This rather lovely little hotel, despite its antiquated keys, which have minds of their own, has a table full of possiblilities for tourists. There was a leaflet advertising an exhibition at Prato of the work of Fra Filippo Lippi, at the newly re-opened Prato museum di Palazzo Pretorio,, which has been closed for more than 16 years for restoration Prato is not far from Florence, so I went by train.
First you buy your ticket. The queues are extremely long and most tickets are bought from vending machines. I tried one but it would not accept cash. Then i recalled that someone said you could buy train and bus tickeys from Tabbacchi stands, and lo and behold, this worked, and the queue moved quickly.
The brochure said you could go by one or other station, one being 12 km from the gallery, and the other a mere 500 metres. I chose the Prato Centrale option, but this meant I had to take a bus. Then i fell into conversation with an older woman who lived somewhere in the countryside, and a younger eoman who owns a dress shop in Prato. What with their help, I got onto the bus, ehich was packed like sardines, and the young woman got off at the same stop and showed me where to go.
It was a lovely exhibition. Fra Filippo Lippi has always been one of my fabourite painters. Not only were the paintings described,but they were accompanied by poems by a modern writer, of children's books, I think, very expressive and whimsical. He even suggested that the Chinese must have been in Italy as the Baby Jesus looked Chinese, but I think he was quite wrong there.
After seeing the exhibition I set off to find the bus stop. I couldn't. Eventually i found a woman in a bookshop, who at first declred she was not from Prato, but, suddenlt smitten by a bright light, told me to go straight ahead to the Duomo (cathedral) and turn right, and there would be the other station. So i did, and so it was.
After that I tramped around browsing generally for some time, before returning rather late and and wondering where to go for dinner. The man at the desk made a reservation for me so i set off. It seemed to be quite a distance. My hotel is not in the main tourist areas. Then I encountered a family withou map even more lost than I was. And my map has such small print it was very difficult to read.. Eventually I sent them on their possibly erroneous way, and then found the restaurant.
One of the things I dislike about travelling on my own is having to eat by myself. However last night another couple sat at the next table and they turned out to be Australian, so we chatted happily togethet. Tonight's lost couple were also Australians. (We are everywhere.) Then an American couple sat at the adjoing table. (Tables are placed very close together.) So again I had pleasant company for dinner, which was good as being by yourself at meal times is not easy.
Tomorrow I might indulge in more cultural pursuits, although never let it be said that I failed to enter any church I pass by.
It is late. The iPad needs charging and so do I. The American woman gave me some helpul hints about the iPad, and in return I demonstrated the advantages of the offline Italian dictionaries. Tutto uguale!