One February afternoon in Florence, I decided to go up to a tourist spot called Piazzale Michelangelo. The problem with this was, it was a literal hike up a mountain, and at this point in my trip, I had sustained multiple injuries, the most recent one being a knee injury from reaching the bottom of a staircase – or what I thought was the bottom – and not realizing there was one more step. My knee took the brunt of stopping me from falling, and at the time, my knee was like, “It’s cool! At least you didn’t fall!” But then later that night, my knee was like, “AAAAGHHHHH AT LEAST YOU DIDN’T FALL AGGGGGHHHH KILL MEEEEE!” So imagine my state of determination when I decided to hike up a freaking mountain because why the hell else did I pay all this money to come to Europe. And I wasn’t gonna take a bus like some RICH LOSER; I was gonna WALK and take in the GORGEOUS PAINFUL VIEW!
So I hobbled my butt up about 2 million steps (which would’ve been hard even with an okay knee; I saw super-fit people gasping and wheezing too, SO THERE). It started drizzling, but there was no going back now. I finally landed up top. It WAS a gorgeous view overlooking Florence; photos don’t do it justice. I had no real plans for the rest of the day, so I decided to take my time up there and enjoy – how very European of me.
I sat down on a bench, swollen knee creaking, and pulled out the huge blue rain poncho I’ve had for literally 20 years and only used once before, in Florence in 2016, proof below:
This poncho is HUGE – I’m able to wear it over myself and my enormous backpack and there’s room for at least 5 more under there – I just look like a gargantuan blue hunchback monster walking the streets of Florence. But that thing keeps me DRY, so I’ll take dry hunchback over wet erectback any day.
I soon realized the poncho had an added benefit: It hid the wine I brought, so I didn’t look like a friggin’ alcoholic. I had visited the grocery store before the hike to get mini single-serve boxes of wine (easier to transport, and no need for a wine opener!), and some varied styles of prosciutto (Italian!). I tried to get a read on the area, whether other people were drinking or whether it was even allowed. There was a little cafe nearby where cocktails were sold, but since it’s the only cafe at the top of a mountain, you just know the drinks are a million Euro apiece, and transferred into American dollars, HOMEY DON’T PLAY THAT. So I got out my boxed wine, poured it into a little cup – all beneath my poncho, mind you – and got to munchin’ on some prosciutto.
Two guys sat down next to me. Normally I’d be annoyed at the invasion of my space, but this time I was relieved, because they had brought themselves a big ol’ bottle of wine – freakin’ alcoholics – and starting drinking, too. Added bonus: they didn’t know I was American, and their common language was English, so I got to straight-up listen in on their conversation without either of them realizing I understood every word. “MUAH HAHAHA what a couple of idiots!” I thought to my huge blue poncho self as I took another sip of boxed wine and ate another slice of prosciutto with my bare hands, knee throbbing.
People-watching – especially with a little wine in you – is fun. I had a view of everyone looking out over the panorama edge and taking pictures. A group of Italian men took in the view – and LOOK AT THEIR PANTS:
These are the PERFECTLY HEMMED PANTS they wore TO HIKE UP A MOUNTAIN. Meanwhile, I was on Day 13 of 23 of wearing the SAME PAIR OF JEANS.
But what really caught my eye was a young woman, maybe 25, I think American. She was super cute and alone, and had a selfie stick. And she spent HER ENTIRE TIME just trying to get the perfect selfie. She didn’t look out at the amazing view; she didn’t sit and take it all in. She just spent A VERY LONG TIME holding up that damned camera and tilting her head, putting on a dead-eyed fake smile, clicking, then bringing the camera down, looking at the picture, not liking it, then doing it all over again. And over again. And again and again and again.
And I wanted to yell, “TURN AROUND! LOOK AT THE VIEW! STOP TRYING TO CONVINCE PEOPLE YOU’RE HAVING A WONDERFUL TIME, and just HAVE A WONDERFUL TIME!” But I didn’t. I drank more wine and ate more prosciutto, thinking how sad she was making me with each click of her camera, realizing only I knew the secret to life.
I thought she was finally done, but I saw her later – she had just moved to another spot with better lighting. A couple offered to take her picture if she would take theirs. I could tell she didn’t like what they took of her – after they left, she looked hopeful at it, then instantly deflated – so she went back to taking selfies, each time her head tilted at the tiniest bit of a different angle. Eyes still dead.
The sun was starting to go down and my alcoholic friends had left (one had been trying to wrap up the convo for a while, which I found amusing, because the other one just wouldn’t get the hint) so I decided it was time to go. Standing up nearly broke my knee.
“You know,” I thought as I hobbled down the mountain, a little tipsy, knee on fire, prosciutto messing with my stomach, lost (I went down a different way than I had gone up…a wrong way), “I think social media is the devil. And I can’t wait to write about it on my blog.”
PS: This is the selfie I took at the top of the mountain. I’m giving the side-eye to the bird-shat-upon fake David at the top. Guess how many takes it took to get it? ONE. Can you tell? YES. Are my teeth stained with wine? YES. But I’m having a friggin’ good time.