…ieri…oggi…domani…Transitions

Transitions…winter changes to spring and that means trees with leaves and flowers blooming…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Spring Blooms
Wisteria 2
Wisteria (photo by RoJean)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Watch Where Your Head is Going

It can also mean transitioning from a recent transplant to…something else.  More than a tourist, but not quite an immigrant or an ex-pat.  That seems to be where we are at the end of our second month living in Florence.  A comfortable place…not so anxious as the first few weeks, but still somewhat vigilant.  Narrow and uneven sidewalks with built-in ‘head-bangers’…indiscriminate dog droppings to be watchful for…lingering frustrations with learning another language and figuring out opening and closing days and hours for shops and restaurants.  As to linguistics…RoJean is taking formal language lessons from patient and focused Francesca…while yours truly is still waiting for osmosis to save me.

…ieri…yesterday…transition from March to April…

We took a short (5 mile), scenic bus ride north to the neighboring hill town of Fiesole (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiesole).  Fiesole has a wonderful downtown with everything the 14,000 residents might need.  There is the requisite piazza (Piazza Mino), a cathedral, a few churches and a monastery.  And some restored Roman ruins, which I’d like to explore and photograph on another trip.  And certainly a day trip must include lunch…we ate at Osteria Vinandro (http://www.vinandrofiesole.com/en/) on the main piazza and had a wonderful fennel and cheese pie.  After lunch we trudged further up the hill to take in the view of Firenze…sitting in the center of a ring of low mountains (or high hills?).  Seeing the topography you can understand how the summer heat gets  ‘trapped’ in the ‘bowl’ that is home to Florence.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Florence from Fiesole
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Selfie at Fiesole
IMG_0298
Fennel and Cheese Pie
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Piazza Mino

March exited with a lion’s roar…or in the case of Pasqua (Easter) in Florence…a Scoppio del Carro (the exploding cart).  There is much pomp and pageantry to celebrate the planting season and hope for a successful harvest.  I was fortunate to have photographed much of this annual event (with a few photos by RoJean) and created the photo gallery on my website…https://joemessina.smugmug.com/PrivateGalleries/Italy/Scoppio-del-Carro/.

Carro con Buoi
Carro con Buoi
Portrait 2
Parader Portraits

 

UU6A8602-Edit
Men in Tights

…oggi…today…think the beginning of April…

We had friends from Paris…Pat and Berry…visit Florence for a few days and then we all went to Bologna by train (35 minutes) so Berry and I could check out the Motor Valley in Modena an hours drive west of Bologna.  Motor Valley is home to some serious car makers…think Maserati…Ferrari…Lamborghini…and the best way to experience these fast, shiny and expensive cars is with Francesco Bini, founder and owner of MotorStars Tours (http://www.motorstars.org/).  An all day tour costs 220 Euros and includes round trip transportation from your hotel, stops at three different manufacturers, lunch and Francesco’s personal knowledge of living in the valley and having worked at some of these companies.  Well worth the time and money…possibly a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Maserati Museum

This area of Italy has much more to offer than a few auto factories.  Bologna (http://www.italyguides.it/en/emilia-romagna/bologna) is a wonderful, old City that has been the center of transportation and learning for over 2000 years.  It has survived and thrived from the founding by the Etruscans…take overs by Gauls, Romans and a series of other conquerors through the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance and beyond.  Probably because of all that fighting and conquering the locals got hungry and Bologna and Emilia Romagna region is home to Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese, Balsamic Vinegar (liquid black gold) and Prosciutto Ham.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Portico Stroll
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Cheese…Anyone?

There are facts, fantasies and tours about each, however they all come together in the many fine dishes and restaurants in Bologna.  With much coercion we were forced to try the famous Bolognese sauce (ragù alla bolognese) and tortellini in brodo (broth), as well as that cheese and ham in restaurants like Ristorante da Silvio (http://www.dasilvio.it/en/).  And when you visit you must do…a passeggiata (evening stroll) thru some of the 38 kilometers of porticos (covered walkways) and check out the imposing figure of Neptune adjacent to the Piazza Maggiore.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Osteria da Silvio
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Tortellini in Brodo
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Piazza Maggiore by Night

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t want you to think that we’ve been out of Florence for weeks on end…we’ve settled into a rhythm here.  I’m still not a morning fellow, so late nights inevitably lead to 8 or 9 AM roll outs…then my yoga (I have the most fantastic yoga place I could ever have imagined)…followed by some fruit and coffee…and catching up on what’s happening in the world beyond Florence.  Since we are 9 hours ahead of the West Coast I’m feeling a bit smug by convincing myself that I’m actually awake BEFORE all my friends in San Francisco.  I have started to cook on a more regular basis…at least twice a week, not wanting to rush into a pattern.  Last week I made a fritatta for friends Nancy and Stefano who came to our apartment for lunch…fritatta was good…lemon panna cotta dessert was lemon soup (the gelatin directions were in Italian and I didn’t read them correctly).

Yoga
My Yoga View (photo by RoJean)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Asparagus and Pepper Fritatta

We recently did a 3 hour tour of the Ufizzi Gallery and the Vasari Corridor with FlorenceTown Tours (http://info@florencetown.com).  Mario Gesu expertly guided us thru the hoards of tourists and did his best to explain the art and taking us through the rarely seen ‘secret’ Medici passageway that links the Uffizi and the Pitti Palace.  The essence of this tour is in the gallery on my website at https://joemessina.smugmug.com/PrivateGalleries/Italy/Uffizi-and-Varsari-Corridor/.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Piazza Vecchio before Uffizi Tour
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Mario Getting Into It…

 

 

 

 

Finding enough to eat has not been a problem.  We finally tried the famous Bistecca Florentina, which is a perfectly seasoned and grilled hunk of beef weighing 2.2 pounds (one kilo)…and with several sides…easily satisfying several people.  And I’m proud to say that I have ferreted out the best cannolis in Florence (well I have it down to 2 or 3).  Gelato is proving more difficult to rate, although with help from this Huffington Post article…http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/5-ways-to-detect-if-your-artisanal-gelato-is-real_us_56f56d02e4b0a3721819d3e5?ir=Travel§ion=us_travel&utm_hp_ref=travel…we eliminated the mediocre gelaterias but still have many to try.

Carver
The Carver

 

Carved Bistecca
Dinner is Served

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Which Gelato Today?
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Cone or Cup?

 

 

 

 

 

 

…domani…tomorrow…

Well we have learned not to plan too far ahead…with some exceptions.  The next several weeks will bring more friends and family for us to share Florence with.  (Another smug moment came when we realized we could guide a friend around without getting lost)  A local acquaintance and photographer, Giovanni Trambusti, invited us to be his guests and visit the Villa I Tatti.  This is the local home of Harvard in the hills above Florence, which has a private art collection and beautiful gardens…this being Springtime with flowers and all.  Next week I will be cooking dinner for Francesco and Silvia (our landlords) and their daughters Anna and Emma…this should be an interesting experience…me cooking Italian for Florentines…I will at least take a few photos.  They have been most gracious in helping us settle into our home in Florence and patient with our linguistic stumbling.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Silvia…Francesco…Anna…Emma
palio-di-siena
Il Palio Race in Siena

And looking further down the calendar…I have made arrangements to photograph the famous Palio horse race which happens every year in the campo of Sienna.  Photos to follow…

Subscribe to TCR World via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

Archives

Categories

Joe Messina Written by:

2 Comments

  1. Lew Lively
    April 20, 2016
    Reply

    Great stuff.

  2. Patti
    April 20, 2016
    Reply

    What a wonderful two month so you’ve had! I love seeing Florence (and the surrounding sites) through your eyes. The scenery, everyday life, and food ilook delicious. How about the bolognese from Bologna and that cheese and leek pie? Yum. It looks like you’re living La Dolce Vita.

    We miss you both, and are delighted to watch your adventure unfold from thousands of miles away

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *