After the break, Don gives in, and he and Nick roll up their sleeves, although Don still thinks that having a permanent marking on your body "plays with your mind a little bit." Nate and Jen ask an English-speaking local for directions, who obliges them. Christina directs her guy to go along the river, so she's presumably on the right track, but TK is getting psyched out as he laments to himself, "What am I not getting?" Man, a setup like that, but he's just kind of too nice for me to bring it on home. Although I suppose "first place in this leg" isn't too mean, and has the added virtue of not being subjective. Christina does, in fact, see the clue, and gives her pilot the thumbs-up. TK freaks (for him).
Deedle-deedle-deedle music plays as the tattoo artists work. Don notes that the tattoo is forever ("This is forever, now" -- episode title alert!), but Nick opines that it's a good investment. Also a good investment is an alcohol disinfectant, because your arms are going to get pawed something fierce at TARcon. Nate and Jen get out of their car and look at a posted map, and decide to...leave their car and run three kilometers? Maybe they really caught lightning in a bottle with all that time they saved before. Christina comes in for a landing and gets her clue, to Rachel's dismay. In the car, Chris tells Ron that TK needs to go along the river. Kynt and Vyxsin have made it to Emboli, and Vyxsin interviews that "it's comforting that with each passing hour, we're getting a little bit closer." I'd point out that they're continuing to get a little bit closer to something that's not the airfield, except that's not comforting at all. To them, at least. Nick and Don finish getting their tats, and that didn't seem to take long at all, nor does their skin look overwhelmingly sore, so that's good, at least. The clue tells them to go directly to the pit stop, which Phil VOs is the Boboli Gardens in Florence. The last team to check in...may be eliminated. In an episode that may or may not be this one, just to push the disclaimer a bit further. In the car, Don says that not many people are getting tattoos on The Amazing Race. "Where'd they think the [blurred and silent "fuck"] up with that thing?" The ensuing rattlesnake sound seems to be tsk-tsking Don, but in fairness, you have to admit that salty language is another seafaring tradition. Nick just grins at Blue Streak Grandpa.
Nate and Jen are approaching their destination, and as they see a big sign for parking, Jen laments, "So we could have driven here?" Well, yeah. I mean, I don't think they want to limit visitors to da Vinci's birthplace to the cardiovascular elite. I know Italy has a lot of soccer players, but that still seems pretty provincial. Nate's a little exasperated, but all is quickly forgotten when they rip the clue for the Detour. I will point out, too, that for a fratty, partying-seeming type of guy, Nate seemed to handle that run with little problem. (I know he's a volleyball coach, but...still.) Amid a bunch of period-clad guys twirling flags, Phil tells us that teams have to choose between two tasks "harking back to the Italian Renaissance." Phil is not being forced to twirl a flag as he gives this speech, and that's probably in his contract but it still strikes me as a shame. The choice: Invention or Tradition. In Invention, teams go to a nearby courtyard and choose a replica of a centuries-old crane designed by da Vinci. They have to assemble the crane themselves, and then use it to lift one large stone a foot off the ground. Once the stone's in the air, they'll place a mirror under it in order to read the clue printed on the bottom of the rock. In Tradition, teams go to Piazza Guido Masi, where they'll have to learn a traditional local flag routine. It looks kind of like rhythmic gymnastics with flags, and if I just unwittingly created a new Olympic sport, I'm perfectly willing not to take credit for it. Once they do the routine correctly, the lead flag man will hand them a flag displaying the name of their next destination. Nate and Jen pick the flags, and then have to run back to their car, but this way is downhill, at least. Jen wonders if anyone will catch them because of this, and we check in with Ron and Chris, who pass a sign telling them they're six kilometers away from Vinci. TK comes back down and is bummed to tell Rachel he missed it again, and the bummer gets bigger as Kynt and Vyxsin finally show up. Vyxsin asks if they should do the Fast Forward, to which Kynt replies, "I'm sure it's impossible." He could conceivably mean that it's impossible that it's still there to be done, but it's a weird choice of words, and given that TK said something equally odd earlier, it again just makes me wonder why they think the FF is going to be akin to cleaning out Augeas's stalls or something. Vyxsin kind of sheepishly says she'd love to do the Roadblock, which is awesome.