Aint no sunshine when he’s gone…

It has been cloudy and rainy for the last two days, ever since SB left. Yesterday I succombed and bought myself another umbrella. Hopefully this one (costing all of 2 euros) will last better than the expensive Parisian one that lasted 5 days. What a piece of merde that was!

I write this post from Florence, cradle of the Renaissance. It is beautiful as ever. I am staying with my ex, M, and his new partner M, who together shall hereby be known as M&M. They are as sweet as chocolate too, so it is an appropriate moniker.

I arrived here last night on the train from Lucca. Dumped my bags at the Left Luggage office and wandered off to see what I could remember of the layout of the city. In my mind’s eye, very little of Florence is in focus, or any kind of detail. But as I walk, things come back to me, and I turn corners and suddenly remember where to go next.

Last night I started by walking from the station to Piazza Santa Maria Novella (right next door). From the Piazza I continued walking in more or less a straight line, and found myself by the river. At that point I remembered walking on the other side of the river – Oltrarno – with my mother 12 years ago, and finding a wonderful place to eat. I figured I could find it again. I walked along a street that runs parallel to the river. I walked until I reached the big Porta San Frediano. Then I turned and walked away from the river, found myself at a major intersection with directions to Siena and other places outside of Florence, and continued walking a little further without crossing the main road. EventuallyI found myself in a piazza with grass and trees in its centre, and there, its name lit up in neon cursive script, was Il Tramvai – the place Mum and I ate at so many years ago, when we were the first people to tell them they were featured in the current Lonely Planet guidebook for Italy. On that night, the waitress borrowed our book to take it back into the kitchen to show all the staff.

I ate a great meal, traditional Tuscan fare, washed down with Chianti from a fiasco (a fiasco is one of those bottles that make great candlesticks – once empty – in Bohemian cafes, with straw cladding on the bottom half of the bottle). Then walked back to the station to meet M&M and came by car to their place.

Today I have just been wandering. I found my way back to my favourite bakery over in Campo dei Ciompi, (or is it di Ciompo? I can’t remember. Apologies if I have got it wrong) where I hoped to find an amazing chocolate tart I had bought there on my visit here in 2002. No such luck, they didn’t have any kind of tart like that on display. Instead I bought a piece of castagnaccio (sweet cake made with chestnut flower, rosemary and pine nuts) but this wasn’t anything like as tasty and special as the castagnaccio I sometimes treat myself to at the Queen Victoria Market. (I don’t think it is my favourite bakery anymore). There is a sweet little antiques market in the square. I browsed awhile, looking at silver teapots and milk jugs.

Now I am at M’s school, where he is working away in the office and I am typing away in the foyer. Next I shall have a cup of tea, and hit the shops, once they open again for afternoon shopping. The second week of January is Sale Time in Italy, there are serious discounts going on. SB bought himself a very funky pilot jacket in Pisa. I bought myself a winter dress today. And yesterday, in a street market in Pisa, I found a flouncy, flimsy little sun dress for 5 euros that should do very nicely for those scorching hot weekend days in Melbourne when there is no need to wear much at all.

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