With the important task of submitting our application for a Permesso Di Soggiorno (residents permit) completed, we could start focussing on what next. We do still need to visit the Questura (Police Station) but that appointment is scheduled for late May.
It has been good to catch up with friends we last saw in person in 2018 – how time has passed with 2 years in “exile” in Australia. One of the things we love about Italians is that they are open to talking about any topic, including things we consider personal. They have a thirst for knowledge and an infectious energy. We have shared joys and sorrows with a lot of laughing thrown in.
As we write this we have sadly been struck down by a bug. Not unusual nor unexpected as our bodies adapt to a new environment and also going from 30 degrees Celsius or zero.
We were not sure what impact we would observe in Florence following Covid. Our initial observation is that there are certainly less tourists, especially from Asia and Oceania. The overwhelming number of tourists are from America and we have been surprised by the large number of American students in particular how they travel in large groups. This is not something we were aware of previously.
Almost without fail, coffee and pastries have always been one euro for many years now. Knowing that prices had increased in Australia, we wondered if the days of the one euro coffee were numbered. And yes, sadly prices have gone up and there is now a little variability in the prices being charged. That said coffee and brioche (pastry) are now around €1.20- 1.30 each – which is still very reasonable by Australian standards. Previously we would go out for breakfast every day. Now we are trying to alternate going out for breakfast and having breakfast at home. Our traditional breakfast of choice is granola, fruit and Greek pot set yogurt. Unfortunately, we have yet to find good granola or Greek pot set yogurt. For now, we mostly have prosciutto (dry cured ham) and eggs on toast – not exactly a hardship.
For an occasional treat we have found a café (Melaleuca) run by an ex Australian where we can get a ‘flat white’ coffee and eggs benedict (and some other nice options). The ‘flat white’ is more about nostalgia, in reality we prefer an Italian espresso.
They also sell a nice sourdough bread. In Brisbane we were spoilt with a great French bakery nearby. In Florence, the breads are largely unsalted, not our favourite. We do have a bakery nearby that does a range of breads. They do have some nice ‘specialty’ breads, but nothing beats a good sourdough. What this means is that we are a little more creative with the fillings we use with our bread. There is no shortage of good cheese and meat here for one thing.
Living near Porta Romano, one of the original gates to the city has been a great choice. We are enjoying our apartment. Whilst small at 50m2 and only one bedroom, it feels spacious, light, is well setup and we enjoy our outlook over a neighbouring garden with trees. We have access to a fish shop, butcher, baker – but not a candlestick maker. We have numerous bars close by for breakfast and a few supermarkets only about 1 km away. Running from here we are spoilt for options. Getting to the river or the local park is relatively easy. We have easy access to the hills around Florence. Even the main local garden (Boboli) is very close by.
We have again bought an annual pass that gives us unlimited (and priority) access to a few gardens, the Pitti Palace and importantly the Uffizi Museum. We have already used this on a few occasions and will certainly get our money’s worth.
One of the advantages of being in Europe is the easy access to so many countries. We would like to take this opportunity to also spend a bit of time travelling and seeing more of Italy and Europe more broadly.
The Giro D’Italia (cycle race) is on in May. We have booked a week away to see part of the race and also visit another of our friends who owns a mountain refuge near one of the Giro stages.
The Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany is an event that occurs only every 10 years. So why not, it is a good excuse for us to go and visit Bavaria. At the moment we are planning this trip for June.
For now we continue to explore our new neighbourhood trying to make sure we take a different route every time we go out. On one outing it was fascinating to discover Florence Nightingales home. On another outing we saw a rather sad collection of locks and scarves representing women killed due to domestic violence.