The past few days have been impossibly hot. I thought Williamsburg heat was crazy, but add being surrounded by pavement and concrete and the lack of air conditioning and it literally feels like an oven. I have been more preoccupied with work tasks and at this point feel legitimately settled in Florence-- it finally feels like I live here. I realized that I had actually only ever stayed a few other places for more than a couple of weeks, so it really is somewhat novel to be legitimately living in a new place -- let alone a new city! Facing the challenges and taking advantages of the opportunities has been an eye-opening experience thus far. For your enjoyment, a quick run-down of my most memorable moments, observations, and realizations thus far:
The time my roommate and I shattered the stovetop: A few days into the program, we decided that we should actually use the stove instead of ordering out, so we started by making a pot of coffee. What we didn’t realize is that the glass surface was counter space, not the stove-top. A few minutes under heat and the entire surface shattered… thankfully the stove is so old that the landlord didn’t mind, though I’m not sure we’ll be receiving our safety deposit at the end.
Climbing up the hill to Fiesole and stopping app. 1000 ft. from the top without realizing it: During our first Sunday here, we decided to go to the beautiful hill town of Fiesole, which boasts arguably the most amazing view of Florence. We took the bus, getting off at the city limits sign. Realizing we were nowhere close to the top, we climbed a good mile and a half up the hill. We had thought we reached this spectacular view that we had heard so much about, but upon later investigation learned that we never made it to Fiesole at all.
Attempting to find drugs for my sick roommate: After an exhausting day-trip to Venice that included my roommate nursing a terrible cough and me dealing with work exhaustion and motion sickness from the bus, we went to our favorite cafe in Piazza SMN for a cup of tea, as we still had not bought any for the apartment. The kind woman, who we now know is named Elona, suggested the farmacia down the street and a good night’s sleep, and so we went in search of this medicinal mecca. My roommate, knowing her symptoms better than I did, attempted to explain what was wrong but was so ill she sounded like she was drunk (granted it was midnight and the store was one block from Il Duomo). Even after I explained, he roughly shoved a box of cough drops in her hand and told her to go to the doctor. We then embarked on a long and miserable walk home that included finding a passed out man on the street and standing by while someone called 911. Then the caller rode off on a bike and we were forced to stay until the ambulance arrived, at which point I had to explain that we didn’t know him, found him on the street, and stayed so that people wouldn’t keep stopping/calling for help.
Missing the train to Milan and hopping a random one instead: The next train to Milan left in an hour and cost twice as much as the one we had just missed. Instead of taking the price hike we pressed random cities on the fast ticket machine until we found one that was less than a third the price to go to Milan. [See my blog post on Ferrara to learn more about that wonderful day.]
Hanging our laundry out to dry -- and then losing it: So people may tell you that clothespins aren’t necessary, especially when there isn’t a breeze, but if you EVER hang anything outside to dry, use them please. We lost our only hand towel yesterday, which prompted an awkward visit to the apartment two floors below to the Spanish speaking tenants who didn’t know Italian very well. After explaining ourselves several times on the other side of a locked door, she finally decided we weren’t a threat and let us in. Thank God or we would’ve had to go buy a new towel before doing the dishes again. In addition, we lost a shirt, which is now sitting on the roof of a building that is inaccessible.
Trying to use the oven and causing a power outage -- twice: So my roommate and I really like to cook and bake, but having the power go out every time we try to use it has kind of put a damper on that whole thing. The last time, the power was out for a day and a half, so we were living without power, in the heat, cooking from the stove. The worst part was actually the lack of internet more than anything else. The next time we want potatoes I guess we’ll have to pan fry them.
Hanging with locals in the piazza: My roommate and I had the good fortune of being introduced to a group of Italian friends last night. Hanging out with natives in a large group is an invaluable opportunity to practice the language, as if you want to keep up and feel included, you must understand. They were all dancers, except one, and we sat in a piazza that is frequented almost exclusively by locals. With my long dark hair and inclusion into one of these gangs of natives sitting on the church steps, I felt as if I blended in more than ever. And it is always a fun cultural exchange to teach words in each other’s languages.
Too many restaurants/clothing stores/specialty stores: This isn’t a complaint, but the city offers so many options and so many things to do that most of the time I find myself walking in circles, unable to choose anything. There are literally at least 3 restaurants on every block, and so many clothing stores I wouldn’t even know where to start. The other night, we decided to go out to dinner for a change, and literally passed fifty restaurants before finally picking one. I suppose the indecisiveness is good for the wallet and waistline though!
Renaissance moments in the apartment: Being creative spirits living in Florence, it is no surprise that from time to time we have “Renaissance woman” moments. The other day, I was practicing my music, and my roommate was drawing. Yesterday, she was painting and I was writing. I cherish these moments as a small reminder of all of the people who have come to this great city to create, learn, and be inspired.