Although we officially began our round-the-world travel in Sebastopol, California, we left Sonoma County on Wednesday afternoon as the first rain drops were beginning to fall. Our flight from San Francisco to Zurich took about 10 hours, but thanks to a remarkably decent serving of lasagna, a glass of wine, and modern pharmaceuticals, we slept for about half that time. We were awakened at about 5 a.m. California time for a buttered pretzel and a glass of orange juice before disembarking in Zurich.
We sailed through customs – no lines and no questions about our travel plans. We anticipated a bit of hassle here because we were traveling on one-way plane tickets. We assumed they would want to know the nature of our visit, and when we planned to get the heck out of Europe, but they just stamped our passports and sent us on our way.
This was a very, very short day since we arrived in Switzerland at about 3 pm their time. By the time we boarded the plane for Florence, it was already dark. We arrived at the Amerigo Vespucci airport in Florence where we collected our luggage and headed for the airport shuttle bus in record time. We took the shuttle bus to the main train station in Florence and walked 5 minutes to our apartment.
We were afraid that our landlords wouldn’t have arrived yet, but they were here waiting for us. Mary and Fabio greeted us warmly in English and Italian, respectively. Mary, an American woman, has lived in Italy for 15 years and is married to the oh-so-Italian Fabio. We had met Mary before, but this was our first time meeting Fabio. Unbelievably, after nearly 20 hours of travel we were able to understand and respond to Fabio in Italian. Although we ran into vocabulary problems here and there, we actually didn’t embarrass ourselves too badly in that conversation. (That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!)
After our re-orientation to our apartment (we lived here in 2009 for 3 months), we realized it was 9 pm and prime dinner time for Italians. We headed out to our first Italian meal at Osteria delle Belle Donne (Cafe of the beautiful women.) I had ribolitta, a white bean, spinach and bread stew, which may not sound all that appetizing but it was fantastico! George had the pasta al tartuffo (pasta with truffles) which was also delicious. I’m planning to make some ribolitta at home in the next few weeks, so I’ll share my recipe and some instructions.
Now it is 3 pm on Friday. We missed breakfast, but had a lovely lunch and a nice stroll around the city. I thought I had escaped jet lag, but I’m getting sleepy now. No nap for me, though. I shall press on until dark and get myself into a truly Italian rhythm.
Perhaps we’ll go grocery shopping this afternoon. How can I always be thinking about food? …