Sunday, May 31, 2015

25 May -- Monday in Firenze and Theater

My day is planned. All dirty clothes are sorted and inside two large mesh bags. I leave at 9 and Alessio asks me to wait a moment. Yumm. Here is a piece of the eggwhite fritata. I need to get its correct name. The laundrymat is only a 10 minute walk, on Via del Sole. Cost is 4€ for one load. I think the dryers cost the same. I never use the dryers. I always bring a clothesline to hang my things around the room. I enjoyed my breakfast treat and read for 30 minutes. 

Back in my room, I did housekeeping chores: hang wet clothes and dump my entire suitcase onto the floor. Later, I'll buy a cheap bag for €35. They always smell of chemicals. Any food item which is gas permeable will go into this, my original bag. I weighed it with my portable scale. Exactly 50 pounds. I zipped it shut and won't touch it again until it's time to leave. I hate packing at the last minute.  It feels less stressful to break it up into three sessions. 

I picked up a panino to go, next door. Focaccia, proscuito and young pecorino cheese. This shop also supplies the local residents with fresh produce. I saw a crate of fresh porcini mushrooms. I'm wishing I had my own kitchen here. With all these ingredients, I could cook for years and never be bored. 

My destination today is Trespiano cemetery. I'll refresh Alessandro's flowers and eat a picnic lunch. It's a peaceful place. Years ago, he brought me here to show me the location of the family vault. Today I did not bring flowers for them. The weather is still unreliable and I don't want to get soaked with a downpour. 

I passed through the tourists and made a stop at the Teatro della Pergola, located on the street just behind the Santa Maria hospital. For €12 I had the seat of my choice. All seats are priced the same for this one evening performance, which starts at 9pm. I chose the closest one to the stage. 

I passed this postal carrier bike and entered Conad grocery store buy a serving of precut fresh pineapple for my picnic. Back to Borgo Pinti to make my way to Piazza San Marco. I passed several groups of school children, out on an excursion with their teachers. The teacher usually leads the group, with I think a parent volunteer, bringing up the rear.  

Autobus #25 schedule. 

I exited the bus one stop early. I've always wanted to walk up the hill. 

Olive trees. 

I found a feather at my feet. I tucked it into my iPhone case. 

My very favorite angel statue is gone. The lighting was good today, but only her empty pedestal is here. No pictures allowed. I only do statues. 

View down into the valley from a lookout point. I shared the view with an empty schoolbus. The driver was talking outside on his phone. 

The return bus was retiring for the night and dropped us all off at Porto Rosso. I decided to take one of the smaller buses to Chiesa San Lorenzo, where I filled my water bottles at the public font. Comune water here safe and delicious. 

Window shopping my way back to the hotel, I took pictures of shop windows and decided to buy chocolates from Gilli for this evening. 

In my room, I packed a little more, then then took a nap. 

7€ for a sandwich bag size. The centers are filled with a liquor. 

Since dinner here is tradionally served at 8, a 9pm opening seemed just right. For my dinner I had a can of tuna and sliced tomatoes. 

Inside the theater, it seemed like a neighborhood gathering. People greeted each other and even members of the orchestra shyly waved out. No photos are allowed in the theater, but I followed the lead of the audience. Everyone was taking pictures, but not during the performace itself. The storyline follows the life of Filippo Neri (1515-1595). 

The music was recently written. 

The music, the singing and the production was excellent. Looking at the poster, I could see this was a locally organized event. As I walked home, I thought about what I had seen and heard. There was no pretentiousness about the production. In the US opera tickets are costly and tend to take place in performing arts centers. There is a prestige linked to an evening of culture. the main music theme

Full film Italian version

The opera let out at midnight. It was a 20 minute walk back to the hotel. I wrote these thoughts:  

'I now can put into words exactly why I love this place:  Balance. Life brings us all problems and pain. In order to live well, we need to find balance in life. Here the daily exposure to art, music, theater, natural and man-made beauty, wholesome food, the soft sunlight and friendship, bring me peace. I've been away too long and stress was beginning to be overwhelming. I promise myself to stay focused.'

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

23 May -- Cremona

I love the Saturday morning Mercato! Rosa tells me she rarely comes here. I love it especially for photos and the cultural theater of life. 

I have one thing on my shopping list: cotton Italian socks for my son. Once I found them, I purchased 16 pair, 8 pair for 10€.   I relaxed and walked. 

The streets here are beautiful! Best to buy Italian shoes for walking. They are built to keep your feet comfortable. 

Rosa has a shopping list today: lettuce and fresh cherries. While she waited her turn, I snapped a picture of the vendor. She resembles a character from a fairy tale. She sports only two front side teeth and keeps her customers in line, scolding one woman for touching the vegetables. I wonder how she can be almost toothless if her life work is selling this fresh healthy food. 

Rosa continued her wait while I moved onto the traveling shop which sells all things fried and grilled. I've been wanting to try the fried fish. Last time I was here I tested the stuffed fried green olives. Yumm!

I took a number and waited my turn. Both the wait and the taste were an experience. These people were not patiently waiting in line.  Wait numbers were called out. Better be quick to wave your number, otherwise it was onto the next number. I love to watch and learn in these situtations. 

I had my number ready:  93 novanta-tre.  I decided to just point when my turn came. This fish, one piece. 'È basta così. Grazie' (That's all, thank you!)

I chose the 'merluzzo fritto.'  It was good, but it was not at all like fish and chips. It tasted like fried super fresh fish with crispy skin I remember from my childhood. My curiosity was satisfied. It was only a small piece. I tossed out the wrapper containing the last bit of skin.  

Rosa and I walked home, stopping along the way to try on shoes. All the shoe stock are displayed right in the windows. No need to go inside, unless you have an interest to buy. We saw adorable leopard skin sandals, made in Turkey. Unfortunately cute but uncomfortable.   

We headed home.  Since no one was around, we left again and walked to COOP grocery store to look for a shopping bag. My purchases have filled my suitcase and I don't want a bag weighing more than 50 pounds. I desperately need a plastic shopper. 

When I first started visiting this store, my family told me it was rather communist and just a tad unsavory. Times have changed. COOP has aligned itself with the Slow Food movement and sells many regional products.  Also their brand name is trusted for its excellence.  

We could not find a heavy duty shopping bag. Rosa will give me one of hers! But she did cause me to buy one more thing!!  I'm really really done shopping. A book. I read the synopsis. She was right. I couldn't pass up this book. I love this family so much. We are attached at the heart. 

I've just now noticed something on the cover of this book. A feather. 

The days here are so long! We had lunch which included one of my favorite comfort foods. Cotelleto, Nonna's recipe. Thin pounded chicken breast, breaded and fried. I watched Marina make zucchini flowers. I ate every morsel on my plate. I never feel the need to snack here. Although we did have a handful of oven roasted hazel nuts while we watched Marina prepare the food. I need to fix my own jar of these nuts at home! 

At 3.30 Rosa and I left for an afternoon outing in Crema with her friend and work colleague Alice. Our destination is a shop which does ear piercing. They've been think of doing this and are scared-excited.  I'm just here to watch, I tell them! It rained softly all afternoon. 

Two years ago we went to an all day natural hot spring spa together. It was fabulous.  Today we promised each other to go again, during my next visit here. 

We found the shop! Not a jewlers as I was thinking. I'm in a tattoo shop for the first time on my life! Oddly, the girl behnd the counter has neither tattos nor piercings. The artist is out today. They need to return on Wednesday. It's walk-in only, without appointments. Outside, I mentioned my observation about the countergirl. They had noticed the same and had asked her. I missed that part of the conversation. 'Not good for the health,' said the shop girl. They are not deterred. Wednesday they'll be back.  

The rain persisted. I was the only one with an umbrella. We stopped in at Bar Duomo to wait out the rain and had hot chocolate. Fabulous and warm. Alice offered to take a picture as I was focusing this. Rosa explained, I do this all the time. These food pictures. We laughed! My family is used to my obsession with capturing the essence of life here. And I need to be able to re-create this food at home. 

We walked back to the car. We'd been gone exactly 2 hours, just in time for our parking ticket to expire. 

EXPO 2015 is being celebrated all over Italy. Here in tiny Crema, a huge ferris wheel takes up the entire piazza. 

Dinner with Marta and family! Marta like her mother Martina and her sister Rosa is a wonderful cook and hostess. We eat better at home than any restaurant. We end the evening with a 'game' of hide and seek. Baby G knows his numbers, just not in the right order yet. Hugs all around. I depart in the morning. I hate leaving.