This is my first stay in Firenze Oltrarno…on the south side of the Arno. The name means “beyond the Arno”. My flat takes its name from the church Santo Spirito do Firenze. As I wait for Giovanni, I take in my immediate surroundings. I see a little grocery, a wine bar, a boutique or two and a trattoria. What more could a girl need or want?
I am also located just a street or so off the Arno. This is molto bene as I will always be able to head to the river if I get turned around.
Instead of Giovanni meeting me, Filippo his older brother arrives on his Vespa. As he lets me in the appartamento, he tells me this is a favorite of what they own because this neighborhood is where the Florentines live…not the tourist. Perfetto!
We walk up a couple flights of stairs and enter one of the many heavy, brown doors off the entry. Welcome to my home for the next dieci giorni.
The appartamento is just like the photos I saw…however, if I were to live here…the plaid, blue cover on the bed would have to partire! (Infatti….it’s in a closet now).
The room excites, but the temperature is a concern. Filippo quickly moves to the AC unit to crank it on. It beeps, runs a second or two…then beeps some more and shuts off. LONG (still going on) story short, the AC unit does not work. I have just walked from the station at a decent clip, lugging my worldly possessions and I am dripping as we stand there. Filippo assures me everything will be fixed to my satisfaction. I believe him (still). I am at day 2.5 and as I write this, Giovanni and the AC technician are performing an assessment/surgery on the unit.
As Filippo works to solve the issue, he sends me down to a bar 30 meters away, for me to get a bicchiere di vino.
And thus, my first visit to my neighborhood enoteca.
Il Santino Gastronomia is about the size of my bathroom at home. It is full of wine, formaggio and pig’s legs…again, what more could a girl need/want.
I choose a glass of Barolo and it comes with prosciutto…certo!
For this I am extremely thankful. The last cibo I had were my oyster crackers in Franfurt.
The highlight of my day was when a man entered the bar with a 8″ wheel of formaggio…no bag, no briefcase…just a man and his wheel. He presents it on the counter next to me and the three on staff huddle around as he passionately describes the virtues of his gift. (I am reading between the italian here.). One of the staff, cuts the wheel in half, then takes a few wedges from it. Each of the staff holds it up to their noses and their eyes roll in the back of their heads. They chatter away as they devour their wedge, then go in for more. The youngest girl (seen carving the pig’s leg) turns around to grab honey to put on it. She’s thrilled with her condiment but the eldest on staff, is so disappointed in her. “Aaahhh…No, No, No!” As he shakes his head. My assumption is that the cheese stands alone.
During this consumption, the cheese guy stands there like a proud, proud papa. The eldest staff tosses a small, crumpled pad of paper on the counter, the cheese guy writes something, “Buono, Buono!” Is shared by all, and he leaves. I just can’t imagine an encounter like this taking place anywhere else, and I LOVE it!
A few moments later, the girl notices my look and says, “You want-a to try-a?” Naturalmente!! Dont’s be ridicolo! And yes, it was, molto buono.
I am so happy and satisfied at the moment, the AC situation seems secondary. Proving myself as a patron of formaggio, the guy behind the counter puts another sample in front of me as he declares, “Theesa essay paradise…” I’m in.
About now, my phone rings and it is Filippo asking where I am as he enters the bar, (which means his right foot goes from street crossing threshold) orders bicchiere di vino bianco and pays my bill. Mi piace Italian hospitality!
With this kind gesture, there is bad new. The AC unit is not working. He tells me to go out, enjoy my evening and when I return, there will be a portable unit and a fan to cool the appartamento until a technician can visit…could be several days.
I do as instructed. I roam around for a bit, reacquainting myself with the area. Filippo is correct, life is SO much busier on the north side of the Arno. I walk by the duomo to see if my favorite gelato spot is still there and I am rewarded.
After a quick spin through the hubbub of Fashion Week…
I return to the appartamento to be greeted by my new, yet unreliable (more on that later) friend, calling it a notte.