italians are much smaller) and washed clothes before leaving for the concert at 8:30 p.m.

We found our enclosed way across Ponte Vecchio to Pitti Palace. It was 250 lire for non pesti or enclosed seats. There was a beautiful huge yellow moon that hung just at the corner of the building. It looked like a magnificent painting itself.

The concert had Italian music with three soloists singing under a concrete arch. The conductor played the piano as well as leading the orchestra. The concert didn’t start till almost 10 p.m. We met some art students from Stevens College who were spending most of their time in Florence. It turned out to be a nice evening.

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