Friday, 26 February 2010

a walk with a view

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Today I was napping in bed as I have done an awful lot this week when my phone rang. It got me out of bed and walking which I am very grateful for because a few nap minutes before I had been too tired to do anything. Anyway I managed to catch dusk over Firenze which is impossible to find words for so I have attached a picture instead.

I feel a bit sad about leaving Florence tomorrow. It's not so much the leaving I don't think. I know I will return again. It is the returning to Basel. There is nothing there for me anymore and the one thing that is there isn't mine anymore. I plan to stock up on Italian produce and create such a mountain of pasta in my living room I will have to eat my way through it if I am ever going to get out again. By which time it will be summer and everything will be different. I will also be considerably rounder too.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

let the dog win

Right now I have a dog called Parma sleeping on my kitchen floor. She is not allowed to sleep on my kitchen floor, she should be out in the garden with the dark and the damp, but she is also half German Shepherd and does an excellent impression of a tortured beast whenever I try to evict her. We have an understanding :-)
Yesterday I went to the British Institute with Hildegarde 1 and Hildegarde 2 (code name for the two Queensland ladies I have befriended at Residenza di Palmerino.) We went to listen to a Mr Louis A. Waldman of the University of Texas, talk quite animatedly about the death of Jacopo da Pontormo, the painter, and the numerous geanaeological claims that followed suit. Mr Waldman's dream is to discover the identity of Sig Pontormo's mother. I believe it to be quite a passionate dream.
After the lecture, which was suitably proper and learned, we went to Casalinga for dinner and I shared with H1 and H2 the secret pleasures of Florence. Today I discovered my bike had a flat and so I had to go on un giro to locate a tappino which is apparently what the bike was in need of. I also purchased a v pleasing lump of confectionary,some candles and a frog-shaped toilet-holder.
I can't believe I must leave here on Saturday. I feel as if I have just woken from a coma and the minute I return to Switzerland I will slip back into it a'la 'Awakenings'.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

the boffin trail

Today I discovered that if I followed Via del Palmerino over the hill it took me all the way over to San Domenica. Albeit along a rather narrow road with nowhere to jump should a car lose its way but it was such a lovely walk past rows of pretty vineyards. When I got to San Domenica I followed the boffin trail all the way to the European Institute. Truly the closer you get to the university the higher the trousers sit and the paler the skin turns. I met A here for lunch where we ate 'learnedly' in the cafeteria. After she took me down to the library where there are the most gorgeous views overlooking Florence. I wonder if one could be awarded a PHD just for sitting there for four years and making up new superlatives for the view. (I am biased of course you understand.)
Last night's aperitivo was very fine. We all sat around drinking wine from the villa and eating a pie which Frederica ( the owner - well one of the many) had baked. There are 3 other women staying here right now. All of them have come to Florence to stay for a few weeks or months which made me burst with approval. You cannot possibly 'do' Florence in 3 days. Actually I doubt you can 'do' it in a lifetime.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Since I have just arrived in the Renaissance city I thought now was as good a time as ever to begin again. I’ve been deep in a cocoon for a few months now (‘Not entirely my fault,’ she pleads. ‘It was been winter after all’) and while I would hardly suggest I am a butterfly now, I have decided to take a look at the world again.

Of course this is easier said than done, cocoon walls can be tricky to leave, but if anywhere has the power to entice me out it has got to be my Lieblings StadtFirenze.

I suppose I must seem a little disloyal to all my Fasnachting students who are enjoying carnival in Basel this week. Shouldn’t I be there eating cheese tart and flour soup? Probably. But I have done it a few times now and this year I am searching for peace and rest. And believe me it’s hard to rest with a thousand piccolos tooting in your head. So here I am in beloved Florence, staying at the tranquil Residenza del Palmerino tasting olives and drinking vino rosso. It’s wonderfully authentic and the family who own it are embracing and inclusive. Tonight they are holding an aperitivo so their guests can meet and salivate (I presume) over crostini, prosecco and Florence. The Residenza is a little distance from town but it is easy to get to by bicycle or by bus. I imagine for those on their first visit to Florence it might seem too far but if instant gratification isn’t your thing there is something delicious about staying in the hills and enjoying the adventure of finding il centro historico every day. There is also a meadow out the back of the villa with olive trees and an old dog called Parma who could broker peace anywhere in the world with her sweet, sanguine eyes. What more could one ask for apart from a personal gelateria I suppose.

The Residenza previously belonged to the English writer, Violet Paget who went by the male pseudonym Vernon Lee. I am hoping to channel her spirit somehow and find my voice again here. I haven’t written for quite some time. Weary I suppose. Busy with life as well. A little low after the Swimming Kangaroo situation which I really have to get over sometime soon.


Today Io ho fatto una passeggiata through the narrow lanes and came across the La Fattoria di Maiano which was very pleasing as I found a very nice stone wall on which to perch that was neither hard nor cold on the bottom. It also offered a most adorable view out to Settignano. Of course I would say that about anything in Florence - even the dog turds seem polished here. Actually I must say I find Firenze looking particularly rosy-cheeked at present. The traffic has been removed from the Piazza del Duomo and what a difference it makes. Via Faenza has been paved which made me sad for I had loved her treacherous cobble stones but it gives the street a more elegant gait I suppose. My friend A, who lives here is surprised at how much I sense the change. I think I am like the Na'vi people on Pandora. I am in tune with Firenze. A change in its blood is a change in mine too.