Secret gardens & too-spicy tacos

So many of my blog posts recount weekend trips, and I often neglect to write about the “little things” that make life in Florence so incredible.

Yesterday, my documentary-making class hit the streets to begin filming. Fellow CCI-er Megan and I are working on a story about artisanship in Florence — from mosaic makers to carpenters to goldsmiths. We had already visited a mosaic workshop and a fine metals workshop, but we didn’t know much else about modern artisanship in the city, so Christina (our professor and local TV reporter) joined us.

I was apprehensive at first because I’m a BIT of a control freak and prefer figuring things out on my own, but I’m so happy I didn’t protest. Christina completely surprised me, and I was amazed to discover how small my view of Florence had been — especially after living here for almost two months.

We walked from the “tourist” part of town — where the school and our apartments are located — crossed the Arno and explored the “real” part of town. It was beautiful, so similar and somehow so different. It was still Florence: still small shops on narrow, cobblestone streets and tall, yellow buildings under blue skies, but the pace of life was slower. There were artisan workshops, vintage stores and cafes that you could actually sit down and read in (rather than drinking a quick shot of espresso at the counter while being pushed out by the line). We even saw what they call “secret gardens” in the courtyards of some apartment buildings.

Christina took us to Piazza del Carmine and Piazza Santo Spirito, both of which house three of the most famous churches in Florence: San Frediano in Cestello, Santa Maria del Carmine and Santo Spirito. The second two are famous for being unfinished (yet still beautiful), and I had never heard of any of them. Just when I was finally feeling like I knew the city (and building my confidence to play tour guide for my parents in two weeks), I was kicked back to the dumbfoundedness of day one. I felt silly and naïve for thinking I’d seen it all, but also excited to explore new territory. The afternoon was a nice reminder that there’s always something new to discover, even in a familiar place.

We also drooled over expensive jewelry and watched Geppetto’s doppelganger create a beautiful, custom shoe out of a piece of leather.

After class, my roommates and I went grocery shopping because the boys we met in Assisi talked us into hosting Taco Tuesday. After scavenging two stores, we found enough Mexican ingredients to pull it off, and the six of us plus Bethany whipped up some pretty tasty, too-spicy tacos. A few mojitos later, we remembered it was Mardigras and decided to hit the bars.

We met the rest of our CCI crew, brushed away several too-eager Italian men and danced the night away to the perfect mix of American and Italian tunes.

Unfortunately, the night got the best of one of my boots. But hey — if that’s my biggest problem, my life isn’t too bad.

This photo is old but seems fitting. Che bella serata!

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