Florence Italy is one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. Spectacular architecture, mind watering

food, friendly inhabitants and a corresponding climate all contribute to it’s justly deserved reputation. This

story is about none of those things.

Chris and I left Greece reluctantly, after three months of crazed wanderings through the islands (I refer-

red to us as the Crazed Wanderers for this time period.) We hitched out of Athens with two German guys

from Koln - and naturally, whose names have evaporated with several thousand of my brain cells - north

to the ruins at the temple of Delphi. Here I felt unbalanced, as if I were the memory of someone else star-

ing out through my eyes at that magical location. Several wine festivals were visited, of which I remember

next to nothing, for reasons previously mentioned. Eventually we wended our way to Corfu, took the ferry

across the Adriatic Sea to Brendisi and hitched up the coast to Bari. Here we
found a predictably nameless ride across the boot of Italy to the ruins of Pompeii, and then north to Rome. Italians have a hard

earned reputation for psychosis behind the wheel of an automobile, and my sole memory of this ride confirms the accuracy of that bias.

My memory of Rome is sketchy, concerned mostly with their wonderful Italian ice, and Santa Maria della Concezione Via

Veneto at Piazza Barberini: a monastery where the walls were adorned - truly COVERED, next to no space in between - with the skull and skeletal remains of the previous monk inhabitants. Im-

mortality rears it’s head in strange and wondrous ways.

Venice has been called the one tourist trap in the world you truly must see. Heeding that advice, we began looking for transportation

that would take us through Tuscany.  We found a dimly remembered

American going that direction who took us to Venice, through the magnificent Dolomites and into Austria.

From here we found a ride through Switzerland - and unfortunately nowhere near the Matterhorn, which

carries a near religious symbolism in my personal mythology - and up into southwest Germany where we

stayed with our friends Gisela and Jurgen in Freiberg. But - I run ahead of myself.

On our way out of Rome we stopped in Florence for a day or two in that enchanted place. 

We had been on the road for five months and were beginning to be aware of our dwindling financial

resources, so we found the local Youth Hostel (fortunately not spelled Hostile, as many seemingly were)

and checked in. We went to a small outside ristorante for lunch, about which I recall nothing other than

the way the food exited my body. Maybe it was the water...    

I left the table and lurched for the hostel, not quite running in an attempt to keep any fluids inside me. The

bathroom emptied as if I had yelled Fire!, and I dropped to my knees in front of the closest available toilet

and Reagan O’Kneelled: Mr. Creosote from Monty Python’s  The Meaning of Life would have been

envious. I regurgitated till my organs were spotless. Then, for a half hour that felt like eons, I would dry

heave into the toilet and squirt liquid feces on my heels. This is my one abiding image of Florence: not

even a bathroom wall, but the truly vile interior of an abused toilet. And my feet that looked like...I won’t

tell you how they appeared. I’ll bet you have a pretty good image of them right now.


I am available to write a travelers guide to Florence. I’m not holding my breath, or anything...

Email Me