Friday, October 26, 2007

Ciao from Firenze

It is 4:15 on Friday afternoon in this gorgeous, but today, rainy city. We arrived safely ON TIME on Thursday, caught the train from Pisa to Florence, and finally made contact with the landlady. A word about the travel. On time departures, on time arrivals. Unheard of these days. The JFK to Pisa flight was wonderful. The plane seemed to be less than half-full. We got Business Class on that leg. Spoils you rotten for anything else. We have our Personal Delta Travel Adviser to thank for all of this. The apartment is on Piazza Santo Spirito on the south side of the Arno. It is old, cold, four flights up, rather cheerless and drab. But we will call it home for 10 days and make the best of it. The one I had contracted for has a serious plumbing problem that cannot even be looked at until Monday so I think we are completely out of luck. We have investigated this neighborhood and have found this internet cafe (only €2 per hour), a bakery, a greengrocer, an Asian market, a couple of restaurants and a Tabac. Otherwise, we will have to go elsewhere. Last night, after being up-and-doing for 24 hours, we went to bed at about 6:30 PM and did not stir until 9:30 this morning. We went out, bought yoghurt, bread, 2 bananas, and some mortadella for breakfast. After that it was time to take on the city!

First we had to find a bank. We were looking for Deutchbanc. So near us we found a very impressive building with a discreet brass plaque that advertised itself as Deutchebanc Money Management. We pressed the button, got let in to the foyer, took the lift to the 3rd Floor and pressed another button. A rather startled youngish gentleman opened the door and looked at us in amazement. I said, in my best Italian, "ATM?" He replied, "Cash?" I said enthusiastically, as if I had hit the jackpot, "Si!" He shook his head sadly, said "No cash" and gave us directions to a real bank. With an effucive "Grazie" we headed over the bridge, found the bank, emptied it out and moved on to other chores. We wanted to find the Standa, a grocery store we used last time we were here. With map in hand -- we look SO like tourists -- we finally hit upon it, and the post office, too. Past the Ufizzi, through a piazza or two, past a raft of very upscale shops, around a pile of Vespas, avoiding construction (making the "old" "new", not always a good idea), it was just where we left it three years ago. Remembering that we had to walk a couple of miles back, plus up 4 flights, we kept the shopping to the necessities: wine, salami, cheese, butter, crackers, paper napkins, sapone de piatti, and several kinds of minestra. Then we walked over to the tiny square where Pensione Feretti is located. That is the hotel where we stayed in 2004. Yes, still there. Located La Stampa, restaurant were the Patient had his first taste of Ribolito, a bean soup he has been longing for since he stopped treatment. We are going there tonight. It is about a 20 minute walk from the apartment. The walk back, the climb of 70 steps back up to the apartment, a lunch of cheese, salami, beer, bread and a bit of minestra primavera, a delicious spring veggie soup. Now it is almost time for a nap before pre-dinner wine/cheese and a stroll to the restaurant.

This apartment is in a section of antique stores and what look like interior decorator shops and studios. The church of Spirito Santo ìs at the end of the block; the bells ring only at noon, 6 PM and 10 PM. At least that is all I have heard so far. Right outside our door is the daily street market around the square. I took a photo but donàt think I can put anything up using this machine. I will check later. The market is mostly things other than frutis and veggies - clothing, household goods, antique knock-offs. The newspaper vendor is across the street. Very handy. There is a lovey fountain in the square, a monument or two that I have not yet investigated. Seems to be a popular place. Lots of students around.

I have no idea what will be on the agenda for tomorrow. We are very close to the Boboli Gardens so perhaps a walk over there. This is not the ideal time to see them but now is the time we are here. More marketing, too, as things are closed on Sunday. Perhaps some church viewing, beginning right here in the neighborhood. I have been a bit shy about usinig my Rick Steves Italian. It comes so easily to them; it is so difficult for me!



At 4:09 PM, Blogger mary ann said...

Beautiful post, I was right there with you. Loved the bank story and isn't it wonderful that you slept so long and well? And aren't we lucky that your internet cafe is so reasonable? More, we want more!


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