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Monday, October 1, 2012

Florence, Italy – Sept. 27-28, 2012

The trouble with staying in a five-star hotel is that you never want to leave.  Your room.  Ever.  Even for a minute.  Add a balcony overlooking one of the most visited sites in Florence, Ponte Vecchio, and you can see why we rarely got out of the Lungarno Hotel's thick terry robes and slippers.

But we did get out:  We bumped our way along the crowded, narrow and often smelly streets (so many dogs and very rarely any grass or trees!) to visit Il Davide (not The David), the jewelry shops on Ponte Vecchio, the Boboli Gardens (“No Dogs!”) from the outside and discovered an out of the way vegetarian restaurant that was divine, 5 e Cinque.  (Black cabbage sautéed in olive oil and garlic is now often on our Salt menu.)

Thursday afternoon, while enjoying hors d’oeuvres in a small, family run café next to the hotel, the owner approached the table displaying cuts of cheese on his palm.  He wanted to share the cheeses with The Noses.  We politely declined, trying to communicate that they are not allowed to be fed from the table (this is why everyone thinks they are so wonderful in restaurants; all The Noses know about being there is that they have a temporary dog house under the table for an hour or so); he returned to the kitchen heart-broken and maybe even a little disgusted. 

On our way out, I mentioned that they could have some cheese now, near the street.  He fed and fed them until, fearing a night filled with intestinal reprisals, I called it to an end.  To show our appreciation, I “shot” Rosco and he immediately fell over and played dead.  Love that trick!  The owner was delighted.

Upon leaving the hotel, the owner of the café saw us piling into Pepper (don’t get me started on driving Pepper through Florence!); running over he aimed his hand through the back window and tried to shoot Rosco.  With no cheese at hand, Rosco declined a repeat performance.

And so we put Florence in the package with Venice:  Return without Noses and when we might have more patience for standing shoulder to shoulder, back to front, trying to ignore a stranger’s breath on our necks, in order to gaze at wonderful art.

This posting finds us sitting in Campeggio Acqua Dolce in Levanto, Italy, just outside of Cinque Terre.  A torrential rain is upon us and we aren’t sure if we will be able to maneuver our way out of our pitch unless everyone else in the row leaves.  (I would not be surprised if there is a YouTube video floating around of us getting into the pitch—our repeat performances continued for quite some time after which we needed something much stronger than cheese.) 

Thankfully, Salt’s roof is leak-free, the rain is due to stop in a day or so and we are surrounded by breath-taking seaside and mountain hiking opportunities.  We can hardly wait to get out there, although many of the main paths between the towns are closed due to a landslide.  Yes, Mobom, we'll be careful.