We arrived in Florence on Saturday, July 17. Our flight from Paris to Florence was smooth, with two exceptions. The second was that our flight, after we had boarded, was delayed about 30 minutes, which was no real problem. The first was related to how I pack. I think I tend to “pack light,” taking everything in a carry-on and a backpack.  Well, my packing isn’t light; it is only compact. My carry-on was far too heavy to carry on. So, they made me check it, and I, of course, had to pay for it. I’m now considering what to leave behind for future flights.

Sunday, we worshiped at an English-speaking Anglican Church in Florence, with a nice fellowship time to follow. We met several interesting people from a variety of places, including Italy, the US, Nigeria, and the UK. It has been fun and fascinating to meet people from all over thee world. Sometimes, it is in a line as we wait. At other times, it has been while participating in some activity. Here’s a picture from the worship service.

On Monday, we visited the baptistry outside of the Duomo. We also climbed the tower. It took a lot of stopping and resting along the way under the guise of stopping to enjoy the view from each level. Here is a view of the tops of the baptistery, tower, and the Duomo with Brunelleschi’s “famous” dome.

The story with the dome is that when they started to build the cathedral (duomo), they had no idea how they would pull off the construction of this massive dome. For many years, Brunelleschi came up with the idea of building a smaller dome underneath to support the larger dome on the exterior. This is thought to be a stroke of engineering genius, but I don’t know. All the effort of building TWO domes to get just one. “Come on, Brunelleschi; work smarter not harder.” The first is a view from the veranda where we have breakfast each morning.

On Monday, I also began the class I am taking in “Comedia dell’ Arte.” There are only four in our class, which was a surprise but has also made for a better learning experience. I’m the old guy in the group, something I’m not used to. Two of my classmates are 20 and the other is just a bit older having just graduated from college. Two of them have been in college together but neither knew the other had enrolled. Three of us are from the United States and one of us is from Russia. “Comedia dell’ Arte” sounds as if it has to do with the art of comedy, and, in many ways it does, but that is not the reason for the name. The name indicates a shift during the Renaissance in which theater became a profession. Today it means a kind of theater with stock (archetypal) characters, usually wearing masks, with humorous antics and an occasional breaking of the fourth wall. We are learning about these characters and how to represent their physicality and personalities. Our teacher is Roberto Andrioli. He is also teaching a mask-making workshop this week. below is a view of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo where the Commedia and Mask-making classes met for a traditional welcome drink. Then there are pictures of the masks we are using.

It was Chis’s birthday on Wednesda! So we celebrated by taking a class in pizza and gelato making class. Have you ever seen more delicious-looking pizzas? Probably NOT!

Thursday during class, Roberto did a reading at “Roof Machiavelli Palace” from a book by David Foster Wallace. Dring class that morning, he asked if I would like to do a standup bit that evening to open things.  So I did, this means that I have now performed internationally. A photo is forthcoming below.