Friday, March 25, 2011

Friend of Goats

The field trip for our Molecular Gastronomy class was to Greve in Chianti, where we visited a goat farm/cheese factory and a winery that also produces its own cured meats.

The goat farm was definitely the highlight of the day for everyone, as things quickly turned into an advanced petting zoo. And by advanced, I mean rounding first base, as I think some goat kissing even took place, and relationships bloomed.

I was a little nervous (but not nearly as much as the poor little things) as first, but I succeeded in petting one at last.

My favorite quote of the day came from one of my students, Maureen (above, embracing a goat dubbed "Nibbles", while appropriately-named goat nibbles on her hair and jacket):

Maureen (very profoundly): Now I know what I want to do with my life, guys!
Us: What, be a goat farmer?
Maureen: No, friend of goats!

We mostly spent the rest of the day basking in the sun, indulging ourselves on fresh cheese, organic wine, and home-made salami. Not a bad life, if you ask me.

We received a lovely send-off from some kids at a nearby school, who proudly counted all the way up to 12 in English for us. It sure was an overwhelming day of cuteness.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Like the season changing, I felt it too

The temperature is slowly inching upwards; the sun has been glowing over the valley for days now, with intense sunsets rolling into peaceful nights. Took a stroll the other day through the residential hills of Fiesole, something I hadn't done in awhile. Stumbled upon one of the numerous artisan fairs featured in the main piazza.

There's always some beautiful treasure amongst the stalls that I must own, but I try to control myself. I did purchase this unique clay bowl with a shimmering gold glaze from a man there a couple months ago, which I simply love.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

It's Friday, Friday

Friday Gio came to Florence and after I gave her the villa tour, we went down to visit the Church of Santa Croce, did a bit of market-ing, enjoyed gelato and a sweet aperitivo, and dined on some Neapolitan food (pizza & seafood pasta) at Il Pizzaiuolo.

Formidable statue of Dante in front of the church's facade

Courtyard at S. Croce, with the Pazzi Chapel

The still-active leather school and shop inside S. Croce,
originally opened during WWII to give orphans a trade

Sunset at the Ponte Vecchio

It feels so normal to have Gio around with me in Italy, I think I'm already taking her proximity for granted!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Auguri Italia!

Compliments of
(aka I forgot my camera, dagnabit)

Today is the 150th anniversary of the unification of the Italian states. This nationalistic occasion, while a great historic event, borders on ridiculous for many citizens since despite its political unification, Italy is far from unified. When one considers the ongoing racism between the north and the south, the varying health conditions between, say, Tuscany and Sicily, and the current goings-on of political playboy Burlusconi, it's understandable to see where these skeptics are coming from.

However, for others, it is a great opportunity to puff out their chests even more than usual and celebrate their red, white, and green, their land of exquisite cuisine and snobby espresso, suntanning, making out in public, and trading favors like Pokemon cards. At least on these things, everyone can unite.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Another BO Reunion

The day I'd been anticipating for months finally arrived last week, and with it came Gio! She has returned to Bologna for four months to start a master's degree in development. Her next semester will take place in Capetown, S. Africa, if you can believe that. About 12 hours after her arrival at the airport, I came to visit her at her new place in our old home away from home.

We mostly just visited our nostalgic points of interest, such as the market, Osteria dell'Orsa, la Chiesa di S. Stefano, and of course, Sorbetteria Castiglione.

Some of my students decided to go to Bologna the same weekend, as per my glowing recommendation. Oddly enough we never ran into them, even though they were hitting all our favorite spots as well. The less than shocking verdict came in when I got back to the villa Sunday night-they loved it!

It was so comforting to be with an old friend, and I think my presence helped cushion Gio's shock about moving into a city that has dwindled considerably friend-wise since our last sojourn. I'm so excited for her though, getting to re-live the dream and create new memories with fresh friends. Plus, this means she's only an hour way from me and we can visit often.

In my case, it was a rejuvenating weekend that helped prevent a strong case of Villa Fever. Don't make fun, it's a real malady among the rich or, er, privileged.