I somehow duplicated a blog entry. This one, number 177, was the same as 176, so I deleted the incorrect text and now I am using the same space with the same blog number to report on my tour of yesterday. Today is Monday, June 9.
I hope to join a bike tour later this morning if my reservation has been accepted. In the meantime, I have again enjoyed the buffet breakfast. Not as hungry as yesterday, I had a warm croissant, some kind of cauliflower and vermicelli baked thingy, baked beans, bread and fruit, juice, and coffee. I was the first one there, but the dining hall is filling up now.
Let me describe my own tour on foot that I did yesterday. I went to the right of the hostel and found the fort and regional congressional palace. Turning back, I continued to pass by churches and palazzos, resting in one church to enjoy its coolness and calmness. I had ended up at the Duomo.
I had a totally amazing experience attending Sunday mass lead by a bishop and his team of cardinals and priests with prayers sung magnificently by a truly heavenly choir, all under the images painted by Michelango. What can I say? It is hard to come close to any words that could adequately describe it. It is a stupendously ornate and attractive huyge building. You could admire it for hours at a stretch. A few hundred people were there, catholics familiar with the rituals and words, and onlookers who kept coming and going through the creaking door. I left at holy communion. The Cardinal and his crew offered to bless and give communion to each and everyone there, however it is too unfamiliar and therefore uncomfortable a ritual for me. I really wanted to sing along, though. There were programs but I guess they had run out by the time I clued in and made an entrance. I just stood up, sat down and prayed on cue following those at the front. I should have realized that the bells chiming beautifully throughout the town center before had been calling everyone to mass.
I skipped a tour of the bell tower and carried on, choosing a narrow street that intrigued me. I ended up at the art history museum where a special exhibit of Bandinelli, the renaissance sculptor, was taking place. An enthusiastic crowd was queuing up, clawing and scratching to get in. I thought it might be worth it, so I had my stuff scanned and went in. There is a full range of renaissance art and artifacts stolen through colonialism and war from Middle East and Far East states. It was too much for me to absorb, as the sun had been getting strong and I had already been getting tired by the time I started the museum tour, but it was wonderful and frightening to see all those riches and master crafted works in materials ranging from canvas and oil, to ivory, to gold, and wood and stone. I am not knowledgable at all, and I never heard of Bandinelli, but I could appreciate what I was seeing as art and in its general historical context.
I walked on. The heat was intensifying, so I stopped at a church plaza cafe to sit under a taupaulin and sip cold coffee while munching on a spinach foccaccia pastry. The waiter was very nice and polite. I found out that we don't tip workers here; supposedly, we should expect that the tip is included in the price. The prices are better than I expected here, compared to the Netherlands, by the way, and you seem to get more for your money, too.
After a rest, I still felt tired so I thought I would head back to the hostel to get my stuff and settle into the new room. I wanted to pass by the Medici Chapel etc., to check out the ticketing of the Michelangio exhibits. After I did that, I got a little disoriented and tired myself out more. After completing the room switch and paying the bill, I found I needed to nap after having a shower. I was drained and could not muster the energy to go out again for the rest of the day, although I had wanted to attend a free 'church concert'. Besides, it was very hot outside. I bought a meal in the hostel: some salty spaghetti in tomato sauce with a salad. I got into bed around 8:30, and my room mates started arriving shortly thereafter. The room was hot so we started up the air conditioning. I think I slept from around 9:30, maybe waking up a couple of times, and woke up close to seven, just when the dining room opens for breakfast. I feel better this morning.
My plan is to get organized to join the bike tour, have lunch out and return to shower and rest. I put in a reservation request for a tour of the Tuscany hillsides by bus later, starting at 4:30. The thing is walking to the rendez-vous points and back to the hostel twice. We'll see how it goes.
The netbook and camera are recharged. It is just awkward taking the time and space to run them and download stuff. I will therefore insert photos later. I promise.