Thursday, April 2, 2009

Finding Direction

Years ago, I suffered from insomnia. The only remedy seemed to be driving. So I drove, all over Tucson and listened to BBC World Service. After a couple of hours I would be ready to go to bed and sleep. I was averaging three to four hours a night.
It sucked.

I know, it is terrifying to think I was driving when so utterly sleep deprived, but at least I was informed. The insomnia went on for months too, ending only when I moved my bed, replaced the carpet (necessitating cleaning under the bed) and took the telly out of the bedroom. I ended up dividing up a map of Tucson into about eight sections and exploring each section. I didn’t cover much of the SE, nor the far NW, but a lot of Tucson. Now, I feel like I’m dividing up Florence and, with Ila, walking the city. Not because I have insomnia, but to have some structure in getting to know Florence/Firenze. Better still, Firenze is already divided into sections.

Rather than actually using a map when walking around, we use architectural landmarks. The maps here confuse me. It is easier to focus on a dome or a bell tower and head that way, not knowing what street you’re on. In Tucson, everything looked the same other than the mountains so you gauge everything by where the Catalinas, Rincons, Santa Ritas or Tucson Mountains are. Where I grew up, you can’t navigate by the geologic landscape as much as the by the gastronomic landscape: pub, the fish and chippy, the roundabout, mainly the pubs. Here it is by the churches, the domes, the piazzos, the bridges and the gates.

Don't Go Past HereEvery day, Ila and I make it beyond the old city walls. Mainly we’re just exploring the Oltrarno. Beyond this gate, an Indian restaurant, and a Japanese one, the brewery, a great paper store, wider streets, fewer tourists and better graffiti.

A couple of days ago we went to the far East side, and outside the city walls found a busy little children’s park right there along the Arno. It isn’t a bad way to navigate a city I think.

(Yep, I have no idea why I started with the insomnia connection either)
Public Art


  1. You have the same map of Florence I had! So if you look at M between 5-6, right where it says "Madonnone," that's where I lived. I don't suspect there is any reason for you to venture out that way, though, unless you want to check whether the transvestite prostitutes are still on Via Lanza... or see if my former apartment building on Via Aretina is still standing and whose name is on the buzzer (also, the rosticceria on the ground floor was amazing). I always wonder if the evil Mexican woman I subletted from is still in that apartment.

  2. Have you been up to Fiesole yet? I loved the view of Florence from there. Used to catch the bus up in the evening and watch the sun set over the city.

  3. Welsh Girl,
    We haven't been up to Fiesole yet, but that sounds like it might be worth the bus trip. We have been up at Arcetri around sundown. Pretty wonderful stuff.

    Transvestite prostitutes are on my list of things to see while in Firenze!