Friday, 22 September 2006

Post 2

So the weather fell apart.

Chris is dressing in her warmest clothes before we venture out for dinner. There have been small rivers running down the centre of the streets, and getting wet feet has been inevitable. We had a wander after that last post, and came back 1 ½ hours later, rather chilled. At least the room is warm.


Darn it, typing is difficult.

We’ve just got back from dinner.

Chris enjoyed 1 ¼ glasses of a rose wine too pleasant to leave.

The grappa here is delicious.

Alcohol does typing ability no favours at all.

As a matter of interest, after a couple of glasses of wine my nose starts to go numb, followed by my lips, eventually travelling up to my scalp and ears. If my speech makes no sense after a couple of drinks it’s probably not that I’m drunk, so much as my mouth being numb and no longer obedient to my brain. It really does feel like the after effects of a dentist’s anaesthetic, right up to the nose being tickly and ears losing sensation.

Mmmmmm. Garlic reminders.

That WAS a good dinner.

Sunday morning.

We awake to the sound of running water, and it wasn’t the people in the room above preparing a bath.

Actually that’s not entirely true. We awoke several times during the night. People walking through the streets about 70 feet below us wanting the world to know they’d had a good time. The streets are so narrow that all sound is reflected upward by the stonework, penetrating any acoustically soft surfaces like windows and entering the room of sleepers to jar them awake.

The bathroom here is almost funny, except we have to use it.

Breakfast came in plastic bags, although the coffee was freshly prepared with steamed milk etc, and very strong. Dark and rich without an excess of bitterness. I can see where the various by supermarkets and coffee shops attempts at producing an Italian-style coffee have come from, but they all land wide of the mark. I think we might attempt to find a café tomorrow as this level of fare is almost insulting.

Looking from our window we can see the clouds have come right down now. Towers have lost their tops: the Duomo tower with it’s zebra strips has disappeared almost completely. The rain has also jacked up a few notches since I started typing. It was just steady but mild, whereas now it’s hammering down. Chris bought a guide book that described the various floods this area experienced. In 1966 they had flooding in Florence so severe that people died and many buildings were filled with mud. That started with rains in mid September……. But repeating that is a helluva way to signal our arrival here.

Italian beds (from a sample of 2) are a mixed blessing. The good thing is that they all seem HUGE. Wider than many American double beds I’ve slept in. The bad is that they are very firm. This is causing me problems with nerves in my back, with pains resulting in my right hip and knee. Sometimes exercise and stretching helps, but I’ve done a bit and the relief was very temporary. Oh well, no point in moping.

I think we should go out soon. Staying in the room will only fray tempers, and it would be better to get wet but see some of the city than stay indoors and come home empty.

Right, back again.

We had a good morning, wandering round. Headed up to the Duomo, then off to the right to find the old city hospital: Santa Maria della Scala. 6 euros buys entry to what appears to be a relatively simple grand building with extensive paintings on its plaster walls. That’s on the surface of it.

So we wandered round the paintings, through a few rooms with more paintings, we looked at the walking stick collection (more than you’d think it might be) before following a set of steps heading down for the Siena archaeological museum.

There is a lot of stuff underground.

After a couple of hours walking through tunnels, corridors, darkened rooms and chambers filled with Egyptian, Etruscan, Roman and Greek artefacts you stop concentrating on the artefacts and start to focus on the tunnels. We went down 3 levels, and there were more levels yet, although we didn’t find out how many. Glass panels in the floor showed lower areas too that were quite extensive. There were steps in the walls leading up and down into darkness. This is the kind of place that would have you believe that the daVinci code might be real after all.

Chris kept on saying “this building’s weird” so much that she started to apologise for it. Seriously though, it was *weird*!

There were other things that made me feel uncomfy both yesterday and today. We’ve been in a few places with paintings out of Christian ‘mythology’ now. The raising of Theophilus’ son from the dead….. 14 years after he died? Peter and Paul doing certain things together that they never did. Peter being enthroned etc etc. Virgin birth of Mary anyone? I find it no surprise that people observing traditional ‘christianity’ decided it's mumbo jumbo. Yes, we can’t know God in all his fullness, but there’s certainly no need to make up fanciful stories to ‘prove’ how all powerful He is. This makes me really mad.

Andrew – if you’re reading this: THIS is what the *traditional* church is all about to me. THIS is what I hate with a passion. For me, all the robes, rituals, bells and smells lead right back to this kind of flight of fancy, where stories get swapped and grown or invented and the are used to justify certain actions and attitudes.

Anyway enough ranting. Off to find the University Santa Chiara for registration and the start of the sessions.

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