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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 9 of 21: Michelangelo & Ghiberti - yes; Don Chisciotte - no

photo by Marian

Santo Spirito

Thursday 13 May:

I start the day with a latté and a pastry at what has become “my” caffè: The Caffè Oltrarno right near the Ponte alla Carraia. It’s nice to be greeted by the barista and owner. And their coffee is so good!

Tonight I am to see the Tokyo Ballet at the Téatro Comunale. But do I rest up in advance? Of course not! After school, Rosemarie, Marilyn (ColleenK’s friend) and I have lunch together. We try for Le Mossacce, but find a line outside the door. So we eat at Il Ritrovo, which is so highly recommended by ST’ers. The food is good, not great (€ 62 for the three of us).

After lunch, we separate and I head over for my first-ever visit to the Muséo dell’ Opéra del Duomo. I see the late, unfinished Michelangelo “Piéta”, and it is lovely and poignant. You can “feel” the weight of Jesus’ body in Mary’s arms. I spend about a half hour just looking at the Ghiberti doors — the ones on the Baptistery are copies, as the originals are here for protection against elements and tourists.. Also remarkable are two Donatello sculptures – a wooden Magdalene and one of Abacuc (the prophet Habakkuk).

Although I am by now very tired, I stop off at Caffè Ricchi for a gelato, and sit outside on the piazza as I eat it.

Then I go inside Santo Spirito for the first time. It’s a beautiful interior space. So by the time I arrive home, I am very, very tired. I have bought some raspberries, but drowse off on the couch before I eat them.

Yet again, I sleep too long. I rouse myself and take a quick shower to wake up fully. Then I practically run to the theater. I tell the usher I am very late, but he is kind as he says no, the curtain is not yet up. And sure enough, I am in my seat just in time. The program is a version of “Don Quixote” (“Don Chisciotte”) choreographed by Vassiliev, and I soon realize that the company is good but not great. If I were forced to compare them to my beloved NYC Ballet, I would say that the leads are at the level of very good corps members. They are technically proficient, but without flair. I decide that I will leave at intermission, after first having a panino, as I am quite hungry. I sit down at a little table to eat my panino.

And I see Ayuki, the charming Japanese girl (21) from school who is studying voice. She comes over to greet me, excited to see me, and tells me that she has seen our teacher Marco as well. The prima ballerina, she informs me, is quite famous in Tokyo. I do not have the heart to tell her that I am planning to leave once I finish my panino. When she returns to her seat, I leave the theater. After a pleasant walk home, I am in bed in time to get a good night’s sleep.

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