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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 17 of 21: Winding down and yet more wandering

Saturday 22 May: A day to do nothing (well, almost). This is my third Shabbat in Florence, and so my third decision not to go to the Florence synagogue. I’ve been there on other visits, and do not really want to sit in the little women’s section on the side apart from the active participants. Or, more truly, last time I was not able to sit in that women’s section, but had to stand. It had become gradually clear to me that the seats there are really for the women who are regular members of the community, who have their names on them. This is understandable, I guess. If I lived here I would not want to stand while some tourist passing through could sit down. Of course there is the big women’s section upstairs. But I opt out.

I breakfast in a leisurely fashion, and take my coffee out to the garden. I’ve decided that we should try Al Tranvai on Piazza Torquato Tasso tonight, and I ask Miriam whether I need a reservation. She says it’s a good restaurant, her daughter goes there often, and that maybe I should reserve for a Saturday night. She offers to make the reservation, but I say I’ll do it myself.

Eventually I head off toward the center, as I want to visit the ceramics shop on the Via Ghibellina where I had bought some things last spring. Somehow, it doesn’t seem as appealing as it did last year. And the artist–owner is so high pressure! I say I will return next week. Across the street is a shop called “Frammenti” that has ceramic with little bits of mosaic. The shop is closed, so I will return another day. They also apparently have a stand in the San Lorenzo market, so maybe I will see it on Monday.

I continue down the street, past some lovely shops, stopping for coffee and pastry at “I Dolci di Patrizio Cosi” at 11 Borgo di Albizi. The pastry is finger-lickin’ good. I continue back along that street and come to a shop, Arti & Mestieri, whose window has caught my eye before. They are the Florence retail outlet of a company that crafts unusual contemporary household goods. I enter and quickly buy a charming metal clock, in which the members of a small orchestra play their instruments joyfully around the clock face.

The time for dinner is approaching. I telephone Al Tranvai, but get no answer. Oh well, maybe they arrive late on Saturday. Rosemarie comes by, and I tell her about my mojito adventures. She is quite eager to sit and have a drink, so we head over to Dolce Vita, a trendy outdoor caffč just one street away on the Piazza del Carmine, and I have the best mojito there. (And of course they bring snacks.) We have a gay old time, noticing that we are the oldest there by about 30 years, and the only people of either sex whose midriffs are covered. This mojito is really great!

Then we set out for Al Tranvai (just another couple of streets) and Ecco! it is closed! What do? We decide to sit down next door, at Trattoria di Pruta. It’s decent, not great, but we have a pleasant meal; total cost € 54 with some house wine. And somehow in the isolated area of the Oltr’arno, a strolling accordionist is playing. He is very persistent, although we ignore him.

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