Day 24

Posted by Whit Barringer , Wednesday, June 20, 2007 9:03 AM


CT 5:45
IT 12:45

Slow Day at Santa Croce.

Today we met at 10:00 to go to Santa Croce (pronounced croh-chay). Rachel and I pass it almost every day on our way to the school, but we didn’t know that’s where we were going until after we had gotten all the way over to Kent State. When we headed back, we took the kind of sort of long way – but it wasn’t too bad of a walk, and we got to see places we hadn’t actually been to yet.

Santa Croce was one of my first fascinations when we first got to Florence. It was one of the first places my roommates and I found, and it was what started my fascination with the juxtaposition of the modern and the ancient, secular and non-secular. It also has some of the most beautiful motifs I’ve seen on any of the churches thus far. Around the door facings are depictions of biblical scenes and symbolism. At the top of the face of the church, there is a star within a Star of David with Christian symbolism decorating it. Santa Croce is well known because it was the home of Franciscan monks and – gasp – the resting place of the most famous people in Italian history, including Galileo Galilei, Niccolo Macchiavelli, and Michelangelo. It was one of my most anticipated stops on our four week tour of Italy, so I was especially excited.
Until I pulled out my camera and found out my batteries were dead.

Now for you to understand the irony of this, you must understand that I’ve been extremely obsessive about my batteries. When my camera doesn’t have to be on, I turn it off. My finger is constantly on the power button. I also have a huge obsession about having a truckload of batteries on me. However, when we went on the gondola ride in Venice, Kim’s batteries went out. I gave her two of mine to help out. She said her camera was messed up and tried to give them back to me, but I told her to keep them in case the camera started working again. Apparently (as Kim was quick to say to me later on) generosity killed the cat. So as I was trying to contain how upset I was, everyone else took pictures of all of the tombs (I’ve already mentioned that they’re my favorite part). I asked around, rather weakly and hopelessly, for AA batteries. Of course no one had any.

Then I went into the gift shop and found a book for 8 Euro. I didn’t want to get it because I had spent too much money, but since I couldn’t take pictures I decided I would go ahead and get it. I was completely disgusted with having to buy it in one of the few churches that allowed pictures. Then I remembered that I had one good battery left, and perhaps it could work with one of the dead batteries. Sure enough, it powered up and rendered my book worthless. I quickly snapped pictures of the tombs in the floor and some of the larger ones and more famous ones around the wall. There was even a memorial to Dante, whom Florence has been trying to get back from Ravenna for years now.

I ran through Santa Croce’s museum (it was only six rooms) and listened to the birds outside in the courtyard. Halley had found me before they all had left for the Ponte Vecchio to put their locks on the bridge* and given me their cheeses that they had bought for supper that night. I went to the grocery store, bought sauce, pasta, and milk (which I didn’t realize at the time expired on the 22nd so I ended up drinking it all in one day to keep it from spoiling – milk lasts about 3 or 4 days after it’s opened here), and went back up to the apartment. I stored Halley’s cheese and began reading more of Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler.
Of course I can’t read for more than 15 minutes (especially if it’s assigned) without feeling like I’m going to pass out, so without further ado I gave in to temptation. I slept for about 43 minutes. I had set my alarm for 45, but Rachel came in and clomped around enough that I decided to get up anyway. Class started at two, so we went together.

We listened to a presentation on Arabian Nights that was extremely confusing, but it wasn’t long enough to completely lose us. We finished going over the Decameron and went over all of Petrarch in class. Petrarch wrote in Italian sonnets, which Paulette came in to read to us in the original Italian. It was very pretty and very neat to hear. Then we went over A Farewell to Arms, which sparked a debate on love at first sight. I didn’t get involved, but it was very interesting to hear Dr. Bane and Rachel go back and forth over the evidence that the two main characters had really been in love (DB: “But they escape to Switzerland in a boat together.” Rachel: “It’s soooooo laaaaaame. That doesn’t really happen. They don’t even know each other.”). After class, I went to the internet shop, checked the exchange rate, and went and withdrew the last of my money – which will most certainly last me until Sunday, through Cinqueterra (I’m so excited about the beach!), and the last of the souvenirs I have to buy.

Rachel and I went back up to the room and started reading the Kokinshu for our presentation tomorrow. When we realized that the excerpts we had gave no historical context or extra information, we went ahead and went back to the internet place and researched a bit. I think we both ended up on Facebook more than we did on research, but I can’t complain.

When we got back, we talked about the presentation, Japanese people, racism, American hatred of minorities, liberalism and conservatism, hating sins and loving people, minsinterprations of the bible, and so on. It was an interesting stream of conversation that revealed more about ourselves to each other than would have otherwise been – all over some ancient Japanese poetry.

*”….Ponte Vecchio to put their locks on the bridge…”: This is for the lovers out there. Two people who love each other will buy a lock. They can decorate it, inscribe their initials in it, do whatever to it to make it their own. Then those two people go down to the Ponte Vecchio. At one of the four points of the square in the middle of the bridge, the two will go and fasten their lock on to metal rings cemented into the wall or onto other locks that are already there. That lock symbolizes that the relationship has been guaranteed by the act. It’s a sweet legend and tradition. I’ll find out from the others if it actually comes true.

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