Monday, September 23, 2013

Firenze: My second home

Gifts from the landlady: fresh, homemade olive oil and spumanti!
I still have a few more travels to Bologna and Parma to write about, but wanted to take a break to talk about Florence, where I'm currently staying. I'll be here for a month, as I have a work project I need to do for several weeks, and I have to be settled for that. I've rented an apartment in the San Niccolo quartiere (neighborhood), which has turned out to be a wise decision.  The landlady picked me up at the train station, greeted me with a bottle of spumanti, and later brought over a bottle of olive oil from the family's stash. What a welcome! I think I'll be very comfortable here.

The living room
For one thing, my apartment is spacious, which is a major change over the apartment I had in the fall of  2010 when I lived here. In that place, there was a kitchen, a bedroom, a bathroom, and a terrace. The bathroom was creepy, with a shower in one corner, and the place was cold during much of my stay. I whined a lot while I was there! In the new place, I have room to spread out, with several beds and bathrooms and even comfy arm chairs. The apartment is well-stocked with linens and all the kitchen items I'll need. All for the same price as the previous place! There's no terrace, and the kitchen is dinky, but it's quiet in this part of Florence, away from the touristy center, and I have lovely views of the hills and the river Arno when I go outside.

Dining room/work space
the Italian way: making the best use of small spaces
Another great thing is that my friend Haruko is living in Florence, having moved here last year from her home in Tokyo. We met in 2006 when we were both attending a language immersion school, and became fast friends. For the next three years, we were in Italy at the same time and made sure to spend time together. But we haven't been able to meet again since 2009. Now we'll have time to hang out together and enjoy the city we both love. I've also made a few new friends in the short time I've been here, and have had several people over for aperitivi. My life is a lot more social in Italy than it is at home, which is one of the compelling reasons to return every year.

This week Florence is hosting the UCI (International Cycling Union) Road World Championships, so that's causing a bit of excitement and chaos, with the city center barricaded in areas where the cyclists are racing. It will be the biggest sporting event in the history of Florence. Cyclists from 54 nations have qualified, with a total of 227 racers vying for victory in 12 races between September 22 and 29. I'll have more to share on that later. In the meantime, ciao from Firenze!

The Duomo as a backdrop to the racing path

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