Saturday, March 26, 2011

Florence in Florence

Plus the other six of us!

Michael is here, and everything worked swimmingly.  We met up at Termini, I called the caretakers for the apartment, and the train was even early!  The caretaker brought her adorable six-year-old girl, and was nice enough to meet us at the station and walk with us to the apartment.

When we first walked in, I was a little embarrassed and wanted to ask, "Are you sure we're in the right spot?"
Palatial is the word I would use to describe it.  As in, not like Venice's accommodations.  We're in an apartment that's bigger than the house in Todi, has plenty of everything, and can I mention the caretakers?  We want to swap them for Tatiana.  We love them already.

After naptime, we wandered around Florence during the afternoon.  First stop:  the oldest apothecary in (Italy? Florence?  dunno).  It was a church built in the 1300s then turned into an apothecary in 1612.  Behind some insignificant doors lie a maze of frescoed, formerly sacred space that is beautifully perfumed throughout.  Attar of roses, lavender, etc.  Mmmm.  After gazing around in astonishment for a while, it was time to be off.

Then we went into Santa Maria Novella, which has the Tornabuoni Chapel and frescoes that you've seen in all your art history courses.  Beautiful.  Ghirlandaio, Mattuccio, Giotto, Filippino Lippi... and in surprisingly good condition.  And the facade of the church is beautiful all by itself.  We had a special treat:  when we were in the church, there was a choir/orchestra rehearsal for a huge dog and pony show Mass that is clearly happening tomorrow.  And I'm not exaggerating:  there were TV trucks, cameras, lights, etc.  As we were gazing at these beautiful works of art, we were surrounded by glorious Mass music.  Weren't we lucky?

Then off to look at the Duomo.  We didn't go in, but decided to come back in the morning for Mass in the cathedral.  I can't wait to see the kids' faces when they go in!

After having gelato, the rest of the explorers told me it was time to go back to the apartment, by golly.  So we went and rested our paws.

Since it wouldn't be a true adventure without any misadventure, the power went out!  Gah!  I went to the circuit breaker and reset the tripped circuit.  No juice.  Then I went out into the hallway to see if it was just our apartment.  It was.  I tried calling Angela (the caretaker) six times in rapid succession.  Poor thing -- I have no idea where she was and I felt terrible, but still.  It was now dusk and the apartment was getting DARK!  She called me back within a few minutes, and she told me how to go downstairs to the main fuse box.  Yikes -- the key didn't work!

While I was trying the key, my phone rang.  Angela had talked to her sister, Sibilla (also the caretaker), and confirmed that I didn't have the right key after all, and Sibilla would be there within half an hour.  Phew!

Sibilla showed up with Rodolfo, and was just as delightful as Angela.  We went down into the maze of the basement and she experimented by tripping I-don't-know-how-many apartments' breakers (word for the day: "interruptore" = "switch").  She then identified ours via the label, we reset it, and went back up the four flights of stairs from the basement and up in the (very rare in Florence) elevator to our fifth-floor apartment.  Hurrah!  Everything worked again.

Speaking of maze:  this morning, a few of the kids and I went into the local "supermercato."  This was a new experience.  We entered a room about the size of our schoolroom.  The two cash registers were there, and it looked like a wine & chocolate shop.  At the rear of this tiny space was a small corridor crammed with soaps and cleansers.  After sidling past this display, we reached another bedroom-sized room that contained a freezer case and two shelves of olive oil, pasta, etc.  Next room?  The deli and refrigerator cases for dairy.  Next corridor (which doubled back on the olive oil room), the cereal aisle.  And finally -- at a 90 degree angle to the cash register room -- the fruits and veg section!  These are all separate rooms in (I think) separate buildings!  As you see it from the street, there's a completely unrelated shop in the corner spot and the supermarket wraps around inside the building(s).  Each room is completely separated by permanent walls, not shelving or anything temporary.  I felt like a serious lab rat by the time we were through -- the only problem was that the cheese was found in the middle, not at the end of the maze.




  1. I am so glad all your arrangements went without a hitch! Think of me when you go to the Baptistery - my absolutely favorite place in Florence.
    I love the description of the supermercato! Hope you managed to find everything you needed. How long will you be in Florence?
    Have a lovely time together.

  2. Another more week. We can hardly wait. I guess I shouldn't expect choral accompaniment when we wander the churches there, but I suspect the art alone will be enough to dazzle us. Don't eat all the gelato in Florence. For us it will be a first, as will all we see there.

    Have fun exploring there,


  3. Was this the Santa Maria Novella perfumery that you spoke of in this post? Or is the apothecary something different? This is Suzanne Summers' cousin in WV. I have been enjoying your blog very much. I wish my daughter who is studying in Italy could meet you all! We are getting excited for our trip in June.

  4. The Sta. Maria Novella apothecary is a different spot. Sta. Maria Novella is a church AND a parish. There's a LOT called Sta. Maria Novella here -- even the train station! Many things that are in the area have S.M.N. as part of their name...