Fatigue set in badly during the last week of our course. Multiple lessons, a final, and the mounting effects of sleeping on a bed that has more in common with a hammock than a Posturepedic left us dazed more than anything. So, when everything finally came to its close, we were happy to have our tiny little graduation ceremony and then have dinner together one last time before everyone took off to various corners of the earth. The destination for me and Julia, was probably the closest: Fiesole.
Fiesole is Florence before there was any Florence. When thinking about repelling various goths, barbarians, and Romans, would you want to make your home next to a swampy, mosquito-ridden river, or would you want to live at the top of a hill, where the sun cuts through the thin clouds, and a you can see the entire expanse of the valley? Hell, if you were thinking about about repelling guidos from the Jersey Shore, where would you live?
The town’s been there somewhere between 3000 years and 40 years. I can’t be bothered to do this research. The way you get there is by taking a snaking bus ride all the way up its hill for about half an hour. Once there, we looked into several options. We first went toward the Roman amphitheater, which is supposed to be in pristine condition. We say supposed to, because it cost like 30 euros to get in. This ain’t the Colosseo, dudes. Next, we just went up, without knowing where we would go. We had a short picnic, while severely hoping that no weirdos sat near us, and then kept going up. On the way, there was an art gallery in a converted church that featured all sorts of erotic pottery in day-glo colors. A case of the giggles had me leaving there a little early. At the very top of the hill was the monastery of San Francesco. Located here were the cells of San Bernardino, the patron saint of heart disease, compulsive gambling and communication. Must explain the quality of this post. I went through it, got the same old silenzio routine, and we descended back down.
Back at the bus stop, there was an impressive crowd around the signpost. The people were milling around, attempting to look at it and sit down. The two of us just decided to sit down and wait. After a little while, I walked up and looked at the sign. The bus wouldn’t come for the next three hours. I then translated that message for the confused folks around me.
Now, why would buses simply be canceled for a few hours on a weekend? My first thought was that there was a strike, because it’s Italy, and striking is the second biggest national sport behind soccer. It turns out, I wasn’t too far off, because it was for a different sort of sport: people going up hills. A half hour later, the main thoroughfare of Fiesole was a stream of humanity, people on bicycles, young folks climbing up the hill by taking huge strides, older folks jogging gingerly, others trying to do that power walk where your ass goes 180 degrees each time you take a step. They were accompanied by cars and motorcycles covering the event for some Rai sports channel buried deep in the purgatory of satellite coverage. After the first hour, though, it got kind of depressing. The first group were people that were succeeding, overcoming this obstacle, but the rest were just getting eaten alive. They were limping up the hill, and we were just wondering why they weren’t sitting down right now. More power to them, but that was miserable looking.
After a drink, and picking out what cloud shapes looked like, the faucet finally shut off, and were able to catch our ride back into Florence. That would be the last time that we would come back into Florence.