It feels like it’s been two years since my last update.
Friday, for the most part, was spent wandering around town. We postponed our trip to Pisa because our land lord was suppossssed to stop by to fix a number of broken things in our apartment (I feel guilty for complaining about anything being broken here though, because this place is still awesomee.) but he never showed! So by noon we decided to go out and explore. We got lunch and coffee at “our place”, the vegan-friendly caffé down the street. We had also been meaning to try the famous gelato of Vivoli, which had been recommended to us by my auntie, as well as one of Signe’s professors. Oh my goooodnesss. I had nocciola (hazelnut, as I usually do) and meringue! Oh my gosh, the meringue! Delicious! We really need to go back there.
-Awww. Look! No glasses. That lasted for a whole 6 hours.
I would consider abandoning this entry to run there and get some, but it’s rainy outside. And somehow, it’s hard for me to associate rainy days with gelato.
I’m actually really fond of the rainy weather here. For one, the tourists seem to recoil a bit. And for some reason the rain reminded me that I’m living here. I’m not sure why exactly.
This weather right now is absolutely amazing. I really can’t get over it. It’s chilly, overcast, damp… it smells like autumn. Autumn! I love weather that lets you drink hot coffee or wear a scarf comfortably. I just made espresso, and haven’t quite mastered the whole “caffe latte” thing yet. The milk sort of… coagulates at the top. Whatever, it’s warm and comforting nonetheless. By the way, I bought a great two-shot espresso pot on Friday. The one they provided here in the apartment had a layer of mold in it that I just couldn’t ignore. This is perfect though, because I was planning on getting one back home anyway.
Anyway, so after Vivoli, my roommates and I parted ways. I needed to get lost in the neighborhood for a bit, mostly so I could explore and see if anything “inspired” me. I have 3 big sketches due on Thursday, so I was hoping to find something exciting. And that I did. I headed east and ran into Santa Croce (the giant church in our area) and actually stopped to look at it for a bit. I wandered down the block a bit more and ran into this massive, sand-colored structure. Most buildings here have lavishly detailed facades, but this one was particularly elaborate. It had couples of little putti (those teeny cherubs) lining the top holding shields with various symbols and words in them. I think I recognized “Dante” and some different form of Aristotle. I knew this must have been something important. I had no idea what! So I followed the sidewalk allll the way around (this place is enormous) and finally made it to the front. It was the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze! Giant library! How fun! I went inside to snoop around but it’s very “members only”. The man told me I could join for free if I wanted, so I’m going to try to go Wednesday either before or after Italian class. Apparently, all I need is a letter from the school stating that I’m a student here. I have several copies of that letter leftover from my visa application, so this should work perfectly!
After being (politely) kicked out, I got comfy on the steps out front. A handful of others were sitting outside too, reading or just relaxing. The library is right on the river, so there’s plenty to look at. Across the river, I spotted a giant hill with what appeared to be hoards of people snapping photos. It was dusk, so I could see the occasional flash. A woman, somewhat disheveled but in that chic, artsy/European way, was seated in front of me. I was feeling particularly outgoing so I asked her in Italian what that hill across the street was. She told me it was Piazza Michelangelo and it had some of the best views in the city. She said some other things I couldn’t understand, and eventually switched to English. She spoke perfect English, and told me she was from a small town in Chianti, grew up in Florence, but currently lives in Moscow. She’s only back here to do research. We spoke for a bit about the library, and she told me it houses everything ever published in Italy. Exciiitinggg! I have no idea what I’ll do with these things, but it will be fun to figure that out. Maybe I’ll just go around touching old books and manuscripts.
I asked her a million more questions about places to eat and go out, what’s cool, what’s not, etc. When I told her we lived around Santa Croce she began to suggest a great, little-known caffe that specialized in vegetarian stuff. It was our place! And she knew the name of it! It was no longer a mystery. Our place is called “Caffé Brac”. Good to know. She gave me the names of a few more places that I can’t wait to check out. Most of them are on the south side of the river, not far from our house, just over the bridge.When I got home just before dark, I cooked dinner for the roomies. It was nothing special, but I think it turned out alright. I just cooked some mushrooms with garlic (can’t find anything but white mushrooms for some reason! uggh) and mixed that in with pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. We made a giant salad to go with it too. Yummm.
Saturday was Pisa. It’s really easy and cheap to get there from Florence, which is nice. Though I can’t forsee us going there very often. The town itself is a little sketchy, a little unkempt in comparison to Florence. You have to walk for about twenty minutes to get to the tower, duomo, and baptistry, but it’s worth it. The tower is a lot shorter than I expected, but the duomo and baptistry were a lot more amazing that I had expected! The tower is a bit overrated in my opinion… but it was still fun to do stuff like this:
I also bought a beautiful bracelet… that was made out of a fork. No joke! It’s awesome. This guy heats the metal and bends it into these organic shapes. Signe got one too, and hers has a little amber stone.
Sunday I met up with one of Aunt Mari’s students, Tracy, who was visiting Florence from Milan. We got some lunch and ventured into the giant marketplace near the train station. Some of those vendors are brutal. “No, I don’t want it. Leave me alone. I just wanted to know how much it was. NO, I don’t want a special price. GAAAAH.” We got gelato (yesss.) and wandered around a bit more. My sandals finally took their last step that day, and one of them snapped. That was fun. I flip-flopped/hobbled for three blocks until I found a place that sold shoes. Fortunately we weren’t in a touristy area, so I got a decent pair of sandals for a pretty cheap. Good times.
Today I only had Italian class. It was pretty difficult… as expected. The first half was good, I participated a lot, etc. But the second half was awful! She had us do mini-conversations about stuff, and she chose two people and gave them a scenario. Margaret and this other Arcadia girls had to talk about buying a ticket to Pisa, how much it costs, and when it leaves. I had to talk to the Romanian guy (we actually call him “the Romanian”) about getting a new haircut and style! WTF!? I definitely do not have the vocabulary for beauty shops. So I looked like an idiot. But we had fun with it, and I asked him to dye my hair half blue, and half pink, but he suggested giving me a purple mohawk instead.
Speed-learning Italian tonight, and then preparing for a long day tomorrow. Hoping to have the Paris trip booked with Hope by Wednesday morning! Excitinggg.
P.S. Someone in our building is cooking something awesome. I think is smells like lamb… but I’m not sure. Mmm.