The 9 of us went across the Ponte Veccio for dinner last night, piling into a little ristorante and ordering everything on the menu. After 3 hours, the 5 "kids" (ages 21-26) decided to head off by ourselves, wandering back across the river and through the cobblestone streets of Florence. As we neared the Uffizi Gallery, we suddenly heard amazing music coming from the plaza. Deciding to explore, we stumbled across the most fabulous street performers I've ever experienced.
The Uffizi is a huge museum, containing some of the greatest pieces of art ever created. It's a huge, imposing, and of course, flawlessly designed series of structures, and at the center is a huge outdoor plaza, surrounded by statues of famous Italians and all kinds of archways and columns. It's open 24 hours a day, and usually filled with an eclectic mix of people. We often use it as a shortcut from the Ponte Veccio to the Piazza Republica.
Anyway, down towards one end of the plaza, 2 performers had set up microphones, speakers, and instruments, and were singing perfect "Scarborough Fair" by Simon and Garfunkle. While a guy and a girl, they sounded just like them, and Kate, who's been obsessed with S&G for years, nearly died. The woman, whom Kate was convinced was on ecstasy, was doing all kinds of interpretive dance while singing, and her fella was playing the guitar and belting his heart out. A huge crowd of about 50 or so had formed, mesmerized by their bizarrity and talent, and we decided to stay.
It's 11 at night, we're in the Uffizi piazza, and we're listening to an amazing duo sing everything from "Winds of Change" to "Hotel California." It was like out of a movie, with the music filling the plaza. Looking around and up, we couldn't help but be amazed at the architecture and art surrounding us, before our eyes finally reached the stars, twinkling above us. And then we'd look back at the performers and the ecstasy chick's rolling around on the stone floor, humming into a microphone and throwing herself around like a dying fish.
All 5 of us were humbled into silence, except for Matt, on whom the beauty of the situation was lost. After their "set", we moved on and of course, headed over to our favorite bar.
Like Norm walking into Cheers, we crowded into Kikuya and ordered drinks. Stash was there and greeted us warmly, although my favorite bartender, "Hottie McItalian-guy" wasn't working. At one point, Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" came on and Kate and I were forced to dance. I think Matt was ready to kill himself, even begging us to stop by bribing us with drinks. Nuff said. Alex and Matt were busy working some Italian chicks, and Kate and I spied on them, finding it hilarious that our baby brothers were now drunk in some Italian bar, all grown up and flirting with foreign girls.
The great thing about this bar, aside from Stash taking excellent care of us and the fact that it's always PACKED with good looking, laid back 20-somethings, is that it's about 15 steps from our apartments. As I sat there last night, sipping my 2.50 Euro wine, I couldn't believe our drinking luck. We end up there every night, and as it's open till 3am, we always have an excuse to swing by and say hi, no matter how late we've been out.
I finally slept last night, and today plan to explore museums all by myself. I want to sit in cafes, read my books, and wear my hat. Mom and Dori rented a car and have driven off into Tuscany in search of ridiculously expensive pottery. Dad is doing some countryside train thing, and Jen and Kate have headed to the Prada outlet. Alex and Matt might tag along with Greg and let him pay for things, I'm not really sure. The great thing about being here for so long is that we can all go off and do whatever we feel like, the kids meeting nightly for cocktails before we all join up for dinner.
Greg's sister, Diane, arrives from her home in London today, which means for the next few nights, Kate'll be crashing over at our apartment. Kate, who's never had a problem napping on our couch, will be horrified when she discovers that I wake up at 4am every night, unable to sleep and obsessed with BBC's Tsunami coverage.
Our street performers return at 9pm tonight, weather permitting, and after dinner, we plan to enjoy them again. They have Cd's for 10 Euro. Any takers...