Well, we did make it to Italy, as you know from Lois’ posts, despite pre-flight conversations with friends about airplane misadventures. Being a nervous and fairly frequent flyer, I’ve experimented with a number of alleged sleep-inducing pharmaceuticals on a variety of flights, this time Ambien. Five hours of sleep — a record for me. Unfortunately I awoke for the landing, always my biggest challenge. I’ve heard it described by experts as a “controlled crash,” which is sort of the way it felt as we bounced onto the tarmac like a basketball. Still, I was grateful that we did not experience what is sometimes officially termed “uncontrolled contact with the ground.” Actually I’m getting better about this flying thing if only because I haven’t had a lot of choice over the past several years. I’m much better about this than my brother Tony, who, after acquiring a good deal of knowledge about what actually happens on planes during his 4-year stint in the Air Force, refuses to set foot on one of the contraptions.
Since arriving in Florence, we’ve spoken quite a bit of Italian, often to the bewilderment of Florentines. Generally, though, they do tend to be able to piece together what we are trying to say. The trick, I think, is to continue trying to speak it despite the pained expressions on the faces of the folks on the receiving end, whose English is often much better than our Italian. There is risk to this strategy though, as our friend Bill discovered years ago when he pronounced himself to be God Almighty at a Tuscan bistro. I’ve developed tremendous admiration for folks who are able to become fluent in a second language. I’ve worked on my Italian on and off for four years, taking classes, listening to CD’s, watching Italian movies, even experiencing brief periods of immersion on several trips to Italy, and I’ve begun to conclude that fluency will forever elude me. When I hear of people who are fluent in four or five foreign languages, I’m fairly sure they’re just making this up. It’s impossible — too many words.
Adesso andiamo alla Galleria dell-Accademia. Ciao.