January 13th, 2007
Thursday I took the train up to Florence and met up with Katie, who has just moved to Florence from Chicago. Melinda had planned to join us but wasn’t feeling too hot, so we’ll be making plans very soon for another get together. I had time to kill before meeting up with Katie so after buying some books at Feltrinelli, I decided to take my usual walk around Florence. I have a favorite route I like to take, that hits all of my favorite things. It’s the way I take new people around Florence too, to give them an overview of it’s beauty.
First I walked across Ponte a Santa TrinitÃ , which allows a nice view of the Ponte Vecchio and the arno in general, and meandered a little bit on oltrrarno side of the river. I stopped at an internet point by the Pitti Palace before heading over the Ponte Vecchio to get back to the other side. Having crossed Ponte Vecchio, I wandered through the outside corridor of the Uffizi, towards the Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria. Dusk was beginning and the light was perfect for a few evening photographs, which you can see in the Le Foto section of this blog. I made my way up Via Calzaioli and turned right on Via delle Oche so I could buy myself a tasty gelato at Gelateria Grom. I chose Cioccolato Extra Fondente and Pistacchio as my flavor combination. Gelato in hand, I went the rest of the way up Via Calzaioli which took me right to the Duomo and it’s imposing beauty. This is my favorite way to approach the Duomo, the most surprising and picturesque. I stood in the Piazza del Duomo eating my gelato and watching people take pictures of the Duomo. It’s sort of a hobby of mine. I still had more time to spare, so I turned back a little and went to Piazza della Repubblica.
Finally it was 7:00, time to meet Katie. I went back to the Piazza della Signoria and into Michael Collins Pub where she was trying to get her Mac to work with the wireless internet system there. We had a glass of wine while chatting and looking at pictures, made friends with a Scotsman who turned out to be from the same town as my ex, but thankfully did not know him, and somewhere between 8:45 or 9:00pm we were finally hungry (and this is a pretty typical dinnertime here in Italy) and made our way to the restaurant. We went on Melinda’s recommendation to Osteria Antica Mescita a San NiccolÃ², which is just across the Ponte alle Grazie. We started with various bruschette, and then I had the most tender cinghiale with polenta, and a salad, while she had pasta with a ragÃ¹ sauce and a big mixed salad with cheese and tomatoes in it. We shared a bottle of the house chianti and took our time, eating and chatting. I was very impressed with this restaurant, I thought the prices were reasonable, the staff friendly and the food delicious.
After dinner Katie had to get her laptop from her friend Alessio who works at the Michael Collins pub so we trotted back in that direction and went in for our after dinner grappa. Downstairs there was a small group playing music from Seattle bands such as Pearl Jam. We decided to make ourselves at home and listen to the music, and I don’t think I got to bed until 3:00 am.
The next morning we met in the Piazza della Repubblica and sat in the sun drinking coffee. I realized that when I’m in Florence I do a lot of walking, and a lot of sitting in piazzas (people-watching). It was a beautiful, warm day. I went with Katie to her chosen language school so she could register for her classes and then we decided to sit down to lunch. After more walking, she accompanied me to the train station and I departed from Florence.
Usually I take the direct train and so I never have to switch trains. What I didn’t know was that I was not on a direct train, and by the time we’d passed Chiusi, the conductor who saw ‘Perugia’ on my biglietto, ticket, informed me that I should have gotten off at Terontola to change trains. Ack! So, I got off at the next stop, Fabro-Ficulle, which I know nothing about, and found someone to help me find the bigletteria, ticket desk. I was near tears as I was very frustrated, but very thankful that I speak Italian, so I was able to get my trip straightened out with no trouble whatsoever. Anyone who was within earshot of me wanted to help, which is typical around here in my experience. It didn’t turn out so bad, I waited maybe half an hour or 40 minutes, and found that this small town was surrounded by beautiful hills and had a sweet smell in the air. This cheered me up and I realized that things could have been worse. If you’re going to be stuck waiting somewhere, it might as well be a charming Umbrian town full of kind, helpful people. To be honest, there was something eerily familiar about this place, as if my soul had been here before. I enjoyed that sensation, and before I knew it I was on the next train to Terontola where I could switch to get the train to Perugia, and as my fortune would have it, the train I was on, turned into the train for Perugia so I didn’t even have to get off. I got to Perugia by 6pm instead of 3pm.
Needless to say, I skipped tango that night.