Monday, November 1, 2010

Blogging in Florence

Blogging seems to be an art in itself, and another one I haven't mastered. Placing photos and text correctly, keeping hands on the right keys and saving text before it disappears are still mysteries. I'll try again today. I think I can copy this text to Facebook, but I can't copy offline text or Facebook notes here.

This morning I seem to be finished with jet lag. A full night's sleep last night! It's 2:05 PM here now and 6:05 AM in California, so the day and night seemed reversed for about 5 days.

Yesterday it rained all day and I couldn't get myself to go out at all. I'd bought some groceries the day before at a well stocked market around the corner, so I could drink tea and over-eat Nutella and toast sandwiches till I was disgusted with myself. I did have a good salad for dinner, however, so am not totally guilt ridden. Answered email, worked on second day in Rome message, listened to James Baraz dharma talks, and watched Wallender on PBS website. I found that Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu don't allow access here due to copyright laws, so I'm limited to some PBS shows. Haven't figured out why some are available and some not, but PBS isn't so bad.

My apartment is fantastic. Great location, and way too much room for just me! There's a big room in front with full kitchen (including clothes and dish washing machines) , 2 couches, two large tables, windows on two sides. Then there's a bedroom and bathroom. The building is set back from the street, 2nd floor, garden view. It's on the Piazza Mentana which is across the street from the Arno River, and about 100 yards from the Uffizi, 200 yards from the Ponte Vecchio.

This morning there was no rain when I woke up and I managed to get out at about 9:00 and headed out to find the school where I need to report tomorrow morning. This took me to the center of Old Florence, Piazza della Republica. After locating the building and the sign saying British Institute, I wandered around a bit, heard organ music and stepped through the open door of a church to listen for a while. Getting hungry I found a little panini shop two doors down and had a "croque monsieur" (grilled cheese and ham) for 3 euros.

Ambling on vaguely searching for another church since this is All Saints Day, I came to the side of the Duomo, the most famous building in Florence, and one of the most impressive buildings I've ever seen. Will try to post photo later. Just in time for mass, I went in and sat for an hour. All in Italian and Latin, of course, but the sense was there. And language isn't so important when you're surrounded by such a place. I don't have the statistics, but the echo from the dome and cantelevers was fabulous, choir singing, maybe 1000 people there, bishop presiding. While the altar and the dome (engineered by Brunescelli) interior are ornate, the rest of the sanctuary is not. This area doesn't have dark chapels off the side and frescos everywhere but is painted in soft neutrals (I don't know how to add a Wikipedia link, but that will tell you about all the artists represented).

I actually got a little out of the sermon about how this is Florence, the home of Michaelangelo and how great it is etc. I can't say that I was converted by any of this, but did respond to "the mystery of faith" which is certainly true for me. I was surprised to hear this phrase from a Catholic bishop... the place certainly brings up the question.
After people had taken communion and all of the pomp had left, people filed out into a rainy square. As usual, I was disoriented and turned the wrong way (away from the River) and found myself in a quiet neighborhood with few tourists, few shops and lots of typical italian apartment house facades. Turned right and right again, walked some more and discovered the Basilica di Santa Croce, another stunningly wonderful place. Still not sure, I asked a woman in a doorway "Dov'e il Arno". She, Filipina, told me in English how to get back to the river, and I arrived back "home" only a little wet and ready for a cup of tea.


blaine nell said...

And the adventure continues. Thanks.

larwest1 said...

Sounds like you ARE getting off the beaten path after all. ....Remember I told you what I would enjoy doing there? Bravo! Oh...I think that's Spanish, sorry.

Laurie said...

Actually it's 'brava' cause I'm a girl... but I know what you mean. Pesce probably isn't going to be in the curriculum this time ... but I'll keep an eye out for any fish on the menus and in the galleries for you.

Phil Freyder said...

To my mind, one of the best tactics for getting the feel of a city is getting lost in it. Repeatedly. You discover stuff. And people. Yay!