I arrived with magical illusions for this city; the long lost name for my daughter, pipped at the post with Matisse for my first, and then Elspeth second time around. My third daughter will definitely be called Florence, I vowed… until I had a 2 and 3 year old and renewed that vow in the form of a totally different one to never have more children.
Then we arrived in “Florence” and its actually called “Firenze” which I can’t quite as vividly imagine naming my child.
And then, the kids got on my nerves so intensely the entire time, that I can’t bear to associate the name with child, and I will never be able to call a future child Florence either.
We have entered a new era with Matisse and attitude to rival Nick Kyrgios or Lleyton Hewitt - but not John McEnroe, because it’s not even slightly entertaining. I won’t bore you with the details, I would literally keel over and die if I had to re-envisage them.
I was shooting a few emails back and forth with my work colleague this morning and he asked me “why I wasn't swimming naked in a fountain or something Italian like that.” I didn’t realise this was a quintessential Italian activity, but I now plan on doing some research. I joked it was too cold and I hadn’t had enough limoncello. And although both those things are a tiny bit true, the real truth is that I would have tried to drink the fountain and never come up for air. Two emails later, after I had bragged about prosciutto and walks at dusk in the Tuscan countryside he said it was going to be hard to come back to reality. I reflected on the behaviour of the kids and said something quite a bit stronger than “it wasn’t going to be that hard.” And then I really appreciated the kids taking the glimmer off the holiday and tempting me to commit suicide in an Italian fountain, for helping make my return to work look dazzling.
Anyway. Firenze, the not name of my imaginary third child.
Firenze, is, however, the name of a very remarkable city. Streets to wander aimlessly for days, filled with artisan shops, patisseries, charming pizzerias and gelato shops - until the moment that you want any one of those things and you can only find all the other parts of the puzzle. There was also A LOT OF leather, enough to convince an unsuspecting person that a brown leather jacket is an essential souvenir for their time in the city. I also found a tea shop and spent 100 Euro on tea which I promptly shipped back to Australia and called “gifts” hoping that customs don’t confiscate it. Note there was also a few cannabis shops around which I didn’t take the same approach with - sorry Mum.
Sacrilegiously for my time in the heart of Tuscany, I invested a considerable amount of time, coin and digestive juices at this French market 50m from our apartment. I ate 70,000 baguettes, give or take, I lost count at 67,875. They baked them on site, and when you bought them they were crispy AF, and steaming hot with cheese melting on the inside. Dinner one night consisted of them in the double digits. I salivate with amore at the memory. The kids sat on the pavement beside the road and ate them, with real life cars driving past. I CBF asking them to stand up for the trillionth time; I was high on baguette. So I just sat in the gutter and took a photo. Parental highlight. Karl was drunk at Oktoberfest so if he dares judge I will legit smash.
Beside the French bread, I bought a few kilos of French cheese and ate it all, mould included. Although I did cut some off when it didn’t appear to be a deliberate characteristic of the cheese, and reflecting on the fact I had purchased it directly from the market square, non climate cooled bench, in 30 degree Celsius temperature....
Back to Firenze. There is also an absolute minefield of monuments and history to soak up. Italy has birthed some absolute geniuses. For example, Da Vinci - world class inventor and artist. Last time I checked, none of Einstein’s artworks were exhibited in the Louvre. But did we brave the hour long lines with two erratic children, just to get in and yell at them to stop wrestling into the art or licking the floor? No. I will be coming back to Italy solo. Probably in winter, so I can take in the fireplaces and winter game potential of the Italian alps whilst I am at it. For now, I am just appreciating the chance to spend really quality time with my children in a city where no one can understand what I am saying when I am telling them off.
Wait. We did do the Pitti Palace. Amongst the royal glitter Matisse took on the persona of a genuine princess and declared she would rather be at school than in Italy with me. I can’t wait for her to have kids. Payback is the real reason parents want to become grandparents. Am I right?
OK. OK. I concede. The kids can be good too. My perspective is currently unhinged, but it could range from as little as 20% of the time, to 90% of the time. But the power of that 80% or 10% is…….. easily surpassed by the power of a Tuscan red at dinner (or lunch); a life elixir that can really keep things in perspective. I am having an incredible time.
In other critical updates; the best scones of my life at the tea shop, I was positively delusional with ecstasy eating them. Not the same day I spent the euros on the tea, I might add.
PS. I love my children. Don’t call the authorities.
Here are some photos.