Carmel and I have started this tradition of finding a new coffee shop to try every Tuesday mornings before class. Our choice this week was based on its visual appeal (ie: it looked cute), and we found that the coffee matched: it was excellent! (especially according to Carmel, the resident barista). In Italy, coffee “to go” doesn’t exist. And it might even be frowned upon. Italians enjoy their coffee standing at the bar, socializing with the baristas and other customers. They take their time, adding sugar, sipping slowly, considering their surroundings. There is no rush.
Payment is not received until after this process is complete. In fact, it would be quite simple for one to walk out of a crowded bar without having paid at all. But this is not their culture, unlike the US where you pay first and then wait as they prepare your drink.
A cappuccino costs 1,10 Euro and the money is collected at a cash register at the far end of the café. An honor system, you simply repeat what you ordered and hand over the correct change before leaving.
Following our weekly tradition, we explored the streets of our neighborhood, already having discovered two more café’s that we would like to try as well as the cutest bakery, filled to the brim with pane (bread), cornetto (croissants), pizza, and more.
We have recently discovered a fresh food market just around the corner from our home. In addition to the tables of fruit and vegetables outside and the collection of fresh meat and cheese inside, tables and tables are covered with garage sale finds, from clothes (especially bras, underwear, and boxers…not really sure why these are such a common articles) to household goods to furniture.
And lastly, our stop for the morning, the plant stand. Italians have an affinity for gardens and greenery. Perhaps this is because there are few trees or grassed areas in the city. On any street in Florence, you need only to look up and see the dozens of potted plants that hang over the edge of railings or are balanced precariously on roof ledges. Some rooftops boast complete gardens with tomatoes, bright flowers, and small trees. Carmel purchased a little peach potted flower for our own balcony. Perhaps our attempt to promote nature will help us better fit in with the Florentine community.
Today I became an even bigger part of the Florentine community (beyond that of purchasing and raising plants) by volunteering as an English tour guide for the four Cathedrals of the Historical Center: Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo Cathedral), San Lorenzo, Santa Maria Novella, and Santa Croce. Ars et Fides Firenze is part of an international association through the archbishop of Florence that promotes the sharing of church and art history to visitors from around the world. Basically: they provide the training, and I provide the free tours in perfect English. As a student of art history, I am beyond excited to learn more about this city (and, I have to admit, I’m kind of excited to wear the fancy little microphone :-P).
Another day in Firenze complete, I am sitting in my room, the squished mosquito still on the wall behind me, reading from my textbook “History of Italian Renaissance Art,” and feel entirely blessed to be here.
|my home, the attic.|