Volume 8. Kissed by the Tuscan Sun

Ciao! This past weekend I fell in love with a city.
After the long haul of a 6 hour bus trip from Torino, we arrived to Florence in the pouring rain. The old sunken cobble stones, on the side walk, created pools of water. Despite the unhappy weather, we were still able to trek about the city avoiding puddles.

I quickly realized Florence is a huge tourist city. It was only the end of February, and I found the streets were packed with people! Although, tourist filled, there were so many different things to do and see. In this moment, the sky was gray, but lights were reflecting off of the river, I fell in love. No wonder why people love Florence so much, there is an irresistible charm that fills the street.

That night our Airbnb host had a huge party with all of her closest friends and invited us to the party as well. Only speaking a bit of Italian, it was great to meet and drink wine with native Florentines! Everyone was so nice and welcoming.

The next morning we woke up super early and were the first people in line to the Uffizi gallery. We spent over 4 hours in the gallery and even saw works by Leonardo! A few of the more popular works I have studied or seen in pictures before, caught me off guard due to their massive size. I mean, it seems like a miracle, one person could produce such enormous paintings!

image

The building next door was the Museo Galileo. With my engineering background, I completely nerded out in this museum. It was so neat to see prototypes of cranes, pulley systems and the tools needed for mathematics. It made me appreciate my calculator and how I can use my phone as a leveling device. However, I love learning about the history and Galileo’s contributions. When you think of technology, one does not link an hourglass to the word. This museum made me realize at one point an hourglass was revolutionary technology.

image

After 6 hours of museums, we headed to Piazzale Michelangelo. The view of the city was incredible. Then, we walked to Abbazia di San Miniato al Monte. Every church in Italy is decorated as if it is the last church on earth. They have paintings, gold, marble, etc I cannot see enough of them!
The famous bridge Ponte Vecchio, home to a dozen gold shops was interesting. At first, I did not even realize I was on a bridge! The shops line the street, so you cannot see the water until the middle of the bridge. It was so cool. I found out it was the only bridge left across the Arno river after World War two. We noticed the sun was setting so we grabbed a bottle of wine and watched the sun set at Piazza Pitti. The wine was a red sparkling wine. I have only had sparkling white wine or champagne in America but have to say the sparkling red wine was delicious.


image

The next morning, we visited the Accademia Gallery. I have noticed it is better to get up early to be one of the first in line or else pay for a fast pass or wait forever. The museum itself was smaller than the Uffizi but the unfinished works of Michelangelo were in the collection! I was surprised how large the David statue is by Michelangelo! It truly looked as if the men Michelangelo was carving were really trapped in the marble. It was a bit expensive but worth it to see Michelangelo’s works.
Since it was Sunday we decided to go to Mass at the Duomo. The inside of the church was incredible, the dome is unquestionably an incredible engineering accomplishment. I believe the man that designed and built the dome was buried in the church. The Mass service was beautiful, it was interesting how the acoustics echoed throughout the entire building. Overall, it was an amazing trip. I highly recommend to others, just stay clear of the massive tour groups!!

Buonasera 😊

Volume 5. The ‘Italian’ Bidet

Ciao! As many of you know this is my first month living in Italy. I figured it was about time to address the additional fixture in my Italian bathroom. 

This particular fixture was the first thing I noticed walking into the hotel bathroom. Everything seemed normal… a shower, a sink, heated towel rack, a toilet… But then there was an additional bowl in the corner.

 The certain fixture I am referring to looks very simple: a mini sink with faucet at seat level. At first, I was not sure what an additional mini sink was doing in the bathroom. The bathroom was already very small. Why would they add another sink if space is limited?

The next day, a native Italian helped me move into my cozy apartment and yet again I discovered the additional mini sink in the bathroom. It seemed no matter the amount of space, the additional feature was present. Why??? So I asked the Italian (who laughed) shaking his head. He explained it’s use and that it was a bidet. Before this, I thought I knew what a bidet was, I was wrong. I now know there are different types… ones that are installed on the toilet and others, like the one in my appartment, that are separate fixtures. He also informed me that everyone in Italy has a bidet. No matter how tiny or cluttered the small bathroom, space is made. 

As an American, I did not grow up with a bidet. I cannot seem to wrap my head around using it ‘as needed’ (I’m not explaining that one). But, I have done some extensive research on why everyone has a bidet in Italy… especially because I knew the word bidet is French. I won’t bore you with those details, but if your interested, you should look it up! 

Personally, I have not been able to use the bidet for it’s traditional use, however it’s taking up space on my tiny bathroom so I thought I might as well find a use for it. 

Some of the practical uses I determined include:

#1. If I had a pet, it would be wonderful to use as a water fountain. It seems as if dogs like drinking toilet water, now they just have their own fountain. Better yet, if the dog is small enough, use the bidet as a tub to wash him! However, I don’t have a dog so, on to the next one…

#2. A place to keep my plants… super convenient actually. Instead of needing to fetch water to quench its thirst, all you do is turn the bidet on. With this method, there is no need to worry about over watering, water spilling out of the pot or accidentally knocking over the plant (I’m such a klutz). 

#3. It’s convenient height makes it perfect for washing your feet. I would always get yelled at home for walking outside barefoot as a kid. I would then have to turn the shower on to wash my feet before going anywhere else in my house. While I tried to only get water on my feet, it seemed impossible because I would many times just end up taking a shower.

#4. Ladies, tired of trying to stand in the shower while shaving your legs and when finished, you realized you missed an entire section? Then put a bidet in your bathroom! The close proxemity to the toilet allows one to sit on the closed toilet seat with their legs in the bowl of the bidet so one can easily shave. The faucet of the bidet allows the legs to be rinsed after shaving. There will be no more struggling to be flexible, trying putting your leg in the sink if you decided to shave your legs outside of the shower or take care of missed spots.

#5. This alternative use I believe to be the most useful. Use the bowl of the bidet as a bucket to hold soapy water to wash your floors. When finished, just release the stopper and all of the gross water disappears. Also, use this method to clean the head of your mop! 

If you have any other suggestions on alternative uses for the bidet, I’d love to hear them. 

Buonasera!