Sunday, February 14, 2010

February 14, 2010: Valentine’s Day

Sunday, February 14, 2010 (Dieter): Breakfast served with a heart-shaped serviette and sweet chocolate kisses. We attended mass in the Domo Cathedral – how different from each of the other services we had attended. First, the choir was pre-recorded and played through a sound system. Second, the Italian literary was challenging to understand as the readings and presentations from the various priests echoed a minimum of five times and sometimes even canceling the following sounds through the huge dome and four outer rooms. Third, the paintings in the ceiling of the dome made us feel very uneasy as it represented the end of the world, with most of the ceiling depicting scenes from fiery hell, with the skin of humans being peeled of and various fearful faces of those enroute or already in hell, with Satan and his demons in pleasure of pulling, ripping, and throwing people into the various chasms of the paintings. We left after the second reading and immediately on our exit, were approached by beggars. Irony that in a city of poverty, there also exists some of the worlds most expensive fashion designer outlets. We listened to street performers. We took in the tour of the Anthropology museum (again no photos allowed). We discovered a number of exhibits from the various places we had visited. Maori displays from New Zealand; Aborigine shields and boomerangs from Australia; Chaco Indian headdresses and blow-darts from Paraguay; Inuit clothes and sunshields from Churchill. However, just as the previous day, many of these items were collected in the 1700-1800’s. We saw a 7-foot Narwhale tusk behind glass, almost the same length as the one that Karannina and Alexander got to hold in Churchill. Back on the street, we enjoyed more street performers, even chalk artists. Amazing what life they could bring to the dirty streets of Florence. I was once again reminded that it was Valentine’s Day at a Guess Fashion store. Florence as the fashion capital of Italy, many statements are being made as with the low riding jeans, the selling of knock-off Hugo Boss watches, and of course, the amazing Gastronomical invitations of thumbs-up Giovanni. We do one last tour, the former palace and castle of the Medici family. Although Napoleon had taken any valuable furniture, treasures, and chandeliers, he left the huge and heavy artwork on the ceilings – which are still stunning today. Even more interesting is how the art is suspended in the 60-foot ceiling. We had a tour of the attic and are amazed at the engineering feats of hanging ornate paintings with 24 karate gold leaf. The tour took us through a few hidden rooms and passageways just large enough for a 60kg 5-foot person. Amazing again at the secret panels that once held countless jewels and the manner in which the treasures were hidden behind paintings indicated the contents in mythological stories. Again, overly stimulated by the liturgy, fashions, and art, we head straight to our favorite kabob place, order our usual and head back to our hotel to enjoy our last night and pack for our next adventure to Vanessa.

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