Welcome to The Phoenix Files!

This blog is a collection of papers and how-to articles I have written over the past 25+ years, as well as my travel journals and announcements.  Scholarly works from "The Library" on my old website, are labeled here as "Historica Tractatu." 

My travels have had heavy influence on my work and are the 'back story' behind many of my designs. Some of my older journals are revised from the original, and most link to photo albums on Facebook.  

Crossroads Tour - Firenze Final Day

May 8 – Mother's Day in Firenze

I wake up at 6:30 AM, but roll back and try to go back to sleep. Forty-five minutes later, a neighbor starts playing Spanish guitar in the lobby just outside my door. There are worse ways to wake up on a Sunday morning...

Today is 'everything breaks' day. I have a cold but my blisters are less severe this morning. Paint chips fall from the bathroom ceiling and shatter on the floor. A light fixture near the bed has pulled away from the wall and the other one no longer works. I pop coins into the vending machine for a bottle of water and something I was expecting to be yogurt, but was actually peach juice in a yogurt shaped container. Sadly, the coffee vending machine is out of order today.

I climb back into bed with my fluids and a protein bar from my stash, and catch up on my journal as Italia news and other programming flash across the TV.

  • A home shopping network selling Iranian carpets. I wish they would show more of the loom sitting in the corner...
  • Spongebob Squarepants dubbed in Italian...
  • Italy's version(s) of America's Got Talent. It's just as bad here as it is at home...
Five hours later....

My journal is caught up, and my feet are much better after being elevated for the last several hours. It's time to find some food, and some coffee, and perhaps some flipflops.  And a garden...

Sunday is a good down day here as most of the San Frediano district is closed. I had to cross the bridge to find food, and found a pizzeria, where I ordered a veggie which includes slices of zucchini, carrot, potato, olives and portabella mushroom imbedded in a piece of focacia and drizzled with olive oil. There's actually a potato pizza here...

I am feeling well enough to take a walk along the Arno, and up to the Ponte Vecchio to look at gold I cannot afford. On my way I find Signum, a great little shop with handmade journals, sealing wax, and Florentine papers. I buy myself a pocket calligraphy pen and a multi nub pen that is used to draw scales when you are writing music. Very ingenious...

Signum, Lungarno Archibusieri 14r, Borgo degli albizi 54r, Borgo de'Greci 40r, Via de'Benci 29r-31r, 50122 Firenze Italy. contraddizioni@gmail.com, www.signumfirenze.it

In spite of it being Mother's Day, the city isn't horribly crowded and I get some decent shots of the the storefront shutters. One of the locks was stainless steel but of Chinese design.

I wander through the street with no particular destination in mind, and up at the Loggia where the market is. Everyone sells variants of the same leather bags, scarves, t-shirts and leather folio covers. It's worth a walk through just to rub the snout of the Boar Fountain (to assure your return here, according to local legend) and to take in the smell of new leather goods.

A building on the corner is full of bikes. You Must Be Kidding! I don't know if they are replicas of antiques or if this is an art installation, but the book I bought seems to indicate that they are based on historical models:
a barber's bike with its chest of shaving implements; a Cantastorie with a hurdy gurdy strapped to the front; a portrait painter with paintbox on his handlebars and portrait samples over the back fenders;
and my favorite, shown here, a Pompiere - a firefighting bicycle.

By the time I have finished my walk through I'm laughing so hard I'm nearly crying... (click here for additional photos of this exhibit)

My next discovery is the Palazzo Vecchio. The ground floor is a public area and covered with some of the most amazing archways in the city. Travelers take heed...Do Not Photograph the Polizia in Firenze! My request was answered verbally with a curt no, the facially with a Hell No. Whenever they spotted a tourist with a camera, they would quickly turn away to avoid being photographed. I will now treasure the shots I have of the polizia at the Lanterna.

The Uffizi is hosting an exhibit of the works of DaVinci, and the lines are around the block. I look up to notice a "living statue" dressed as a cherub on the steps, posing for pictures. He's only the first... the next one is dressed as an Egyptian sarcophagi, the one after that a statue from the Duomo...

I hand my camera to a standerby and pose with the statue for a photo. The crowd starts to gather and giggle, and while the standerby is trying to figure out my camera, I feel a rustle of cloth and turn to find that the living statue has slowly moved towards me to provide a better photograph. It was really fun to get my camera back, not with one shot, but a sequence of shots... the statue was very friendly and unwilling to let go of my hand but I finally made my escape.

The last living statue was DaVinci himself, who, after I deposited a coin in his can, motioned for me to approach. He pulled out of his book three squares of paper, Il codice da Vinci dell Economia, (For a new constitutional order in the contemporary democratic revolutions), www.creditosociale.blogspot.com and www.facebook.com/valter.conti. I walk back along the row of statuary for a last look, and laugh as I see the woman who followed after me to pose with the Duomo statue is also having trouble retrieving her hand from his affectionate grip... (more photos here)

This part of the city has a number of cutaways in the stucco to expose more ancient parts of the building, an architectural feature that's a fascinating way to preserve the history of a building. This is a picture of one of the better examples showing part of an old archway. I stop at a mini-grocer  to buy some fruit and water, and head back to the San Frediano where I spend the remainder of the day in the comfort of a bed covered with books...

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