Walls and Flowers

15 JULY 2009

• Up early in Lucca to get an along-the –walls run in before we headed for Firenze (why do outsiders call places like Florence by a different name than the people who live there?). The circuit of the walls is 2.3 miles, which I completed yesterday and the day before and today. In addition we rented bikes yesterday and went round the walls. Maureen was nervous at first but soon was progressing smoothly if slowly on her small pink machine. I got a red-lipped blowsy-looking woman on a bench to take a picture of both of us (which I’ll upload when we get back to camera-upload country). By way of balance I took a pic of her and her friend, an old(er) woman sitting with her. When I thanked them – ‘Grazie, mille grazie!’ – the blowsy one cried ‘Grazie lei, lei!’ – which I think means ‘Thanks to you!’ but could be ‘Thanks to her!’ – the old(er) friend – who, when we looked at their picture, verged on beautiful. I tried to get an email address so I could send them a copy but they didn’t know what I was on about. ‘Telefono?’ the red-lipped woman suggested, but that seemed a bit of a dead end for sending pictures.

• I went to Mass in the adjoining church of San Frediano at eight this morning. It was said at a little side altar – the total congregation was nine, including me – and the priest faced the altar throughout, turning round only for the Consecration and for the ‘Agnelli Dei’ parts. His alb/chasuble/whatever was rucked up at the back (I thought at first it was an Italian fashion) then fell into place as we finished the Our Father. The altar had three large candles at the right hand side and on the left a big bunch of white flowers, overset with a snowstorm spray of small white flowers. Simple and elegant and wonderful.

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