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68.jpg (14764 bytes)DAY 17, JUNE 3

(MATT) We arose, cleaned up, and were off to the beach. We parked down the beach from all of the chairs and umbrellas not to avoid people but not to disturb those seeking health from the sun as a sign had indicated. Chris, Sam, and I played hacky sack while Jon carved something that broke. We improved alot but still need more practice. We made several hacks but only once did we come close to a double hack.

Then Sam and Chris swan, and tried to convince me to join them but I had showered the previous day and had on my only pair of clean skivvies so I wouldn't budge. Sam put alot of pressure on me as he pointed out that he does things that I want to, but I just kept thinking about wet, salty skivvies to Pisa and Florence. Then I walked to the end of the beach and we prepared to leave. 69.jpg (13815 bytes)As we were leaving, our fourth salesman (just like New York) came up to us selling trinkets (watches, belts, hats, etc.) I liked a belt and thought he said 3,000 lira ($2) so I gave it to him. He looked at me kind of funny, pulled out a calculator and typed in 40,000 lira ($30). I said no, no, offered him $10 American and we went back and forth several times and agreed on 20,000 lira ($14). It was fun.

Then onto Pisa. We arrived and saw the tower through the fields. We drove into town, took a short walk to the tower. It was leaning. It was a tower. They had dug out under the lower side to try to shore it up to keep it from leaning more. We couldn't get into the church or the baptistry so we took off for Florence. We arrived in the city; Jon was driving again.

(JON) So into the city I drove. None of us knew where we were. Finally, we found a parking place. First order of business was to find the Ufizzi. On our way there, we came across a beautiful church. The whole outside was detailed in colored marble. It was 70.jpg (17527 bytes)beautiful but not the best. A domed structure across from the church called the Ii Duomo had beautiful doors on it. Sam told us that these doors used to be gold but a Japanese man bought the originals for some ungodly amount of dough. The copies are bronze.

Then our trek towards the Uffezzi. The rain began and the streets cleared of people for about 20 minutes until the rain stopped. Funny, the rain held us up right at a banco. Yes, lira money was running low. So we cashed in about 200 dollars and divided it up amongst the four of us. Yes, we finally found the Uffizzzie (or so we thought.) Quick, get some tickets. We bought the 10,000 l. ticketos because we thought they would get us into more stuff. Off we went through the first entrance, They took one piece of our ticket which consisted of six parts. Boy, is this going to be good. Ok, part one is done; on to part two. Uh, part two is in another part of the city! By the way, the "David" isn't in any of these parts.

On we walk to decide if we want to go to these other museums. Then we saw a long line by some doors; they were only letting small groups in at a time. Come to find out, thanks to Chris, this is the Uffitzie and it costs 12,000 l. The only reason this museum was half interesting was because these two girls were eyeing Sam while we were waiting in line. The cat and mouse game went on in the museum for the whole time. In and out of rooms, laughing and galavanting around. Matt had his share too. He met a movie star. She kept waving at him on and off. (from "Hope and Gloria").71.jpg (12226 bytes)

Sam unfortunately couldn't speak Italian. The moment came. What will the girls do? Sam in all his manliness struts up to the two girls and with a romantic English accent says, "Do you want to film me in front of this picture,"!!! What a pick up line! Later Sam redeems himself. There were also four American girls in the Efeetze too. On the way out, Sam introduces himself and finds that her name in Jodie. I'll let him tell of the Romance.

(CHRIS) 'There were a few very interesting art works as well. We saw a DaVinci and a Raphael. Most of the paintings were religious. Most of the sculptures were naked men. The Uffizi was not as large as the Lourve. At least, not what we saw. This is probably because of the 1993 bomb blast here. Some stuff was ruined and whole sections are closed for repair. I left the museum with the other 3 'weeds, but all of them were trapped in gift shops, while I gazed at passing Florentines and tourists outside. Matt soon came out. After awhile, I got tired of waiting for Sam and Jon, so I started back inside. Then I saw Sam was making moves on a cute blonde, so I decided not to bother him.

Finally, we regrouped, Sam commenting that he met a "really nice" girl. As we walked away, shortly behind the blonde and her three girlfriends, we realized we did not know where we were going or what we would eat. So Sam called out to the blonde because she had a good Florence map.

"Jodie!" he chimed in a very melodic fashion. As she turned to meet him, a soft smile spread across her lips and a definite twinkle flashed in her eyes. At that moment, Jodie FELL for Sam. (A few days later, Sam would throw three coins in the Trevi, thus sealing them together for life.) Jodie told us that they too were looking for cheap eats, so we walked with them. They were four art students from Alfred in New York. The other cute one was named Danielle. The last two weren't so pretty (OK, they were dog ugly) but their attitude didn't help much. They seemed to resent us. But Jodie seemed to be the group leader and she made sure we stayed with them as we walked through Fiernze.

It was at this time we realized why we did not bring girls with us on the trip. They were so SLOW, stopping at every little shop and debating over every restaurant. Finally, we boys decided on a nice, but not really expensive ($13 for a full meal) place and the girls opted out. We all notice Jodie's admiration of Sam and as we sat inside at our table. We joked that the girls would be outside waiting when we finished dinner. We had a nice table inside in a room almost empty of other people. Quiet and well decorated (with the customary Italian naked people art.) Our first course, I had the bean soup (prego!) and Sam had lasagna. The wine was quite good. For the main course, Matt went daring and loved the result; "tripe is good (even though it is actually cow stomach)" is our new motto. We had glace (helado) (ice cream) after and then I had my first cappachino (or was it espresso?)--pretty good. Sam was raving. He loved this place. (P.S. The bathrooms had foot pedals for the water in the sink--much better than continually pushing a button.)

It was raining again when we exited, but right across the little street under an overhang sat Jodie's gang, just finishing their dinner. They waved us over and we rescued Jodie from her ogre of a possessive waiter. She tried to talk is into going bar-hopping or to a disco. We said no, Sam leading the retreat. We began walking, but they followed. We stopped for one last chat and Jodie gave Sam her address. We saw Jodie's heart break (right through her women's lacrosse jacket) as she turned from Sam for the last time. Ah, Florence!

We headed south to Rome, telling ourselves not to skip entirely all the back door towns. Before we knew it, though, we were 70 km's from the Eternal City. (Jon was driving 90 mph) (Great superhighways here!) So we pulled off near Orte, passed a festival that was closing down for the night and found an open field. Sam and I voted to put the tent up in the cut grass, butt Matt insisted on the long, "soft grass." We goofed around and dozed off after midnight.

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