Published: July 1st 2005June 30th 2005
Florence was a blast! I arrived late Friday night after a surprisingly (air-conditioned) train ride. My family picked me up and we were all so excited to see each other. They are the dearest people and truly treat me like I am their own daughter! We went back to the house and dropped my stuff off and then went up to Fiesole, which is the littel town up on the hill above Florence, to watch the fireworks that were going off from Piazzale Michelangelo. Friday was the holiday of the parton saint of Florence, I think. So that was fun, not the greatest view, but hey, it was a nice night. Then we went home and RosaMaria made me almost a full meal! It was like 10:30 at night! But sure enough she mad me penne pasta with her homemade red sauce, that she makes from fresh tomatoes, and its AMAZING! Also, one of my favorite things in Italy, and especially at their house, is allof the fresh cheese! Seriously I think there were four kinds of cheese on the table and freshly-grated parmesian! It was yummy, but I was exhausted, so after catching up with my favorite Italian family in the world, we hit the sack to get ready for the beach! They are so sweet. Giulia, the older daughter, had taken my old room, but she gave it to me for the weekend. It was nice to be back in my old room, and staying in clean sheets! (I'm lacking that here right now for lack of a washer and dryer!)
We got up early the next morning and headed out to the beach. It was about a 2 hour drive with traffic, but when we arrived it was beautiful! The beach is a cove near Piombino, a little south of Florence on the coast. The sand was kind of dirty, but the water was perfectly clear and the perfect temperature for the air temp. It was pretty hot there (as it is everywhere here right now) but there was a breeze all day and it was very enjoyable! The water in the Mediterranean is VERRY salty though, and so when you get out of the water it just dries on your skin and makes you feel really dirty. But it was okay, we just kept getting in the water. One thing about Italian beaches.....anything goes! There were definitely women topless and in thong swimsuits, but without a second thought! It is just how it is here, interesting, and not really as big of a deal as we make it in the U.S. We layed out for a few hours then went to the park that is right behind the beach and had lunhc. RosaMaria (such a mom she is, reminds me of my mom :)) brought all these good cheeses and meats, fresh rolls and lots of water. So it was an enjopyable lunch and I was happy to be int eh shade for a bit. Even me, who doesn't usually burn very easy, came home a little red! After lunch Giulia and I went back in the water for a bit because I think she would have stayed until it was dark (which happens about 10 here). But we all decided to go up to this little, old Etruscan village that is right above this cove. It is literally 2 little streets, you can pretty much see the entire town in a glance, but it used to be a fortress and so the view from the top is AMAZING! (see posted pictures) So we hung out there for a bit, shopped a little, had a gelato, you know the normal things you do in italian villages. There was a wedding going on that day and the wedding party and guests were absolutely gorgeous! It was very fancy and about as romantic as you can get! I would love to get married in a little village like that. Anyway, by the time we got home, really salty and dirty, it was late. So we picked up pizza, took showers and just relaxed. I showed the girls how to laod pictures onto their computer with their new digital camera (they were amazed at how easy it was) and we went to bed.
Sunday, Francesca and I took her motorino (little motorcycle) into the center and walked around a bit. It was absolutely PACKED with tourists, I dont think there was anyone but Francesca who was just an Italian, but we just hung out for a bit, had gelato (again, whats new!) and then headed back for lunch. After a lunch as big as dinners here, the girls and I were tired and so decided to take naps. When I woke up, everyone was passed out because it was just sooo very hot, it was unbelievebale. I think in Milan it has been in the 90's lately, and Florence was probably the same thing. But anyway it was nice to have time during the day to take a nap and just relax. I came home Sunday night, exhausted but very happy to have seen them.
They are such dear people, and it felt good to be with a family.The way that Italian kids stay at home all through college makes their families really close. Not that ours aren't, but , moreso sometimes I think. It was funny to watch the girls, as they've grown up a bit. Francesca, who was 16 when I lived with them, and was often uninterested in hanging out with me, is almost done with high school now and we had a blast hanging out. Giulia, who has always been so outgoing and nice, is still the same, but with a new boyfriend! It was cute, when I got there she exclaimed "I have a new boyfriend now too!" She was so excited.....it seems she always has a new boyfriend to me but hey, who knows....And of course Andrea and Rosa Maria are always great. Andrea has always loved to give history lessons and make sure I see as much as possible of the historical landscape. When we were driving to Populonia (that was the Etruscan village) he was pointing out the Etruscan tombstones nearby. When he wanted to stop at the very end of the day on the way home so I could get out and walk around (which I didn't really feel like doing), the girls screamed "no dad! we all want to go home....com on!" And it was so cute because he just got this sheepish little grin, like he just was so into "the history aspect" and everyone else was so tired...hehe, it was cute. Anyway, I had a great time and they invitied me back anytime, and also to their house in the mountians which is a little closer to Milan (more north of Florence). So I may try to squeeze that in some weekend.
Tomorrow morning I am leaving for Geneva, Switzerland with Laura the oter intern (we will call her Laura #1) to see my old roommate from Boulder, Laura (#2 at that!) I am really excited to see Laura #2 and also to go back to Switzerland because it is gorgeous there and a nice change from the craziness of Italy. Today is the big 4th of July party at the CG's house here in Milan....kind of hosting like 250 people in a large, but not enormous flat....it should be fun though. The food is always great there!
I move into my new place next week...the one that has air conditioning, alas, I will not be living in a sauna anymore! (thank God!) It will be nice, much closer to work, and FREE!!!
My boss and I go to Trieste next Thursday for a night to attend the 4th of July celebration there (its over by Venice on the Adriatic), so that should be fun and a nice free trip from work. The following weekend I think Laura #1 and I may go to Como for the day and possible Lugano....she found out that her boyfriend got transferred to Germany for the summer so she is very excited to have him near and now has every weekend booked all summer! Although I think I have almost every weekend booked as well! I am going to try to go to London to see a friend that lives there and she will be in Milan for work the first week of August (and she works in fashion...so maybe I'll get to go to a fashion show!)
Anyway, enjoying work tons, still very interesting and the community here is great....I will have lots of people to call on in the State Department if I ever work for them again. Time is flying by, as usual....I only have 7 more weeks of work! Ahhh.....lol.....ciao for now. Back to work we go!