My trip to Italia (that is Italian for ‘Italy’) with Mrs Bob was not just about scrambled eggs and churches, oh no.
I had a life-changing moment of clarity and revelation. I am going to become a monk. Mary agreed right off and said she would send my belongings on, which is kind of her.
Maybe it was seeing such stunning artwork such as this that led to this life-changing decision. Maybe it was simply the fact that I like the idea of having a long lie in each day and naps, a full English breakfast on tap, banter with lots of monk mates, and the chance to catch up on box sets, in between occasional reflective silences and the odd hymn.
As I had not packed any monk gear for our trip I decided to sort it all out back in the UK but I fancy being a monk in Florence as I also get to see the football at the Stadio Artemio Franchi and have a few cheeky beers in Moonshine Bar after.
It seems though that you cannot just be a monk. Red tape, bureaucracy and unwritten job descriptions. Pah! The following excerpt from an article in The Independent in 1996 emphasises that the common image of life as a monk, that I have had in my head, is a false one;
Living as a monk you will dress in coarse robes, eat a simple vegetarian diet, freeze in winter and boil in summer. You will catch two or three hours sleep at a time at most, as for two hours from 11.45pm you are required to sing the Night Office in a procession through the long dark cloisters. The rest of the day is divided up into collective and secluded prayers and masses. Any free time is spent tilling the garden or on carpentry and study work”
Do me a favour! I want to do what the bloke in the monk recruitment brochure below is doing.
The article goes on to say that;
“The up side is that you can expect to live to a grand old age and enjoy good health – one Polish monk who joined the Order when he was 30 is now 97. Another sprightly member continues to climb the steeple in his mid-seventies. Taking my leave, downstairs in the cloister I bump into a jovial monk who comes over and, touching my elbow, says “Don’t worry, the first forty years are the hardest. But this is my fiftieth.” Then, with a nod and a knowing wink, he roars with laughter”.
No offence but this is not much of an up side and if the ‘hilarious joke’ is typical of monkish banter then I am out.
I am not going to bother with looking into the pros and cons of the Franciscans, the Augustines, the Benedictines or the Dominicans. It seems I have been misled. Mrs Bob has already shipped my stuff off though and is adhering to a vow of silence when she sees me so it may be tricky backing out of this now…..
To be honest if I was a monk then I would probably not be allowed to share the following photo.
Before you accuse me of being a pervert, these are what seem to be dog bikinis or underwear which me and Mrs Bob saw in a doggie gear shop in Florence. I considered making our smallest dog Max wear something like this for a laugh but he would lose all his street cred in the Loughton area (and I may also find other dog walkers avoiding me more than usual). If you are a Florentine please let me know what and why. Was it just a bizarre fetish shop?
We did see a dog wearing a small glittery hat and a bow tie. He looked so pissed off.
One other oddity about Florence was something I discovered for the first time on this trip. Ordinarily, when I go to the Viola City for football, beer and stimulating conversation, we have a designated sensible person to direct us from A to B. Take a bow Chloe. On this occasion therefore I had to use a map to actually plan how to get from A to B. Now – and Mrs Bob will attest to this as she had the same problem – what I discovered this time is Harry Potter-esque.
You enter a building or a narrow street. Hey presto! When you come out, like the magical shape-shifting Hogwarts School, all the roads and building have miraculously moved meaning that you end up going round the same block three times; you find that having been 5 minutes away from your next destination, you are now 20 minutes away. For the love of Ron Weasels! Unless there was a constant Truman Show type scenery change conspiracy, me and Mrs Bob felt we had been enchanted. Like Beauty and the Beast.
By the way, no way would Ms Beauty have fancied The Beast – he was not a human but was a creature who just wore human clothes (n.b. putting a bikini on a dog does not mean it is not a dog any more). He was called The Beast for goodness sake, a big giveaway as to what he was. He was a terrifying kidnapper (Stockholm Syndrome anyone?) and had the house of a deranged lunatic. I am not judging their relationship but it is like hippie free love gone bad.
Back to my point, Florence is not only a beautiful and amazing city, but it appears to have been created to JK Rowling (or I cannot read maps).
Well I realise that I have failed to blog much about the actual Italian trip so will need to get onto churches and some of my amazing Italian vocabulary next time. Also the building fiasco that is the (Leaning) Tower of Pisa.
Oh hold on. One last thing, Pisa not Florence related.
This lovely item was provided in our hotel bathroom next to the bidet. Seriously what are you meant to do with it (and does anyone actually use the bidet other than as a drinking fountain?)?