A lighter blog entry to end the day after the long bit about Galileo. Tonight after dinner we indulged in the best gelato in Italy — that at the Gelateria Neri on Via dei Neri, near the Santa Croce cathedral. However, indulging is something we haven’t done as much of on this trip.
We miss greatly the presence of perhaps the spiritual core of the idea of the multidisciplinary Italy course, Steve Pane. And we miss our literary muse, Luann Yetter. In past trips Steve has put the concept of “second breakfast” into common parlance, and we would make multiple stops for espresso and into pastry shops. Luann has connected literature to the present, and quoted Bob Dylan liberally. We haven’t gone to one pastry shop yet. I’m at a loss answering questions about Dante (I know a bit, but keep trying to remember what Luann said). Sarah is drinking cafe Americano. I’m averaging only an espresso a day, and a cappacino in the morning. We need to be together as a team again!
Steve and I would spend most of our salary for this class on excellent meals — often a good two course meal for lunch and another for dinner. Now we’re eating cheap, usually with the students, often snack bars or self service places (though in Pisa we found a great pizzeria for a group lunch). And when we do eat out, it’s not the same. Neither Sarah nor I can excite students for food the way Steve can. Without Steve’s restaurant guides, we wander — and the one place I know in Florence is good was full last night. One thing we are doing that Luann would be proud of is giving students time to write — tonight students are writing in their journals as we got back from gelato at 8:15.
To be sure, it’s a great trip. We’re small this time (that’s why Steve and Luann aren’t along). We do almost everything as a group, it seems, and the students are very engaged. I am spending far less money than other years, and with 15 rather than 40 students I feel like I’m able to spend time with all of them and make connections. Still, when one asked today “what is a pasticceria,” I realized that if Steve had been here he would not only have answered, but shown her one, bought her a pastry and then repeated the demonstration to make sure the lesson was learned. In fact, no one would be asking that question by this point! I just said “it’s a pastry shop, and Italy has great pastries, we need to stop by one later.” I found one tonight, we’ll get there tomorrow!
Still, my weakness was and remains gelato. I could make it a meal. It symbolizes what is so good about Italian food — healthier, creamier, richer, made by humans rather than mass produced, and with a brilliant, intense flavor. Gelateria Neri is, I’m convinced, the best in Italy, rivaled only by Capo del Nord in Bologna (which, alas, we are not visiting this trip). Tomorrow is a full day in Florence — David at the Accademia, the Science museum, the Dante house, Santa Croce, Santa Marco, and maybe some others. Not everyone will do everything, but we plan to spend our last day in Florence getting as much of this great city in as possible. And since Gelateria Neri is near Santa Croce, I may get another gelato in. But tomorrow will definitely be pastry and Dante day, in Steve and Luann’s honor! Buona Notte!