Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday, Firenze DRAFT

My day started with a beautiful surprise! I like to take pictures of Ponte Vecchio every time I cross over my bridge, Ponte alle Grazie, to visit the Santo Spirito area. I had just snapped a picture and when I turned around, to see the most amazing sight of my life! Spanning the sky was a full rainbow. I really hope I captured it on film.
Unbelievable that no one else seemed to even notice. Those on the bridge with me, seemed blind to the amazing beauty which was gifted to us by mother nature.
I watched the rainbow until it had completely faded and continued on my way. Still not yet at Piazza Santo Spirito, I saw something in the window of an artist supply store. Perfect for a Christmas gift for my son. As the clerk took her time wrapping the small gift, I noticed another customer very patiently waiting her turn to pay for her purchase.
An orphaned red glove sat on the counter. The patient customer made a comment about the glove and the clerk answered as she wrapped, 'it was left by a girl earlier. Let's leave it there and hopefully she'll be back to fetch it.' Just as I departed, I saw a college student, pulling on a pair of red gloves. I was glad for her. I've been lucky in not permanently losing my gloves this trip. Three times, I've dropped one and someone has called out to me.
The early morning Santo Spirito street market was still set-up. On weekdays, one can find fresh produce from 4 or 5 vendors. There are a few other stands setup. Yesterday I looked at the wares of a copper-brass vendor. Today in his place was a shoe seller. I've often wondered how these stand setups are co-ordinated. The produce stands seem to be the same vendors, while the other 10 spots vary, between book sellers, shoes, kitchen supplies, handbags, men and women's clothes, underwear, curtains or woolen items.
I took pictures, then headed to the Galli Fornaio (bakery). On my list: 1.5 liter bottle of water, a liter of fresh milk and a medium sized piece of focaccia with sausage for tonight's dinner. Cost 4.80 €
Carrying this heavy bag of liquids, I made the next two stops on my list. Last year in 'The Florentine' English newspaper I read and saved an article about 'Mama's Bakery,' which sells American bagels, brownies and cupcakes, on Via della Chiesa. With the article and map in hand, I walked a few blocks and I found Matt Reinecke, busy preparing something behind a glass partition. He looked just like his picture but he seemed to have a British accent.
I only wanted to say, 'I'm happy to see someone who has been able to follow their dream.' I suppose he's interrupted by tourists often during his day. He was told me he was too busy with bagel making to talk. He was just a tinny bit rude, but I still bought a brownie. Cost: 1.5 € The brownie was good.
Still circling back to the hotel, I walked past Palazzo Pitti on Via Romana to pickup a book. The owner apologized the book (to accompany an audio book) had not come in as he had promised me. Not to worry. I found it at another bookstore on my way to the hotel. At the hotel, I put my milk on the windowsill to chill and left to find lunch.
I wanted Artichoke Sformatino, drizzled with gorgonzola cheese sauce, at a trattoria named Cesarino (Via Giovan Battista Niccolini, 16r)
This trattoria is located in a neighborhood where I have stayed in the past, while attending school. I've eaten here several times before with Leo.
But when I arrived, their outside menu only showed Salmon Sformatino with curry sauce. I knew it would be delicious also, so I entered. After being seated, I asked the waiter, if by chance, they had Artichoke Sformatino? He checked with the cook and they had one left! Lucky me. It was served with a bit of fresh arucola greens and as yummy as I knew it would be. Cost: 6€ + 2€ for cover charge. The real spring water was free.
On the table, was a basket of fresh bread and a bottle of fresh olive oil from this season! Olives have just been pressed in November. The bright green color of the oil is a indication that it will taste ... fresh. Sort of spicy and wonderful. This is one of the many reasons I come in the autumn. I'd much rather carry an umbrella and enjoy the seasonal treats of fall and the street lightings and window decorations for Christmas.
Leo texted me that he was not feeling well. I wasn't sure if he would be up to coming out so I walked about ten blocks to the English Cemetery, hoping as I have for 11 years, that it would be open. In the movie 'Tea with Mussolini' a scene was filmed in this cemetery to honor Elizabeth Browning, who is buried here.
As I approached, I saw the gates to the cemetery were wide open. I hurried my pace, not knowing how much time I would have to visit.
At the small gatehouse I saw a basket containing guide books. A perky nun with a British accent came out to greet men and asked me to sign the guest book. There is no entry fee here and the guidebook (printed in 1981) was available for a donation. I left 5€ and she gave me a receipt. Very very quaint and charming.
From the guidebook: 'There are no scheduled visiting hours, but the custodian is available to give you some pointers. The impression is one of bright disorder, and as you climb farther up the shadows of the cypresses, the sounds from the boulevards grow faint, and the charm of the place casts its spell.'
Nothing has changed here and the comment still holds true in 2010!
Sent from my iPhone

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