When I started this blog, my intentions were to attempt to lay out the tale of how I first came to Florence on my own two years ago and then, when I arrived here again this year, to bring the story to the present and post a blog almost daily.
It has been a whirlwind since I arrived here, and I have not done such a good job at that! Like life, my trip here has taken twists and turns already. But that is what I expect and wish for.
I may (and most likely will) go back and add some blogs on the past five days in Florence and Rome, but for now, I will just post a bit about this day. A day that started out seeming very ordinary (at least for one of my precious days here in Florence!)
I met up with a couple of American friends from high school who have been here this week. We first met up in Rome and then took the train together to Florence. They took a day trip today and so I was on my own in Florence again today.
Today I had no agenda. I felt kind of guilty about that. I told myself a few times “You are in Florence, you should have an agenda”. Screw that. I don’t always need an agenda here any longer and that is a wonderful feeling.
The day started out a bit rusty and then became special as most every day here seems to do. I decided to have lunch at a special place called Olio e Convivium. On the menu was the pasta with shaved white truffles. It is like nothing I have ever had before (other than when I have had it here before!) The truffles are in season now, and the taste is exquisite. The white truffles are very rare. They actually grow under the ground like a root. Dogs are used to sniff them out. I was told that the dogs that are trained to truffle hunt are very expensive and carefully guarded.
The waiter shaves the truffle so finely that they melt into the al dente pasta . Ahhhhh!!!
I then rediscovered one of my favorite tiny wine bars in Florence later in the afternoon. The woman who works there is beautiful and so full of that italian vigor. I told her that I was trying to learn Italian. She was helping me, and then an Asian man walked in and he spoke English as a second language and no Italian, and I was translating a bit. That was a new experience!
My next adventure was to meet my American friends in the Piazza Signoria at the “fake David”. We went to an absolutely beautiful church–Chiesa della Badia Fiorentini, and actually attended a vesper service that lasted an hour and a half. It was a very moving experience. It was also wonderful, because when the priests or nuns spoke, they did so slowly and I was able to pick up many of their italian words. The service was soothing and spiritual and I think we all left with a feeling of inner calm and peace.
Next stop was to meet up with a friend at a favorite spot called Viktoria. Drinks, a walk around the Santa Croce neighbourhood, a sandwich at one of the most popular places in Florence–All’ Antico Vinaio, a gelato (some of the best in Florence!), and back to Viktoria. There we met a gentleman who had an old dog along, gray at the muzzle and even in his paws. It turns out that Leo had adopted Giovanni from a shelter just recently, even though the dear dog probably only has a few years at best. Pretty cool thing to do.
It was finally time to head home and put a cap on a day that started out not looking like much, but turned out to be pretty spectacular. Just before I arriving at my apartment, I always pass through the Piazza Santa Spirito. The church of Santa Spirito is where Michelangelo used to hang out and study anatomy. When he was seventeen years old, he was allowed to make anatomical studies on the corpses coming from the convent’s hospital; in exchange, he sculpted a wooden crucifix which was placed over the high altar. The crucifix is breathtakingly beautiful and graceful.
To put a perfect end to the day, as I passed through the piazza this evening, there was a group of young people hanging out (as they always do at night in the piazza) Three of them were strumming guitars…