Tag Travel

Aperitivo at Rex’s

The whole school seemed to come out for Darryl’s birthday last night, he’s the Australian everyone is pointing at in this photo. We met at a cozy, over-mosaiced wine bar, Rex, for aperitivo and a few rounds of house-rules Uno.


Aperitivo is the European answer to a bar offering free peanuts or popcorn with a beer. For five euro you can have a drink and as many rounds as you like of delicious tapas dinner. Sometimes its as simple as a few slices of salami and some very salty olives or it can be as generous as slices of pizza and lasagna, pesto pasta, fresh salads and an assortment mysterious spreadable tasty pastes. Rex serves something more on the salami and olives side of the spectrum but no one blamed Darryl for that.
Happy birthday Darryl, and thanks MC for the photo!

Layover: Amsterdam

I spent an afternoon in Amsterdam before heading back to Firenze for the start of the second term. It started out to be a long walk around the canal path the tour boat takes you on but by two o’clock it was pouring rain. I scrambled back to the train station ducking under awnings and dashing over the low bridges everywhere.

The red light district took me by surprise. One low retail window opened onto the pink powder room of a woman on the early shift, brushing her hair while looking in the mirror. I passed by a few of the famous aromatic coffee shops too, it seems like there’s one on every street corner.

It’s a beautiful city, but I was exhausted from not sleeping on the flight over and got rained out anyway so I go back to be airport with a few hours to spare.


I must have had all my papers in order when I visited the Italian consulate general ten days ago. My passport and new visa were waiting for me when I arrived back to the Main Street Theater here in San Francisco.

Nikolas had a tight rope lesson earlier today and offered to give me a lesson before he took the rope down. I climbed up onto the heavy hemp line in my socks and jeans and had a great time.  I practiced falling off, walking forward and backward, turning around and falling off again. It’s something I definitely want to try again, tricky as hell and lots of fun.

UPDATE: This song played at the NYE party I went to later that night and two people asked me, “what’s this song?”

Road Trip to Saturnia

Maybe you’re waiting in a tiny laundromat for your clothes to dry and you strike up a conversation with the couple of people in there with you. That might lead to a lunch at il Raddi a delicious little hole in the wall restaurant that serves a plate of pasta al pomodoro for €2.50. That conversation may stretch out for two hours. Maybe you’ll be told of a beautiful hot spring in south Tuscany called Saturnia. Maybe that leads you and three co-conspirators to rent a car and drive down for a night.

Travelers make friends fast.

It took us much longer to get down to the hot spring than we had planned.  A Helikoser from San Francisco, Ramshackle Nikolas, drove while fellow American Chelsea, Aussie Izzy and I contributed by being terrible navigators. We took the scenic route, a road that is equally winding and beautiful so we stopped a lot along the way. That meant we got to scramble around on the stone walls of San Quirico d’Orcia, picking figs and peeking past garden gates.

We found ourselves a spot on the top of a hill to see the sunset over a misty valley and stargazed at the entrance to an electric candle lit graveyard. We knew we were on the right road to the hot spring and followed the a sign but somehow missed it and had to perform a 10 point turn under a bridge at a golf course. We retraced our route and asked a man at the restaurant at the edge of town. “Just down the road there, you can’t miss it,” he said.

It was something like nine o’clock when we finally found it. Jupiter and the full moon lit the natural mineral pools, already moon white, in a beautiful pale light. Before we dipped in Nicolas and I made some very ugly sandwiches—without the modern convenience of a knife—and we all devoured them before lugging our bottiglia di vino down to the edge and slipped into the water.

It was a really charming spot. I’d definitely go again, though the water was about ten degrees cooler that I had expected and my clothes all smell like Yellowstone now. We cruised back to Firenze on the fast road through Siena and got back to the car rental place with a half hour to spare.

More photos here.

Florence is a Dream

One night after class, a few of us walked through the narrow flagstone streets to the Piazza della Signoria where one of the David statues stands. It’s a clichéd sentiment but totally true: I felt like I was walking through a picture book or a movie set. It was so overwhelmingly beautiful and romantic and perfect the city seemed unreal. I imagined the buildings as giant painted flats and that I might find myself behind the scene, able to kick out their wooden supports and see them fall with a whoosh and a puff of dust. But nope, they’re made of impossible stone.