Friday, November 28, 2008
One week ago I discontinued going to school full time because I was overdosing from too much "grammar" and not enough practical conversation. So, instead, I increased my time with Lucia... who is now coming to my apartment on a daily basis for private lessons. Lucia is also something special...not only is she a great teacher, but she is also becoming a friend. I am very lucky.
It's really cold now, and it rained all day. There are times when I really struggle with feelings of missing my sister, friends and loved ones.... in California. Today was one of them. I don't want to lose them, but I don't want to give this up either. I just feel so "at home" here...so comfortable and natural. Florence is the perfect combination of city and country....it has so much to offer, yet it is compact and very manageable for a city. Italy has accepted me in a way that I didn't really expect. Especially being a woman, at my age....I didn't know if it would "click"....I considered it an experiment....but the experiment is feeling more like the road to a new life. I don't know how this will end....or if it will end...I only know that I am discovering many beautiful people and emotions and a spiritual peace that makes me sing.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Florence is only a train ride away from several of the proposed stages, including Lerici, Bologna, Padova and Milano, Benevento, Mount Vesuvius, Avellino and Napoli! What a great time to be living in Firenze!
Today's ride took us through Chianti, to Strada. The vineyards have turned bright gold...the weather is really starting to get cold. And most of my winter cycling clothes are in California?
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I still don't know how to say "shit happens" in Italian, but it's on my list.
Of course, things do go wrong. Statistically, they must. In spite of the fact that Italy is fitting me like a glove, or more like a silk stocking, I will tell you about 3 "shit happens" experiences that have occured to me since I've been here - and how the two big ones became miraculously resolved.
1. I've gone through four macchinettas already! Can't get used to making espresso on the stove. I walk away for a minute and the pot spits coffee all over the kitchen. This time I caught it just in time to avert another complete rubber handle melt-down. Resolution: Don't leave the room. They don't call it "espresso" for nothing.
2. A month ago, I lost my wallet. Credit cards, drivers license, cash. I filed a report at the Carabinieri, the American Embassy, and of course, had to order all new credit cards. Non problema. I can't believe how calm I was. I didn't get the least bit upset, a sure sign of old age. The people I told about it were more upset about it than I was. Resolution: My wallet was recently found on a train in Piombino and it was turned in to the Carabinieri on the island of Elba (How did it get there?? Non lo so.) Nothing was missing....not a Euro. The wallet was delivered to me today.
3. I had a bad experience at the local Palestra. They charged my bank 168 Euro for one session, instead of 12 Euro! I approached them twice calmy, eventually spoke to the owner, but they refused to reimburse me. Upon realizing that the owners were obsinate thieves, I just "let it go". Forget it. I have too much to do and can't waste my time polluting the positive energy that is all around me. Resolution: In a casual conversation with Filippo, (my conversation buddy who is a lawyer here in Florence) I told him about the experience. Filippo told me to give him my bank statement and receipt. He wrote a letter to the Palestra, and today, at our conversation meeting, Filippo surprised me with a reimbursement check from the owner.
Ok, so what does this mean? Che significa? How did these last 2 issues become resolved on the exact same day? It's the positive energy that's winning out for me here. And somebody's looking over my shoulder.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Tuscany in its bucolic and sophisticated elegance, feeds my thirsty intellect, yet it is Campania that intoxicates my soul, my senses, my instincts. It is Campania that sings to my roots, that provokes my sense of humor, that unleashes my passions. It is Campania to whose people and customs I relate. How do I merge this cerebral vs. sensual dichotomy? Does there exist a middle ground?
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
But Italy won't let me go right now. I want to experience Christmas in Italy......and so much more...but for now, I stay.
He was delighted..I was fortunate to find Niccola, this apartment, this situation, this opportunity. Nicola is one of many people and experiences that are, without provocation, validating my instinct to stay....at least for now. Before he left, Nicola invited me to dinner with his family and friends at his home in San Casciano the week after next. His good friend and opera critic, Cesare Orsini will also be there. This has to be a dream. Pinch, pinch.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Lucia comes to my apartment every Tuesday and Thursday to focus only on conversation. And I see Filippo every Wednesday and Friday. With all these resources, I should be speaking Italian very quickly....right?
Lucia just left my apartment, and some of our conversation revolved around the dynamics of aquiring a new language. I expressed my frustration of not acquiring the verbal skills as quickly as I want. "But Barbara", she said, "the Italian language is like wine....you must drink it slowly, or you get drunk. You must decant it, let it open up, expose it to the air and let it breathe. You must smell it...you must taste it little by little". She was suggesting that I am expecting too much, too soon, and that I need to slow down just a little bit. She was suggesting that I might be getting drunk.
The echo of the Duomo bells signaled that our session was already over. I think I will close my books for the night, and watch Il commissario Montalbano over a glass of wine.