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After the morning in Uffize and a good lunch (spagetti, roast beef, potatoes, salad, fruit,
bread, wine - 65c) we spent the afternoon out of doors window shopping, walking back up
to Piazzale Michelangelo for a look at the city by sunlight, then over to the huge Boboli Gardens
behind Pitti Palace. We spent about 1 1/2 hours here, sitting on the lawn to rest our feet and
gaze out over the gardens to the city beyond, the walking along tree covered paths, through
open areas where boys played soccer or families walked and let their little children play,
overlooked from the shadows by sculptured figures watching silently, past ponds with
fountains in their center and swans swimming around. It was a beautiful, peaceful
place to spend the afternoon. From here we went back across the Arno to get to St Lorenz
church just at dusk, where we heard the organ play and watched the light fade as the
6pm mass was about to begin at one of the small side altars.
Both night in Florence we four met (Bridger and Mary Jeanette Erdman, Mary Ann
Campbell and I) for a leisurely supper of pizza and red wine, enough to make us good
and sleepy. Then straight back to the hotel and early to bed.
Sunday morning we were up at 5:30 to pack and catch a train for Milan. The
ride there was pretty bad because the train had come from Sicily and by the time
it reached Florence it was filled to overflowing. So we sat on our suitcases or stood,
first on one foot, then the other, for most of the 4 hour trip. We had sat first in
a 1st class compartment, but of course were kicked out when the conductor arrived
after 1/2 hour to check tickets. From then on it was in the aisles with us. On arrival
we checked our baggage at the station and set out to do as much as possible in the
3 hours we planned between trains. Mary Ann and I went immediately to the address
given me by Marcia Fisher, since I had written that we would be coming to Italy that week.
We were immediately received at welcomed to a real American breakfast - grapefruit
juice, bacon and eggs, oranges, sweet rolls, coffee, which was delicious and doubly
appreciated after so many mornings of cold rolls and coffee. We ate and talked for about
an hour or more, then were driven back to the station, by way of the Milan cathedral and
La Scala opera house, in time to reclaim our baggage and get a comfortable compartment.
We had decided while in Florence to spend our last night in Lugano, Switzerland
instead of Milan, so this was our destination on the afternoon train. This way departure
the following morning was at 8:07 instead of 6:30, and besides Lugano is indescribably
more beautiful than Milan, which is mainly an industrial city. We arrived at 3:30 pm
and after a 45 minute walk (suitcases and all) to the youth hostel only to find it
closed for the winter, we returned by bus to a small hotel right across from the train station.
The lady was very nice, gave us the rooms for $1.25 each and told us of an
inexpensive restaurant a few blocks away. We had a marvelous and filling dinner
for only 25c, and afterwards walked through the lightly falling snow (very uncommon
for Lugano they said) down to the lake shore. The town is situated on several hills at one
side of Lake Lugano, in the gorgeous southern Swiss lake country which Hemmingway uses for his "Farewell
to Arms" (a scene from this occurs at Stresa and Locano, a few kilometers from Lugano, on another lake).
We could look across the lake at the lights of homes on the hill opposite, which were also reflected in the
water below. It was a beautiful thing to see, and the setting would be equally lovely on a
summer's day, as it was on a quiet winter's night. We were in bed that night by 8:30 for
almost 10 hours sleep (the girls found hot water bottles in their beds, as a courtesy of the family
who runs the hotel). The next day was again beautiful and a perfect one to be traveling through
the magnificent Swiss Alps - Bellinzona, Arth Goldau, Zurich, Scheffhauser, etc. back
to Stuttgart. The mountains rise suddenly from valley floors, without foothills. They were
quite beautiful and proud in their fresh coats of snow, more sheer and rugged than the
Sierras are. We'll see them more closely on a coming trip to the Lucerne area (Mary Ann
and I, on a 4 day weekend Feb 26-29, I think). We got back on the good old Burg just
in time for a good dinner and a good night's sleep.
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