In bed too late on Sunday morning I thought to myself, “get up now and get on the train otherwise you’ll never do it.” I threw off the covers and threw on my clothes and took myself on a day trip to the Picasso exhibit in Pisa.
After printing a train ticket to Pisa Centrale from one of the big green automatic ticket machines I took a few steps and validated it in the small yellow ticket stamper machine and stepped up into the second class train car. A group of four Gabriel García Márquez reading German girls dressed in Renaissance costumes rode across the aisle from me for the ninety minute journey.
Pisa is charming. I walked north in a straight line out of the train station doors to the river, stopping once to check a map taped-up in a cafe window to be sure I was heading in the right direction. When I turned around to set off again I was standing right in front of a huge and beautiful Keith Herring mural. I don’t think I have ever seen a piece of his in person. The mural in Pisa is huge, vibrant and delightful, but be careful, it’ll sneak up on you.
There were no celebrity paintings among the prints and pots in the temporary exhibit. Maybe paintings don’t travel as well or they were afraid of being stolen à la Mona, but what they had on display was impressive. I was inspired by the levels of detail and gray-scale in the essential bull lithographs and the curatorial wallop of a long hallway of vivid book illustrations dead-ending with this goat’s head. There were a huge series of beautiful copperplate etchings of minotaurs, bull fighters, Bacchanalias, and loungey women that were overwhelming in their number and variety and gave me the sense his balance of skill and production. It was definitely worth the trip.
By the time I was out of the museum it was getting dark and chilly. I headed right to the train a little ashamed that I’d return without getting a picture kicking the the tipping tower. But I’d let go of that by the time I rolled into Florence, happy at least that I’d gotten my lazy bones up and out.
Postcards aren’t what they used to be, but they’re still a lot of fun to make. Thanks to his mom, Bannack and I have traded a few videos like this one in the past few days. It’s such a treat to be able to have a little album of videos to carry around with me too. It means that if anyone is halfway interested I get to perform my proud uncle ritual of pulling out my iPod and showing off Bannack’s cuteness.
Something I learned after leaving Florence for the Christmas break was that I haven’t really seen much of the touristy stuff in the city. Now that I’m back I’m committed to seeing more of what’s available here.
West from the Ponte alla Carraia, the bridge I cross every morning to school.
Gene invited me to the photography museum that houses the Fratelli Alinari collection, apparently the oldest photographic archive in the world. Along with some very beautiful old daguerreotypes and albumen prints from around the world there was a room lined in back-lit negatives and a wild collection of photographic albums, some of them huge sculptural assemblages with metal hinges, gemstone covers and painted edges.
I thought the famous Florence lion was a monkey until I was corrected.
The whole school seemed to come out for Darryl’s birthday last night, he’s the Australian everyone is pointing at in this photo. We met at a cozy, over-mosaiced wine bar, Rex, for aperitivo and a few rounds of house-rules Uno.
Aperitivo is the European answer to a bar offering free peanuts or popcorn with a beer. For five euro you can have a drink and as many rounds as you like of delicious tapas dinner. Sometimes its as simple as a few slices of salami and some very salty olives or it can be as generous as slices of pizza and lasagna, pesto pasta, fresh salads and an assortment mysterious spreadable tasty pastes. Rex serves something more on the salami and olives side of the spectrum but no one blamed Darryl for that.
Happy birthday Darryl, and thanks MC for the photo!
I spent an afternoon in Amsterdam before heading back to Firenze for the start of the second term. It started out to be a long walk around the canal path the tour boat takes you on but by two o’clock it was pouring rain. I scrambled back to the train station ducking under awnings and dashing over the low bridges everywhere.
The red light district took me by surprise. One low retail window opened onto the pink powder room of a woman on the early shift, brushing her hair while looking in the mirror. I passed by a few of the famous aromatic coffee shops too, it seems like there’s one on every street corner.
It’s a beautiful city, but I was exhausted from not sleeping on the flight over and got rained out anyway so I go back to be airport with a few hours to spare.
I must have had all my papers in order when I visited the Italian consulate general ten days ago. My passport and new visa were waiting for me when I arrived back to the Main Street Theater here in San Francisco.
Nikolas had a tight rope lesson earlier today and offered to give me a lesson before he took the rope down. I climbed up onto the heavy hemp line in my socks and jeans and had a great time. I practiced falling off, walking forward and backward, turning around and falling off again. It’s something I definitely want to try again, tricky as hell and lots of fun.
UPDATE: This song played at the NYE party I went to later that night and two people asked me, “what’s this song?”