We’ve settled in to a semi-regular existence in Florence, with a rented apartment in Oltrarno, the so-called “working class” district that reminds us a lot of the Mission back home. The crowds and the tourist attractions are several blocks away, across the river Arno, so we have all these tiny cobble-stoned streets and cheap wine bars to ourselves. It’s a pretty sweet life!
This sort of travel suits us better than moving from town to town every day. We can save money on living quarters, and cook at home every once in a while. Still, the truth of the matter is that the moment you stop moving, time speeds back up. It’s easy to lose a day as the rhythms of everyday life take over. That’s pretty much what happened to us today.
Our plan had been to enjoy a leisurely morning (as usual) and hop on a train at noon to visit our new friend Shanna’s place in Pontadera. We met Shanna here in Italy, but she is a former San Franciscan that we met through good friends Kim & Jason and Megan. A few days back we stayed with her, and when she mentioned that the olive harvest was coming up, we jumped at the chance to return.
If you conjure up your vision of the fantasy Italian countryside home — maybe an old farmhouse in the countryside converted by loving hands into a perfect Italian villa — that’s pretty much where Shanna lives. Her family owns the place and has been fixing it up for decades now. Shanna lives there with her husband and adorable 15-month old daughter. A pretty idyllic existence!
Well, getting back there seemed easy enough. The train leaves every few minutes, and takes about an hour. We hopped in a cab, and thought we were on our way. But when we arrived, we learned the Italian word for “strike”: Sciopero. No trains for Pisa today.
Staying in Florence wouldn’t be that bad. We’ve been trying to make it to the legendary Fra Angelico frescos that grace the former living quarters of Florentine monks at the Church of San Marco. So we hopped in another cab (for another 8 euros), and arrived at San Marco only to find that the church is closed on the 2nd Monday of every month.
Well, by this time we were ready to head back to our lovely Oltrarno district to drop off our bags. Having just wasted 20 Euros on cab fair and 12 Euros on a useless train ticket, we thought we’d walk. Ever tried to walk down narrow, cobblestoned sidewalks with a rolling suitcase? It’s no fun. We grabbed a third cab home for another 8 Euros.
What do you do when your travel plans fall through? Laundry. As it happens, there is a laundromat just down the street from our home. Naturally, we forgot about the Italian habit of closing for lunch from 1-3, so we had to sit an hour in a cafe. And now we are in the laundromat, watching our clothes go around and around.
We need a break! I think we’ll take ourselves out for a nice dinner in the Santa Croce neighborhood we’ve been meaning to visit, using recommendations from Kate & Sean. We’ll get a botiglia di vino, do both a primo and secondo piatti, and stop by a gelateria on the way home. That’ll be the end to a nice day.
Cab fare = 26 Euros
Cafe = 4 Euros
Laundry = 9.50 Euros
Wasted Train ticket= 12 Euros
An ordinary day in this beautiful city = Priceless