Sunday, November 29, 2009


In case you missed it last year, here it is again.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Green Gold

Italy is deservedly famous for its food, and one of the best-known ingredients is olive oil. What I didn't know was that here, olive oil is a seasonal specialty. In the late fall, the olives are harvested and then pressed into fresh oil. It's bright green, often translucent due to the olive particles still floating in it, and has a fresh, sharp, intensely olive-y, almost pungent flavor. Saturday, we went to the Piazza Santa Croce, where various oil producers from the region around Reggello were offering their products, and where we could try the oil. Some of it brought tears to my eyes, it was that peppery! We ended up getting a modest (by Italian standards) two liters, of a kind which for my taste had a good balance between bite and smoothness.
The best and simplest way to showcase the oil: Toast or bake some white French or Italian bread, perhaps rub with some garlic and generously drizzle with new olive oil.


After a year and a half in Florence, we finally made it to the Uffizi gallery yesterday (not for lack of trying...). What can I say, it's a quite impressive collection. You know you've been in Italy for a while when you start recognizing the secondary artists -- "Luca Signorelli, didn't we see something of his in ...".


Channeling Stephen Colbert, a Wag Of My Finger to Amazon for its change of policy on MP3 downloads. For the past year and a half, I've been able to download their free promotional MP3s, and I've purchased several albums, using my credit card with US billing address. Since a few days however, they state that their service is only available to users physically within the United States. Why do companies make it so hard for people to legally get music? Now I'm forced to resort to illegal downloads, or use some proxy software to hide my location. Blerg.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Renewing the Permesso di Soggiorno, Parts 4-6

(Continued from here.)

I went to the questura on my designated appointment day. I waited about 3 hours, and then I was told I had to come in the afternoon. Apparently the appointment times have some meaning: you're either in the morning or in the afternoon.

So I returned that day in the afternoon, waited maybe 2 hours, and was told the permesso wasn't ready yet, and I should come back in 7-15 days (depending who I asked). The procedure in the afternoon, by the way, is slightly different than the morning. You have to stand in line outside the questura, then they take your letter with your appointment time on it and you move in to the entrance area (holding pen), where you stand and wait for them to call your name. When they call your name, you receive your number. So, instead of getting a number that only gets you another number, you just wait in line longer for the real number.

On the questura's website, you can check to see if your permesso is ready or not, and the website confirmed that mine wasn't ready on my appointment day, but I didn't know what would happen if I missed my appointment day (probably nothing, but you never know). Notice they didn't mention the website to those of us whose permessi weren't ready.

Anyway, according to that website, my permesso was ready about a week later, so I went back a day or so after that. I got there after the main rush, so there wasn't much of a line anymore. I only had to wait 20-30 minutes to find out that I had to show up between 12 and 2.

So today I went back around noon, waited in line outside, waited in the holding pen, then waited in the main area for a total of about 4 hours. Luckily I was in line between two other American women, so talking to them passed to time more pleasantly. Then I finally received my permesso di soggiorno. I NEVER HAVE TO GO BACK TO THE QUESTURA!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


This was to have been a post about our trip to the olive oil and new wine festival in Pontassieve. But alas, Italy did not disappoint, and a train strike canceled all local trains in that direction. So instead of reading about the incredible new harvest olive oil and the cases of wine we would have bought, you're left with a black square.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Story with No Point

Whenever I ride a certain bus, I try to sit in a double seat on the window side. My stop is near the end of the line, so that way I don't get shoved around by everyone else getting off, and it's not a seat for differently-abled people. By the time the bus reaches my stop, it's usually almost empty. However, it seems that whoever sits next to me almost always gets off after me, so that, when most seats are empty, one of the few people left on the bus is sitting next to me. Today I sat next to someone in a double seat, but on the aisle side. She was still on the bus at my stop, so this time I was in the other position.

(That was the story.) Speaking of buses, they seem to have decided to better enforce* the rule that you need a validated ticket to ride the bus. So they're checking tickets more frequently. I'm not sure we've posted anything about this before, so the way tickets work for city buses is: you buy a ticket somewhere, you get on the bus, you validate your ticket, occasionally people show up on the bus to make sure you have a validated ticket (and fine you around 40 euros if you don't. The fining process, by the way, 90% of the time includes a 10 minute argument). It's similar to the train ticket system.

* hand out more fines