Saturday, November 5, 2011

To live as Miss Honeychurch plays...

A very long time ago, when I was a fresh-faced college student, I took an Introduction to English Lit course. I was wary: I had come to expect "Lit" classes to really be about micro-examining a text until it was a dessicated husk of its former self, shrivelled and lifeless. Also, Heart of Darkness was on the syllabus, and, well...just...ugh.

However, I got lucky. The instructor was quite young, and loved English literature in all its shapes and forms. She didn't want to put it under a microscope; she wanted to suck the marrow out of every juicy word. She even went so far as to make Chaucer interesting, by getting a friend who specialized in Medieval literature to read us some of the saucier bits. We shared similar tastes, and she introduced me to E.M. Forster. She suggested I start with her favourite book, A Room With a View.

Being the keener I was, I hied me down to the local Book Shoppe and picked me up a copy. I scarfed it down in one sleepless night. I convinced the instructor to let me write my term paper on RWaV, rather than Heart of Darkness, and she agreed. (For which I will be eternally grateful, if only for saving me from the tedium of reading HoD again...oy!) A closer reading of RWaV intrigued me...Shortly afterward, I saw the Merchant Ivory film, and I fell in love. Someday, dammitall, someday I was going to go to Florence and stand on that bridge over the River Arno! Stated with all the idealistic fervor of that young college student, of course, so perhaps destined to....not.

Then this Berlin trip was proposed, and Mr.Q and I started talking about where I might want to go afterward. An enticement, to coax me on board. Simultaneously, the loosely organized book club at work were looking for a new read, and someone suggested Room With A View. 

Ding ding ding ding ding!

If you haven't read the book or seen the film, this post may be completely lacking in context. But I did pack my beat-up, dog-eared copy of the book, and Mr.Q and I spent a lovely day tracking down the key sites in the story....

The Ponte Vecchio, over the Arno...sans bloody packet of postcards:

The Piazza della Signoria, where we (accidentally) had gelato the size of our heads (I really did order a single scoop! She put a good half-litre on each cone! I wanted a pic, but the logistics were impossible.)

I also made a point of buying a nude Venus postcard here.

The fountain in the Piazza, where the stabbing took place, and where Lucy fainted:

The Hotel degli Orafi stands on the former site of the real, live Pension Bertollini:

On the steps of Santa Croce, without her Baedeker:

And inside the church, with some of Della Robbia's babies:

We did go to Fiesole as well, but I forgot to bring the book with me. And the ruins there deserve a post of their own. For those who are maybe not quite the geek that I am, I'll give you more of Florence in a another post. Meanwhile...already trying to decide on the next literary travel adventure! Hideous Kinky, and Morocco? (The film was meh, but visually stunning.) Chocolat, and Provence? The possibilities are endless!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a cool idea for a tour! DH & I are celebrating a significant anniversary next year, and we want to do something away. You're giving me ideas...