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Report 454: Florence On My Own: Three Weeks of Studying Italian and Very Slow Travel

By Marian from New Jersey, Spring 2004

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Page 16 of 21: The last class

Friday 21 May: Today is finally (and all to quickly!) the last day of Italian class. Ayuki sings an aria from “Le Nozze di Figaro” and Tatiana sings a lovely song by an contemporary Italian writer. I feel I have been privileged to study with these charming young people. We all run around taking photos of and with each other. This school has been a wonderful experience, and I have learned so much in such a short time.

Now I am beginning to get that “end of vacation” feeling: I’ve been in Florence for over two weeks and haven’t “accomplished” much outside of class. But I also feel that I don’t care! Checking off museums and churches has never been my goal. So I decide that, yet again this trip I can skip visiting the Accademia. It’s just too much trouble. Especially when right outside my apartment there is such a lovely garden.

I head over toward Santa Croce, my “old neighborhood,” on my own for lunch. (Rosemarie and I have agreed to have dinner together tomorrow night). Last spring I had several meals at the Osteria de Benci on the Via de Benci, and so that’s where I go. It’s too crowded to sit outside but I have a pleasant table inside. The food is very good, and I have a nice glass of wine; the total is € 25. I sit next to a middle-aged American couple who, although they do not appear to be angry with each other, do not exchange a single word during their meal! How strange and how sad.

And now I will do some more serious shopping. On the way back from class I do as Diva suggests: Just stop into a decent enoteca and tell them how much I want to spend and have them select the wine for me to buy. She recommends Le Volpe e l’Uva, which is in the Oltr’arno on Piazza Rossi, not too far from the Ponte Vecchio. I head over there, and they help me pick out six bottles for well under €75. (Dean, you can stop reading now if you wish).

Now I need to find some way to get this home. First, home to my apartment, that is. I ask if they will keep three of the bottles for a bit, and they agree, so I need only take three of them back with me, which I just barely manage. Of course I also need to figure out how to get them back home to the US with me, as the people at the enoteca have never heard of the styrofoam containers that I want. They tell me to go to a particular hardware store, G. Verde, which is just past the Porta San Frediano. Somehow I do not think they will have it, but who knows. I plan to head in that direction to do my marketing for dinner anyway.

After depositing the bottles in my apartment, I head off to the Porta San Frediano and G. Verde. Of course they do not have styrofoam cases, and offer me cardboard wine carriers. But they will not work in my suitcase. On my way home I again stop off at the wonderful stores and get the fixings for a relaxing Friday night dinner. It’s a hard life!

So I stop off at Caffè Ricchi for a mojito to console myself. This is not a totally pleasant experience. The waiter asks rudely that I pay immediately. I know this is the policy (ok, I forget for a bit) but he is peremptory and I realize he has not actually brought me a bill. Also, he does not offer me any snacks. Diva has told me that they always bring snacks when you order a drink, but I do not wish to cause a fuss this time. And the mojito is delicious! I sit and relax. Then I head back home for my dinner.

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