Piscine Firenze Fantastico
“No…no….” He shakes his head softly. His brown grey locks waving round his handsome Italian mug.
PP stands on deck, holding the offending negatives. Her fins. Why all the ‘no’s’ around her fins? “I can’t use the fins?” she asks, trying not too hard to keep the disbelief out of her voice.
Of course, it’s always something weirdly wrong when one swims in a foreign country. Italy is no exception. Florence would be particularly so, she’d assumed. She just hadn’t known what.
Until it happened.
Here’d she’d lugged the fins all the way from California only to be told by Mr. Sexy No Lifeguard that they were not allowed.
Her sister shrugs, smiles. “Oh well,” and then heads for the pool.
It’d been a treat! PP’s sister throwing Euro Caution to the wind to take her swimming in Florence. $25 euros for each of them. A total of over $50! “It’ll be your Christmas present,” PP’s sister had exclaimed back at the apt in Florence.
And so, PP had relented, stifling her ordinarily stingy side. Hell, when would she be back in Florence again? With her sister? And a pool?
“It’s on the 37 bus line,” her sister had proclaimed.
“Fun!” PP had laughed. “A bus ride to the pool to the Real Florence.” Meaning one not crammed with tourists and students.
Florence was not PP’s favorite Italian city. She was here visiting her favorite person, though, her niece, studying Roman History. This niece, though, was not a swimmer.
Her sister? A most generous swimmer patron!
Which was a fantatsitco thing since PP needed a swim most desperately. Sure all the walking to all of the sights of Florence had been stupendous. The Piazza at Michelangelo being her favorite with a view of the city that took her breath away.
Yet a swim is what PP needed. Just as the weird cartoon character in Megamind announces at the end of the movie after diving into a random fountain, “I feel so much better now. Guess all I needed was a swim!”
And so now, at the Centro Firenze Piscine, PP is in heaven, even without the fins. The water is a lovely 84 degrees at least. She and her sister have their own lane.
Before diving in,they'd received the 'lane education' ala Italiano:“Parle Englise?” PP had asked Sexy No Lifeguard.
“How do the lanes work?”
“Blue it is for slow. Yellow it is for medium. Red it is for Fast.”
Of course, Red is for fast. Perfecto.
PP and her sister choose a Blue Lane, esp. now that PP was deemed finless.
This is okay for a little while, esp. as the pool is warm. But after a half hour or so, she’d switched to a kickboard: “All the equipment here,” SNL had gestured magnanimously at the bins of kick-boards, pull buoys, floatation devices, “these you can use.”
PP had pulled out a kickboard and pull buoy, happy with this equipment, but still wondering why the hell she couldn’t use the fins.
Swimming in the blue blue water even though the pool was indoors (the tiles of the pools side and bottom were dark turquoise)PP kept thinking that maybe she could sneak the fins on. Swim under his radar. But no way. He made the rounds. Watching all the swimmers. Making sure that her fins were safely on the side of the pool.
So no Fin Sneaking for PP in Florence.
Her sister finished swimming first. A happy tired grin on her pretty goggled face. “I’m about spent,” she’d announced just as another ‘blue’ swimmer climbed into their lane,a serious elderly Italian woman, compact and slow, kicking up and down the lane.
“How far did you swim?” PP asks her sis.
“I did 2000.”
“Fantastico!” PP laughs. “I think I’m almost there. Though without the fins, it’s pretty slow going.”
Yet she completes the 2000 and then a couple 100 more. It’s so delicious to be in the pool. In the water. Swimming. And in Florence of all places. Who would have thought that a pool could be found in the perimeters of this medieval city?
They’d found it fairly easily, getting off the bus and heading for a building that looked to house a piscine. A lamb greeted them at the front door as two Italian teenagers played with a motorized helicopter.
“Piscine?” PP had asked as a round Italian woman in a white pharmacist’s coat opened the door for them.
“No, no…” she shook her head, pointed across the street. No English and why should there be? They were in Italy after all; but she was able to communicate where the pool was.
Across the busy blvd, down a quiet side street, they found the Club Firenze.
“Parle Englise?” PP’s sister had asked the Sexy Italian women at the front counter. Nope, no English as they signed the release form entirely in Italian. Who the hell knew what it said. PP didn’t care. She saw the pool and she was about to swim in Italy!
But back to the pool. After the swim, PP just had to find out. Why the hell couldn’t she use her fins?
Approaching Sexy No Lifeguard, she grins at him. He nods, smiling shyly. “I just wanted to ask,” she begins, “why is it that I couldn’t use my fins?”
He nods, seriously, then holds out his manly arm. “We do not allow anything that may do harm. No watches.” He grips his wrist. “No ….”
He pauses, makes a motion to draw a paddle shape over his hands, “Paddles?” PP offers. “Yes… and no fins.”
“Ah, okay,” PP nods, “that makes sense. Grazie.” She makes an expansive American Italian Gesture, “Fantasitico, Bellismo Piscine!” she pronounces, waving at the pool.
He laughs, nods. Americans. They are too hilarious.
And the Italians?
PP has the sense that in fact they may be, at least where this one pool is concerned, a very cautious people. They don’t want to harm their fellow swimmers. They are very considerate.
This seems to go against some of the stereotypes that surround Italians as outgoing, boisterous, passionate people.
As swimmers, they aren’t. They’re reserved, serious, and considerate.
Something PP thinks the swimmers back in the States could learn from.
Viva Italians! Viva Italy Piscene! Viva Sisters!