"It was pleasant to wake up in Florence, to open the eyes upon a bright bare room, with a floor of red tiles which look clean though they are not; with a painted ceiling whereon pink griffins and blue amorini sport in a forest of yellow violins and bassoons. It was pleasant, too, to fling wide the windows, pinching the fingers in unfamiliar fastenings, to lean out into sunshine with beautiful hills and trees and marble churches opposite, and close below, the Arno, gurgling against the embankment of the road.
Over the river men were at work with spades and sieves on the sandy foreshore, and on the river was a boat, also diligently employed for some mysterious end. An electric tram came rushing underneath the window. No one was inside it, except one tourist; but its platforms were overflowing with Italians, who preferred to stand. Children tried to hang on behind, and the conductor, with no malice, spat in their faces to make them let go. Then soldiers appeared—good-looking, undersized men—wearing each a knapsack covered with mangy fur, and a great-coat which had been cut for some larger soldier. Beside them walked officers, looking foolish and fierce, and before them went little boys, turning somersaults in time with the band. The tramcar became entangled in their ranks, and moved on painfully, like a caterpillar in a swarm of ants. One of the little boys fell down, and some white bullocks came out of an archway. Indeed, if it had not been for the good advice of an old man who was selling button-hooks, the road might never have got clear.
Over such trivialities as these many a valuable hour may slip away, and the traveller who has gone to Italy to study the tactile values of Giotto, or the corruption of the Papacy, may return remembering nothing but the blue sky and the men and women who live under it."
E.M Forster, A Room With A View
We're staying in a lovely little apartment in Florence, outside the city centre, with a library and a balcony and tiles on the floor, with windows you can fling open (a room with a view, if you will) to see, if not the water, then at the very least the promise of the water. The apartment is lovely and little and clean and it's a real home but nothing it does, no amount of shuttered windows or terracotta tiles or library shelves or fresh tomatoes or clean washing or cups of tea it presents to us, nothing it does, absolutely nothing, can compare to Florence.
It's like what Lucy said. Today was soggy and wet, with a cool wind and an overcast sky (even the Pitti Uomo characters called it a day and settled in for aperitivi and cigars at the Four Seasons), but just one look at the candy-cane marble of the Cathedral, the vaulted fresco entryway at the Palazzo Vecchio, a glimpse of the Santa Maria Novella bell tower while lost on a side street (should have bought that Baedecker, hmm), that majestic dome, made everything seem quite alright. "Then the pernicious charm of Italy worked on her, and, instead of acquiring information, she began to be happy." In Florence I began to be happy.