09 April 2010

Buon giorno

Musings from Florence: Part 1

OK, so it's been months since I've blogged...my only excuse is I've been busy. But as I sit here in a light, airy hotel room in Florence with a view of asymmetrical tile roofs and the dome of the Duomo and snack on Skittles, I feel a blog coming on.

And that the page pulls up in Italian only makes it better.

The trip out of Chicago was uneventful, although we heard on our arrival into Philly that ours was one of the last planes to get out before the weather forced delays. It was 50 degrees with snow forecast when I left O'Hare. Hot with expected temperatures in the 90s in Philly, and perfect sunny, 70+ weather here in Tuscany.

As always happens with international travel (unless you're booked into a business hotel) you can't get into your room until about 2 p.m.

We arrived at our intended hotel about 10 a.m. and after confirming everything, left our luggage to explore Florence, have lunch in the strong, spring sunshine and eye the fine leather goods in numerous shop windows.

When we came back, we were told the hotel had overbooked and would we do them the favor of allowing them to put us up in a sister hotel for the night, then we could come back in the morning and have the best room in the house.

Now this bait-and-switch has happened to me before. Several years ago, I booked a beautiful hotel in Dublin for my mother and I, but we got the overbooked song-and-dance and was sent to a sister hotel a few blocks away. The sister hotel wasn't bad, but it wasn't nearly as nice. It also was over a pub, which might have been a plus if I'd been traveling with my college buddies, but Mom wasn't so thrilled.

I know this happens legitimately sometimes. And sometimes it's a scam.

My gut told me the incident in Florence was a scam.

So as the desk manager sat there all apologetic and giving us directions to the other hotel, Renee and I looked at each other, then him and said, "Cancel our reservation. We'll go someplace else."

And a room was suddenly available.

Too bad, so sad. Your loss.

We left, with the hotel manager begging us not to put anything about the rare overbooking mishap on the Internet. And that depends on how soon the reservation charge is reversed in full. ;-)

So I am writing this from the wonderful Hotel Orto de' Medici. It's beautiful, and once upon the time the garden was the workshop of Bertoldo, who taught Michelangelo all he knew.

Not sure if that is true or not, but I'm embracing it because today  after much coffee we're going to see the David, both the fake one in "Piazza of the Fake David" as the college students call it, and the real one.

Also, you should know, I lost my friend and her daughter yesterday when I stopped to study the doors of Ghiberti. (I do that a lot, by the way. Wander off when something catches my eye without thinking to tell whomever I'm traveling with. In elementary school the habit drove my teachers to distraction. Whenever they took the class to a museum, one of the high school chaperones was always assigned to me personally. And they still lost me. Typically, one of the museum staffers would find me in a restricted area, sitting in front of some obscure sculpture or painting. They loved my interest and questions. So...I'd then get a personal tour and in-depth lecture on whatever and when they returned me to the group an hour later, the teachers would threaten to leave me behind next time.)

I eventually found Renee and Liza again.

Michelangelo dubbed the doors "The Gate of Paradise." The photo doesn't do it justice. Ciao, ciao.

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