How does that work? The way you start the New Year is the way you'll finish it?
I hope not.
Don't get me wrong, my New Year's celebration was very pleasant and very laid back. It took place at a cottage up north. There were loved ones around, a bit of bowling at a local dive down the street, followed by beer and champagne and hugs and kisses at midnight.
But it was also marred by illness. (Isn't "marred" a great word?)
Nicole was laid pretty low by a wicked cold, and I was just starting in that direction. It's really hitting me today.
So, here's to hoping that the rest of my year will be happy and healthy.
And I hope yours is, too…
And now, as I wax nostalgic for the joys of last year, a bit more Italy:
As a rule, Nicole and I do not eat at the same place twice while on vacation. Trattoria ZaZa is the one exception we've made. Pasta with wild boar sauce, steak in truffle sauce, hearty peasant-style soups. It just had to be done twice.
And to eat outside in an ancient square, in November! Truly perfect.
Plus you couldn't beat our dining companions. Very friendly.
This guy was playing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow"…
Another wonderful experience in Florence was The Café' Perseo. It sat in the Piazza della Signoria.
This statue of Perseo (Perseus) beheading the Medusa sat across the way. Perseus is one of Nicole's all-time favorite classic heroes. Hence, "Clash of the Titans" is one of her all-time favorite moves.
Anyway, this square has so much history. It's where the original David stood (there's now a "fake David" there, the original is in the Academia). And this sculpture garden still stands there, with beautiful statues, like Perseus, and this one.
The musculature and the curves… it just amazes me.
This square is also where Savonarola was burned at the stake.
Savonarola was one of the worst villains in Italian history, in my opinion. He basically attempted to destroy the Renaissance, and was the primary force behind the Bonfire of the Vanities, which lead to the destruction of countless beautiful pieces of art.
Botticelli himself burned many of his own pieces. I don't know whether he was brainwashed by Savonarola's movement or simply wanted to ensure he had a future career painting "properly respectful" religious imagery, but it was emblematic of this dark period in Italian history.
And as we sat in the Café Perseo, drinking a bottle of wine, taking all of this in, we occasionally would look over to where a simple plaque in the cobblestones shows where he was publicly executed, and say "Take that, Savonarola."
It's interesting, to know that there always have been, and always will be, religious zealots who want to inflict their own personal crusade upon everyone else's lives, whether it be bans on art or finding other ways to subject people to their own personal moralities, no matter how distorted, displaced or downright sick they may be.
And yes, if I was a bit vague, I was referring to our present government there. I do believe that, allowed to run unchecked, Dubya and his Evangelical buddies would have no qualms about a modern day bonfire of the vanities. Although in addition to your personal secular works of art, you'd also see your rights to privacy and reproductive freedoms burnt in the piazza, as well as many other things you consider inalienable rights.
But I digress. I'm good at that.
On another digression, Nicole and I signed up for Iceman again this year. Registration only opened yesterday, and yesterday afternoon, when I went to sign up, there were already 1,000 people registered. As of 6:30 pm today, 1,990 are registered; it will be full in moments now.
The first year I did Iceman, it didn't fill up until May. So, suffice it to say it's popularity is increasing.