Yes, my better half and I are in Firenze, or Florence to us English speakers.
There is no point trying to describe the artistic wonders we have been privileged to see. Somehow, for a few hundred years, art, piety, money, and power converged so that Renaissance masters produced noble and dazzling art.
Travel always brings surprises, and nowhere is like the imagining.
We figured this late in the year the weather would be an affliction but the crowds would have retreated. Ha. The weather has been well behaved, Spring-like, with Wedgwood-blue skies. The mobs, or a serious fraction of them, are still here.
Another surprise: most of the tourists are Italian (a conclusion drawn from the language overheard); I'd guess 90 percent. The other 10 percent is roughly evenly divided among Americans, British, French, and Germans.
This is a good place to get over preconceptions about Italians. Both the residents -- it's usually clear who they are -- and visitors are nothing like movie clichés. No pasta-bloated figures. They gesture, like all southern European and Meditteranean people, but they don't wave their arms about like they're drowning. In general they are slim and attractive.
At first I assumed that was just aristocratic Florentine style. (And you do see women with beautifully molded faces out of High Renaissance paintings; lots of Botticelli blonde locks and blue eyes.) Yet the women I've noticed who were what I take to be classic south-of-Rome types, with curly raven-black hair and olive skin tones, were equally svelte. Maybe they're rich and go out of their way to stay in shape, or maybe modern Italians of all classes are determined to keep the bella figura.
Two more days here and then we are back to America and the crisis-of-the-day world.