Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Christmas Eve in Florence – Man’s Search for Fire(wood)
We didn’t quite realize how wonderful Florence was during Christmastime. It was no colder than Javea and we were blessed with crystal blue skies during the day. At night, all the streets were strung with lights, which glowed along with the colorful window displays in the shops. People were out and about, bundled up in their fancy wool coats, scarves and furs and it was a lively and festive atmosphere. In reality, it had taken us quite a while to get into the Christmas spirit. We didn’t get a tree since we were heading to Florence and the little plastic “Charlie Brown” version left by the property manager didn’t do much to get us in the mood. But the lights outside certainly did. I made a few forays through town in the hopes of finding a Christmas tree, but there were none to be found within the city center. Charlie Brown would have to suffice. Another puzzling thing was that there was no firewood to be found in all of Florence. One of my fondest childhood memories was huddling around a big fire with my family on Christmas Eve and I was hellbent on finding some wood. The “duraflame” style logs that they sell out here barely hold a flame and frankly didn’t work, even after dousing for hours with lighter fluid. I tried everywhere I could think of, but kept walking away, rejected. Nobody even had a suggestion for where I might find some. I even trekked out several miles to a lumber store, but they were closing for Christmas and turned me away. To not be able to procure firewood at a lumber store of all places was ultimate humiliation. However, as the man / “provider and protector” of my family, I was not going to let this setback bring me down. While mere mortals might have let the fire thing go at this point, I would ultimately prevail. It was time to beg… Now which of these restaurants has a fireplace or pizza oven??? I stopped in at the Dante Restaurant where we had dined the previous night. The owner was very kind and gave me 4 large logs and I hauled them home with a bounce in my step, whistling Christmas songs along the way. It didn’t even matter that the house filled with smoke, nor that the kids only had about 30 minutes to enjoy the fire before they had to turn in. We had a real fire on Christmas Eve. We laid out a dish of traditional Italian cookies and a glass of milk and headed to bed, anxious to see if Santa would make the long trek to Italy.