Monday, December 04, 2006

Week 4 - The Addendum.

Greetings, again.
Sorry my communications have been so sparse, especially on the individual front. Things are getting hectic over here with only one week of class left. I have a final portfolio to assemble, many complicated verb tenses to memorize, and the Cinque Terre to explore, all in the next seven days. So, please be patient, and know that I am thinking about you all, even when you don't hear from me for a while.
Much to my dismay, summer has arrived in Florence. I preferred the weather during my first few weeks here, which forced me to consider buying a jacket to protect myself from the unexpected chill. Now I'm going through my 1.5 liter water bottles in half a day, and considering cutting off the only pair of jeans I brought along. Fortunately, it still gets cool at night...and there is always gelato to take the edge off of the heat.

Today I received word that I will be staying in the same apartment and same wonderful, wonderful single bedroom for next term, as well. After seeing someone else's apartment yesterday, I feel even more fortunate to be in such a lovely space in such a prime location. The more streets I explore in Florence, the more I appreciate my own. It's sophisticated, but quaint--which seems appropriate for a road that connects the political and artistic center of the city to the traditionally working class neighborhoods surrounding Santa Croce.

The only place that I would come close to preferring would be the quiet streets of the Oltrarno--literally, "beyond the Arno". I've spent many peaceful afternoons and evenings wandering this area before watching the sunset from Ponte Santa Trinita. On that side of the river, you can walk for several minutes at any time of the day without encountering someone else--a phenomena that did not occur even at 6:50 am in the historic center. Tourists usually only go as far as the Palazzo Pitti/Boboli Gardens, missing the quirky vintage shops and innovative restaurants that make this part of town feel like another city entirely. The weekend market at Santo Spirito is the best I've attended yet, not only in terms of variety of goods, but also because the piazza there is sprinkled with trees! I never knew how much I really appreciated nature until I spent 4 weeks deprived of it almost entirely.

This weekend I should be getting a fair dose of it, though. I'm headed to the Cinque Terre, Italy's response to the French Riviera. I am staying in Riomaggiore, the first of the five cliffside towns. Supposedly there are flower boxes lining the streets that automatically retract when the bus goes by. I'm looking forward to a nice getaway from the city. The trip was supposed to be with my roommates, but we're staying in different towns, and they're only actually coming for one night, so I will continue to do most of my exploring alone.

Making friends hasn't been very easy here, and I've only just this week encountered some people that I really feel comfortable with. It's a shame that I'll have to say goodbye to them in just one week! One girl invited me to join her on a horseback-riding tour of Siena, but it's €95, and I'm not sure I can fork out that much cash for just one day. The good news is that I will be meeting up with my friend Ryan's girlfriend and some other STL folks with whom I'm casually acquainted in Asti. I'm going to spend 3 or 4 nights there at the home of my Italian professor from SLU, and he is going to take us to Milan, Turin, and some other local sights before we hit Venice, and then return to Florence. I absolutely adore Simone, who often seems more like my gay Italian father figure than my teacher. Natalie didn't make it last weekend, so I'm doubly eager to see some familiar faces--and have a cheap place to rest my head!
I wish I could write more, but once again, class calls!

Your everlovin' Italophile,
Grace A. Woodard


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