Sunday, October 26, 2008

Raduno Pro Meyer

Today I participated in my first "raduno", or charity ride, which took us to Montelupo........4,000 cyclists participated. No Gatorade or Powerbars here....but...bruschetta, pasta, pecorino, prosciutto and dolce at the post-ride festa, and a bottle of wine each to take home.

It doesn't get better than this. But with the way things are happening here for me, it will.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I am meeting some amazing people. Last Wednesday at the team dinner, I met Jules, a nurse from Australia, who is living out her dream to live and work in Italy. We rode together to Olmo today while she told me of her experience here in Florence and her quest to establish herself here. She then led the way to Parco delle Cascine, where we pedaled the circuit and enjoyed a warm panino before heading home.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cavalleria Rusticana al Teatro Comunale

Bravo! Ancora, un'altra grande opera! Tonight's performance of Cavalleria Rusticana was memorable. The Italian audience was performance art in and of itself.
This was the first time that I attended an Italian opera with Italian subtitles, and so was able to get a deeper insight into the Sicilian dialect in which this opera was written. Needless to say, it was the best Cavalleria performance I've seen. While walking home along the Arno, I had to pinch myself several times. Is this real? Am I really here? Can this feeling last? Will I be able to stay?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Claudio's Visit

Born and raised in Piemonte, Claudio owns and operates La Dolce Vita Wine Tours. (Click on his photo to go to his website.) I met Claudio in 1996 on Ciclismo Classico's "Bike Across Italy" tour, for which he was the tour guide. He subsequently met Pat, a Brooklyn girl who I knew from the New York Cycle Club. They married and settled down in Brooklyn where they live part-time there and part-time in Piemonte. Claudio is in Italy right now, as it is grape harvest and bike touring season. This weekend, during a break between bike tours, he visited me in Florence and familiarized me with the best cycling roads here in Tuscany. We spent hours driving through Chianti, as he pointed out some particularly beautiful roads for my further cycling investigation! We stopped in Barberino, and after touring Giovanni Verrazzano's castello in Greve in Chianti, we dined at the Castello di Lucignano. Claudio is one of Italy's top backroads I had an excellent orientation, while catching up on an old friendship.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Filippo, a Florentine lawyer, is my conversation buddy, with whom I meet over caffe a few times a week, he to practise his English, and I, my Italian. We've had alot of good conversation and laughs, and it's been delightful to make a true friend in Firenze. I've been blessed with so many fortunate happenings since I've been here, but meeting Filippo has been particiulary rewarding because I can sense a real friendship developing.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My First Ride with the Florence Team

I met Lorenzo at the bike shop and we rode to Tavarnuzze to meet the group. We rode to Greve and up a beautiful climb of about 6k. It was challenging for me since I've been so used to riding the flats in San Clemente and haven't been riding much since I've been here. Then we headed for Regello, a sweet town where Mass was just getting out and the smell of just-baked bread permeated the air. We headed back for Florence after stopping for a quick caffe and pastry. On the way back, as we passed through many tiny towns, I could smell everyone's Sunday sauce and it reminded me of the feeling of Sundays in Brooklyn as a little girl. I had a sensational time, and hope that there will be many more to come. Here's the link to my ride:

Saturday, October 11, 2008

My first Ride to Olmo

Today was the second time that I got out on my bike to escape the busy city center of Florence. Last week I headed south, but got very confused with all the traffic circles getting out of town, and decided to turn back (in spite of my Garmin, which I still can't figure out). Today I rode north through Fiesole, up a few good climbs, to find myself in some of the most scenic and tranquil country roads anywhere. The traffic getting out of Florence is fast and frenzied (but safe in it''s sense of organized confusion)and the cobblestones in town are unstable and dangerous to ride getting out of town is more of a hassel than I thought it would be. But once you get a few miles out of the city, it's like being in God's country. My ride was very peaceful, not to mention, gorgeous, covered with vineyards and olive trees and dotted every here and there with castellos. After 40 miles, I ran out of water and got hungry...and had to ride for miles to finally find a source of nourishment...a macelleria where the clear choice of food and drink was a panino di prosciutto and a bottle of arancina. I stuffed the provisions in my jersey pockets and found a terrace in Fiesole where I ate my panino, while overlooking a dramatic panorama of Florence in the distance. Tough day.

Friday, October 10, 2008


A real coincidenza, Erma Tranter, is studying Italian in Firenze for one month, and we just happen to be here at the same time. Tonight I met her for dinner and we caught up on each other's lives. I met Erma, who lives in Chicago, on a bike tour across southern Italy last year and we share a love of all things Italian.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dinner with the Bike Club

Tonight I attended the monthly dinner of the Firenze bike team and although I was pretty shy at first, I opened up and met some great people who I am looking forward to riding with. It was a challenge to mix with a large group of people who I don't know, but thanks to Lorenzo and Lia, I relaxed and socialized in spite of my limited Italian vocabulary....and somehow I made it through the night. If things continue to go as well as in the past couple of weeks, I will find my place in this group. A little scared, but very excited to have the opportunity to actually ride with them. I will join their ride this Sunday, and hope it's not too hard for me! What an evening. I couldn't have asked for more.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Dose of Local Opera

This is opera the way I remember it as a the local church with local performers and a small, intimate audience. However, this church is part of an old Medici Palace that was owned by Machiavelli and renovated in a neo-renaissance style. This week I saw a triple treat of Rigoletto, The Marriage of Figaro, and tonight, Tosca, with Charlene.