We went to the Museo Marino Marini, Piazza San Pancrazio today. As we entered it became obvious that he was the same artist who created the famous “Angelo della Città” sculpture at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice, which we had seen years earlier. The sculpture at the Guggenheim was installed in 1948 and faces the Grand Canal.
The Marini museum is interesting for the sculpture and the space that the museum is in. It was an old church. The way they retrofitted the space was what I was interested in. Don’t miss the basement (crypt) because there is usually an exhibit down there and it is an interesting space.
For more information on Marino Marini, see this Wikipedia page.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
11/30/07 - I just reread the preface to the 2nd edition and boy does the author have it right about Florentines and the fact they are always talking about food. The other day we were walking on the Ponte Vecchio and I overheard a poliziotta on her cell phone giving instructions on how her lunch should be prepared.
Monday, October 29, 2007
The goal is to start with a simple design (9 cm by 12 cm) so you can complete it. Once you get the design you transfer it to a type of thick paper with a peel-off surface. Then you cut the pieces out with a knife, one-by-one. For example, I cut out the lemon first, put it aside and then took the rest of the adhesive paper (minus the lemon) and layed that over different pieces of stone to see which looked best to represent the lemon. Once you find a stone, you trace the outline of the missing piece (the lemon in this case) on the stone and then stick the adhesive part (of the lemon) to the stone in order to mark it. Then you cut the shape (lemon) out of the stone with a stone cutting machine. Once the piece is cut out of the stone (roughly) you start whittling away at it by hand with a file. Don’t all jump up and down with excitement on this? Meanwhile, Radio Monte Carlo with the oddest mix of Euro and American pop and rock plays in the background.
I created one pathetic stone lemon. I'll take a photo of the drawing and post it. I eventually found a stone with coloring vaguely resembling a lemon (it might be calcedonio but of course it came out of the only bin that wasn’t labeled, go figure).
I will go Monday and Thursdays for 3 hours. Except this Thursday is a holiday (All Saints' Day) so I have to go on Friday.
There were several bins labeled “maestro” and in private I asked another student about these. I thought they were only for the maestro’s use because he is always working on something. Apparently they are extras from his work. From what I understood (all conversation is in Italian) he makes color combinations of stone ahead of time to simplify and speed up his work and that’s what is in these bins. I’m a dope.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Just found some of our pictures from the Festival della Creativita'. It goes on for several days and late into the night (3am). We caught it from 9 to midnight on Friday. It's free, so it is worth the trouble if you happen to in town. The picture of the band playing to Blade Runner was our favorite. Fortezza da Basso is an old fort just north and east of the train station.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
I think it means "don't be surprised about or by AIDS, cover yourself"? We saw this at the Festival della Creativita' on Friday night.
The best thing we saw though was a band playing along to the movie Blade Runner showing on three large screens. It sounds weird but it was very effective. The band was really good but I don't have the info handy on who they were.
If I see another person pretending to hold the tower up while a friend is taking a picture, I’m going to…. scream, I mean smile.
We took a mid morning train to Pisa today. (Hint: there seems to be no difference between first and second class on this regional route so don’t bother.) As soon as we exited the train station in Pisa we started heading for the Catherdral Square of Pisa (see below) in the north of town. Pisa, like Florence, has the Arno running roughly east/west and cutting it in two. The cathedral complex is north of the river and the train station is south. It takes about 20 or so minutes to walk from the station to the cathedral complex. The town is pretty flat so it’s easy if you are up for a walk.
The day turned out perfect at about 70F and blue, blue skies.
Once at the tower, we went straight to the ticket office (just behind the tower) and got tickets for 4pm later in the day to climb it. We arrived at the ticket office around 11:45am and we could have had tickets for 2pm onward. Access to the tower is tightly controlled in terms of the number of people that can go up and the time they can spend in the tower. No loitering in the tower or backpacks (which you check 10 minutes before you go up). Cameras okay.
If you go in the morning on an average “tourist” day, you will probably be able to get tickets for a few hours in the future. If you are a good planner you can buy tickets for no earlier than 15 or so days in the future, on-line, here.
There are six things to see in the Cathedral Square:
- the cathedral/duomo (2 Euro/person)
- the leaning tower of Pisa (the church’s bell tower) (15 Euro/person on the spot, 17 Euro online)
- the baptistery (6 Euro / person combo with cloister)
- the cloister (monumental cemetery)
- the Opera museum
- the Sinopie museum
We did the top four items but bought our tickets in several trips to the ticket office which wasn’t very efficient. Buy one of their combo ticket packages to pay a little less. You could easily spend 4+ hours easily seeing just the first four sites above. We saw the cathedral first, then went to lunch and came back and did the other three.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Why UniCredit Banca? Because we got strong recommendations for it from several Italian folks. In Florence, the branch we applied at was Via dei Vecchietti 11 in centro. It is just north of the the Palazzo Strozzi. Charges will be 23 Euros (8 of this is a state tax) every 3 months for a debit card/checking account. There is also an international wire fee of 2 Euros for every 1000 transferred. As long as you use ATMs (bancomats) that are part of the UniCredit Banca family there is no ATM fee. There is no fee for using the card for bancomat (debit card) purchases, say at a restaurant or market.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Here are the course options (offered through Centro Machiavelli). Thursday we are going to visit a Florentine marbled paper (carta marmorizzata) studio. Those are the two choices for me: peitra or carta.
Monday, October 22, 2007
We turned on our apartment’s heating system. It’s a gas boiler, type: Beretta Caldaie. It is located in the attic space above the bathroom and it provides warm water for everything. There is no reservoir in the unit. The nice thing about the boiler on is that now we have one big radiator in the upstairs room and we can put several things on it to dry quickly. What my thinking has come to: should I put the socks or the underwear on the radiator?
Sunday, October 21, 2007
We took a bus from Florence to Panzano (about 30 km, 45 minutes). The trip was organized by FlorenceForFun. It was a small group of about 17 people which was nice.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
The instructors (usually two) are good and the class moves right along and you definitely learn something. The classes easily run to 10:00 pm. You can sign up directly with the school or through FlorenceForFun or through a school you are attending in Florence. The mix of people: 90% women, 40% American. So if you are looking for an “authentic” Italian cooking experience with the locals this is probably not the place. If you are looking for some practical recipes, a fun evening, a little smattering of Italian, and some eats, then this is the class for you.
If there are enough Italian speakers there one of the chefs will give instructions in Italian, otherwise it is English.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
By accident we got hooked up with a group of Japanese with a reservation to see the Vasari Corridor. It is hard to get in to see it so we did it even though the fee was high (10 Euro for Uffizi and 39 Euro for the corridor! Though the 10 Euro fee was waived for us since we had the Amici degli Uffizi cards.) From the start the whole thing was a mess and it was pure chaos getting into the Uffizi on a Sunday. We got ushered to the front of a very long line and there was a lot of grumbling. We got in with just enough time to grab a coffee at the café inside (must have a cappuccino) before the tour took off.
The tour starts near room 25. There is a set of double doors that are closed and guarded that lead down to the corridor. Turns out we didn’t have a guide (so later we would get a bit of refund) just chaperones, one in front and one in back. Our group was about 17 people. We just ambled down the .33 km hallway from Uffizi to Boboli peeking out the round windows every so often onto unsuspecting people below in the streets. The real attraction of course is the collection of paintings that line the walls, especially the self portraits of famous artists (many of them).
We saw some of the damage from the 1993 car bomb which exploded near the start of the corridor. Several large paintings had blast damage. What a shame. Who did it is still a mystery.
We exited at the Grotta di Buontalenti inside the Boboli Gardens. We were “told” to exit, wink, wink – but we just walked the gardens for another 3 hours (and avoided 9 Euro entrance fee for our friends with us). The gardens are still a treat and we’ll be returning many times in the coming weeks with the card that gives us free entrance. What’s even nicer is that we can enter near the Belvedere which is closer to our house. (The Belvedere is unfortunately closed currently.)
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Yes, we bought some chocolate, but mostly we just toured Perugia (thanks to F & N we knew where we were going). We did stop at Sandri (2nd time there for us) for a coffee and a snack. We took a small walk out to Chiesa Sant’Angelo to show the friends we were with and climbed the nearby tower in the third wall - that surrounds the city - for a great panorama. Brozzetti was closed unfortunately.
We ate lunch at Wine Bartolo Hosteria (in the Slow Food red guide) and it was so so, I'm sorry to say. Not spectacular. Maybe they were having an off day.
“Il fumo danneggia gravemente te e chi ti sta intorno.”
“Fumare in gravidanza fa male al bambino.”
Which translate roughly to:
“Smoke seriously damages you and those around you.”
“Smoking while pregnant harms the baby.”
112 – Carabinieri (Military Police. They have red stripes on their pants and have the most jokes told about them from what I was told and the number of books on the subject.)
113 – Polizia, Pubblica Emergenza (The State Police? They dress in blue and have funny hats. They deal with general crimes.)
114 – Emergenza Infanzia
115 – Vigili del Fuoco (Firefighters.)
116 – 24 hour line for tourists and foreigners with car trouble
117 – Guardia di Finanza (The Financial Police or fraud squad. They wear gray with yellow stripes on the pants.)
118 – Emergenza Sanitaria (Medical Emergency)
Friday, October 12, 2007
The first part, dictation, was by far the hardest. Our teacher read a passage several times and you had to write it all down. The passage was about using a pressure cooker (pentola a pressione). We both got 18/30 possible points. While writing I only had a slight idea about what was being talked about. You didn’t have to know the subject as the test was how you hear words, especially double constants like “fiamme” or “pressione”.
The second part was listening to a conversation (on CD) between a husband and wife. The husband is going out wants to know what the wife needs. There is a lot of ambient household noise like people talking and a TV going. You have to listen while reading an incorrect transcription of the dialog between them and identify and correct words in the written passage. It was trickier than it sounds.
The third part was a drill on mostly indirect pronouns. You had to really understand the context of the sentence to select the correct pronoun (mi, ti, gli, le, Le, ci, vi, gli). A typical example (and one I got wrong): “La zia è in vacanza. Puoi pager__ la bolletta del telefono.” The blank should have been “le”. The sentence means: “My aunt is on vacation. Can you pay the telephone bill for her.”
The last part was writing a response to a friend’s email. Given an e-mail from a friend, we had to respond in at least 60 words, answering questions the friend posed. The friend is in Berlin and you have to give her advice on a place to visit.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
TIM 4916 Abbiamo ricevuto la richiesta di ricarica di 10,00 EURO per la Sua linea. Cordali saltui.
Followed later by (“we have processed the request”)
TIM 4916 Ricarica effettuata nuovo credito: 24.78 EURo. Per info su tutti bonus della Sua linear contatti il 4916 fonia principale + tasta 3. Cordiali saluti.
The system works well. Before charging up your card, you should follow the automated service in Italian carefully to change the language to English if you want. The default is Italian and it can be a chore to follow if you are new to the language.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
The first week was tough. Factor in an event almost every night related to the school and it’s hectic. We have about a 1 ½ hour of homework per night. Its not mandatory but it definitely helps.
The class sizes for us are small. We are in the same classes so that’s nice. Le due Marx – it’s a point of laughter. First, wow you have the same name, then, wow you come from the same city, and then wow you live together. By then, they start to get the picture. Anyway, our first morning class is grammar and that’s about 4-7 people depending on who shows up. The second morning class is conversation and again about 4-7 people. The afternoon class is just us and an instructor for pure conversation, anything we want. We are the only students doing 3 sessions a day. Our instructor for the first two morning classes is Vincenza and the afternoon, Benedetta. All instruction is in Italian.
The types of students (80%) fall into two categories: Japanese-speaking (Japan) or a Spanish speaking country (several). The rest of the students are a smattering of other nationalities. The Japanese tend to be reserved with conversation in class. The Spanish speaking (especially from South America) tend to be very outgoing with conversation in class. We fall somewhere in the middle.
Friday, October 5, 2007
Thursday, October 4, 2007
The lady who processed my form (which takes less than 5 minutes) asked me some questions – I don’t remember what she aske exactly, but I think something to the effect: was my name on the door where I lived and how long I was in Italy. (She had the biggest mole/wart I every saw in my life so I was rather preoccupied studying that.)
You get a receipt and a card should show up in the mail in a few weeks (what did you expect!?). The card doesn’t matter a whole lot because the receipt has the “code” which is a combination of letters from your name and birthdate. You need the codice fiscale to open an Italian bank account (at least in the bank where we asked, but I think this is the case in general). So far, we haven’t opened an account.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Monday, October 1, 2007
There is also this weird type of rag that is sold in stores that is meant for cleaning floors that you often seen old ladies pushing around with a stick cleaning the threshhold. It’s like a precursor to the swifter (which we have seen in the local grocery store).
I laughed at the neighbor’s cleaning, but about an hour later I was doing the same thing. Sweeping outside our door and swooshing a bucket of soapy water on the stones leading up to our door to keep them clean and tidy.
Maybe the cleaning of the entry is noticeable because that is usually the only interaction point between public and private. A house could have inner courtyards and and other outside areas but you can’t tell from the outside in a town like Firenze. Or maybe doorways get dirty here?
At the language school, an assistant gave us the final bit of information we needed to get the permesso di soggiorno submitted. Here is the list she gave us that helped:
- moduli compilati
- fotocopia di tutto il passaporto
- fotocopia certificato scuola debitamente timbrato dall’Ambrasciata o Consolato
- fotocopia assicurazione
- fotocopia disponibilità economica
- ricevuta pagamento bollettino di 27,50
- marca da bollo da 14,62 da applicare sul modulo 1 di prima pagina
Item 1: Is all of module 1. The yellow kit comes with two modules, we only filled out module 1. The second module is for working in Italy. For module 1 only the first 3 pages had anything on them, but we submitted the empty pages too. 8 sheets of paper total.
Item 2: Copy of all pages of the passport – even blank ones. Do full sized copies, not ½ sized pages. We did that and there was some question about it (but they accepted it), so stick to full to be on the safe side. A typical passport will have 24 pages, when you put 2 pages per copy it comes out to 13 photocopies (because of back and front cover pages), so 13 sheets of paper total.
Item 3: We did not do this because we are not on a student Visa.
Item 4: Proof of insurance. We copied a sheet demonstrating our travel health insurance plus our regular health insurance card (now on Cobra). 2 sheets of paper total.
Item 5: Proof of economic means. We scanned a credit card and a letter from our financial institution. 2 sheets of paper total.
Item 6: This is a payment receipt. We did not have this and the assistant gave us the form. You can get it at the post office I’m guessing. This form is three connected receipts where you fill out your name and address three times. The three pieces are later separated. One piece becomes your receipt, one goes into the permesso package, the other stays with the post office. You count the receipt as 1 sheet of paper.
Item 7: You unpeel the marca da bollo (like self-adheseive stamp) and stick it to the front page of module 1 in the space provided. You can buy these a tobacco shops with a black sign that have a certain term on the sig…I forgot the term, maybe “valorati”?
When you count all the pages (in our case 26) you write this in the space provided on page 1 of module 1. The number of pages is important. Then you got to the correct post office (not all will accept the completed kit) and submit the kit. In Firenze, the central post office on Via Pellicceria near Piazza della Repubblica is one of the offices to do it at. We were past the 8 days allowed, but not sure it’s that big of a deal. When you enter the post office on Via Pellicceria first notice what a beautiful building it is and then take a ticket for the “amico sportello” / the friendly(?) window and wait to be called. In our case it was immediately even though the post office literally had 100+ people waiting. We had to go separately to submit our kits, but went one after the other. Each of us handed over the yellow kit envelope with just the items listed above. Remember to remove all the instruction pages that come with the kit. You pay 27,50 euro plus another 30 euro and after a flurry of writing and vigorous stamping you get a couple of receipts – one is essentially your temporary permesso di soggiorno. What a precious receipt because it is necessary for us to stay here legally! The real permesso di soggiorno card may come long after we leave, but that’s okay.
We signed up for the super-intensive course (3 sessions per day) at Centro Machiavelli (http://www.centromachiavelli.it/) in Santo Spirito. We walked in and immediately sat down to take a test for about 1 hour. Then we sat (individually) with a instructor and corrected the test and talked with him so that he could size up your speaking/listening comprehension. We both did about the same on the test we think and we’ll be in the same level. Of 17 students starting, we were the only super-intensive “C” course students . There were a number of Japanese students, a couple of Spanish students, and at least one other American student, and several of undetermined nationality.
Every two weeks, a new batch of students comes in, and combined with the old students, everyone is leveled. After taking the test we had a general introductory meeting for an hour and then got the afternoon off. (We needed it because there was a lot to do.) We worked with an assistant at the school on getting the final paper work together for our permesso di soggoirno.
The test had 13 sections, progressing from simple to hard. For example there were sections on:
- filling the blanks with appropriate nouns
- matching adjectives to nouns
- filling in present tense verbs in a story
- given a few words, construct a sentence using the words
- filling in past or imperfect tense in a story
- reading a passage and answering some questions
- writing a letter to a friend telling him you can’t come to his birthday party and why
- writing a letter answering a for-rent ad asking for more information
- writing a short resume
There were a couple of sections that I was clueless on. In fact, I got up to section 8 just fine and then it got hard for me. My knowledge of the language was run out of its boundaries.