Sunday, May 16, 2010


This was Orientation Day. There are a lot of things to introduce, show and explain when you are bringing people into a country they've never been to before. One of my students just arrived after experiencing the first time she ever flew in an airplane. When you live in apartments there are a lot more issues that need to be covered.

First a walk around the city to see the famous landmarks and get bearings. Meet at Piazza della Repubblica; around the Duomo; south by the Yellow Bar and the Bargello toward the Piazza della Signoria; diverted to public WC off of Borgo de' Greci; then to the Piazza della Signoria; a quick lecture about the history of the Palazzo Vecchio? No, that's later. Now it is about paying attention to me, not gypsies, when I'm telling them about the history of a place; Baaaack into the crowds as we head for the Ponte Vecchio (can't imagine this place on a Saturday); wait for my student with the digital SLR to catch up; walking in the shade of Borgo San Jacopo; back across the Ponte Santa Trinita to Via Tornabuoni; then past the street where their apartments are- Via della Vigna Nuova and back to our meeting place, the carousel at the Piazza della Repubblica.

That was Giro Numero Uno.

The next one definitely has a food theme- north to the Mercato Centrale where we walk around and experience the smells, sights and sounds of merchants talking back and forth. For the students this was the first time they saw a man hold up a huge piece of tripe; here is the place with the great fresh pasta, there's Nerbone- try this place for lunch sometime, there's Mario's outside the market, I definitely need to go there; around the corner to the Centro supermarket to show them how to pick up and weigh the produce- put your hand inside the bag and then pick it up, look for the number for the corresponding button on the scale; across the street to the One Euro store (yes, you can actually buy wine for one euro- I won't); then up to Via Guelfa and the really inexpensive internet shop run by the Sri Lankan family; then into my favorite Kebab place for lunch. This was their first opportunity to really try to order on their own in a place where the people don't speak any English. A bit to get used to, but you will, and look, you got your food!; from here some went to email family and friends, others went with me to use the ATM and one brought a load of U.S. dollars in cash that needed to be changed (No, not at those cash change places, we're going to the bank).

So ended Giro Numero Due.

They had a break (I say 'they' because I was off to my apartment to get the forms that were needed at the Rental Agency and then deliver them) and then met later that afternoon to walk across the river and up to San Miniato al Monte. Did I tell you the alternative name for the class is "Drawing and Fitness in Florence"? There was a certain amount of huffing and puffing up the hill, but we did take a break to see the little houses built for the cats in the sanctuary just off the walkway. We had a look over the city and went in to hear the monks perform Vespers.

Sitting there inside, listening to the chant, watching the light through the doors reflect off the hem of the garment in the mosaic of Christ in the apse of San Miniato al Monte, I think I took my first deep, deep breath back in Florence.

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