Vermont Ingham-Porters arrive right on time, sani and salvi. We got the house all clean. One lesson in the PM but I’m back by seven. Night time walk in the old Avesa town, everybody kind of spaced out, you can imagine. We stopped into the Osteria al Popolo where a liter of wine costs 7 euro, and it’s really nice tonight. I assume we’ll be drinking a lot of this in the next week or so. In the half-lit sideroom of Popolo, where the betting machines are, how nice it was to see my family’s faces around me, like we had found each other by chance.

Memory of the sunny fondamenta delle Zattere in Venice, where we got coffee and a little sandwich in the AM, the glimmering water and the sounds of its licking at the dock sides. Venice is really alive this morning, everybody in work clothes, sweeping out doorways and making coffee, bustling somewhere with a cell phone slapped to their ear. Perfect walking weather. My dear brother Ted, so totally into it and into the experience of being here. Alice, with her quiet eye, taking it all in.

First full day in Florence, saw the amazing Brancacci Chapel with frescoes by old Massaccio, just incredibly inspiring. I’ll never tire of looking at the way they render the drapery. Went to the Sant’Ambrogio market and had lunch at incredible urban type genuine local lunch place where the waiters wrote your total on the paper placemats and it seemed to be all Florentines, locals drinking from bulbous green Chianti bottles with the grass covers. Climbed Giotto’s bell tower next to the Florence Duomo, reminds me of being here alone with Rich back in what year was it (which visit?). There is the un-carino bar at the corner of the campanile Square where I got a coffee and peed while Rich took a million photos.

It’s Thanksgiving in America! Clothes and shoe shopping in old Firenze. Vintage store where Nate buys a pair of slacks. Harriet gets a fine pair of boots. In and out of shops in the fast dark, lights inside framing the goods and the xmas decorations already. Brisk weather and nice to walk outside. We get food, joking about the name “CONAD” for a supermarket. Cooking back at our so-cool pied-a-terre on the Santo Spirito side of the Arno, vino sfuso and washing dishes in the company of my loved ones. These are some of my happiest times. Makes me think of being back at Mom’s, Fredericksburg, VA.

Last day in Florence, rough AM being expelled from the city. The stupid marathon is completely blocking all ways in and around the old town, so we have to hoof it with all our bags in the cold rain on long ugly streets to pick up the rental van which we’ve reserved for the last three days of the trip.

Accompanied family to airport in the megavan, a rented Ducato, at 4:30 AM. There is some problem with the return. We have taken our parking ticket upon entering, but made the mistake of unloading the van and checking in first so now we owe five euros to open the gate and there seems to be no one around. We decide to bid our farewells and I will deal with the megavan myself. Teary-eyed goodbyes and I weigh into the small-bore stress of finding the attendants and backing the big vehicle into a very tight space. Man, I get the blues so bad seeing my family go. Glad I don’t have to work.