Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wasting Time in Florence

Was it Bertrand Russell who said that the time we spend wasting isn't wasted time? I think of this often when I am doing the crossword puzzle (on which I can spend a ridiculous amount of time). It is my chief rationalization. But the truth is, as I've said before, I enjoy doing what many people consider doing nothing. I would have to count it among my favorite things.

A few summers ago we were in Florence. Larry had left early to return to work and Kate and I had a few days to kill. We had plans. Every day we made plans. A museum to see. The Duomo. We'd never been inside. Some little out of the way places. Cortona. But every day we found ourselves more or less doing the same thing. Sitting at the Gilli Cafe in the Piaza della Republica, doddling in our journals.

We were actually intending to go somewhere and do something. We made some valiant attempts in that direction. Across the Ponte Vecchio. On the other side in fact we saw a river rat and Kate made the comment that we'd seen that same river rat six years before in the same location. Then we went back to Gilli's. The waiters grew accustomed to us and we ordered on a regular basis. Espressos and corneti for breakfast, some cool drink in late morning, mineral water with gas, maybe a salad (or maybe we went elsewhere), then back to Gilli's, prosecco, wine. And so on. One day we stayed for six hours.

We became a kind of amusement. A diversion among the staff. But in truth we were happy, just doodling, writing, watching the world go by. There was a bull dog named Ed. Ed had an owner who lived nearby, but basically Ed liked to hang out at Gilli's. He was huge. The biggest bull dog I have ever seen. Three times the normal size. It wasn't unusual for us to spot Ed, heading towards the Ponte Vecchio or just lying around Gilli's like he owned the place.

One afternoon as we were doing nothing a handsome boy appeared in a balcony across the way. He seemed to set his eyes on Kate. That evening somehow they met and went out for drinks. Later Kate confessed. The boy wasn't nearly as mysterious and intriguing up close as he'd been from our table down below. We have traveled to many places since - Mexico, Costa Rica, Prague. Yet we think of those days at Gilli as among our best travel days.

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