Hello hello hello! Well good golly, the time has gotten away from me… it has been more than a week since I last wrote to you all! I am not sure if anyone still checks this blog or not, but I still have so many exciting things to share that I will write anyway. So as you know, W arrived last Thursday and we have been having a blast ever since! We rented this really sweet little apartment in Florence for a week so I could finish up class, he could get his bearings and sleep off some jet lag, and I could show him the fruits of all my culinary and cultural “research” in Florence! Many of you have been to Florence before, so you are aware of how many treasures it holds. I tried my best not to overwhelm him with all of my excitement and passions, but I have to say that it was difficult to restrain myself. There are just too many restaurants, museums, piazze (squares), gelato, favorite streets, pretty walks, fun shops etc etc etc… As you all know, I really enjoyed being in Florence for the past six months, discovering all of her secrets and soaking in as much of her history and culture as possible. And of course I wanted to share everything with him… poor little thing barely had time to breathe! But at least we had a nice and comfortable “home base” to work from, and I finally got to satisfy some of my desires to cook. The apartment was a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Mercato Centrale (Central Market) in Florence, so I was in heaven cooking up lemon risotto with fresh peas, asparagus, and mint, tomato-bread soup, potato quiches, zucchini pancakes, and so many other things. Between my cooking and the amazing food to be found in Florence, we are certainly not malnourished! It was fun to watch W react to all of the new sights and sounds and smells, to see him enchanted by the statue of David and the treasures of the Bargello and the Uffizi galleries, and consume with a virgin palate the pastries and the pastas, the breads and the cheeses, the sauces, honeys, chutneys, chocolates, cakes, ice creams and granite… Needless to say, we had a grand time together, and instead of boring you with all the details, I thought I would simply share a few of the highlights.
- Attending Mass in Santa Maria del Carmine, one of the most amazing churches in Florence, and then getting a chocolate-banana-strawberry smoothie at a swanky little chocolate bar across the street (both equally religious experiences).
- Listening to a free organ concert in a random little church in Via del Corso.
- Splitting a 4-pound mixed grill between the two of us, with rare-as-rare-can-be Florentine steak, chicken, ribs, and sausage at this great little family-style restaurant (complete with whole cured hams hanging from every inch of the ceiling, an enormous carving board just for bread, tapped barrels from which they pour the house wine, a meat-slinging grill master, a foul-mouthed yet incredibly talented sous chef, and a sassy little, no-nonsense waitress) with Alex and his friend Pepe.
- Watching the wonder on W’s face as he sipped his first caffé shakerato (an iced espresso drink that they shake to death in a martini shaker until it is frothy and cold), and the first time he tried a panino (sandwich) with truffle sauce and mortadella, a delicate cooked ham studded with pistachios, shaved paper-thin (our sorry American attempt at copying this culinary wonder is Oscar Meyer bologna).
- Shopping at the grandiose Mercato Centrale (Central Market), carefully choosing the best produce and salami and fresh eggs to cook back at home.
- Hearing that he loved the Bargello museum as much as I do.
- Making him walk 2 miles to get the best pastries in town. Did I mention it was raining?
- Walking up in the hills of Florence after having a nice glass of wine– the night was mellow but a little humid, the scent of jasmine cascading down the side of every wall was strong and sweet, and the view from the top took our breath away.
All in all, it was a whirlwind of a week, but quite memorable indeed. An unexpected difficulty that I encountered (if it can even be called a “difficulty”) was that I may or may not have been sensitive to the fact that 1) W had only just arrived; 2) that he was on cultural overload and I was not; 3) that, though we do have a lot in common, he is a different person than me, with different interests and he may not love everything that I love or find significance in everything in which I find significance; 4) that that is okay and is not a comment on either of us! 5) that I could be more patient; 6) that I can have an unbelievable amount of energy when I get excited and for a poor jetlagged companion that might not always be so charming. But like he has always done, W stuck by my side, pulled himself up by his boot straps and tried his hardest to keep up, to take it all in, and to not kill himself or me in the process. And seeing as we both are still here, I would call it a success. So right now, on this early grey morning, we are on our way to Rome to meet Andrew for a few days. It has been nearly four years since I went to Rome for the first time (I went alone for a week while I was studying abroad in Venice), and I would say that it is about time we meet again! I am looking forward to reconnecting with the city that holds so many of the treasures that I have been studying for the past 10 years, one of the only cities in the world that embraces its place in the modern world, but does so under the weight of an enormous history, a sexy sexy city full of stiletto heels and mini skirts, which literally surrounds the very heart of Catholicism (the Vatican): ahh, Roma, how I have missed you…
PS: Did you know that Roma is “Love” spelled backwards? “Amor” is Latin for Love 🙂