Thursday, September 29, 2016

Phew, Finally a Few Days to Unwind

The last two months seem to have been a whirlwind of  planes, trains and busses , quilt  and craft events in between ,and dyeing and printing and making new linocuts and actually making two quilts whilst demoing for Bernina France at the Carrefour Europeen du Patchwork at Ste Marie aux Mines,that I felt exhausted. Finally I have a few days to unwind because, I  have not had a day off since the beginning of August. And then because I found an exceptionally good deal for accommodation in Florence I find myself back here. I had intended to do things cultural yesterday after a visit to the Fabriano shop, but instead found myself engaged with the more prosaic side of the city - food and wine! But nothing is as it seems in this city.

I was out and about relatively early yesterday, but as the weather is stunning- bright and sunny it is not great for photographing. Walked past the Basilica di San Lorenzo

 I am always bemused by people around the facsimile statue of David outside the Palazzo Vecchio- most people simply ignore it- everyone is in such a rush to get to the queues for the Uffizi or to crush amongst the crowd on the Ponte Vecchio that but few stop to admire this most highly revered of human forms by Michelangelo- even the facsimile is pretty impressive!

But all good cultural intentions aside I decided to just walk around and enjoy the sunshine, and a coffee and a lovely lunch at a favourite restaurant.And then do some more walking.

There is relatively little graffiti in Florence- I guess it gets cleaned off, but one thing that does appear is a kind of graffiti poster on some of the utility doors/hatches. These seem to change over time with the ones this year being different to the ones from last year.

The posters appear in different colours and in different spots around the city. I am not sure what the significance is of the snorkeling mask?

Then onto a favourite restaurant  Toscanella Osteria on the left side of the Arno ( depending on which direction you are coming from) I found this little restaurant last year when I spent a month in Florence. It's day menu is exceptional value, always freshly cooked and changing every day and the ordinary menu also has many enticing dishes. I loved it for it's ambience and the friendliness of the wait staff and as I returned there several times. I got talking to the owner Fabrizio Gori- who it turned out, is one of Florence's living artists.He has been involved in many projects over the years ( but like many of Florence's living artists there is little internet presence of their work ) and now he has returned to the profession of his parents. The  restaurant is housed in the building that was the birthplace of Bruneleschi, and the decor  pays homage to this as well as  showcasing many of  Fabrizio's paintings and a delightful array of lamps. The wait staff are the same as they were last year, always a good sign, and I simply enjoy going there because largely the locals eat out at this restaurant. Fabrizio collaborated with several other  Florentine artists to recreate the book about Pinochio- all hand printed and bound into a book the shape of the nose of the famous puppet and in the collection of MOMA. There is even a library of artist's books along one wall of the restaurant.

At the suggestion of Fabrizio I went to see the Incredible Florence multimedia presentation at the deconsecrated church Santo Stefano al Ponte. I wasn't sure what to expect as I find multimedia presentations can be a bit over rated ( apart from William Kentridge of course) but found this one fascinating, as in 45 minutes it traced the history of this fascinating city. One thing that kind of  stood out for me was, though the Medici were tough and despotic, they viewed art and culture as being an important part of their rule to enrich the city as well as their rule- so they gathered around them some of the greatest artists in the western canon of art- something that might be pointed out to more mediocre embodiments of power of the present day- for their foresight still provides enlightenment to students of art of the present and indeed income for the city which they were so instrumental in shaping. A 500 year legacy is not bad!

And last but not least- a coffee shop- yes I know bars and coffee are the heart and soul of the Italian morning ( and cornetto's con crema), but this coffee shop is a little different. I have found myself staying in a part of Florence, that isn't touristy though not that far from the pedestrian precinct of the old city.  The shop looked enticing and upon discussion with the barista it turns out that his passion for coffee is quite different to most  Italian coffee places- his is a passion for blends and new blends and sourcing the finest coffee beans and selling his own blends and roasting.It turns out that he learnt some of this passion in Melbourne- he says it opened his eyes to what coffee could be and so he has brought it back to Florence and has established Caffetteria Piansa. I did try the coffee of course- and the filtered coffee was delicious ( what not the espresso???, but he assured me this his filtered coffee was the best way to experience the subtleties of flavour). However it was also evening, and I had done a lot of walking so i also decided an apero was in order- which comes  accompanied by a selection of savouries at little extra cost!


els said...

Good to see you relaxing and enjoying Florence. It is such a beautiful city. Have fun my friend.

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