Mar 9, 2008

So I have had a very very wondrous few days in Florence so far, wandering around and meeting with medieval and Renaissance academic types and visiting anything that was around in the 13th century and going into bookstores and into churches and into the Casa di Dante and drinking coffee at my favorite place while taking notes notes notes and then buying beauteous shoes and eating magical plates of pasta and bruschetta and drinking goblets of red wine and bottles of sparkling water. Today I also attempted to eat lampredotto, which is this popular Florentine street food made of COW STOMACH. I thought it might be disguised in such a way as to appear un-intestinal, but when I lifted that bread it winked out at me in a most stomachly manner, causing me to grow woozy and unbrave and throw the whole mess away.

I also had a very sublime moment, sitting down this afternoon on a ledge of the Strozzi Palace, facing the arch that leads into the Piazza della Republica--which in Dante's day was the city's big outdoor marketplace--and, beyond that, the street the Portinari family (Beatrice's family) once lived on, and it had been raining for a while and so everything was hazy and silvery and the streets were still wet, and I just leaned with my back against the thick stone of this old palace and watched and listened as people walked by, holding hands and with dogs and with babies and in groups and two men arm in arm who blew me kisses and all the sounds seemed magnified, like the whir of bikes going by on the wet pavement and the rumble of buses and the clicking of shoes, and all the bells! Bells ringing and ringing, and the city fully present but filled with ghosts, and of course I am trying to immerse myself in the past but I can see it now, how the city once was and the old market teeming with people and merchants. And the whole time there's this couple making out, sitting on the same ledge a ways down from me. I took one quick photo of the scene in front of me before my camera died. I didn't even realize till now I was right in front of a Louis Vuitton store. Ha!

And then time just strettttcched out the way it never does for me in New York, and I felt like I had hours and hours to just do nothing at all, and I thought I might see a movie at the Odeon Theater, which is so gorgeous and glamorous and was just to the right of where I was sitting, but they were showing There Will Be Blood dubbed in Italian and so I did the next most logical thing and went to the SERIAL KILLER MUSEUM. Which has little exhibits on Giles de Rais and Elizabeth Bathory and Jack the Ripper and Ted Bundy and so on, and then one I'd somehow never heard of, Albert Fish, whose story actually made me wince and gasp out loud. So horrifying! Such extreme versions of secret lives men like him had, driven by the most intense fantasies, and on the outside so normale. Just like the characters I like to write... if said characters were a bit more diabolical, that is.

Anyway, I then walked over the bridge alle Grazie to the Oltrarno and past this little park and through the medieval gates and up this hill to my favorite restaurant here which is quite hidden away and where they aint so American friendly and the lady who seated me seemed appalled that I was eating alone--IN A MOST GARBOESQUE MANNER I MIGHT ADD--and acted like it was a big deal even though the place was still empty as I went before 8pm in a most Americana fashion, but the indignity I suffered was worth it as the food at that place is amazing and it's the loveliest loveliest restaurant with sunflowers and Christmas lights and a tree growing out of the floor. I don't even know what pasta I had, as all the primi piatti were about the same price and I asked the waiter to just bring me the one he liked best, and it was this huge thick round pasta with boar sauce I think and some grated cheese. And I had a big glass of red wine and got inspired and wrote a whole scene for mah new book.

Oh, another thing I wanted to write down: so yesterday I spent several hours with a beauteous woman named Noel who filled me with facts over a pastry and coffee and then showed me some strange sights and told me some strange Florentine tales like the one about Ginevra degli Almieri, who was forced to marry a man she didn't love and was so sad she stopped eating and grew so sick she seemed to have died. So she was taken away to be buried. But then she "came back to life" since she was not actually dead, just swoony I guess, and when she returned to her husband he thought she was a ghost and sent her away, and so she went to the house of the man she loved but wasn't allowed to marry, and he of course weren't no fool and took her in, and when the husband found out he went to the church authorities to punish her. But they said that since she had up and died their marriage had been officially annulled and she was free to live as she pleased. And TO THIS DAY SHE HAUNTS THIS VERY PIAZZA:

The end.