Mattie Matthews writes a blog called 67 & Dumped. A few years ago, her husband dave (whose name she refuses to capitalize) unexpectedly left her for a younger woman and another life. Now she is traveling the world — and pushing outside her comfort zone in ways she never thought she could when she was younger. We check in with her in Italy.
Firenze. Florence. Beautiful. (Photo: iStock/Thinkstock)
As I might have mentioned, my ex-husband dave is now living in another land with a new babe, so when I’m not busy sticking pins in a really good likeness of him I’m doing some traveling, mostly with my sister, Marcia. And here we are again in Italy.
We left Orvieto and took a train to Florence. In my opinion, if you are over 60 you should definitely opt for a first-class train if possible. In Italy, the price is not that different and the comfort level is dramatic. For starters, first-class trains have reserved seats and places to put your luggage that don’t entail lifting your bags above your head.
On our arrival we waited at the taxi line for our turn. When we showed the cab driver the name of our hotel he said, “I could take you there but you may want to walk. It’s across the street.”
He pointed to our hotel, Grand Hotel Baglioni. The truth is that after that long train trip we would have taken him up on the ride but we were too embarrassed. We thanked him and rolled our suitcases down the block.
The hotel was very nice and obviously centrally located. We were shown to a lovely room and decided to take a nap before dinner. Tried to take a nap, rather.
A room at the Grand Hotel Baglioni. (Photo: HotelBaglioni.it)
I don’t want to tell Italy what to do, but if you’re going to have a church every 10 feet, and you feel it’s your responsibility to gong out every hour and follow it up with a song maybe you should get off the 24-hour clock — come 21 o’clock you just want to go punch a priest.
Here’s another thing I noticed: There’s obviously some kind of law in Italy that you can’t just hail a taxi the way you do in New York. You have to go to a taxi stand.
In Rome they didn’t seem to enforce that. We hopped into cabs left and right there, but here in Florence there wasn’t a renegade to be found. No matter how pathetic we tried to look when we got tired, the cab drivers just shook their heads and drove past us empty.
Florence’s famous Ponte Vecchio. (Photo: iStock/Thinkstock)
In spite of this the next day was just wonderful. Marcia and I walked our feet off, shopped, paid way too much for some wine gizmo we aren’t sure we’ll know how to work when we get home, and just loved being together. I think the thing turns red wine into white wine. At least that’s what the guy said.
Here’s what it looked like.
Marcia may have buyer’s regret… (Photo: Mattie Matthews)
Near the Uffizi Gallery, which had a huge line — next time we’ll be sure to buy tickets ahead — we came upon a food and craft market. This art you could eat, which was fine by me. There were different booths with cheeses, breads, and a million things made out of truffles with samples everywhere.
I’ve decided that there are two themes for this trip through Italy. Photos of everything we eat…
(Photo: Mattie Matthews)
…and pictures of my sister standing next to strange men.
The second part is not easy. Unless the men embrace it, Marcia immediately runs away. When that happens I threaten her by saying that since she didn’t like that guy, the next man I approach will be worse, so she’d better stop fighting me.
Firemen and new friends. (Photos: Mattie Matthews)
I admit, on occasion, it doesn’t go exactly as I’d like. The first afternoon I instructed Marcia to stand with these two young men with their cameras and I stepped back to get a shot of it.
The men started screaming at me in Italian. I think that they were saying that I was in the way of the photo they were trying to take of their girlfriends.
I couldn’t have cared less but when I turned around Marcia was halfway down the block — I had to punish her by making her pose with the two-toothed guy that sold magnets. It wasn’t a total loss, though, because I picked up a nice magnetic statue of David, a prestigious item on anyone’s refrigerator.
(Photo: Mattie Matthews)
David: made for a magnet. (Photo: iStock/Thinkstock)
Marcia, meanwhile, has come to hold a very important job on this trip: she is our mouthpiece. It seems that when we checked in we had a bit of trouble getting internet, and I might have gotten a bit too graphic in telling the desk clerk what he was missing in the brains department.
Needless to say, any questions we needed an answer to had to come from the sweet sister.
At about a quarter to 19 we got dressed for dinner.
While I hid behind a pole Marcia got a restaurant recommendation from the desk clerk.
It’s clear he didn’t spot me because the Ristorante Buca Mario was terrific. It’s been around since 1886 for a reason. We had delicious Tuscan beef for dinner, plus they gave us a free apron when we left.
Everyone loves free stuff — and being in one of the most beautiful city in the world doesn’t hurt either.
Marcia poses over the Arno River. (Photo: Mattie Matthews)
Venice, our next and last destination, is going to have a serious run for its money.
Mattie Matthews writes a blog called 67 & Dumped.
The author takes it all in by the Duomo. (Photo: Mattie Matthews)