I stock up on courage and take to the streets of Firenze(Florence), Italy. With so much to see there is no time to waste, and I'm determined to capitalize on every second. Determination mixed with a little recklessness makes for adventure. There's enough passion to ensure that I will reach my destination, but enough indifference to ensure my path will take longer than normal.
After an hour of walking my map hasn't left the bag. I have no intention of looking at it. Standing in the street with a 2 foot fold out map is not my idea of adventure, and I won't give the locals the satisfaction of seeing me do so. I begin to approach them and ask for directions to Ponte Vecchio using my introductory Italian skills. I nod my head like I understand every word, then walk in the direction I think they told me to go.
I have no idea where I'm going, but I do have a fail safe philosophy for finding your way in Europe. If you're ever lost and all your hope is gone, keep walking until you see something really big. Any building or statue will suffice. Or, walk until you see a group of Asian tourists.
It works every time.
Once you stand in front of Il Duomo everything about Firenze makes sense. It's a centerpiece for the city and a monument for lost tourists. Crowds of people cluster around the ancient structure. Pigeons number almost as much as tourists. Gelatto shops on every corner. There is no mistaking that this is an Italian city.
Elegance is casual here. It's not something to strive for; it's the standard. A replica of the David here. A plaza there. The smell of leather imminates from the marketplace, the fine linens waiting to be purchased. However, I began this day with a goal. Ponte Vecchio is near. I can feel it. I wiggle through the crowds stiff arming gypsy women until I come to the river and there it is.
It's always special to make your own of something. The online photos are beautiful, but they can't compare to taking your own. You've got to see it for yourself because the moment is never the same for any traveler. Tens of thousands of photos are taken everyday, but none will be as special as the one you walk 4 hours to make.
Even if it was only supposed to take 30 minutes to get there....