From what I’ve been reading there is a lot going on in the States this summer. The political primaries are over and the conventions were or were not ‘must see’ TV…depending on your point of view. A positive unintended consequence to being in Italy this year…no political ads. However, from what I have read and heard it is still astounding to me that with all the fact checking, mis-information and proven science…there are people in the United States that would still choose…to smoke. It’s a terrible habit and very expensive also. I’m waiting to get my absentee ballot soon.
Those who know RoJean and me as a couple know with certainty that RoJean always looks good…me on the other hand…can on occasion ‘clean up’ and get by. Such was the case a few weeks ago when we were invited to the 50th birthday party for a friend of Silvia’s. I think we did OK…you decide…
As exciting as it was, the Palio in Siena is just a great memory today. Other than the fact that I literally just finished editing down thousands of images to a mere 50 or so. I have uploaded two galleries to my website…
Palio: Race for the Soul of Siena https://joemessina.smugmug.com/PrivateGalleries/Italy/Palio-Race-for-the-Soul-of-Siena/
Faces of the Palio (gallery of portraits) https://joemessina.smugmug.com/PrivateGalleries/Italy/Faces-of-the-Palio/
A few that did not make the final cut but may be interesting to you…enjoy!
True confession…I signed up for Italian language lessons…grammar and conversation…along with RoJean at the David School. Good school…reasonably priced…fine instructors…very worthwhile. I wish I could say that I now can have a conversation about U.S. versus Italian politics with my local friends…not happening. I quit after one day. I couldn’t make it work for me. RoJean did the full two weeks and is going to sign up for more at the end of August. Here’s the rest of the confession…I could not keep up with the fast talking younger people in the class and I was not able to hear and process what was being presented in a way that I felt I was learning. So…back to Duo Lingo on my computer…and listening carefully to my barrista and butcher (macellaio).
Another museum re-opening occurred in Firenze just as July got started. The Innocenti Museum highlights the importance of the first institute dedicated to taking care of orphaned children in all of Europe. After a three year renovation the museum has incorporated state-of-the-art exhibits along with their extensive art collection in a well lit and nicely paced building built in the 14th century. Excellent information is available on the ‘Visit Florence’ website https://www.visitflorence.com/florence-museums/innocenti-museum.html
Tour of Tuscany, Part 2…with many thanks to my friend Giovanni Trambusti I have added quite a few images to my website featuring different towns and villages in Tuscany with a bright sunflower (girasole) accent. We visited the town of Loro Ciuffenna with its precipitous water course running thru it…used to power several mills in a former life. We ended the day in the hill town of Cortona with its churches and wonderfully active Piazza della Repubblica. (https://joemessina.smugmug.com/PrivateGalleries/Italy/Tuscany-Tour-Part-II/)
When the temperature in Firenze is in the mid 90s (36C) where better to be than at the ‘seaside’. The salt air…the sea breeze (aria)…warm sand (actually HOT) and cool water. Sitting in the shade of our personal tenda (open-sided tent)…reading…dozing…sipping a shakerato (iced cafe latte)…and waiting till 4:30. Why 4:30 you might ask…well at the strike of 4:30 every afternoon the neighboring beach club (I promised not to divulge its name) sells regular sugared donuts (ciambelle) and spectacular filled donuts (bomboloni)…the later filled with either custard cream or nutella. (The memory is making my hands tremble as I’m tying this). All this hedonism thanks to the hospitality of Silvia and Francesco Gambi who try to spend part of every summer at their home in Versilia and at the Bagna Stella beach club. We stayed at the La Fonte hotel and were their guests on the beach. I miss it already…and I’m not even going to talk about alfresco breakfast on the terrace at il Gabbiano (seagull) or the late night visits to Galliano’s for fabulous gelato…I have to stop…this is too painful to think about…I have to go back…
Being at the seaside was not all relaxation and donuts. Oh no, we had to have some shopping…by bicycle…and some culture. Turns out the great composer Puccini spent lots of time in the area writing operas. And there is even an open air theater where his operas are performed every year. Along with Francesco and Silvia we saw/heard (not sure what one does at an opera) Madame Butterfly (Signora Farfalle…and you thought farfalle was just a type pasta). Speaking of pasta or in this case ‘tordelli’…they are ravioli like filled with meat and served with a ragu sauce…add a little Parmesan…and wow.
“Your appointment is at 9:57 AM on 5 August, 2016…at the Questura.” RoJean received this text notice two weeks ago…I never got one. What does that mean? RoJean is acceptable, but I’m less desirable? She will get an Italian ID card and I’ll get deported? Since I never got any notification, I decided to go with RoJean at the designated date and time. We once again packed up all the papers and documents that we have been accumulating since we applied for out Italian VISAs in San Francisco 10 months ago. It is a significant pile of papers…times two…since you never know what the person on the other side of the glass will ask you for. Dutifully we showed up early…showed our passports…were each given a number (F 050 & 051 and sat down to wait. It was a full hour before they started to call the F ###s beginning with 001. Finally by the end of our second hour at the Hall of Immigrants otherwise known as the Questura…our numbers were called. A few more questions…another fingerprint verification…in case my loops and swirls have changed in the last two months…and in the end all we had to do was sign our names to receive our new Italian Immigrant ID cards (and don’t leave home without it). With new cards and big smiles we had a celebration hamburger for lunch. And realized that in just 3 months we would have to start the process all over again to get our VISA renewed.
Sniff…I can smell them from here…Brats slathered with thick, seedy mustard…crusty dark bread…and black forest cake (mit schlag). That will be my first meal when we get to Wiesbaden on Wednesday. We’re off to visit RoJean’s sister, Denise and her husband Brian. They have been living in Germany for at least 10 years and we’re looking forward to seeing them. There is a beer and wine festival in Wiesbaden all this week and we will be there with Denise and Brian and some of their friends. And it may even be cooler there than here in Firenze.
And then there is always a possibility of a seaside re-deux at the end of August. Some end of summer event…a few fireworks at the Forte di Marmi pier…and you never know where or when you might run into a bomboloni.