Friday, April 8, 2011

La Primavera

These pics are in Lucca, a cute city nearby:

It's official, the spring (la primavera) has arrived in Florence, and not just on the calender. Ever since March 21 the sun has been shining and the temperature has risen, some days up to the mid 20's! Although it cools off at night and my apartment remains like an igloo, it's a wonderful change. In fact right now I'm sitting on my balcony soaking up the sliver of sun that reaches through the rooftops:)

Time continues to fly by and my job hunt continues. I did a waitressing trial one afternoon for a restaurant/wine bar and it went quite well, considering I had to ask the other waitress who was giving me instructions (in italian) to repeat herself over and over, and also that I asked a customer what 'orzo' meant after he gave me his after meal drink order. (Orzo means barley, which I knew, but forgot that the italians have a form of coffee with roasted barely!).

I worked 3 and a half hours and earned 25 Euro. Even though it wasn't particularly busy that day, I worked up a good sweat weaving through the skinny aisles and up and down the stairs. In the height of summer I imagine it would be a sauna. Waitressing seems to be at the height of multitasking as every table is in a different stage and keeping track of who needs what and when is a challenge that I think can be enjoyable. It definitely requires your full attention, resulting in time passing quickly. However after lunch was the more boring tasks of restalking, sweeping the floors, ect. They said they would call me if they're short staffed one day. In the meantime, I'm waiting to hear back from an Irish Pub, where I had an interview so easy in comparison to the others, because it was in english!

A few weeks ago I also went to a interview for the job at the jazz restaurant which I was hoping for, which lasted 2 and a half hours, all in italian! However, it really wasn't much of an interview as the owner was doing most of the talking. After he read about my art background on my resume, the conversation immediately changed to this topic as he's not just passionate about food and music, but also art, of which the restaurant also hosts on it's walls.

Thankfully this man from Puglia, in the south of italy, naturally speaks extremely slow, so I understood him really well! He showed me some of the art currently on exhibit, including some of his own, and lectured me on some deeper concepts about art and life as well as offering words of inspiration. It was funny and strange to be having this kind of conversation in italian, usually the subjects I'm capable of listening to and participating in are shallow, daily life things, of which I understand the vocabulary. As I had seen on the website that the restaurant hosted art exhibitions, I had brought along my mini portfolio on a whim and thank goodness I did because he really liked it and expressed interest in having my art on exhibition. At the end of the 'interview' he told me that his assistant was actually supposed to interview me that day because he had the flu, but she wasn't able to last minute and so he came in. However, as the assistant has no interest in art, it would've been a standard interview and I probably would've been dismissed upon knowing about my absence in july.

I have since met with him again to show more artwork, for another (2 and 1/2 hours!) and he said there's the possibility to exhibit a couple of my prints in particular if I can get them printed really professionally. Unfortunately he prefers to show only originals and much of my work only exists only digitally. The originals i do have are currently in Canada but he also said that as he works at the Florence Biennale, a huge art exhibition in the fall, and he may be able to show my work there too if I bring my originals from Canada, and also if I produce more new work. Good motivation.

This week I finished a watercolor painting, a gift for Giuseppe (my salsa dancing language exchange partner turned boyfriend), inspired from our day trip to the carnivale at Viareggio last month. Burlemacco is the name of the mascot for the carnivale, so instead my version is with Giusemacco, and he's holding our train tickets. In my hand is a slice of onion (cipolla) which I was confused to find in the bag of food I had asked Giuseppe to pack when we were off to catch the train in a rush. He had thought it was a slice of fennel (finocchio)! The original poster is from the 1930's.

March 17th was a new holiday for Italy as this year is the 150th birthday of the country and although this isn't the actual birthday (it's June, a regular holiday), the citizens were awarded an extra day off. The night of the 16th Florence was endowed in everything red, white, and green and three of the main piazzas were full of events, including the traditions flag throwers, and I spotted my cousin Martinho rocking his colorful tights:)

A few weekends ago Giuseppe hosted at his apartment 2 german girls visiting Florence, from the website, an ingenius way to travel and have authentic local experiences. They were very nice and we had fun cooking dinners together, eating gelato, seeing the view of Florence from Fiesole, one night watching a concert of the beatles and oasis cover bands, and doing some salsa dancing the next night. We also enjoyed learning the meanings of all the italian hand gestures from Giuseppe, there's so many!

The following weekend Giuseppe and I went to a concert featuring the traditional italian music of 'taranta'. Naturally coinciding with this traditional music is the traditional dance, of which we did for hours without a break. The dance consists mostly of hopping up and down, so we were super exhausted by the end. As I (naturally;) picked up the style of dance quickly, Giuseppe commented that I looked like I've been dancing the taranta ever since I was a little girl growing up in a village in the south of italy:)

Last week was the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the largest children's book publishing fair in the world, and I ventured there (an hour train ride from Florence) on wednesday with Brunella, the italian illustrator woman who I met a few months ago, as well her italian illustrator collegue, Daniele, and her american english teacher, Hannah. The fair however, is not for children but just for the people involved in the industry. In response to the advise of Brunella, I'd created a book idea and brought it along, but as this idea came into existence only a week before, I failed to follow up on the second peice of advice which was to email appropriate book publishers to arrange a meeting at the fair. However, with the moral support of Hannah, I managed to talk to two different important people without having setup an appointment, and received some worthy feedback. Some positive and some cut-throat, both of which I can follow up with in the future.

As well I collected tons of other email addresses and general contact information for submitting to publishers, as well as dished out many business cards of my own. My book idea is called 'Birdie and Dirt', about a little girl who likes playing outside in the dirt and being dirty. It recieved some laughs from the people who read it so I'm encouraged of it's potential. I made sure to pass by the 'canadese' section and chatted with the friendly canadians who were interested to hear my background, that I was also canadian but living in italy.

While making my way through the aisles, I was totally in awe when I rounded the corner of the Macmillian publisher's booth and saw the poster for the new graphic novel by my college roomate, Vera Brosgol! I quickly returned to the booth to scope out the pages which are absolutely gorgeous. Funny how I encountered her book all the way across the world and I didn't even know it was out yet!

On wednesday afternoon this week, I crashed a workshop that Martinho was hosting, for an art teacher from the US, Glen Vilppu. I've know about this man for a long time and had seen lots of his material while in college, as he used to work at Disney and as such has a lot of his teaching geared towards animation. I was suprised when I found out Martinho knew him personally and are in fact friends! I spent the lunch break with the group and then was invited to pose for a portrait so Glen could do a demo for the group. In compensation I was given the drawing to keep, for which Glen told me he normally charges 1200$. I told him that it was perfect because that's exactly how much I usually charge for modeling:)

Unfortunately on the bus this morning, I got a multa (ticket) because I forgot to validate my bus ticket and got caught. I've never actually been checked before and as such am sometimes careless to stamp the ticket, but now I've learned my lesson, 55 Euro, ouch. I tried to plead innocent with the officer but to no avail. However on the bright side, according to Giuseppe, I've added another aspect to having a full italian experience. He got 2 tickets last month, for parking and speeding.


  1. Hi Jennie!!! What a wonderful post! I am so happy to hear of your new boyfriend and, as always, your many lovely adventures. I am so proud of you always- even though I don't post often, I'm always following! Much love, J XO

  2. Sauuuuuuuuuddddddd, how are youuuuuuu?????

    Jilly, thank you! Now I get to follow your adventures too!