Saturday, February 20, 2010

Home from Florence

We have been to the centre of the civilised world.

In that piazza above, five and six hundred years ago the political leaders of the Florentine republic (the Signoria, headquartered in the gawky castellation on the left (they knew then how much more beautiful the arches of the Loggia dei Lanzi were, to its right), addressed throngs and placed the heads of dissidents on spikes.

Here the modern world was created in its intellectual and aesthetic framework and given its secular focus with the renaissance [rebirth, rinascimento] around 1500, an achievement based on two hundred years of gathering the written knowledge of the known world. There is a modern tendency to consider the renaissance something about art, but the art is but a fragment of the whole change in the way (some) people saw the world and thought. Whether we are in the middle of another change of comparable importance right now history will tell.

It is remarkable that at that time Florence had a population of about 30,000 people, which caused me to have this to say on radio several years ago about the comparative merits of Florence and Nowra in southeastern Australia.


We took the bus to Orte Thursday morning then the train to Florence and came home Friday. Pleased to report that we got home. The national 'sciopero' [strike], according the Florence paper, affected trains through Florence from 10am to 2pm.

The 15.13 got away on time and as a modest paced Regionale (see the Red Arrow [Frecciarossa] or Eurostar train leaving also, to travel at a landscape denying speed) got us to Orte exactly on time at 6.30pm, where the Soriano bus was pulling in; nice to have somewhere to sit, after caffe latte, before the bus left at 7.20pm, a few minutes late. Lateness in departure was made up -indeed, we perhaps arrived in Soriano ahead of time - thanks to a rainy, black night swashbuckling drive of Formula 1 pretensions by the driver of a powerful, gear-swirling, road-shuddered bus, whirling up and around and down and about the hills, with our floodlit backyard castle hunting from side to side of the view as we raced upwards towards it.

Nice to be home again!

See here below our postcards and our Baedekers - 1909 and 1999 - an awful lot of stuff in Italy is pretty old; the new one helps with the roads, the old one gives prices of tickets and times for carriage travel which may be out of date... Of Orte, the 1909 edition says:

Orte (Rail. Restaurant, good), where the railway from Foligno (Perugia and Ancona) unites with the main line. The high-lying little town (440ft.), 2 1/2 M to the N., is the ancient Horta, but presents no object of interest beyond its situation.

We don't agree with that, but that's a subject for another time. A bit late to write to the editor...

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