Tuesday, December 4, 2012

4 Dec 2012 Return to Firenze and an evening at Teatro della Pergola

Tuesday morning.  7.55 exactly and the train to Parma has departed, with me on it. The next connection at 8.53 is worrisome. There, I transfer to Bologna and if all goes well from Bologna to Firenze at 10.23. I'm not worried a bit. Trains are easy for me. It's the pesky luggage which slows me down.

This morning Rosa took me to the station. Change of plans because she was able to fall asleep early. She drives to work today and then directly to Crema for a meeting on security.

Marina had my favorite focaccia and orange juice breakfast out for me. They shake their heads that I get up at 6 to be ready by 7.16.  I hate to travel without clean hair and clothes. The routine is necessary.

While driving with Rosa the phone rang. Who could it be this early? Primo's voice boomed through radio speakers of the car. He was so sorry he missed a goodbye this morning. He wished me safe travels and Buon Natale (Merry Christmas).  "Say hi to your mom and your sons."

I made a promise to do three things yesterday. One, next time I will stay longer. Two, Marta and I both were looking for someone to Skype for conversation. But we have each other. We're going to work out a schedule, trying for once a week. She says she hasn't spoken English extensively since May when I was here. I need the same Italian practice. Three, I'm making Christmas stockings for everyone.

When I buy my train tickets from the automated dispenser, I always take pictures of the screens with my iPhone.  It's the perfect way to keep track of connection times.

This is the small local train which carries students on their run to school. One elderly man just boarded, but the train is packed with students. There are only three carriages. We're traveling through flat, green farmland, with overcast skies.

9.07 and pulling into Parma.  We're 10 minutes late.  I had hoped to arrive in Bologna in one hour. I might be missing the planned connection.

A nice African man got bag took my bag off the train and I saw him waiting for me at the stairs, even though I had delayed to look at the paper departures schedule, checking the 8:58 train. He took the bag down for me then quickly left. I could only call out Grazie Mille!  

On the steps going up to Binario 4 a boy spotted me and ran down. A gypsy for sure because he asked for a donation. With this 50 pound bag I was happy to do it. I had pre-counted money in my pocket.  Surprise, I'm on a train to Bologna!  It was late in arriving, so I'm back on schedule.

I have an hour to relax while the train speeds along. I'm reading the cookbook 'Il menu di Benedetta' by Benedetta ParodiMarta gave me this, her copy! She said the recipes were too everyday for her. I'm going to send Marta my recipe for white clam chowder.  I still need to get the recipe from Laura for pasta alla carbonara with shrimps.

We all feel such joy trying and trading new recipes and keeping the best as our rotating 'keepers'.

I enjoy looking over the clothes as the women exit and enter the train. A scarf here is a necessary accessory in these cold days. Sometimes people in the US ask me how to drape a scarf. The only secret I know is to wear it confidently and not be self conscience. Wrap it any way you like, then forget it. Wear it like you love it.

Two gypsies just came through within 10 minutes of each other. The first made an announcement at the carriage door. The second left little notes which said the same exact pleadings as always. The words have never changed over the years. Only a new traveler will believe them. (I am poor with two babies, without a house or work. Help my family with a little money for love of God. Thank you and may God protect you.)

Two girls and a dog are now my travel companions. The little white miniature looks like a seasoned traveler.

Bologna! I'm on the train to SMN even though we arrived from Parma a little late. This is the La FrecciarArgento, the fast train with reserved seats. However, if ones knows there are no stops in between Bologna and Firenze, take an empty seat if two business people are deep in discussion of a spreadsheet, and your window seat is inaccessible.  I'm not stressed. The conductor doesn't mind either.

I also have WiFi! With a strong signal too. Except of course, in the tunnels approaching Firenze. The trip is so fast, there is hardly any time to take advantage of the valuable WiFi.

It was pouring rain when I arrived at stazione SMN in Firenze at 11 am. A few steps outside in the rain and I decided a taxi fare would be worth it. It was only 6€ to the hotel. 

There's still construction around Piazza Santa Trinità in front of Ferragamo. The taxi driver wasn't sure how to get me there...he knew Borgo Santi Apostoli was closed to through traffic. I told him it was fine to just leave me off near the river. There are two covered alleyways from the Arno. I took one and made the short walk in. 

Alessio and Asumi brought me my bags, which I had left with them at the hotel. They always wonder if this time, can I do it?  Can I pack it all? Will I be under-weight for my return flight? Since I carry a travel scale with me, I never worry about being surprised at the airport.  But I do worry a little about packing it all.

The suitcase was wet, so I unpacked everything in all the bags and sorted stuff by weight and dirty/clean clothes, on the floor. I opened the suitcase and left it by the radiator so it would dry while I was out for the evening.

Then, I went out for the rest of the day.

I really wanted to see the Marilyn Monroe exhibit at Ferragamo Museo, but it was closed for a private tour. I walked in because the door was open, but I heard "Signora, il museo e' chiuso!"  Nice to understand the admonishment.  But I was disappointed. 

I walked to Santa Maria Novella Farmacia. Walking down this street, I wonder how many tourists pass right by the blue awning.  It would be so easy to miss this treasure.

The Farmacia was remodeled in July, with some new rooms added. I was happy to find the announcement still posted on an outside wall.

Then, knowing the shortcut to Borgo San Lorenzo, I checked the Cappelle Medicee, but it too was closed. It's open on Wednesday, until 1.30.

I was hungry and thirsty.  I walked to Venchi. The cup of pistachio and chocolate was refreshing. Needed to save my appetite for 7.00 for pizza and then the theater, with my new friend Anamaria. We coordinated by email to meet at Pizzaiuolo. I got there a bit early and went in and discovered they don't open until 7.

Anamaria had sent me this link:

When Anamaria arrived, we decided to walk down Corso, to pass the time.  We spent 20 minutes looking around a housewares store. She has baggage overweight concerns too.  She cannot buy anything else because she's flying to London and then to Africa to join her family.

We wandered into a Herbal Shop and we each bought hand lotion. The one I selected is made from all natural ingredients and violet oil.

At 7.30 we arrived back at Pizzaiuolo and they asked if we had reservations. Luckily, someone remembered us from one hour back! We were seated and had the best Napolitano style piazza with hot salami, mozzarella and tomato sauce. We asked for hot pepper oil  and they brought a bowl of olive oil and crushed dried hot peppers, with a warning it was hot! Delicious, hot and good.

Anamaria and I are going to correspond. All these years, this is the first time I've met someone so similar to me. We talked about salt and spices. She collects spices during her travels so she can recreate some of her favorite foods. In Africa, she cooks mostly vegetarian. She told me black salt is great for the skin. I need to research.

At 8.45 we asked for the bill. We had been seated in an alcove, sort of isolated from the main room. Leaving, we could hardly squeeze out. The place was packed solid, with people waiting outside to get in. Reservations are definitely required here! It's a popular place for the locals.

We quickly walked to the Teatro della Pergola to see if tickets for the performance of Moscheta were available. The theater is located on the street just to the right of Santa Maria Nuova Ospedale. As soon as we turned into the street, I recognized it ! One night Alessandro walked me here to just go into the lobby.

For 20€ each, Anamaria and I had seats in a box on the second level with a direct view of the stage. We both agreed it was worth the money. We were, the only non Italians in the audience. I was surprised to to see the theater only half full. This showing runs only 4-9 December.


Surprisingly, we were able to follow the plot of this five act play.  Anamaria and I both decided this is an activity which we each need to repeat on future trips to Firenze.  The cost was reasonable and the experience was breath-taking.

Copied from Flo-'N the Go:

The sixteenth-century Italian comedy, La Moscheta, by Ruzante will have the audience dissolving in laughter from Tuesday to Sunday, December 4 to 9 at Teatro della Pergola. The play, written between 1527 and 1531, is about disguises, infidelity, and sensuality during the war between Italy and the combined forces of the French and Spanish. Ruzante, the main character, hopes to catch his wife in an affair by donning a costume and attempting to hoodwink her; however, his wife, Betia, sees through his disguise and, for vendetta, betrays her husband with his friend, Menato.
This rich comedy will begin at 8:45 pm, with the exception of the Sunday performance, which will commence at 3:45 pm.
Teatro della Pergola is located on Via della Pergola, 12/32.

At 11.00 the show ended. We walked to Anamaria's residence, which was only a few blocks away. From there, I strolled back to my hotel, taking pictures along the way. The night was clear and rainless.


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