Sunday, October 21, 2012


The Neptune fountain, Piazza Signoria, Firenze
October 7
Arriving in Firenze brings with it a sense of "coming home." I've visited the city often and spent nearly half a year living here off and on, so I know it well. This time I'm staying in the Sant'Annunziata quarter, not far from Piazza D'Azeglio, my favorite park. It's one of the few parks in the centro storico, and this year they've spruced it up with new benches, trimmed hedges and mowed grassy areas. Everything is still lush and green, and the park is well-used by children, teenagers and adults.

Piazza D'Azeglio, Firenze
I've rented a room in a friend's family home, a flat that her mother has lived in since the 60's. It's only a five minute walk to Piazza Sant'Annunziata and ten minutes to the Duomo. I loved the apartment I had on Borgo degli Albizi during the fall of 2010, but it was expensive and lonely. This year my friend's mother and her Peruvian badante (caretaker) offer companionship when I'm in the mood to share a meal or conversation. (They tend to watch telenovelas (Spanish soap operas, dubbed in Italian) while they eat dinner, which is not my cup of tea, but once in a while, I might join them.)

my bright room in Firenze
My room is cozy and bright, with a large window overlooking the street, and an expansive view of the the sky to the north. Several of my friends, from Rome, Parma and Modena, are hoping to visit me while I'm here, but with such a short stay, I'm guessing it will be hard to arrange. I'll be here for three days, then go to Siena for three days, and then return here for only a week before heading home to Kansas again.

the Duomo and Campanile in the clouds
I have many "touchstones" in Florence, places that I always like to visit. Since I've been to most of the museums at least once, I don't often return unless there's a new exhibit that I don't want to miss. And with so little time here this visit, museums aren't a high priority. (Besides, after seeing so many in Paris, I've pretty much reached my limit!) But I do have two on my list: Palazzo Vecchio and the Ferragamo museum. Otherwise, I'll spend most of my time enjoying the Tuscan weather, walking around Firenze, and people-watching in Piazza San Giovanni. Everyday between 4-6 pm I like to sit in the piazza, waiting for the bells to ring in Giotto's campanile, and watch people passing by. And I often meet people that way.

Piazza Sant'Annunziata,  Fiera  delle Ceramiche
One of the main attractions in Firenze is that something interesting is always going on, and I often "happen" onto a festa (festival) or fiera (exhibition), just by visiting my favorite piazzas on the weekend. For instance, this weekend, while walking to the Duomo, I came upon a ceramics fiera in Piazza Sant'Annunziata.

My favorite Florentine ceramic artist, Paola Staccioli
I was impressed by the creativity and colors in the ceramics at this fiera, much more artistic than what I'm used to seeing at home. I rarely buy ceramics, here or at home, as I'm trying to minimize the goods that I own, instead of adding to them. But I found a small bowl that I can make good use of, and bought it as a memento of my stay in Firenze this year, along with a small jar of fig jam from one of the food vendors selling local produce.
A colorful ceramics display
There was also a German food fair in Piazza Santa Croce this weekend, but I only found out about it after it was over. I'd been to this annual fair when I lived in Florence in 2010 with Massimo and his family when they came for a visit. Many Florentines enjoy the German meats, cheeses and pastries on sale at the fair, but I was more interested in the crafts, and the flowers from the Netherlands that were also on sale. I'm disappointed that I missed out on the fair this year!

Some whimsical creations
On Saturday, there was a food fair in Piazza Repubblica, with local vendors offering their fall produce, wines and olive oil. I noticed it, but passed by, thinking I'd go back and peruse the bancarelle (stands) on Sunday. But I was out of luck, as it was a one-day affair.

To be honest, my first weekend in Florence was low key, a way to recuperate after a week of endless activity in Paris and Torino. Besides, I'd caught a cold in transition from France to Italy. Soon enough I'll be off to Siena for more adventure!

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