Both my tragic getaway and the first semester at The Florence Academy of Art were coming to a close. England, snow and Christmas beckoned. So, in a festive farewell mission, friends gathered at Livi’s for a final supper.
This was not the standard turkey, sprouts and roast potatoes. No, our meal was a collision of countries – Venezuelan rice, Tuscan sausage, Sicilian salad, American fried chicken (and American cooked ricotta gnocchi) & English Apple crumble – a marvelous multi-cultural feast.
The wonderful supper
Feeling festive – Livi & Alice
Feeling festive – Flash & Gerard
The following day (my last), Livi and some of her housemates took me sight-seeing. Though I’d done a bit of exploring, being shown the city by locals made all the difference. On the menu was the Uffizi Gallery, the Palazzo Vecchio and the Boboli gardens.
The sight-seeing team
View from the Boboli Gardens
Sitting around the table tucking into a home-made Carbonara, I didn’t notice what was happening in the far right of the room. In fact, it wasn’t until I licked the last of the sticky egg yolk from my fork and heard a ‘niiiicce,’ that I looked around and saw it. The sketch, the sketch that one of Livi’s friends had done of me.
I’d never been to an interactive art dinner party before. Livi and her friends sat around with pads in one hand and pencils in the other and practised their portraits. The dining room, a place that so far in my life I’d associated with food, had morphed into a creative hub – a land of artistic genius.
Sketch of me by Sara Chong
The following day after editing the penultimate section of my travelogue, I received a text message from Livi inviting asking me to meet for lunch. We met in the Santa Croce Christmas Market.
Filled with German sausage, Livi and her art academy contemporaries extended the arm of hospitality and asked me to join them at their studio later that afternoon. I accepted.
Esteemed as the best in the world, on entering the Florence Academy of Art I have never felt so inadequate. A humble building in need of a few roof fillings, the Florence Academy of Art’s exterior was nothing remarkable. The interior, however, the interior was spectacular.
Lining the walls were sketches, drawings and charcoals that caught me off guard they were so accurate. Delicate and intricate strokes of colour caressed the canvasses capturing the human body perfectly. Tutored in the Atelier style, the students of the Florence Academy are without doubt the next generation of masters in the art world.
Through to Livi’s section of the studio and again I was rendered mute. I knew she was talented, but I had no she was this talented…
Livi’s blog: www.paintandprosecco.blogspot.co.uk
A slither of misty air creeps between the oak panelling, it moves with an agility only the weightless can have. A beam of light breaks through the cloud and ricochets against a gold bracelet. The gushing of water sounds beneath me, I look over the edge and see it power against the stone foundations. I am on the Ponte Vecchio and I love Florence.
Though only on day three of my tragic getaway, I feel that I have been in Florence for weeks. The labyrinth of narrow back-streets, the quaint cafés and the whizzing vespers that shoot around have become normal. I feel settled.
My stay so far has also proved productive – by day I have edited 80 pages of the 170 page ‘Alice’s Adventures in…India’ and by night I have explored the Florentine lifestyle. Or at least a foreign student’s Florentine lifestyle – including the celebration of a birthday.
Livi’s birthday was on Wednesday and her housemate Laura treated us to a Spanish feast of tortilla, followed by an assortment of pungent cheeses fresh in from the Santa Croce Christmas market – all of which was accompanied with healthy doses of Vino Rossi. Perhaps too healthy…
A Swedish drinking game later, things had got slightly out of control. Livi was on flying form. A picture paints a thousand words, therefore by default – a video must paint even more. So instead of breaking down the evening’s shenanigans into delicately crafted sentences; rich with description and dialogue, I have decided to show you.
Needless to say, yesterday she was feeling a bit worse for wear – so we embarked upon a mission to rectify her body’s sugar and salt levels – we went out for supper.
The Second Supper (out)
All set for a night on the town…
Cherry Tomato Bruschetta
Gnocchi lathered in cheese & Truffle oil
The MAMMOTH Bistecca Fiorentina
Twenty minutes later
We washed it all down with two glasses of Amaretto and hauled our bloated bodies back…another fabulous meal out. Oh Florence, Florence, Florence!
When the plane shudders, drops a few feet and shudders some more – the last thing you want to hear is the crackling of speakers marking an upcoming announcement. You start to panic – what’s going on? Is this normal turbulence, or are we about to plummet from the sky and die? Hot flushes and adrenalin rushes course through your body, this is it – it can’t get any worse.
Yes it can. It can get a hell of a lot worse – how? When the announcement over the loud speaker is in a different language. When the half of the plane who understand break out into heated and high-pitched conversation. The sinking feeling that comes with this – they know you’re going to die and you only have a few seconds before the English translation comes and you will know too.
This is exactly what happened as my Meridian airline flight hit stormy weather mid-way over Italy. Well, almost exactly. The announcement didn’t predict the oh so certain fate of death that I had predicted, but it did pass on the distressing news that we wouldn’t be landing in Pretola – we would be landing in Bologna.
On landing I opted out of the replacement bus service and joined forces with two men. The three of us took a taxi to the railway station. A forty minute journey on a luxury train later, I arrived in the town I was seeking – I arrived in Florence.
I have come here for two reasons: 1 – to visit my dear friend Olivia Crane who is studying at the prestigious Florence Academy of Art and 2 – to edit my travelogue ‘Alice’s Adventures in…India.’
Dragging my fuchsia pink bag along the slippery platform, I spied her. With a black smudge of charcoal on her cheek, a spotty umbrella and a baggy shirt, Olivia looked every part the artist. God it was good to see her. We took a taxi through a maze of cobbled streets, meandering through people and slicing through puddles before pulling up in Via dei Conciatori, home of Crane and my accommodation for the week.
After meeting her housemates and dropping off my bag we ventured out for a catch up and some Italian cuisine – the unsaid 3rd reason for the visit…
The First Supper
Veal & Pistachio Terrine
Me and a glass of Chianti