Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Gypsies, Gelato & Gergorian Chants

Today we spent the afternoon and evening going into Florence and taking a walk around. The city is ancient and filled with crowds of excited travelers. We walked around a lot, went into several cathedrals, and took pictures every few seconds. As we walked around you start to notice that even though you are in Europe, people are the same everywhere. Babies still cry and hang on their parent’s legs, young couples still make out any place they feel like, and American Tourists will always carry huge cameras, struggle with over-sized bags and wear uncomfortable looking shoes. Another thing that is similar is the gypsies. Of course we don’t call them “gypsies” in America, but they are the people in big cities that stand around and try to “sell their wares”. Everything they try to sell is cheap like sunglasses, purses or toys. Usually they will have a table made out of cardboard boxes that they can pick up in a matter of seconds and run if the police see them. You see, they are not legal and their real job is stealing from people. Another type of gypsy is the kind that just walks around and asks you for money, quite forcefully in fact. After a long walk through the narrow streets we all grabbed some Gelato and settled around a fountain in a city square. As we ate, a pregnant woman came up to us begging for money. She probably asked us for about two minutes, rubbing her swollen belly and pouting. She finally gave up after we told her no about 30 times. Another time we were waiting on the steps of Santa Croce, a young man came up right in front of us, set up his little cardboard table and started talking. He made beautiful calligraphy paintings of names; each letter was made out of something beautiful like an animal or flower.  He too eventually gave up on us, because it was obvious we were not interested. We saw these people on every street corner and in every square, but these are the two that stick out in my mind. We finished off our trip by visiting San Miniato al Monte which is a beautiful Monastery at one of the highest points of Florence. Imagine walking for roughly 6 hours all around town and then climbing a huge hill that takes your breath away, only to realize you have several hundred steps left to reach your destination. Needless to say we were quite happy when we reached the cool, darkness of the Monastery with its marble walls, carved ceilings and echoing chants. The day was long, our feet hurt, and we were all slap happy by the end, but the memories will all last a lifetime.


  1. A very intersting thing about the police there, if you get a chance to see one of the squads of about 12 officers walking shoulder to shoulder, follow them descretely from a great distance until you het to see them in action. They are nothing short of impressive. In my semester there I only got to see this twice, it is rare, but wow!

  2. That's really interesting! I saw three officers walking shoulder to shoulder, but I don't know what they were doing.