169. Magic Moments

Sometimes, the things you remember most are the little things.

Not the big must-do attractions like the Colosseum or the Vatican, but the moments stumbled upon, that almost take you by surprise.

Street Arts

One such moment was in Florence. We were heading back to our hotel to make our way out of the city, and we passed an artist making little watercolor sketches clearly aimed at the tourist trade. Normally, one might turn up one’s nose at such things, but something drew me in, and I bought one for 10 euro, probably because I have had a thing recently for sunflowers and the color yellow. I had a premonition that, taken out of the tourist context, it would look just right. And sure enough, newly installed on my kitchen wall, it does.

But what makes the moment even more magical is that when we asked the artist for his card, he created one right before our eyes. Ben was so charmed he framed it and has it on his desk.

Making our card. He asked us if we wanted a view of the Duomo or the Ponte Vecchio. We chose the bridge.

In addition to the visual arts, the Italian streets are alive with the sound of music. Especially at the passeggiata time of early evening, when everyone is out for a stroll, the streets are filled with musicians, singers and dancers, upturned hat or instrument case on the pavement, singing for their supper.

Opera in the street in Florence

We heard opera, Michael Jackson, and with uncanny frequency, Sinatra’s “My Way. I don’t know whether that song somehow resonates with Italians, or whether they have the idea that Americans love it and will be inspired to be generous.

I usually avoid this kind of thing like the plague, but when she launched into O Sole Mio, after “My Way” of course, I got teary.

My favorite performer was Joe Bless (Instagram and Facebook: @joeblessmusic), who sang Ed Sheeran numbers about a block from the Spanish Steps in Rome. In this little clip, he turns off his boombox musical accompaniment and had the crowd join him a capella. Those songs will now never fail to remind me of that night.

A Spiritual Moment

It was a damp and chilly evening, and we had walked more than ten miles that day. We had two hours to kill before our dinner reservation, and we did not want to spoil our appetites by stopping in a bar for a drink or a snack. We were nowhere near our apartment. What to do?

Thankfully, I spied the welcoming light of the Church of Santa Eustachio. It was 5:30, and the Saturday evening Mass was about to begin. “Let’s go to church,” I suggested. So sure enough, we did. It was warm and cozy, and so empty of worshippers that the priest came out beforehand and asked us to do the readings. I’m not sure if it was my “Non parlo italiano” or the look of terror on my face, but he beat a hasty retreat. So we spent a rejuvenating hour, with me seeing how much of the Mass in Italian I could understand and my Jewish husband quietly snoring next to me.

Empty pews: Italy is a Catholic country by identity, but not by practice.

Scenes of Milan

In Italy, dogs are everywhere. You see them in restaurants, stores, pharmacies, buses, and perhaps because they are accustomed to being a part of everyday life, I’d be hard-pressed to recall any canine misbehaving, even in the frantic, crowded streets of Rome. I particularly liked this big guy at a bar in Milan, who waited patiently for his kiss.

Our favorite restaurant in Milan, Obica Mozzarella Bar, was recommended to us by friends who come to Milan often on business. It sits on the roof of the Rinascente department store, and while the food is great, its main selling feature is that it’s right across the street from the roof of the Duomo, about 100 feet away. In the warm months, one needs a reservation days in advance, but in November, we tried our luck and were able to waltz right in. What a great way to spend the last night in Italy!

What a view! It feels like you can reach out and touch it.

And the food’s not shabby either!

From the moment I arrive at the airport to come home, I am already plotting my return. Perhaps the Dolomites next time?

The view from the plane, shortly after take-off from Malpensa in Milan. Are there mountains in my future?

2 thoughts on “169. Magic Moments

  1. Gigi I love reading about your trips. keep them coming. At my age 98, I no longer can travel so I love hearing room you. ❤️❤️

    Sent from Nancy’s iPad



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