So we left Florence (or Firenze, if you're Italian) and are now on our way to Pisa (which I keep wanting to spell "Piza"). I'm just sitting in the back of the car with the laptop as Dad drives.
'Twas an interesting city, which reminded me a lot of San Francisco, though much, much older. The streets (as is typical in Italy) were also much, much narrower.
Pretty much everything I could say about Venice applies to Florence, with the exception of the canals. There was a lot of pretty stuff, with some very large buildings that were built 8-900 years ago. We toured the gallery in the very first office building ever (the Uffizi), went inside the cathedral, and heard a lot about how the Renaissance got started. Mom also bought lots of pretty things.
We looked at pretty stuff. I'm not really sure what else to say.
Well, actually ... there was one really cool thing about Florence (aside from all the statues of naked men). It has The Best Gelato In The World(tm). (Or so it was rated -- but I tend to agree.) We went to that Gelateria two nights in a row -- and last night, I was thoroughly amused because when we walked in, they were playing the Ghostbusters theme song.
The Best Gelato In The World, and Ghostbusters. How very ... Zen. There's probably a koan in that somewhere. ::giggles::
>>> Speaking of Zen...
My frustration with my family continues. After talking about it with Dad last night, I decided to take a position of complete and utter apathy.
The problem I've been having (or at least, an excellent illustration of the problem) is that nobody seems to pay attention to anyone else, especially when it comes to navigation. Everyone looks at a map or the GPS or whatever, and then is so sure they know which way is the Right Way(tm), that they start talking over everyone else and not listening.
I'm just as guilty of this as everyone else, by the way.
So I set myself a challenge the night before last -- next time there is disagreement about navigation, don't get caught up in that. If others want to fight, that's fine, but it's not OK for me. Instead, I should just step back and observe. Watch them fight, watch the feelings and reactions that arise in me.
We actually haven't had a navigational fight since then, so meeting my goal has been pretty easy thus far.
I grabbed my Dad and talked to him a bit last night about the vacation as a whole. I'll try to paraphrase the conversation here.
I told him, "I'm a bit concerned that this vacation has been wasted on me. It seems like most of what I've been doing on this trip is chasing after Mom."
He responded to the effect of, "Well, yeah, if you look at it as chasing Mom, you're going to have a miserable time. You're gonna be spending all of your time, in your head, thinking about how pissed you are at following Mom around."
"Yeah, but ... I'm feeling like we're just jumping from pretty thing to pretty thing. That gets pretty boring after a while."
"Yeah, you're right. That's why we tried to switch it up between city and country. But think about what it took to build those things, OK? I mean, think about what those people had to do, in the 12th and 13th centuries, to build a dome that size."
"Yeah. Hmm. Maybe my expectations were too high."
"It's a Zen thing, right? Just appreciate the cathedral for what it is."
...and he's right. I'm thinking, "OK, I'm getting really bored looking at all this shit.", but maybe that's all I'm supposed to be doing -- looking at it and saying "ooh, pretty", appreciating the beauty, marvelling at the effort it took to build such a thing, and moving on. Maybe that's all anyone ever can do in museums and galleries.
But I don't know -- I tend to want to look deeper than that. I don't care, for instance, that the dome is 700 feet off the ground and 330 feet in diameter (or whatever). I want to know about the minds that designed and constructed such a thing. What were they thinking, and what was their perspective like such that they chose to undertake such a massive project?
The largest and most beautiful of these monuments are monuments to an idea -- that of the Christian religion. What was society like at that time? Why did they choose to build such a monument? Things like that -- things you can't learn by staring at pretty things.
Ah, well. For now, I'll do the "Zen thing", and that'll be just fine.