It’s definitely fall in Florence, but the city hasn’t quite embraced the traditions of Halloween. Not that it should, but it just hasn’t.
Saturday I sat out in the “big” park and started on a reading assignment. We’re going to Rome this weekend, so we all are reading the History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Gibbon. It’s another one of those really old and really long books… But the park was lovely. It smells like fall there. The trees have yellowed, and leaves are starting to drop. It’s a nice and peaceful way to spend an afternoon. Many people pick a bench and just sit and people watch.
That night, I asked Sam if she wanted to do something crazy with me. Our craziness involved going to the Gelateria dei Neri and eating way too much. I got an absolutely delicious cup of chocolate with orange pieces and raspberry gelato with whipped cream on top. Then I was enticed by the profiteroles (cream puffs). So I had to get a little cup of them with fluffy chocolate mousse on top. The Gelateria was pretty crowded. Lots of Italians were coming in and out. Some stayed to enjoy an Italian version of Shrek. That’s the Italian’s idea of fall fun – eating gelato.
I went to the Episcopalian church yesterday morning. Members of the European Union just did their time change for the winter months, so it was nice getting to sleep a little extra. The Priest/Deacon/Pastor (whatever they’re called) gave a great sermon. It was about Halloween and how it is a Christian holiday. He also spoke about how the holiday has shifted over the years and that Italy is experimenting in adopting some of the traditions as well. I spoke with him a little after the service. He asked me where I was from and it turns out he’s also from the south! From Mobile, Alabama! Sunday was also my roommate’s birthday. Her parents flew in for the week to visit. It was really fun because they had some thick southern accents, which were strangely comforting.
We were supposed to have a little Halloween party-like thing in our Italian class today. However, everyone from Elon who happens to be studying abroad in Europe seemed to feel like it was a good idea to spend the long weekend in Italy. Consequentially, we had lots of visitors, and we ended up just watching a couple of short videos and all going to Mama’s Bakery. I ordered a most delicious everything bagel with cream cheese, but there was a nice spread of fall/Halloween themed treats – including a nice assortment of cupcakes. The workers were so fun wearing cute headbands with little pumpkins on them. 🙂 The rest of the city just today put up Halloween decorations, and then only in touristy restaurants and shops. I’d absolutely bet that stores in America have been decorated for at least the entire month of October.
Right before my next class, I ran over to the main school building to sign up for a cooking class and opera this week! I’m super excited! I’ve wanted to take a cooking class since before I got here! We should be making pasta from scratch. We’ll see how that goes! And the opera is called Affare Makropolus. I don’t really know much about it, but hey! The price was right! Then I ran over to the other school building where our public speaking professor was holding a safety meeting before class. He wanted to remind people not to do anything stupid tonight (Halloween) and read passages from a book about the Amanda Knox trials, and how Meredith Kercher (Amanda’s roommate) was killed from actions that happened on Halloween just 4 years ago. Spooky stuff. So right after that, we went to church! Perfect segway. But we went to the Santa Croce church. It’s an interesting place. We went there to discuss the flood that swept through Florence November 4, 1966. The church still has pieces of art that were damaged from the flood. The church was filled with water, up to the alter. Meaning, all the crypts in the basement were left a bit soggy. Still, though, there are great tombs even inside the church. Some notables are Dante and Machiavelli.
So. Florence definitely is experiencing fall but Halloween is certainly not its highest priority. It’d rather focus on All Saints’ Day or All Souls’ Day that are on the beginning of November, as they are traditional Catholic holidays.
Bonus: Here’s what I’ve been eating lately. Nothing especially fall themed. No apple cider. No pumpkin pies. But I have been turning into a pretty good cook, if I do say so myself. I don’t cook anything really healthy, but it sure tastes good! The olive oil certainly helps: