Here we go again. What is the biggest lie in man’s life? “I will never touch a drink again”. Well, maybe just, “I will never drink again if I have to take a flight early on the following morning”. Or I will at least try. Most likely won’t. So this weekend of la dolce vita starts with me sitting in the BA lounge at Heathrow at 7 am, staring with a mixture of fear and respect at a piece of toast (knowing far too well that bacon roll is not an option) and not feeling sweet at all. On the other hand, the bar has everything a girl needs to fix herself a bloody mary. It may kill me, it may save me…but I don’t dare torturing my stomach any further, as it so far seems inclined not to reject the two Nurofens I swallowed earlier. Oh, those hard mornings of a moderate drinker….
First stop Florence. The place where I fell in love with Italy, only to be doomed forever, because falling in love with Italy unfortunately involved Italian men. Has involved Italian men ever since, even. But no men this time, no romantic involvement whatsoever, I am only here to visit friends, probably the best, most genuine, funniest and most clever people I have had the privilege to meet. I needed to acclimatize from the English influence, so I hit the local nightlife (in the mid-afternoon) as soon as I got off the train at Santa Maria Novella. My guilty pleasure is Aberdeen’s own Brewdog (I was really pleased when the first Italian branch opened in Florence). Now, you may ask why on earth would I opt for a Scottish pub in the heart of Tuscany, and might even have a point, but artisan breweries have been popping up all over Italy in the past few years, and Brewdog always has several locally brewed gems among guest taps. So I got myself an IPA and sat in the corner with a book, waiting for my friends to finish work can come pick me up. Only I forgot there is no such thing as sitting in the corner with a book for a girl on her own in an Italian bar. Don’t want to be disturbed? Tough shit, stay at home. Well, if nothing else, it’s refreshing. I could walk the streets of London naked and no one would notice.
Second stop: Monsummano Terme / Grotta Giusti. We spent the afternoon in a resort built around a cave that stays warm all year round thanks to natural hot springs and underground lake, which creates kind of a natural sauna, 34C and 100% humidity, and of course the environment is very suggestive. Apparently, because I fell asleep as soon as my arse hit the chair, so I didn’t get a chance to admire the surroundings, but I did get a lovely little nap. The rest of the afternoon was spent sitting in the hot outdoor pool filled with the spring water, trying to find out what and why were my friends going to vote in the imminent referendum.
Third stop: Pistoia. The Italian capital of culture 2017 and home to the internationally famous music festival, Pistoia Blues. Not much more is worth mentioning about it, it’s not more nor less charming than any other sleepy Tuscan town. But it’s home to lot of my friends, I managed to get them all together for a dinner in a rustic restaurant in the hills, and we had a great time. Well the whole weekend was an eating marathon, really. The best (or worse, depends how picky you are) of Tuscan cuisine: tripe, fried brains, ribollita, truffles, pasta with game ragout, beans with new oil, roasts, rarer than rare steaks…i have been eating salads ever since I came back to London.
I just spent two days laughing, and man, had I needed that. I mean, how often do you get to see two (under normal circumstances) distinguished university professors playing a telephone prank on someone? (Actually, does anyone still do telephone jokes?) The other obvious argument was the Sunday constitutional referendum, of course. And it was very interesting to witness a group of people, of different political background, involved in a friendly exchange of opinions about what were they going to vote and explaining their reasons for such vote. It was to a certain point inspiring to see that a civilized discussion is still possible, especially in the light of recent big UK and US elections, where whoever decided to vote differently to what was perceived as the right vote was labelled as racist, retrograde, or just idiot. I come from a country where expressing an opinion in general elections was out of question for 40 years. Of course I have a preference when it comes to casting a vote, of course I would like the elections in question to go in a certain direction, but the action itself, having that right and using it, is the thing that matters most.
Ok, so now I sound like someone with a high level of tolerance, which is not always the truth, as I can get quite heated, especially when it comes to certain topics, but mostly I am not actually convinced that the world is black and white. Sometimes it’s just easier to see it that way.