Yesterday was the last day of July, and I spent most of it taking care of business: paying bills, making sure things were in order, and getting ready to move into the apartment I’ve rented in Florence for the month of August and part of September.

I went to Trattoria Casalinga for the midday meal yesterday. We’d say “lunch,” but it’s a big meal in Italy, and they call it “pranzo.” Trattoria Casalinga is a fairly cheap mess hall in Piazza di Santo Spirito (this link even mentions Trattoria Casalinga), and because it’s inexpensive, I wind up getting a full course meal, including wine, water, coffee, and a sorbetto limoncello for dessert! I used to come here as a student in my 2os, when it was really cheap. A lot of the same personnel still work here! Incredible continuity. The food is also just like I remember it: very basic, but good and filling. A lot of it hasn’t changed in 20+ years. The tortellini panna e prosciutto here brings me back to my student days.

Had a snooze in the afternoon (ah, the bliss of being free of work in one’s 40s!) then went to Piazza della Passera and sat down on one of the benches with the intention of reading some more short stories from Goffredo Parise‘s book Sillabari, when October – the sculptor who was born in Taiwan but grew up in New York who I mentioned yesterday (here’s a website for her studio) – spotted me and sat down for a chat. She was early to meet her friend Fiona, a Taiwanese woman who had recently gotten her tour guide license, for dinner. We chatted for awhile. The conversation meandered, but was mostly about projects we’re both working on. I found her to be encouraging and supportive, as are all of the artists and artisans in this neighborhood. October has yet to show me any dark side to her personality. She just seems to be excited about doing her art all day long.

Fiona showed up and they left. I got myself an Aperol Spritz (which would also be a good name for a secret agent character!) and resumed reading.

A Greek couple sat down next to me and started a conversation. A day doesn’t go by in Italy when I don’t meet someone new, and this year I’ve got about 600 business cards advertising my book with me. I handed it over. We talked about places to see and eat in Florence. I recommended Trattoria Sabatino (dirt cheap, but noisy and crowded, and you’ll be required to sit on a bench at a long table with the other diners).

Before calling it a night, I had another exotic gelato flavor at Gelateria della Passera. Tonight’s flavor: negroni! This cocktail normally knocks me on my ass and tastes bitter, bitter, bitter besides, but the ice cream version still wound up being sweet and tasting more like gin than campari. I prefer the mojito gelato (unfortunately not on the menu tonight).

But no worries…I’ve got nothing but time!


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