There is a prolonged heatwave in Southern Europe. Now we know why we have always previously visited in winter, it being far easier to keep warm in winter than to remain cool in summer.
When we are not working, Mrs Thornton leads Henry on relentless route marches to look at churches and art galleries.
On our first weekend we visited Camignano to look at a single painting in an undistinguished church! It was 'simmering' and the painting was by Pontormo in the Mannerist style, and showed a 'Visitation', when Mary visited Elizabeth to discuss the coming births of the Christ and the Baptist.
It was so hot that Henry decided he needed (like most other tourists) a pair of shorts - hang the embarrassment of white legs and a still too large belly.
There are clothing shops - 'boutiques' I think they are called - everywhere in Prato and Florence, but when Henry finally plucked up courage and entered none of the girls showed the slightest interest. 'No doubt they immediately spotted that you will fit into none of the shorts they are selling', Mrs T observed tartly.
So, still in winter jeans, it was off to the Pitti Palace. Henry was sweating heavily even before we had crossed the Ponto Vecchio (= 'old bridge', still standing courtesy of cultural icon Adolf Hitler, who declined to have it bombed when the Allies were using it.)
The Pitti Palace is a place where, if it were cool, one could spend days. In an earlier visit we had allowed the kids to gambol in the gardens, passing on the art collection because their patience with old masters was very strictly limited. Now it was our turn.
The collection is truly stunning. There are nice clocks, massive vases and marble statues aplenty. But we were mainly interested in the paintings.
Landscapes with old ruins abound, some of the most interesting providing backgrounds to portraits or religious paintings and illustrating the development of the art of the landscape, some providing glimpes of mythical or heavenly places.
It was the portraits, however, that repaid careful scrutiny. Most startling was an image of Brendan Fevola. If only he were still at Caaaaarlton!, playing a team game (vital caveat that!), we might not be performing so dismally.
One imagined there were also images of Chris Judd and other contemporary great men, including one particular bald old bloke who looked as one imagines Gary Ablett will look in about 60 years. This was of Saint Antony the Abbott, incidentally, image below.
Courtesy Google Images
But Henry was not constantly diverted by portraits of footballers' progenitors or elderly former Prime Ministers. Fra Filippo Lippi's Madonna con Gesu Bambini is a stunner. There are wonders by Fra Bartolemo, Rubens, Bottichelli, Raffealli, Tintoretto, Veronese, Caravaggio and many others.
There was a nice 'Lo Studio di Ruebens' by one Cornelius de Bailleur, presumably or at least possibly a distant ancester of our beloved Victorian Premier. ('Don't be silly, Henry', said Mrs T.)
And a stunning 'Ecco Homo' by Cigoli, a painter whose work Henry had never before focussed on.
Another surprise was the portraits of Sustermans Giusto, a great specialist in lace and ruffles and a court painter of contemporary note. I liked especially a portrait of Galileo, from the 'School of Sustermans'.
All too soon, we were both prostrated by the heat. We wandered off into the great outdoors and soon found a restaurant that served long, cold beers and light salads.
Still no boutiques that were welcoming of Henry's substantial frame, however, until Ms Emily Rose Thornton, visiting with two friends at the start of their Big Trip to Europe, had a brainwave.
'There is a department store above the supermarket' she advised. 'They will have shorts for the homme grande'.
Henry at last had found a pair of shorts that he could fit into. There was only one pair large enough, which naturally limited the choice. They are constructed of a canvas-like material, but light, with stripes of two greens, yellow, brown and white, with side pockets with clip on buttons and, above all, cool. Not cool in the young person's sense, but cool in providing breezes for the lower legs.
And at only 14 Euros, a veritable bargain. But, despite many such bargains, Italian retail sales are down 3.5 % on a year earlier, and consumer confidence is at its lowest level since data was first collected in 1982. The four-zip flogging by Spain in the football final will have done nothing to help.