Milestone moment, people: this was the first day that I’ve been able to believe that it will eventually get cold here.
For weeks we’ve been asking around and trying to figure out what a Florentine winter is like, and I think the information we’ve received can be boiled down to this: in autumn (now), the mornings and evenings will get cool but any direct sun will set you straight back to August (i.e., shade = pleasant but sun = blistering heat). Hot days will keep being a fact of life until one day everything decides to go frigid for kicks and giggles, and there will be lots of rain and bitter wind and that’s winter.
But, like I said, it’s been hot for so long that I was seriously doubting whether ‘winter’ in Italy could be that big a deal.* So you can imagine my surprise (and also delight, and I sincerely mean that) when I head out to wait at the bus stop this morning and it suddenly feels like mid-October. Overcast, all the light dim and shifting, with a pretty hefty wind whipping everyone’s hair around — and a jacket very very much a necessity. It was back into the 80’s by 10:00 AM, of course, but it was quite a nice shock to the system while it lasted.
…Only slightly related, but I’ve been daydreaming about Christmas for the last two weeks. I already miss baking and I’m pre-missing snow (which Tuscany sees about as often as Texas), but the nice thing is that we will get to see the start of Florence’s Christmas preparations. And, since Italy is dripping with Catholics and Christmas is, as I am told, a day of some importance to the Church, we’ve been promised we’ll get something of a spectacle. Along with a whole slew of new seasonal foodstuffs, and you can perhaps imagine how I feel about that.**
So yes, very much looking forward to the Christmas season, but we’ll get there when we get there and I’m certainly still set to enjoy myself in the meantime. Got some tentative October plans in the works with a few other students (which I will tell you about only if and when they become solid), and we’re now just three days out from Venice. Speaking of which, orientation for that is tomorrow afternoon — so I’ll see you then, when I’ve got some actual new stuff going on?
A domani : )
(Oh, but a quick P.S. — We all took a quiz this morning, and afterwards the other two classes watched movies while our class played charades. It was a fast-moving game, right up until Umberto tried to get everyone to guess “Paranormal Activity”; watching someone trying to act out ‘normal’ is one of the funniest things I have ever seen [especially since he just kept repeating a bunch of gestures that we weren’t making sense of], and while we did eventually guess the title, amen to the student who said “I don’t understand what just happened.”)
*Just because I find it funny: we once asked about the most extreme low temperature we could expect here, and they said ‘0.’ Not so bad, we thought — but they meant Celsius. So there may have been some amused Midwest snorting.
**Just to say it explicitly, a large part of what makes Italian cooking so tremendously good is that they tend to use fresh ingredients and only in season. We are just now, for example, ending the season for grapes; so, a couple nights ago, Gabriella brought out to the table a dessert called “schiacciata con l’uva” (a sort of crisp pie/cake with grapes all over it and through it), and told us that this was the last time we’d be seeing it pretty much anywhere in town because everyone’s switching over to fall/winter produce. Again, the only-in-season mentality makes anything you eat here amazing, but it’s also completely tragic in that it makes most of their dishes impossible to recreate at home. Even were I armed with recipes (which I currently am not, as Gabriella is resistant to the idea of guests helping in the kitchen), we just don’t have access to the same fresh, flavorful, and very definitely non-GMO ingredients that the Italian style of cooking is meant to accentuate.
But oh well. We still beat them at breakfast foods ; )