The truth is that I want to write about catacombs. I spent the afternoon in a catacomb. It is my second to last full day in Rome, and I said to myself, "You know what? I want to breathe in the sweet, sweet air of 1700 years of death and deterioration," and I took the bus to Domitilla and I sat in that basilica and refused to budge (like so many before me.)
I took the Italian tour of the underground component. And I understood everything! Even the snide comments the Italian families were making about American tourists (naturally, they assumed that I was not American.) It was wonderful. Some of the frescoes looked as though they had just been painted. There was (inexplicably, given their ventilation system) a cool breeze. There were tiny display cases in some burial areas full of glass shards and sculptures and tiles that had been buried with the dead. I just wanted to fill my pockets with everything and flee the scene like a grave-robber in some Indiana Jones film.
But, I didn't. So--back to Florence. Florence is very commercial and very delicate. Florence is a hot air balloon where Rome is a soccer ball. I prefer the latter, but Florence is a fantastically pleasant escape from the bright hot brick-and-rock wonderland that is Rome. I climbed up to the top of the duomo's belltower, and I could see Florence for miles: with its green paint and bushy trees and cacophony of languages-that-are-not-Italian. It is very pretty, and very modern in its own way, and if I could go there for one weekend every summer... I would.
Many stores/restaurants/museums/galleries/etc. were closed for ferie (the work holiday taken by the entire country collectively in mid-August), but sometimes things are prettier when they are shut down, or abandoned, or at least neglected for a little bit. Like the sculpture man above. And maybe David, if I could just sneak him out of the Accademia for a few months. I scoped the place out, though, and I think that my chances of success are slim. There is a micro-fracture in his right leg, and I don't think that the whole body part would come with him if it were moved. Disappointing (but I guess Rome wasn't deconstructed in a day.)
I could live in Italy. I met with some friends in Florence, which was lovely. It is very easy to make friends here (perhaps everywhere, but certainly at least here.) The food is excellent... obviously. It is far easier to be a vegetarian here than it was in China. The water in the public fountains tastes delicious. Italo Calvino books in Italian sell at reasonable prices in bookstores. I enjoy all of my academic classes: all of the time. Tourists often ask me for directions, and I can answer them in four different languages (with emphatic gesticulation perhaps being a fifth.) I love that.
I want to want to live in Italy, but now I want to live in Cambodia. or Chile. Or Australia.
Take note: if you plan on visiting Rome soon, get dinner at Sora Margherita. I recently went there with a group of friends. It is a favorite of Roberto Benigni's, classic Roman food, and it is... amazing.