Where I describe how Florence Italy helped save American TV, plus why a naked man stalked us.

IMG_7736Beautiful Firenze stole our hearts!

But we need them back Firenze… Lisboa is starting to get very jealous!

Known as Florence to Americans, it is the capital and most populous city of the region of Tuscany. It is also famous for helping The Brady Bunch become as popular as it was. The popularity of that show helped save television in America, which was in dire straits because it consisted mostly of Gilligan’s Island reruns interrupting 16 minutes of commercials.

You doubt this? Well, here’s all the proof you need: if the late Florence Henderson (her real name, btw) parents had named her after any of these other Italian cities (and I’m not making any of them up, honest), I’m certain she wouldn’t have been hired, and the producers would have gone with Jane Fonda or Twiggy instead, and the show would’ve bombed because everyone hated Jane back then and no one could have seen Twiggy when she turned sidewise, and the recurring joke of “Where’s Mom?” while she was standing right there would have gotten very old very fast, just like many of my own jokes.

Anyway, here is a list of actual Italian city names:

  • Troia (which means “slut” in Italian)
  • Belsedere (“cute butt”)
  • Ramazzano-Le Pulci (“they sweep away the fleas”)
  • Orgia (yes, it means “orgy”)
  • Foggia (I haven’t the foggiest)
  • Bastardo (a city with no founding fathers)
  • Casa del Diavolo (the devil’s house)
  • Capracotta (cooked goat)
  • Bra (ironically located just beneath two large mountains)
  • Caccavone (“cacca” means “shit”)
  • Puglia (it sounds like the name for a female pug)
  • Purgatorio (purgatory)
  • Pisciotta (you’ll have to ask Trump what that means. I’m too polite to write it).

I think we can all be happy her parents went with Florence.Florence.jpg

While saving early ’70’s American TV is easily its most important accomplishment, Florence is also considered to be the birthplace of the Renaissance. It was one of the wealthiest cities of that time, and was famous for its garments and cloth.

The name was changed to Firenze near the end of World War II after the Germans lit the river on fire while retreating. The tactic didn’t work, however, because the Allies simply waited for the river to carry the fire away. No wonder they lost the war.

Actually, the name comes from Latin “florens,” which means “blossoming.” Just like Florence’s hair, or cheekbones.

Anyway, it is a gorgeous city with lots of history and art… and tourists. Holy moly are there lots of tourists. Plus you don’t want to try to park a rental car downtown. We braved it once just for the heck of it (the bus ride wasn’t that bad, but Carolyn’s butt got pinched eight times and mine only once, so in a fit of jealousy I wanted to try a different mode of transportation). Finding a big parking garage wasn’t too hard (although I think there’s only one), but when we left, it took us about 45 minutes to move thirteen meters. I saw a snail on the ground that was maintaining a good lead on us until it got squished by a weaving motorcycle.

IMG_7240piazzaAs for the pictures, I’m going to be perfectly honest here. There is a plaza area that not only has two piazzas: Piazza del Duomo and the Piazza San Giovanni (three when all-star catcher Mike Piazza visits), but also three big buildings, and it’s all a little confusing for the uninitiated. Plus we didn’t take a tour and all that research on funny Italian names kind of exhausted my desire for doing more research, so I’m not really sure which is which.  They’re just all pretty to look at so we settled for that.

IMG_7546This is probably either the Florence Baptistery, the Florence Cathedral, or the Campanile di Giotto.

IMG_7243This is probably either the Florence Baptistery, the Florence Cathedral, or the Campanile di Giotto.

IMG_E7246This is probably either the Florence Baptistery, the Florence Cathedral, or the Campanile di Giotto.

IMG_7549This is neither the Florence Baptistery, the Florence Cathedral, or the Campanile di Giotto. I know my wife Florence when I see her.

IMG_7551The Ponte Vecchio, (or Old Bridge in a charming example of clever name-making), was built in 1345 after the previous bridge (named The Really Old Bridge) was destroyed in a flood. During World War II, it was the only bridge across the Arno that the retreating Germans did not destroy. Instead they blocked access by demolishing the medieval buildings (or Old Buildings) on either side, which obviously didn’t work because we won.

There have been shops on Ponte Vecchio since the 13th century, although much of the bread they sold back then is now pretty stale.

IMG_7557This bridge is called Ponte alle Grazie, but unlike the Ponte Vecchio, it was destroyed by the Germans. Reconstruction was begun after the war; it was completed in 1953. For that we say, “Grazie!” which means “Go let the cows out to feed” in Italian.

IMG_7560Nice knockers!

IMG_7565This is what we generally looked like while walking around Florence, especially if we lucked into an area without crowds. Unfortunately, that means many of our photos are of streets like this.

IMG_7263I couldn’t find a name for this massive waterfall –okay, maybe it’s more like a watertumble– across the Arno River. So I named it “Ld.” That way, when Mr. Schwarzenegger visits, he can say to it, “You complete me.”

IMG_7264I took a video of this as well but I’m too cheap to spring for the WordPress version that allows video, so you’ll have to settle for written sound effects: “SSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHH!”

IMG_7581This is Claudia and Henri. We don’t know them. In fact I just made those names up. I didn’t mean for them to be the centerpiece of this picture, I was just trying to show that there were lots of crowds around Florence. Maybe Claudia and Henri are professional photobombers.

IMG_7691Another look at the Old Bridge, just because it continued to be cool an hour after the previous shot.

IMG_7693This is near the entrance to the Uffuzi Gallery, which I will be effuzive about later. These are replicas of the original Statue of David and a Guy Holding A Man’s Head to His Groin.

IMG_7407This is a really famous guy, and a statue.

IMG_7700This is a really famous building. Look it up if you want to know the name of it.

IMG_7733The river Arno. Florence wouldn’t be nearly as beautiful without that river running through it, just like A River Runs Through It wouldn’t be nearly as beautiful without Brad Pitt.

IMG_7734Trust me, we have 100 more pictures of the river, and these aren’t even our best. You’ll have to fork over the $9.99 a month subscription fee to see our real award winners. But as a special bonus, you’ll get 696 pictures of a very buff naked guy. I know what you’re thinking… they’re not of me (I say as I chuckle abashedly).

We visited two museums in Florence, one is the Uffizi Gallery (which will get its own entry), and the other is Galleria Dell’Accademia, which is most famous for housing the Statue of David and Nothing Else Anyone Cares About.

If David weren’t in there, this gallery would be next to a Burger King offering a three euro discount coupon for entrance with every Whopper. And the entrance fee would be three and a half euros. Just kidding. There were a couple of other interesting things, I just don’t remember what they were and our phones filled up with pictures of David.

Still, it’s worth the price just for him, which is as impressive a marble statue of a naked man with huge hands who just got done killing a giant as you’ll ever see.

IMG_7510When you enter the hall where he lives, you have to give the museum curators kudos for really making it the centerpiece. Seriously, give them a Kudos bar. That thing was heavy!

IMG_7505As you approach, you may find yourself amazed that you’re actually in the same place as one of the most famous pieces of art ever. And then a naked guy photobombs you. Sheesh.

IMG_7236And so you start snapping the first of 700 hundred photos, 650 of which look almost exactly the same.

IMG_7524So you desperately try to find photographic angles no one else in history has ever taken before. And that’s when you notice his hands are huge. I mean yuuuuge! These are not Trumpian hands, I can promise you that!

IMG_7525Something else might be Trumpian, but not the hand. It all looks like it’s in the same proportions as when I changed my one-year-old son’s diaper!

Just sayin’!

IMG_7502This is called the Rape of Sabine. There are a lot statues depicting rape around Italy. Obviously the MeToo movement was looong overdue.

These are unfinished works by Michaelangelo, which provided some insight as to the process. I just marvel at how someone could use only a chisel to create such ideal masterpieces.

IMG_7569As for me, I’m lucky enough to be married to a different kind of ideal masterpiece.


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