Day 2

Posted by Whit Barringer , Monday, May 28, 2007 10:12 AM

Day 2

CT 5:19

IT 12:19

Firenze

Today has been long, but not as long as yesterday by any means. This morning, we went and met Danielle (study abroad) and went on a “walking tour” of Florence. Actually, we found the university who we are studying through and then wandered around to find special places in the vicinity. Though we didn’t cover too much ground, we still covered enough to make us all moan.

I’m pretty good with directions, but because of our random wanderings-around, I really don’t have a clue as to where we actually are supposed to go tomorrow. Granted, it was the first place we went, but it got jumbled around with all the other things we saw, which were many.

Along the way to the university, we saw various statues, usually of religious nature (such as Johannes Baptiste). The most fantastic sight was when we went into a piazza – where, I’m not sure at the moment – and saw the most wonderful congregation of statues that we’ve seen yet. Cosimo de Medici on horseback, a fountain with horses coming out and Poseidon or some other figure standing, with fauns and mermen around the edge (I think there’s something similar, albeit bigger, in Rome). On the other side was a replica of David, where it originally stood (one of many, and actually a shorter one). On one side of the piazza, there were around 10 statues, all depicting various scenes – religious or mythological, I’m not sure. It was surely a sight.

After all of this, we ended up next to a market –again, I’m not sure where. By this time I’m all confused and know that if I see another street sign, I’ll only get further turned around (as I didn’t have a map yet). The market was bustling with tourists, and there was a lot to buy – just nothing that I wanted. They did have a pair of “David” boxers, which I do believe I should get for Josh or Jeremy. We’ll see, though. I don’t want to spend too much on something that I could perhaps haggle with someone on. Ha! Haggle in a foreign language. Stranger things, I guess.

We ate at a place called “Nuti’s.” The waiter didn’t speak much English, but between Danielle and Dr. Bane we were able to get our food. I had a “cuatro formaggi calzone” (4 cheese calzone) with palmodora (tomato) dipping sauce. It was absolutely divine – well, close anyway. The sky opened up while we were inside, and none of us had umbrellas. Little illegal merchandise sellers* popped out of no where – literally no where – with boxes of umbrellas. “Umbrellaumbrellaumbrellaumbrellaumbrella?” (Dr. Bane had acted out this beforehand; we thought he was joking.) We bought three umbrellas for 15 Euros (about $20). My lunch was 7.50 – 8.50 (around $9-10), and then we left for Dr. Bane’s apartment. We got lost on the way there (one wrong turn, which we corrected – right before we took another wrong turn). His apartment is very nice and makes us all jealous.

After we left there, I decided to find a Wi-Fi bar we had seen earlier (buy a drink and have unlimited wi-fi), but I couldn’t remember where we saw it. After that, I missed the internet shop that was right by where we live that I had used earlier. When I missed that, I realized I was very tired. My feet were still swollen from the plane and the walking we did yesterday. It only seemed like insult to injury that I couldn’t find the shops I wanted. Instead, I went to the 99 cent store, got two 1.5 L bottles of water and a 500 ml Pepsi, went back to the apartment, began to read on the couch, and slept for about 3-4 hours until 7. I barely woke up when my roommates came clattering in.

When I got up, they asked me if I’d like to go eat. We decided to go the opposite way down Pilastri toward the Piazza Sant’Ambrogio,, but we took a left on Via Luigi Carlo Farini. From there, we walked along the street, pausing to take pictures of tiny cars. We found a huge building called the “Sinagogo e Museo Ebraico di Firenze. It had no religious markings except for the Ten Commandments at the top, strangely enough. Even Santa Croce has a Star of David, and it’s a church.

We passed the Piazza Massimo d’Azeglio (a community park) and turned left on Via Giuseppe Giusti. We found some really awesome doorknobs going this way, but not much else. Here, we turned on Via Gino Capponi. Here we stumbled onto this magnificent place. I took pictures of doorknobs and markers (some reading as early as the 1500s), thinking it was all we were going to see. Then we found the Galleria della Spedale degli Innocenti and the Palazzo Griffoni, all around the Piazza d. Santissima Annuziata. Here was another figure riding a horse – not a Medici, surprisingly. Also, some of the most magnificent frescos we’ve seen this far (of which I have pictures).

We then traveled along the Via del Servi. I think this is where the OK Bar was. The waiter couldn’t speak English, but he was cute so we tried anyway. He tried very hard to work with us, and it turned out his English was better than he thought. I met him halfway (that’s what it’s all about anyway, isn’t it?) and ordered in Italian. There was a woman at a neighboring table who ordered dessert in English, so we asked her where she was from. Turns out, she’s from Buffalo, New York studying at the same university we’re studying through (not at - there’s a difference). She gave us tips, like telling us where the farmer’s market was, the flea market beside that (she said to start at half of what they say and work up). She also told us to start shutting our windows before the mosquitoes ate us alive, although she said they don’t itch – just turn to blisters (kind of like flying fire ants, I guess). She was really nice and took our picture with all of our cameras. We told her we might see her again, said Ciao, and went on our merry way.

I found a paper store on the other side of the Duomo when we were walking one of our party back to her apartment. I got to see the Baptistery doors (although I saw the real ones at an exhibit in the Pyramid in Memphis). We then traveled back along Giuseppe Verdi (a friend indeed) to Fiesolana, and decided to get on the internet (I needed to post my journal entry since I didn’t have my computer on Wi-fi yet). While I was doing that, the other three were talking to a man who spoke proficient enough English to tell us about how communism may not be the best option but it was better than capitalism. He was relating this to the guy who worked at the internet shop. It started by them saying something about Mexicans in America and how Americans hate them. It’s interesting what kind of message we send to the outside world.

After that, we came back to the apartment, where I am now typing up my journal. Teri and Katie went to Teri’s daughter’s apartment to shower because we only have cold water. Because I stayed up so late last night, I’m going to go ahead and go to bed (I am ver’ ver’ sleepy) and dream about another wonderful day in Florence tomorrow.

*“Little illegal merchandise sellers…”: Consequently, it’s actually illegal to buy from these men if they’re selling “off the sheets.” They take white sheets and lay them down with imitation designer bags, belts, glasses, and such. If you buy from them, you can be fined up to $10,000 because it’s taking away from the legal venders. These men have scouts and will pick up the sheets and run when they see the police. In fact, some of the other students said this happened after we left the market area today.

Interesting cultural note: The “sheet” sellers are primarily black. When I said primarily, I mean I didn’t see a single one that wasn’t African. African-Italian men who can only resort to selling illegally that the police target? It seems the race finger that was pointed at Americans later on (see next to last paragraph) was at the least an incriminating accusation – at most downright hypocrisy.


3 Response to "Day 2"

Dylan Says:

I read about your encounters with race issues and I smile. Dad says people are not really that much different no matter where you go. I guess he is right, at least in a big way. I've always wondered how I would handle being in a big new place like Italy. So many things to see and not enough energy. How much of what you'd like to see are you getting to check out?

Ash Says:

Comment 3:

Two things-

You found a paper store? Like stationery and stuff? I want some!

I hope you took a picture of the merguys' fountain, cause you know I'll want to see. :)

Sarah Says:

One day, I was looking for a little notebook for my journal, as it was about halfway through our trip, and my other journal was taken up. So I'm searching through this vendor for a simple notebook, but, well, I'm picky, and I couldn't find anything. But the guy selling was not satisfied. "You no like what here? Come with me." Rule number one: Don't follow strangers... right? But I was curious. So I dragged a friend with me around a couple of streets to his shop. I've never seen so many options of stationary. He was right- I sure found what I was looking for... and for only 7 euros! I was pretty excited. I still have that notebook- the second half of my trip is written in it. Ah... Firenze.

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