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Phespirit goes to Italy
Florence     March 1999

The artistic, historic and cultural allure of Florence finally overcomes Phespirit upon his long-overdue immersion into Dante's 'Divine Comedy' ..... he resolves to go on pilgrimage.

[Phespirit's encounters with cultural figures begin unexpectedly early when, before even leaving Gatwick airport, he finds himself alongside a dapperly turned-out Sir Roy Strong (reading his copy of Virgil's 'Aeneid') on the airport bus.]

On the trail of Dante, Phespirit was disappointed in his quest for historic Florence for whilst he found an abundance of splendid mediæval and renaissance buildings, their current setting within a noisy, bustling, late 20th century city context, thoroughly beset with traffic and tourist groups, detracted somewhat from their charm.

Artistic Florence, on the hand, was every bit as satisfying as could have been hoped for. The highlight was probably a first sighting of the original 'David' by Michaelangelo, although Phespirit was also well pleased with the layout and manageability of the Uffizi. However, after a third day of galleries, museums and churches Phespirit fell victim to a serious dose of art fatigue.

So, for cultural Florence Phespirit tempered his high culture with an afternoon of mass culture, attending a 2 - 1 home victory for Fiorentina against high-flying Parma. Fiorentina have long been Phespirit's Italian football team of preference so he was able to leave the ground a well satisfied fan (despite the disappointment of Batistuta being absent through injury).

In addition to Florence, Phespirit also managed visits to Pisa (cabbage sight-seeing around the tower and other buildings in the Campo dei Miracoli) and Siena (a delightful town with the time-locked atmosphere which Phespirit had failed to find in Florence.)

Ultimately Phespirit left Tuscany without feeling he'd successfully tapped into the spirit of Dante, but still feeling better educated for the overall experience.

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