Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 14: An American Architect, or Alone in the Sky

I don't know where to begin. I suppose the most appropriate way is to say: it was raining today. But it was beautiful today too. We left the garage B&B in Pisa early . . . in the rain. Jo was pissed. We waited at the bus stop and saw our bus go by. Twice. So we walked the 2.5 soaking miles back to Pisa Centrale station. It's a healthy walk in and of itself. Add a 30 lbs pack, rain, and a bunch of jerks who NEVER get out of the way and it's a big clustercuss of grumpiness.

So after being so strong for so long, and having to support me and my bad attitude every step of the way, she broke down. She asked if God was even listening to us, if He even heard us. We've been praying for sunshine and no more rain as hard as possible. As soon as she said that, though, it stopped raining. Almost as if on cue.

So we went to Florence. After everyone we'd talked to said "Don't go to Florence, it's a tourist trap and it's dity and we didn't like it and etc." we went to Florence. And Florence delivered. Huge.

We deposited our bags at the terminal. Went to the Duomo. Walked around inside of it. Coolest church yet. Better than St. Paul's. Climbed the Dome. Magnificent views. And the outlying area of Florence is gorgeous. We climbed back down and went to the Accademia and waited in line to see the David. Had gelato stop #11 in line. David was impressive, that's for sure. But dude has some huge hands and feet. I don't think they were proportionally correct, but consider the fact that someone made a human with veins and sinews out of rock, and wow.

Left the Accademia. Got our bags back at the station and sat outside of Firenze Santa Maria Novella in the beautiful afternoon. I, of course, put my bag down in gum. Everyone told us how dirty Florence is, but other than the gum I didn't really see it. In fact, I recommend that everyone go to Pisa first and then to Florence so they'll like Florence much more. I was even thinking to myself at the station, "Hey, this place isn't that dir . . . oh. Gum."

We caught the train to Orvieto. We had a blast on the train. It was a different day than this morning. Then we got to Orvieto. Then we took the scariest bus ride ever to the town of Bagnoregio. Then we walked through the town. Then we saw Civita. And then the real adventure began.

Civita is a tiny, old Etruscan fortified town that sits on a pinnacle of eroding rock in the middle of nowhere Italy. I can't stress that enough. It is out there. WAY out there. Seriously. It has less than 12 people living in it. It's a ghost town. With incredible views and architecture. We got to the footbridge and climbed it in incomparably blue evening skies. Got to the center of town and to our B&B. Which was under construction. And empty.

No one was there. No one was in the city. Dead. We walked around for awhile, in and out of buildings with their doors wide open. Finally a little, old Italian woman popped out into the town square from somewhere. She spoke zero English. We speak very close to zero Italian. We finally comunicated our predicament though and she took us to Tony Costa Heywood's house. Tony Heywood is a retired architect American expat from Georgia. As in the state. As in "ATL, Shorty!"

One of the 10 people in this random place . . . an American. Who just happens to run a house there for architect students in Seattle that go to Civita to study abroad and go into Rome. The house is incredible. We're staying in it tonight. For free. We hadn't eaten since the gelato in Florence, so Tony gave us some water, some wine, two sausages, and a block of cheese. We made a small dinner out of it. We went to his house and talked with him. And hung out with his five cats. Turns out his wife started the study abroad program. She passed away and he still lives there. Moved to Italy in the 60s. An American recluse clinging to an untouched corner of the world - connected by a footbridge. We checked email (yea, he had service) and now we're tucking into our surprise palatial blessing of a guesthouse.

Note: I forgot we went to Florence this day as I was posting pictures. So I forgot the Florence pictures. I'll post them with the next "Some Things I've Learned" post.

Jo in Bagnoregio

bagnoregio church

that sign probably says "B&B under construction"

first view

speaks for itself from here on out

jo making dinner in the cool house

the cool house

following the little italian woman to tony's

1 comment:

Rick said...

I'm totally laughing my bum off! I can't believe how random and awesome this whole day and town are! Following some little old Italian lady through a deserted ancient city, not knowing where you're going until you...SUPRISE! Find an ex-pat. Hilarious!