Sunday, November 29, 2009

As Promised a Few More Photos

Here is Santa Maria Novella.  This is maybe 5 mins into our walk to school.  We take a right here.

 We take another right here.

This is where that last right takes us.
From the balcony of our school...

From the same balcony...

Not bad right?!

This is where we go to school Piazza della Repubblica.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Let Me Show You Around a Little.

So, I'm now in week three of the teaching program.  Teaching is a whole lot of work!  I happen to not have too much due tomorrow so I thought I would take the opportunity to give you a little tour of my world.

What better place to start than our front door.  From here we walk down past Santa Maria Novella.  Unfortunately some of the churches, like this one, that have impressive pieces of art have been turned into tourist attractions.  You have to pay to get into the main portion of the church which contains the culturally significant artwork.  I'm not sure if I just didn't pay attention when I was younger or if paying to get into these churches is a new development, but either way it was slightly disappointing.

On the brighter side their are some excellent gelaterias in this piazza.  Everyday on the way home I'm enticed to try one of the waffles.  Oh my lord these things are delicious.  Two yummy hot waffles with a crunchy sugar glaze act as the bread in the waffle and nutella sandwich.  Mmm!  Fighting off the temptations we take a turn and are now staring straight at the Duomo.  Such an amazing site early in the morning before the tourists with their constant picture taking over the Piazza del Duomo.

Taking another right leads us into the Piazza della Repubblica.  Our school is in the top floor of the building on the Northwest corner of the building.  Here is a picture out one of the classroom windows where I teach and take lessons.  Not bad right?  The dome in the back there is from Bassilica di San Lorenzo. When I have a little more time I will add some additional photos to share.  I hope that everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Due Caffe Lungi Grazie.

As many of you know I like to consider myself a bit of a coffee connoisseur. Thus I was quite excited at the opportunity to start trying Italian coffee, which is generally considered to be some of the best in the world. On average I would rate the caffe that I have had here as superior to what you could expect from an American coffee shop. Thus far I have not been absolutely blown away, but I have found one bar in general that I particularly like, La Loggia on Via del Corso is quite tasty.

We stumbled upon La Loggia after wandering around Firenze last weekend and I’m sure it was fate. Why is that? Well let me tell you about the bomboloni we discovered while deciding what to have with our caffe lungo (a slightly long pulled shot of espresso).  Imagine a light and fluffy freshly baked doughnut that doesn’t have the hole cut in the middle. Now roll that in sugar and inject it with a sweet lemon flavored custard. Best thing ever! Those just happened to come straight out of the back, still steaming, while we were standing in line. Like I said, it was fate. Needless to say, after seeing these delicious little treats we had found our afternoon snack. On top of that La Luggia has had the best caffe I have had since I have arrived in Italy. I need to try a greater variety of the options that La Loggia, but if you ever find yourself in Piazza Della Repubblica in desperate need of a coffee between 4:30 and 5:00 (they bake fresh bomboloni at this time!) in the afternoon don’t miss the opportunity to check this place out.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Getting to Florence was nearly a disaster.  A strike had been scheduled. Thank goodness the people we were staying with spoke Italian.  On a visit to Venice there had been an announcement on the train, I haven’t the slightest idea what it said but the people we went with heard and understood it.  The regional trains had planned a strike for Saturday evening through Sunday night.  Awesome, right when we were supposed to be going to Florence by train.  Luckily, the strikes were only affecting the regional traffic, so after making a quick change and getting a ride to the Mestre station we were on our way.

It wasn’t the prettiest of days when we got into Florence. It was raining and I thought it was rather cold. Never the less we decided to walk from the station to our flat because we knew that it wasn’t far. This sounded like a great way to check out part of the walk we would be doing every morning, but luggage wheels do not like cobblestones.  Especially when those wheels are supporting 60 to 70 pounds of cloths and whatever else had been crammed into those suitcases.  Once we got to the apartment which took a few tries, there are several buildings marked number 5 on this street, we were pleasantly surprised by our accommodations. The large wooden doors open to an entrance with high vaulted ceilings that have simple but elegant paintings on them. The flat itself has 5 separate bedrooms, a kitchen, kitchenette, 2 bathrooms and a washing machine. The washing machine was surprisingly difficult to find because it was in the kitchen and looked exactly like anyother appliance. After getting our keys from the women that neither of us could really understand we set out to explore the city some before unpacking.

Our goal was to walk down the street and find the Piazza Della Repubblica and the entrance to the language school. We wanted to get some eyes on where we would be going everyday for the next month. Good thing we did. Maps of Florence are slightly misleading, the scale on them is deceiving. What looks like 2 to 3 blocks on the map which in San Francisco where we were used to walking around and takes several minutes, is in reality like 20 steps here. This town is tiny. Everything is right next to each other. Not having a car is going to be no problem at all. After adventuring about getting lost a few more times we decided to grab some quick street food for dinner and head back to clean up and get things situated in our room. The next morning school started.

The Arrival

Fighting off the ensuing food coma that is bound to come after eating yet another delicious pizza entirely by myself I want to highlight our arrival to Italy…

3 a.m. seemed to come much earlier than it should have on Tuesday the 3rd, but after 22 hours of travel, 9 hours of layovers, and 3 flights of being cramped in a seat next to the eccentric aging rocker we arrived in Italy! Wednesday was basically a daze. I’m pretty sure we did something, but specifics escape me now. Thursday is much more in focus in my mind. Thursday morning was spent accomplishing some of the necessities like exchanging money( what an awesome exchange rate ), but we took the train into Venice for pizza night. Its so exciting being able to hop on a train here and go to such an incredible city like that just to have some pizza and wine, beats Z pizza any day of the week. Taking the train is also such a nice way to travel here, I’m not sure why America can’t get public transportation right. Riddle me this, the Italians have a convenient, reliable, affordable system set up, but in the states it takes twice as long and cost double what it would to drive in order to get from San Francisco to Sacramento?  All I’m saying is we need step it up in the U.S.  Back to Venice, we stopped at one our hosts’ favorite piazzas. Sipping on prosecco while we partook in what seems like a national pass time and people watched. This trip is off to a great start!

Sorry for the delay in between posts.  Today is the first day I've had any real time on the internet.  Hopefully they should be more frequent now that we have found a convienent place with free internet.