Filippo Brunelleschi. A man credited with developing linear perspective, getting thrown out of bars and being the maverick architect of Florence’s “double dome”… Il Duomo.
Rounding the street framing the central plaza, enormous rose and ivory colored walls arched skyward and I strained to see through the window. Air rushed in to fill the back of the taxi and suddenly planning to live in Florence yielded to living in Florence – with a single, deep, breath. Apart from obsessively making art since childhood, Italy had been a circumstantial choice. During months of piecing together part time jobs and jumping like a stunt dog through flaming rings of documents all in the name of “getting out there” Italy was chosen as the place to land.
We turned down a claustrophobically narrow street, drove a few more blocks and stopped. The taxi drove off into the proverbial sunset and I stood with my desperate luggage interrupting dozens of busy pedestrians. Annoyed Florentines spilled around me for a few minutes as I contemplated what to do about being on the wrong side of the street. My bags were so large they betrayed my naiveté as an “international jet setter” as it was now impossible for me to carry them both at the same time. Images of gliding into the city with the ease of an authentic modern woman started falling apart. I bravely stepped off the curb to drag my first bag across the cobbled stone, dodge traffic until the end of the block, maneuver around the parked cars, doubling back down the block to my new front door. Whatever trace of elegance I had managed to falsify, quickly evaporated following ten minutes staring at the non responsive intercom button.
Returning hours later after several less-than-elegant-ferrying episodes of luggage in and out of taxis, flushed and sweaty I closed the apartment door behind me. The floor plan was simple three bedrooms, a kitchen, a small patio and a bathroom. Months prior I had decided to pay an extra fee to occupy the single bedroom. Cautiously, I opened the rather ornate wooden door to the middle room and was horrified to find what looked like a WWII stretcher supplied as my bed. A multitude of discomforts and inconveniences in exchange for the sensation of being absorbed into the chaos of the world would doubtless confront me in the months to come. This fact – although true – did little to repress my total conviction that every one of them could be resolved in some way if I was resourceful enough.
Four other roommates would be arriving any hour, any day, any minute… I couldn’t be sure, I had to act fast to correct the situation. With the focus and precision of a trained assassin, I located and replaced the stretcher with a more comfortable queen sized option found in an adjacent room. Once I had secured ownership of the largest bed in the apartment and without any interference; I thought to try my luck with the city.
The rest of the afternoon was spent eating pizza, drinking Chianti and enjoying the spectacle of Japanese tour groups being led around Brunelleschi’s Duomo. As the sun started setting I remembered the empty mini-fridge waiting in the apartment and set about looking for a place to buy supplies for dinner. On one of the back streets near the apartment I found the familiar fluorescent glow of a supermarket. While I tried to orient myself to the layout of the various aisles I passed the meat aisle and it’s expertly designed – noted – graphic logos depicting the sources of the various bloody packages; cow, pig, chicken…rabbit, veal, HORSE. Unfortunately at this point in the story I was still a vegetarian and because of this sad fact my adventure in the Italian supermarket that evening was rather limited. Regardless of the slightly disturbed feeling; I left with an exquisite block of Parmesano Reggiano, array of fresh veggies and some gorgeous handmade pasta. My culinary foray into the world of horse meat would have to wait for later.