It was Sunday afternoon in Florence and Barb and I were dead tired. We had just left the Uffizi Gallery, and after the trudge up to the fourth floor and the five hours of working our way through the massive art museum we were running on empty.
The works by Botticelli, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Titian and Raphael roused our intellects and perked our senses, but the cumulative effects of two weeks of travel had taken a physical toll on our weary bodies. It was our last day in Italy.
Our plan after leaving the Uffizi was to find an outdoor café where we would sit for an hour or so, drink a few beers, and relax before an early supper. There was a flight to Frankfort the next morning and then a ten hour plane ride back to the states.
We walked on our leaden legs through Florence. Every seat in every outdoor café in every piazza, it seemed, was occupied by tourists and Florentines enjoying late lunches. We made our way through the Palazzo della Signoria, past its wonderful Neptune fountain and its magnificent Renaissance sculptures, over the jewelry-shop-lined Ponte Vecchio, past the massive stone walls of the Pitti Palace, where the Medicis once resided, and we kept walking until we found ourselves in the square in front of Santo Spirito, a church that has a wooden crucifix carved by a 17-year-old Michelangelo. We walked until we came to a little piazza where I spotted an empty park bench. “Sit down,” I said to my exhausted wife. “I’ll be right back.”
Inside a bar just off the piazza I bought two bottles of Pilsner Urquell. “Aprire?” asked the man behind the counter. Si, I wanted them open.
We drank the beer while sitting on the park bench in the piazza. We watched Italian men wearing scarfs reading the Sunday paper. We watched their wives standing in groups talking and their children chasing pigeons and eating gelato.
I have many delightful memories of our travels in Italy—from gazing in amazed wonder at the magnificence of St Peters, to looking out at rolling acres of vineyards and olive trees from the height of a Tuscan hill town, to drinking that rejuvenating Pilsner Urquell while sitting on a park bench in a piazza in Florence on a Sunday afternoon.