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Report 679: A Student in Florence

By colleenk from MA, Spring 2004

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Page 10 of 16: A Treasure Hunt and Duomo Day

photo by Colleen K.

Central Market in Florence

Wednesday, May 5, 2004

This was the day of my most fun language class. Our class split into 2 teams of 3 each and went on a treasure hunt at the Central Market. We had to find answers to such questions as "what was the most inexpensive fruit in season?", "Is Tuscan bread salted?" (I knew the answer to this one without asking), find 3 different brands of pasta products etc. The goal was to interact with the vendors politely and find our answers within 20 minutes. Asking the questions was the easy part. When one fruit vendor launched into a fast paced dialogue on the various native fruits of the season I could only nod my head in agreement. I caught maybe every 3rd word. Our team did win the contest and it was so much fun on many different levels; trying to speak and understand Italian, the wonderful sights and sounds of the Central Market, and participating in a treasure hunt (something I had probably not done in - oh Iíd say - 40 years or so).

Despite walking past the Duomo everyday on my way back and forth to class, I had not yet gotten around to stepping inside it as of my 13th day on this trip to Florence. I figured it was just around the corner and I could do it anytime. But now I only had 4 full days left and I thought I better get to it and also see the Duomo Museum. Given that it was a rather rainy day, it seemed as good a day as any to take make this my Duomo day. Because the exterior of the Duomo is so magnificent, I remember being totally under whelmed by the interior the last time I visited. Especially when it is compared to Sienaís Duomo or several Roman churches that I had experienced before visiting Florenceís centerpiece. But it was really much more impressive than I had remembered. I once again gasped at itsí vastness and Brunelleschiís genius.

I had not been to the Duomo museum before and enjoyed it very much. I love that a ticket to almost every major site in Italy is in itself a work of art. It is such a joy to flip through my scrapbook and appreciate all over again these quintessential Italian slips of paper/art. The Duomo Museum seems to be a very undiscovered museum. In my 2 weeks in Florence, I never saw a line and it was almost empty on this rainy afternoon. Viewing the original eight panels from the Baptistery doors, without a gate or crowds, with English explanations was well worth the price of admission. Just beautiful! The Pieta by Michelangelo, created when he was 80 years of age as his own tomb was incredibly moving. And the choir boxes by Lucca della Robbia and Donatello were so detailed and extraordinarily beautiful. How could so much talent live in the same time period? Definitely worth a visit! It is hard put into words how incredibly awesome it was to walk past the Duomo several times a day because it was in "my neighborhood". I can still close my eyes and picture it so vividly. It was a true privilege to be in its shadow and an experience I will not soon forget.

Dinner that night with Camilla was at Bucca dell'Orafo, Volta dei Gorolami, 28R in a little alcove near the Ponte Vecchio. I had dined here on my last trip to Florence and had remembered it fondly. My memory held true and we were not disappointed. I had some fresh peas in season with pecorino cheese and olive oil, that was delicious, and Camilla had her favorite artichokes in olive oil, that were also lovely. Luckily we are both foodies and weren't too proud to taste each other's selections. We both had nice pasta dishes, which I canít quite remember, but remember being happy with in addition to the reasonable cost. The ambience was purely local Italian and fun. A definite recommendation.

We had originally planned to go to Osteria Cinghale Bianco on via San Jacopo but it is closed on Wednesday. We never did make it there - another reason to return to Florence!

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