Last night, I left off with our leaving Siena, so I’ll start today with a quick recap of our arrival in Florence yesterday afternoon.
The bus from Siena to Florence took a little over an hour and dropped us off at the main train station. We were told by our school that we could take a taxi to our apartment, but we couldn’t seem to find one on the street. There was no obvious taxi stand, so Katie researched taxi numbers on the travel ebook on her phone and called two different cab companies. One never answered, the other hung up on her. Finally, we found a cabbie who had just dropped off someone at the train station.
Katie wanted to make sure he started the meter running so we could watch the price, so she said something like, “Quanto deniro?”
The cabbie laughed. “Deniro?”
“That’s espanol,” I said. “You want soldi–money.”
The cabbie laughed again and started the meter. When we got to the street with the apartment, the cabbie turned left, but our apartment was to the right, so he ended up driving backwards across the intersection!
Katie tried to tell him he could stop and we’d just walk the rest of the way, but she said, “Andiamo, signor,” which can mean “We go, sir,” but it also has the meaning of “Let’s go!”
The cabbie thought Katie was telling him to drive backwards faster! Ha! Then he started saying in no-uncertain Italian that we should not say that. It was “brutta” (ugly) to say that. He took it all in good humor, though, and even gave us his card and a free map of Florence when he dropped us off.
The apartment is two floors up in a building without an elevator, so just like in Siena, we had to drag our luggage up a bunch of stairs. The cleaning lady met us at the apartment. She was still cleaning the place, but showed us around in a mixture of English and Italian. If you haven’t already seen the photos I’ve posted, the apartment has a bunch of books in it, which is perfect for a high school librarian and an English teacher/writer.
After we unpacked, we decided to walk to Il Latini for dinner. It was recommended by my Italian teacher back home and in my guidebook. It’s the busy kind of place where they seat you wherever there’s room, so Katie and I ended up next to a couple from New York who had just spent a week in Florence for a friend’s wedding. We had really good gnocchi with rabbit (that’s right, I ate rabbit) and then some roast chicken, which wasn’t that great, but the nice couple from New York let us sample the very expensive steak they had ordered, and it was amazing. (We shared our wine bottle with them in exchange.)
For desssert, we had zuppa inglese, which was good, but we wouldn’t have ordered it if we’d known that the waiter was going to break us biscotti and Vin Santo (cookies that you dip in sweet wine) as well as some limoncello. Mamma mia!
By the time we got home, we were exhausted. I finished my Siena blog post and went to bed.
This morning, we headed to the language school in Florence. My map app didn’t give us the best directions, and we got there a little late, but that’s okay. They immediately gave me a short written test (different and shorter than the Rome location). Then I headed to the interview room. A guy immediately took my written test, corrected it, and asked me some questions. I also showed him my book from Rome, so he could see what I finished.Thenn I was immediately whisked off to a classroom. It was a little after 9:00 at this time, so class had just started. At thiss point, I had no idea what had happened to Katie. She had been in line behind me at the desk.
The Florence school has different books than the Rome school even though they are the same company. I’m not exactly sure how the levels compare, but I’m in the middle of their “Intermedio 1” book, and we’re working on passato prossimo and imperfetto verbs and prepositions so it seems to be right where I was before. This is fine because I need lots of practice with all of these. Prepositions are really hard because different languages don’t have exact translations and synonyms between them. I’ve noticed this a lot with my students who speak other languages. I even made my teacher laugh today when I let out an exasperated, “Ugh! Preposizioni!” while trying to write a story in Italian.
Katie and I met up at break time. She didn’t have to take a test. They just put her in an early beginner class because she’d had only two weeks of instruction in Rome. We followed the students (and my teacher) to a nearby bar to get our morning coffee (cappuccino for me, caffe latte for Katie) and some chocolate croissants.
Back in class, we worked on more exercises with verbs. There are only seven of us in this class, and they all seem really quiet. There’s a girl from Ireland, a girl from Japan, a girl from Australia, a boy from Germany, and a couple others I’m forgetting!
After class, Katie and I went to the Mercato Centrale, which reminded me of that big French market that’s in downtown Chicago. Lots of different stands with fruit, veggies, meat, fish. Katie and I bought some sandwiches, dried fruit, and bottled water, which we took to a park that’s on our way home and had a little picnic lunch, which probably sounds really fun, but it was hot out and the pigeons were after our food!
In the afternoon, we wanted to go to a laundromat because we were both running out of clean clothes, but we were so tired that we both ended up napping for a bit once we returned to the apartment. Katie napped longer than I did, so I had time to work on my homework.
Finally, we headed out to the “Wash and Dry” (yes, it was in English), and Katie and I learned how pricey laundromats in Florence could be. The good news was that it included the detergent, and our clothes smell really good now.
Too bad we still can’t seem to get our feet clean. Ha! I woke up this morning with these black marks on top of my feet. They were even dirtier than the day we’d made the trek around the dusty ruins of Ostia Antica. I’m not sure how that happened. They are doing reconstruction work on our apartment building. (There’s scaffolding right outside my window, so I can’t even open it, but I think the sawdust or whatever is still working its way into our apartment.)
While our clothes were washing, Katie and I took turns going to the local supermarket.
After our laundry was finished, I made a pasta dinner back at the apartment with the goods I’d bought at the store. Last year when I did my Speak, Pray, Cook tour, one of my original goals was to cook in Italy like a real Italian woman. I never got to cook in my apartment because the landlady didn’t seem to want me using her kitchen other than to store a few things in her fridge, so this year I can say that I checked another goal off my list–I made an Italian dinner in an Italian apartment!
For dessert, we had cherries that Katie bought. They were really yummy! (And my dad will be happy that we’re having fruit for dessert–real Italian, right, Dad?)