Sunday, October 17, 2010
It's been 2 1/2 weeks since I've been here now. I've spent many days adventuring around the city, usually with some destination in mind, often a health food store, vegetarian restaurant or market. I think I've found them all now:) I've gone through 2 maps already because they fallen apart from such frequent usage. Although I'm proud to say that the other day I forgot to bring it with me and I didn't get lost. Not an easy feat in these ancient cities where perpendicular intersections are rare. My other adventures included taking the free bus to Ikea with my roomate, Rosie, so we could get a few things to spruce up our place. It was EXACTLY the same as the Ikeas in Toronto and Calgary. I was most excited about the 2 plants I got for my room. An aloe vera and a plant that looks like the top of a pineapple:)
The apartment has been really cold although the temperature in the afternoons often reaches beyond 20 degrees celsius, the sun doesn't shine into our courtyard so it's often cooler inside than outside! I have at least 6 blankets on my bed and slept in a toque the other night lol! Apparently the Italians don't turn on the heat until November so I'll continue to bundle up for the next few weeks. Fortunately I've got skype working but in order to get a clear connection I need to be on Rosie's balcony, and being 6-8 hours ahead of Canada, it's quite chilly in the evenings when I'm out there. I've also been doing yoga and jumping rope (yes i brought one with me) in the mornings to warm up. I was looking to buy a yoga mat but annoyed one of the yoga schools was selling them for 30 Euros! So I kept looking but ended up buying a slab of sticky mat(to put under rugs)from a big roll at a hardware store! Haha, 7 Euros instead.
I've also met up a few times with my mom's cousin's cousin(confusing I know), Martinho, who is an artist and instructor at one of the renaissance art schools in Florence. We had never met before but he invited me over to his apartment for tea, another day took me to check out an affordable Italian language school and just last night invited me for dinner with some of his friends and we ended up going out dancing after. His roommate claimed that it's obvious Martinho and I are related as we share a similar sense of humor, retorting with dry, witty comments as he saw it.
Going home last night it was raining heavily and my boots are soaked! They'll definitely be out of commission for a few days. Very unfortunate when you only have 3 pairs of shoes with you. One of them is soaked and another is impractical for walking around, leaving my Converse, the obvious indication that I'm from North America:/ But they'll do. The other tricky thing is I'd like to do some laundry, but as Italians don't have clothing dryers (they hang them up on the line, so charming:) it will take the clothes a few days to dry in this temperature. Which is fine, except what will I wear in the meantime? I only brought one pair of pajamas... I'll figure it out but I'm trying to resist buying any more clothes (and shoes!) as I have so many in Canada.
This week I've buckled down a bit and convinced myself to start painting. Sometimes it just takes a little push (or a big one) to get me started but I'm glad I did. I'm working on a set of 2 paintings I started in Toronto, paintings from my imagination, not Italian paintings, yet. It's been great painting on my terrace (or by the terrace windows when it's chilly) in the morning or afternoon. They're coming along nicely and I'll post them when they're done. I've also attended a few life drawing sessions at Rosie's art school and at the school where Martinho teaches. I had a hard time finding newsprint because the people in the stores didn't know what it was. All the other pads of paper were too expensive. I tried asking for 'carta giornale' (newspaper paper) and eventually someone knew what I was talking about and told me they call it 'carta riciclata' or recycled paper.
I haven't visited any of the art museums yet as I just don't feel like paying the handsome entry fee, lining up with the tourists and dragging around indoors. Perhaps over the winter though. Instead I've been hitting the pavement and walking to all corners of the city. It's great that it's so walkable although most days I come home exhausted. The one somewhat tourist destination I visited was the botanical gardens, Orto Botanica, supposedly the oldest in the world. It was nice but a little expensive for what it was. However it was worth it to have some nature time as some areas of the city are a little too much enclosed in concrete and you forget that it's actually surrounded by beautiful green Tuscan hills. There is such an amazing view of these and all of Florence at Piazza Michelangelo which I hiked up to last weekend. Gorgeous.
As for the language, I'm getting by, but yearning to be spouting off quick, colorful sentences like the locals as well as immediately understanding a clerk when they tell me the price of something, rather than repeating the numbers in my head while I pretend to dig through in my wallet. I plan to enroll at a language school soon where I'll be doing lessons for 2 hours at a time, a few days per week, for a few weeks. I've been spying an ad in the window of a restaurant/caffe in my neighborhood, looking for a waitress inglese (english). I'm considering applying for the job part-time, but feel I need to build a little more confidence in my Italian first, so we'll see if the timing works out. In the meantime, I've been working on my food vocabulary between reading labels at the health food stores, menus at the veggie restaurants, and an italian vegetarian cookbook I scored at the dollar store. I've also been asking for 'senza glutine' (gluten free) at the bakeries (with little luck) or senza latte (without milk) at the gelaterias. One of my favorite foods, both the word and the taste, is carciofi (carchee-OH-fee), artichokes!