February 27, and we are back in Florence for our usual Spring Adventure. How lovely to return to our second home. Our flight here was uneventful: San Diego to Heathrow; Heathrow to Bologna; car transfer to Florence. Uneventful, but not without issues. Each year we have Sergio transport us from the airport to the Palazzo. This was our first year landing in Bologna because the flight from San Diego arrived too late for a transfer to the closer airports, either Florence or Pisa. Let me just say that we would not have survived making that drive on our own, even if we were rested. Through the mountains, with bumper to bumper 18 wheel trucks in 2 lanes of traffic going really fast. Sergio is a marvel and was weaving in and out of the trucks while I was covering my eyes. Thank God there was no fog, which is common.
We made the trip in a little over an hour and I was ready for wine, lots of wine. Francescovini ( http://francescovini.com ) is a reliable restaurant within a block, with good food and very friendly people. That is often our first stop and this year was no exception. I am usually too tired to take pictures and this year was no exception.
There is a period of adjustment to the new rhythms of our life in Florence. First, we have to unpack the clothes and the house. We leave 5 suitcases full of kitchen ware, books, exercise equipment, even a printer. And I bring clothes. We are here for 3 seasons and one never knows which will be the longest. So, I am prepared for the harshest winter, longest spring and hottest summer. We arrived after one of their wettest winters. Our first non-food purchases were 2 big umbrellas and that apparently bought us insurance against any further rain. They have been sitting unused at the front door and we are happy to keep them there.
Arriving as we do in winter allows us to watch the changes of the garden from our apartment windows. Soon the winter coverings will be removed and eventually, the bulbs will bloom, then, when we are ready to leave, the roses will be in full blossom. It is a most tranquil way to watch the seasons change.
The empty streets are a big benefit of a late winter arrival, and we like it that way. It will change soon enough. The pace of life is slower in winter, but really, it won’t change that much for us in warmer weather. Our day starts with the church bells ringing at, what seems to us, random times. One church chimes the hour but it is at a fair distance and the other closer churches announce their mass schedule, at the quarter hour or any time in-between. We open the bedroom shutters to determine the kind of day we will have. At 10am the Day Care center next door brings their three yr. olds out for an hour of screaming. I particularly enjoy watching one feisty little girl who always seems to get the best of one pesky little boy.
Mornings start very slowly. We must remember to get our shopping done before the stores close at 1PM or we have to interrupt our nap to go after they re-open at 4PM. It is a rare day when we have shopped before 1PM. (We have squeezed in a museum or two in the late morning.) Then it is time for lunch.
Another benefit of arriving in late winter is the ability to get into very popular restaurants without a reservation. Osteria Vini e Vecchi Sapori ( Via dei Magazzini 3, 055 293045) is one of our favorites and it is virtually impossible to get into as the season progresses. The above was some of the best linguini we tasted but by looking at it you would never know the intensity of the flavors.
Del Fagioli (Corso dei Tintori 47-r, 055 244285) is another restaurant where we will soon be turned away without reservations. They make the best burnt protein around. We are getting our fill of spontaneously obtained burnt protein while we can.
But, lunch isn’t just lunch. It is the center of our day. It is live theater. It is our chance to socialize in Italian. Lunch is the experience that I most miss when we are back in California.
After lunch (that always includes a bit of vino) there is the slow meander home where we always encounter something interesting, even if it is just a cat in a window. We collapse into our bed for a post lunch nap but, since we were too lazy to go shopping before lunch, we must get up to go back out to buy food for our dinner. God forbid we have only one substantial meal in a day.
Even though this is our second home, this is still my vacation and I am too lazy to do much more than make pasta with vegies for dinner. So, around 6pm we walk a few blocks to Christian for fresh pasta then, around the corner for vegetables. In the fullness of time, dinner preparations begin.
I’ve mentioned before that I spy on all of our neighbors from our living room and kitchen windows. ( I suspect some of them may be saying, “That crazy American woman is back staring at us from her window.”) I was relieved to see the “mature” couple who lives next door, and 2 floors down, starting their dinner preparations together. Last year he was missing for the first few days after our arrival. We were worried, but this year all is well. We even saw the grand daughter (about 8), whom we have watched grow-up, having dinner there and playing cards with her grandparents.
If the mood strikes, we go back out for an after dinner stroll. There is always something to delight. We have no idea of the significance of this art piece, stuck on a building behind the Uffizi museum, but it brought a smile.
Some evenings we fire up the computer to watch the PBS News Hour followed by The Daily Show and the Colbert Report and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we just sit and read, with a bit of wine. Then, at bedtime we close the bedroom shutters and dream about what we will eat the next day.
It takes a while for me to get into the rhythm of writing this blog.
Wallowing in laziness feels so delicious.