June262012

San Giovanni Holiday

About a week ago we bought tickets for the Calcio. It takes place about two feet from my door so I figured I would go. I had no idea what I was in for. It is medieval “soccer” aka, a fight to the death. There is blood and full on contact fighting. Like football, boxing, and water polo without the water all combined into one game. 

So basically the game consistes of distracting the other team by fighting with them and then having a few of your players run the ball to the goal. 

Sometimes player will grab on to each other on opposite teams to keep the other from participating in the game. It is ver strange because they end up doing things like this:

It looks like they are hugging. Or half of them end up on the ground like this:

The crowd was absolutely insane. Italians, as you probably know, like to rely on hand gestures when speaking. The entire game I had a hand in my face because someone behind me or beside me was pointing to the next two players on the field to start fighting. WE GET IT, the players are fighting! Its not like ice hockey when they randomly start fighting, they fight THE ENTIRE GAME. Ah, the wonderful Italians. 

Santo Spirito beat Santa Croce 4-0. 

Afterwards we grabbed dinner and then sat by the Arno watching the fireworks with every other Italian in the city. It was incredible. The fireworks were the best I’ve ever seen! 

It was such a great day of cultural events! Every moment is worth it here.

4AM
Wonderful.

Wonderful.

4AM
My morning run.

My morning run.

June232012
Next weekend!
condenasttraveler:

Venezia

Next weekend!

condenasttraveler:

Venezia

10AM

Mercado x3

We decided to not travel today, I can’t stand to leave Florence any more! We have less than two weeks left here, and we are traveling to Venice next weekend with the school. 

I went to the mercado centrale this morning with a few of my friends. We got lunch and I finished up my gift buying. It was overwhelming! There are so many people there and there is so much to buy! It was absolutely worth it though! Since the market is not close to the center of town and there is a lot of space for multiple vendors, everything is much less expensive than other areas of town. I am so happy to be DONE shopping! Not sure if I ever thought I would say that..

10AM

Volterra? Or wait, Arezzo?

Alix, Marian and I had planned to go to Volterra on Friday so we told our host mom we had to leave the house around 8am. Being the wonderful host that she is, she offered to have breakfast at 7:15 so we would be able to eat.

As we sat down for breakfast she began calling our bus company, SITA. She had heard about the possibility of a strike and wanted to check if our bus was still running. What a sweet person! She didn’t even mention it, just checked for us. So apparently the bus driver was able to choose if he wants to drive the bus to Volterra, or not. This let us prepare a bit if things didn’t go well.

We arrived to the bus station and all they said was- “there’s no bus”. Good thing we have our host mom and actually know what’s going on so we could ask about the strike. Otherwise we would have thought there was just no bus in general. Wonderful people in customer service in Italy.

Our plan for Saturday was to go to Arezzo. Luckily, the bus station and train station are about a two minute walk from each other. The next train for Arezzo left in thirty minutes so we just went ahead and bought tickets. Great for me because I ended up spending no money on travel instead of 10 each way for the bus.

Arezzo is absolutely tiny. Which is great when you are trying to make it from the train station to the duomo in less than 15 minutes. We checked the duomo out and then headed to another church, the Chiesa di San Francesco. It had a work by Piero Della Francesco for all of you art history nerds. I paid 2 euro to see what Lonely Planet declared was one of the greatest pieces of Italian art. It was entertaining enough. 

We grabbed lunch afterwards in the main piazza where they had the stage set for the medieval jousting tournament the next day.

Alix and I had panini with salami that had truffles in it. The baguette that the salami was in was so delicious as well.

Then we had some biscotti with chocolate and hazelnuts. 

 

Arezzo is very quiet and barely any cars come through which is a really nice break from the city life of Florence. So of course, we decided to go shopping here. Usually I have to fight my way through the tourists in the same stores in Florence, but in Arezzo it was like we were the only shoppers. Unfortunately being such a small city also means that they take siesta, so many of the stores were not open while we were shopping.

We did however find a delicious coffee shop! Marian and I got CHI TEA! Unheard of in Italy! 

Doesn’t it look like we are having SO much fun!?!

We walked over to the train station afterwards, found a train leaving in twenty minutes and looked around until we left. What a relaxing day. 

10AM

Crossing off my Florence Bucket List

My language class did a “treasure hunt” in the market I visited on Thursday instead of class that day! We basically just looked at the food and learned more vocab. It was a nice break from having class.

For art history class we did our second visit of the Uffizi to see works by Botticelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Michelangelo. My favorite was The Birth of Venus, by Botticelli. I saw this three years ago when I visited, but it is striking every time you see it.

I stayed behind from the group to take advantage of the free restroom, so I had to find my own way out through the maze that is the Uffizi. I traveled through about three other multi room exhibits. Luckily, I kept seeing signs for Caravaggio and was able to see some of his work in the process of leaving the museum! He really has incredible work.

My plan was to grab a 2.50 panino with prosciutto, goat cheese and arugula for lunch and then head out to cross more things off of my Florence list. Of course, the Palazzo Vecchio was no longer open when I arrived. I had checked the times before and it said open until 2, but being Italian that means no new visitors after 1. Excellent.

Somehow I ended up in H&M after that…. 

Alix and I met up at the Palazzo Strozzi for an impressionist exhibit called “Americans in Florence”. Its a temporary exhibit that is marketed like crazy all over the streets of Florence. In the early 1900s obviously the American economy was not going very well, so American artists traveled to Europe to do their work instead. Some sought of Florence for the rich history of art here. Plus, the city was much smaller then and was enjoyable being so close to the countryside. Many lived in villas outside of the city and traveled in. It was interesting to see Florence and Italy in general from the 1900s and from other Americans’ perspective. Many of these American artists interacted with famous authors too so it was cool to see the overlap of different art. 

 After a day full of culture I hit up a movie theater that plays movies in English. I got to see “All Good Things” with some friends of mine. Really recommend it if you are into thrillers. It’s only 5 to see the movies here, so its worth it every once in a while.

After that I wandered up to my favorite bookstore. It’s an english bookstore that has used and new books. I’ve been finding a lot of inexpensive books here over the summer.

After this grueling day of museums I got to go on a run right before dinner! This is a key time to go since at 7pm it is only 90 degrees as opposed to 99 degrees. 

10AM

Pitti Palace

On Wednesday, I had Italian and art history class in the morning and then had a three hour break until my wine class. During my break I went to the Pitti Palace, which is about two feet from our school and we get in for free, so naturally this is the first time I visited.

This palazzo has had three different occupants so it has an interesting history. It is primarily a museum now but in each room is a description on what the room was used for during each family’s time in the palazzo. Some of the rooms are decorated as they were from the last occupants, the House of Savoy. This is probably my favorite thing, to see how rich people live. I also like to imagine that I live there.

So my guidebook said many people do not make it to the top floor which houses the costume gallery, but it should be checked out. So I climbed up those horrible stairs and stepped into my dreams. Almost no one was there do I basically had the exhibit to myself with my friend Colleen moving ahead of me through all the rooms.

It was a whole exhibit full of clothes through the late 1800s to late 1900s. There were a ton of vintage designer brands and some I didn’t know. Some evening wear and some day clothes. This is the type of museum I love. So now I need to find this every where I can in Florence.

For wine class we took and outing to a local wine bar for a food and wine tasting. This wine bar only has wines that you can’t find anywhere else in the area. When someone else begins to sell one of the wines, they find a new producer. Obviously this requires a lot of work, but they think its worth it.

The previous class we had learned basic guidelines for selecting food and wine, and now we were putting that in action. We tried two white wines and two red wines with a cheese platter. We also had a hot tray of bread with cheese and meat on top of it to taste with the red wines. 

Each cheese we had with the wine paired perfectly and brought our flavors in each that you couldn’t taste before. Everything was delicious.

Somehow I chose the right table that my professor also sat at, so the owner would talk mostly to our table. He explained the wines in more detail than he had told the whole group and talked about wine in general. He said there are five foods that are almost impossible to be paired with wine: lemon, vinegar, coffee, chocolate, and artichokes. I learned a lot from him.

June192012

Dinner

Our host mom is the grandmother to a ten year old girl named Sofia who lives in the apartment next to us. She’ll come over to visit, during which we compare iPhone/iPad/iPod touch apps so clearly I already like the girl.

She occasionally eats with us for dinner, especially now that school is out for the summer. When she does eat with us, it is the perfect Italian lesson. It’s not like our host parents communicating with one another, this is elementary Italian. It helps me understand the language so much better. This is a purely listening activity though, I barely can keep up with the conversation because of how fast Sofia talks. Sometimes our host mom will explain what is going on in english to Alix, Marian, and I. This is helpful because I can understand the general gist of the conversation, but there are still so many words that I don’t know so this puts the pieces together. It’s really a perfect homestay for Italian beginners.

11AM

Mercado Centrale

I went to the market today in the San Lorenzo neighborhood of Florence. It is the biggest market in Florence with a ton of fresh food. There is also a clothing/leather/random goods market around it. 

It is quite a hike over there from where I live and where school is so I planned on going to visit the Medici Library at the same time. Wonderfully, it was closed that day. After visiting the market though, I will definitely be going back to that area. 

The food market is all inside. You can buy basically any fresh grocery that you desire. A world of meats, cheeses, produce, wine, olive oil, and bakeries. It is also fairly inexpensive food for Italy. 

I tried a couple of different pecorino cheeses at one of the shops and chose a soft pecorino for lunch. This was by far my most expensive purchase at 3 euro for a small slice. 

I picked up a small serving of focaccia bread for 40 euro cents and then bananas for 30 euro cents. It was actually a quite filling lunch, but worth it entirely just for the experience.  

The happiest place on earth.

Have I made it clear that I love Italy?