12.10.2015 - 12.10.2015 21 °C
Woke early to make sure I would get to class on time for my first day. Grabbed a still-warm pain au chocolat and a large coffee to eat on the way. The pastry was heavenly & won’t be my last - and fortunately (or unfortunately) the place I got it is just on Piazza Santa Croce, close to home and on my way to class! Arrived at the Scuola Leonardo da Vinci (yes, that's the real name of the school) with time to spare, along with a dozen or two other students. In our beginners class are a myriad of nationalities – Jorg (pronounced ‘yoik’) & Karlo from Germany, Jane from the UK, plus Japan, Brazil & Aussie are all represented. I gave Jane my condolences on the Rugby World Cup situation. Some are only taking lessons for a week, and others up to 9 months.
It turns out that Italian is quite hard. No joking – it’s really hard! Well, at least on the first day. All this feminine & masculine nonsense – whose dumb idea was it to make a pen feminine & a book masculine? And worst of all, THERE ARE NO RULES when it comes to the masculinity or femininity of an item – you just have to remember them. Gelato is masculine & pizza feminine – should be the other way round, don't you think? Terrific. Hopefully it will get easier as I tune in a bit more, and I do remember a similar issue with French. Our teacher, Monica, is so very patient and does her best to get the point across – I know I can learn a lot about teaching to foreign students from her, but I was just too busy trying to understand!
On the plus side, the school provides the opportunity to go on trips and tours, including a city tour today which I didn’t do since I’ve already been to most of the places they were going to. Great for people new to Florence though. On Thursday evening, we have aperitivo (happy hour) with our classmates & teacher to get to know each other, and on the weekends they offer trips out of town to different places such as Chianti, Perugia, including Montepulciano, a Tuscan tour, Venice or Cinque Terre. The Chianti one includes vineyards, and I suspect the same for Montepulciano. Some are by train but most by private bus, and the prices look OK, so I will do some at least.
I'm always surprised when the Duomo shows up around a corner or at the end of a narrow street
Class ended at 12:15 so I grabbed a burger for lunch next to the Duomo and took a roundabout route back home. Florence isn't all about the ancient, and it can be easy to forget that it's a modern city. I found myself in the upper class shopping district, with all the designer shops, such as Hermes, Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, Tommy Hilfiger, and many others. It’s the best-smelling street in Florence, by a long shot! And the juxtaposition of these upmarket brands in historic buildings is weird, even a little off – inside the shops are shiny, modern and sparkling clean, while outside – well, not so much (though pretty clean by Florence standards!).
Tommy Hilfiger store right next to Palazzo Strozzi - I was standing right in front of the Hermes store when I took this!
Gucci & Roberto Cavalli
Louis Vuitton on the left
I did get my daily dose of culture by visiting the Museo Bargello, where there’s a few of Donatello’s & Michelangelo’s sculptures (no, not the Ninja Turtles, boys!), among many other priceless pieces including bronzes and glass cases full of beautifully carved ivory, some tiny and so fragile it’s surprising they are still intact. Unfortunately when I saw those, all I could think of were the poor elephants! I do quite like the dark bronzes - they always look so pristine, and usually have all their bits intact, unlike a lot of the marble, where certain appendages are often missing! I mean toes & fingers of course...
Mercury Volante (Flying Mercury) by Giambologne
Ganymede, by Benvenuto Cellini - I love this one
Everywhere - and I mean everywhere - in Florence are shops selling leather - jackets, shoes, bags, shawls... Most of them are very similar, with only a slight variation in style, and often a larger variation in quality but not so much in price! However, I did stumble across one with some really different and lovely styles - with the appropriate price tag though of course! This one had 2250 euros on it - though to be fair I was to take 50% off for the sale that most shops have on at present. A steal at 1125! It was lovely, though not my style & is all leather - the floral parts are not fabric.
Weather today was overcast & warmish, with a very few drops of rain, not enough for an umbrella though.
Thought you'd like to see the Basilica Santa Croce, since it's just at the end of my street:
And right next to it is a statue of Dante Alighieri, who wrote Dante's Inferno:
It has been suggested that I should hire a Maserati & go for a blatt, but I think this one is more my speed - I especially like the fact it's a convertible!
Will have a relatively early night I think – all that thinking is tiring!