Battered by a tsunami of tourists rolling past as I stood between the Duomo and the Baptistry, I felt the urge to write a sonnet in doggerel – which came together as I ran the gauntlet of Indians and Bangladeshis who seem to run the long rows of tourist stalls outside the market proper. I jotted it down on the back of a downloaded train ticket… and here it is:
Ghosts of the Medicis stalk the lanes,
alleys and palaces that once were theirs –
now veiled by visitors, whose gawps and stares
(directed by their tourist-programmed brains)
pay little notice to the stench of drains;
for God has left – if He was ever there –
and there’s no longer incense on the air.
The stink persists here, even when it rains.
And yet there’s charm. too in the cobbled streets,
a medieval magic blankets all,
drowning the tourist clamour which competes
with importuning vendors at each stall…
In spite of this, I think I understand
why some still view Firenzi as sublimely grand.