Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lunch with Barbara's Family

Florence is such a compact city, you don't need to walk very far to find anything. But as I start to reach beyond Florence, I have to learn the bus system and get myself a city bike. Then I'll be more mobile and spontaneous.

Today I went to Barbara's house for Sunday dinner with her family. Our scheduled bike ride this morning was rained out (which was fine with me, being tired after yesterday's Gran Fondo) so instead she invited me over for lunch with her family at her home in Gavinana. It's too far of a walk in the rain, and I don't have a city bike (yet), which would have been I have to take the bus. The ATAF website doesn't make it easy to find out what bus takes you where, but I figured it out. I went to the tabaccheria to buy a bus ticket and waited in the rain for the bus. I was there in minutes and felt good to have learned a way of getting around in the rain.

(I can't wait to buy a used, old ugly city know, the kind you can ride in the rain. The kind you keep locked-up on the street overnight with wide tires, fenders, a chain guard, one gear and a basket on the front. You buy the oldest and ugliest bike you can find, otherwise it won't be there in the morning. It will make life a little easier).

Lunch with Barbara, her 2 children and Alfredo was a great opportunity to get to know her off the bike. We shared a quiet and enjoyable afternoon. After dinner, she helped her children with their homework. It was a family affair, the way it used to be when I was a kid, and they were actually having fun. Despite all the criticism about the Italian school system, the size of the classrooms and the lack of government support of the teaching community, they still teach subjects here that are no longer valued in the American school system. Like history, (real history, like before Christopher Columbus) literature, culture, geography and Latin. Ask any American kid what Latin is and I'm afraid what they might tell you. I think I was the last generation of American students who studied Latin until college. And to me that is a shame. It gave me a profound appreciation of culture that influenced me throughout my life.

On the way back from Barbara's all the tabaccherias where closed so I had to get on the bus without a ticket and nobody stopped me, but I had no choice. I guess I'll have to buy a book of tickets to keep in my purse.

When I got back home to Piazza Salvemini, there was an antique flea market going on where I bargained for some very old pieces of lace that I'm imagining to use under some flower vases and on my kitchen table. I thought about how lucky these children are to be learning Latin. Buona sera.