Week 3: 18-23 August
Our week started with a rather routine Saturday morning. We had an enjoyable parkrun followed by a quick brioche and café before returning home for a shower.
A 20 minute walk takes us to our favourite grocery store for doing our main shops – Unicoop Firenze (http://www.coopfirenze.it/). We discovered the Unicoop chain (like Coles or Woolworths) in Italy last year and find the stores to be nicely laid out and the products good. After making sure we don’t buy too much to carry, we load up our bags and head back on the hot trip home. We appreciate the little 4 person lift in our building – not always common in Europe – as we are on the 4th floor.
Saturday nights have become our “date night” where we treat ourselves to a nice dinner out. This time we visited Zibbibo 2.0, an elegant restaurant that we found during our first trip to Florence 7 years ago. At that time, we discovered a restaurant booking service called The Fork. It’s great for identifying options to go to and the bonus is that we’ve had discounts of as much as 50% at restaurants across Italy, France and Spain.
Biblioteca delle Oblate (The Oblate Library)….
In spite of having covered so much distance in Florence over the years with all the walking we’ve done, we still manage to be surprised by something new – and often we’ve even walked past it before. One of the finds this week was the Oblate library, a restored convent turned into A modern library in around 2007. It is a cultural and multimedia centre that fuses the old and new soul of the city.
The Convent of the Oblate (where the library is housed) was built at the end of the 14th century. The Oblate were a secular order of devoted women that lived a cloistered life, taking care of sick women, cooking for them and washing their sheets. Since it was a cloistered convent, the building wasn’t transformed and modernized over the centuries. The main cloister still preserves its genuine look with original flowered capitals that were typical of Florentine Gothic architecture. Other parts of the convent were built over the centuries in order to meet the growing demands of the hospital across the road – the Santa Maria Nuova Hospital built in 1288.
The drama of Glenda’s first Italian hairdo….
Glenda has had three hairdressers in her life, at times travelling 600km to have her hair done. So, to try out a new hairstylist anywhere is nerve wracking, let alone in Florence where sign language is the only methods of communication. Whilst all the bars and restaurants are used to a large tourist trade and English is widespread, this did not prove to be true In the hair salons.
Let’s take a step back. The drama had actually started our first week in Florence. Our friend Malle, had made an appointment for Glenda with her hairdresser, Sauro, prior to our arrival. Unfortunately, there was much consternation when she arrived at the communicated appointment time only to find the salon closed. Sauro, the owner, was there at the time but could not speak English, so after a bit of arm waving, we left the scene. Malle was away for a week, followed by Sauro, so eventually all was remedied, and the day of the rescheduled appointment dawned.
After a brief head massage with the chosen oil (3 options) and a few instructions in English, Italian and sign language, Pasquale, the young Italian colourist did a good job of eliminating regrowth. It was then up to Sauro to interpret the language mix to come up with the goods, which he did with aplomb (and a shaver followed by scissors). Then out the door with a kiss and a smile!
With a new hairdo to be shown off, we couldn’t just stay home. So we headed off to the Uffizi again. The annual pass we have really does have us treated like VIPs, so within minutes we were inside and checking out the paintings along the ceilings of the huge corridors. This time we found the entry to the Vasari Corridor – a secret passage that leads to the Pitti Palace. Unfortunately it is not open at the moment. Normally our passes would allow us access. Tuesday nights at the Uffizi are late in summer – opening until 10pm. So we decided to relax on the terrace with a glass of wine as the sun was setting.
They also Put on entertainment amongst the art. This particularly evening, it was 45 minutes of a percussionist using all sorts of instruments and household items. Unfortunately we only made it through about 15 minutes before we’d had enough and headed out for apperitifs (drinks and a buffet for Euro 10) at a nearby bar & restaurant.
More drama – helicopters, police, screeching tyres….
Towards the end of the week, we ventured out for a typical morning run along the river, only to be met with a crazy scene of two large helicopters, road blocks and police. Unfortunately, it’s difficult these days not to think the worst when running along a narrow alley with helicopters overhead hearing brakes screeching nearby. So we were glad when on arriving home, we did a search and discovered that there are close to 500 people in town for the filming of a new movie due out in 2018 called Six Underground.