Monday, 7 February 2011

Fine views and pizza

Hints of spring are arriving in small gusts of warm air and rays of sun with real warmth in them. Yesterday Dianna and I caught the number 7 bus from Piazza San Marco up to Fiesole, an outer suburb of Florence up in the surrounding hills. The general architecture transformed along with the landscape as the bus gallantly wove its way up the twisty road to crisp clear air, open space and a vast azure sky. Heaven! After wandering around aimlessly for some time, enjoying the narrow streets and spectacular views of Florence, we stumbled across the info centre and hence a handy map to point us in the direction of the Etruscan remnants of Theatre and Wall as well as the park where lovers (or just friends) can while away the sunny hours high above the serious bustle of the city. There was an ugly smear of brown lurking above Florence and as we made our decent back I pushed that unfortunate discovery out of my mind. It’s a comfort to know that so much greenery and open sky exists just 20 minutes up the road!

Ok, food. I had my first real pizza in Fiesole with Dianna. It was something I had to do even though I don’t normally eat much wheat. How can one come to Italy and not have pizza? And while one’s at it why not go the whole way? “Una pizza gorgonzola per favore!” Each of our pizzas came out on an enormous plate, overhanging the edge and oozing with ‘eat me now’ aromas. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could eat a whole one (even the tourists passing by pointed and went ‘wow look at those’), but actually it turned out to be an easy task with the economy of topping and wafer thin crust… Totally wonderful. From beginning to end buonissimo!!

The Italians really know how to make cheese. I’m working my way through the entire range… parmigiano, gorgonzola, ricotta bufala (buffalo), mozzarella and other ones that I’m not sure what they are called except for yum. And hello, you haven’t tasted olive oil until you’ve come to the source… thick, green and slightly bitter and as I lavish it on everything I keep thinking, yes this is just as it should be. I’ve also found lovely pomodori (toms), slightly bigger than cherry tomatoes, that make an excellent pasta sauce. So many taste sensations to discover, I think I’ve barely started.

As I see more of Florence I like my area more and more. It’s just off the beaten tourist track, so quieter in terms of pedestrian traffic, there’s a great daily market at the Piazza Santo Spirito which is small but has different stalls each day. (And on the 3rd Sunday of the month a big organic market with all sorts of produce and handicrafts). There’s a man who sits outside his second-hand bookshop every morning, right on the street, who I say ‘buongiorno signore’ to for the pleasure of hearing him say ‘buongiorno signora’ to me as if I’m a local. There’s an asian mini mart around the corner that sells coconut milk for 1 euro a can which is a much better deal than the one in the specialty shop in the centre of town for 5 euros – yes, A CAN. I have a health food shop with a good selection of products just up the road and a number of great looking cafes and restaurants that are awaiting my discovery.

I’m coming to terms with the lack of light in my flat by making it a little brighter with accessories. I took a trip out to ikea last weekend and bought a stack of pink things to brighten up the pastel green of the rest of my décor. The fake flowers have really helped as well. I’m enjoying school and learning a lot from the lectures and daily lessons. It’s great to be here even though I have moments of craving the smell of salty sea air and lying on the green grass or cuddling my cat! Florence is growing on me now. There is so much to discover. It is rich with history and culture. But possibly a difficult place for a foreigner to truly feel at home in terms of fitting in with Italian friends. Time will tell. Meanwhile, I’m soaking it all up and learning all I can.

There’s a few new photos here.

È tutto per oggi!


  1. Dear Marnie, Just love your written descriptions, you are an artist with the pen too, I think you should write a book "My year in Florence" or something more original. Interspersed with your great photos and artwork it will be wonderful. Guess you heard about our heatwave? We are all still recovering, praise God it is over and the weather has returned to beautiful. We are so blessed. Lots of love Marjorie A

  2. you'll get there baby, the tall italian will be your nick name m2


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