It has been an eventful couple of weeks since I moved to Florence. It would also be fair to say that a lot of things are done very differently out here than back home. Although, I am absolutely relishing this new found love for 'Aperitivo'. It's the 'done thing' in Italy and involves buying a drink/cocktail in a bar around supper time and then being allowed access to what appears to me an all you can eat buffet. It's great and sorts you out for the rest of the night. I was wondering why this isn't done in Britain and then realised that every person would be like me and go back for 3rds with the food disappearing in no time at all.
Aperitivi has replaced the normal so called 'pre-ing', which is commonly done before heading on out at British universities. This is then followed by a stroll over the Arno before ending up in Santo Spirito. A huge Piazza on the south side of the river which seems to be full every night of the week by 12, with no exception. It is a great hub of energy and people, mostly Italians, who gather with their mates wherever they can; on the church steps, around the fountain that marks the centre of the square, on benches and if that's all taken, then you park yourself on the floor. The only down side of 'Pre's' being thrown out the window is that drinking becomes that bit more expensive.
I had quite a surreal moment last week when strolling through the back streets of Florence in the San Ambrogio region at 3 in the morning with a couple of friends. The 3 of us were somewhat worse for wear after heading back from San Spirito. We came across this restaurant which was still open and before I knew what was happening we were inside with a table for 3. Including a multitude of bottles of wine being brought to the table . Now I don't have any idea what was said before we sat down, during the sitting down, and possibly after. But everyone was talking in Italian, the waiter's were talking Italian (shock) and wine was being sent back and forth with great shouting and hand waving before we settled on a bottle of...errr... white. A panino was placed before me. I tucked in. All the while talking continued around me in this deserted restaurant. It started to become apparent that the 2 guys running the place were turning people away at the door. Who turns up at a place like this at 3 in the morning beats me..... Yet they needed no encouragement to join us and they too cracked open a bottle themselves and sat themselves down at our table. This apparently is all very normal in Italy.
It was not until we stumbled out an hour later that I was filled in on what exactly had just taken place. I completely had got the wrong end of the stick thinking that these 2 waiters were chatting up my friends and for all they cared I could p*ss off. But, as was explained to me, one of them was gay and had in fact found a liking in yours truly. This too is apparently all very normal in Italy... This was all quite a lot to take on board, needless to say we have been encouraged to return the next time we happen to be passing in the middle of the night.
Anyway. I have had a fantastic time so far and with 10 days or so till University starts it will hopefully stay that way for now. Lunch today was hilarious too, taken in the San Lorenzo food market. A huge building filled with stalls and stalls of food sellers. We found a tiny cafe in the corner and proceeded to witness the most bizarre way to run a family food business. It seemed that Dad was in charge and also head of the pork baps. He had 2 daughters, one behind the counter with him. One front of house taking orders. And last but definitely by no means least was Nonna. The mum/grandmother. She made Manuel from Fawlty Towers look like 5* service. She too was front of house and whoever made that decision should be given the sack. Nonna was hopeless. Food was sent to the wrong table, cutlery was forgotten, coke was spilt, food was spilt. All the while the 2 daughters were screaming at 'Nonna' in front of all and sundry. Quite the experience.