Tasting: cinghiale sausages, Chianti Classico
Feeling: a tiramisu so silky smooth I could barely detect the soaked lady fingers, dehydrated and dizzy
Smelling: the rainy sidewalk
Hearing: Italian being spoken at us, overheard English tourists, awful club remixes
Seeing: the intricate designs inside the Battisero, the inside of a Tiger store
I woke up around 8 or 9 (I don’t remember when or if my phones actually switched to the local time), as we had planned to be out the door by 10, but she wasn’t up yet so back to the couch it was. I ended up waking up at noon (or eleven) and Corrina said she thought at first I had gotten up and left but I was just melted into the couch.
We went for coffee and pastry at her usual place, which was on her way to class. The typical croissant-type things were either a cornetto, which was really like a croissant, or a brioche. They tended to stay away from the flaky croissant dough and had that slightly breadier texture. I got one with cheese and chocolate. The granulated sugar crust was so caramelized and perfect. And ordered a macchiato, what I get when I don’t want my drink too milky but I’m not feeling a black drink either. It tasted very strong and roasty/fruity, which contrasted well with the cloying sweetness and richness of the brioche. I unorthodoxically dipped it in the dregs and scraped them out with my finger, but that would be unorthodox (or maybe rude) by any standards, as was the fact that we were having cappuccino after noon.
We went to the Battistero of the Duomo, a single room with the most beautiful tile art. The museum was next, which taught about the Duomo and housed the stuff that was no longer in rotation there. We saw the façades, the models, some flood-damaged items, some incredible statues and reliefs. There was a contest between two artists to make the entrance door to the Battistero, and both the winner and loser’s were displayed. The winner’s has fewer and larger scenes; therefore more gold.
I was feeling sorta faint and ready to eat lunch and drink some water, but first we stopped in a couple stores. One of them was Tiger. I’d never heard of Tiger but it’s a Swedish store that Corrina went to all the time in Manhattan and said that she “didn’t know she needed it until she found it.” That’s not an exact quote, it’s a paraphrase. In case anyone is checking. I saw what she meant when we entered. It had all sorts of stuff that I’m sure I could use but not sure if I needed. With that super cutesy Swedish childish aesthetic. I had made it through the whole store without picking up anything for myself before I saw a heart-shaped pancake/egg mold and knew that the time was right for buying it. We passed a cheese stall on the street and had a sample of heavenly tartuffo pecorino.
We recharged our phones and selves briefly at the apartment, then headed out to the restaurant. It was one that Corrina hadn’t been to before, but it’s received great reviews for its gnocchi and pasta. It was right outside the Santo Spirito, which was a façade-less chapel because no one could agree on its décor. Even Michelangelo’s design was rejected.
This is where I really learned how an Italian meal works, at least at a restaurant. There are antipasti, then primi, then secondi, and dessert of course. But never, ever order your food out of that order. I ended up just ordering antipasti, which Corrina thought wouldn’t be enough but turned out to be delicious and sufficient. As previously mentioned, I was on a quest for cinghiale ragú, and although I did not find it in ragú form I decided sausage would be sufficient. And the spears of pungent pecorino and spaced sundried tomatoes paired so well with the tough but tender slices of sausage, and was plenty filling. Plus I got to finish Corrina’s four-cheese tartuffo gnocchi.
I was a little conflicted because I knew tiramisu was the quintessential dessert that I should have, but there was a pumpkin flan with goat cheese cream as antipasti (which I could have as dessert right? a savory dessert? because I hadn’t ordered pasta). They were out of them, so our decision was made for us; Corrina and I shared the tiramisu.
We left the osteria about half past five. Our plan was to visit the Palazzo Vecchio, which the internet told us was open until eleven, but that was only true between April and September. But, we did see ads for an Ai Weiwei exhibit nearer to Corrina’s apartment, and it was open late enough for us. It was such a good exhibit. There was some of his ready-made sculpture assemblage, like with bikes and backpacks and furniture. There were many photographs of his hand giving the finger to famous landmarks. There were two wallpapers in a few of the rooms– one pattern played on the motif of Twitter and surveillance and detention, the other was about giving the finger. There was meta-art– Lego portraits of famous Italian figures and recreation of one of his most infamous works, Dropping a Ming Vase. And then there was a lower floor that we didn’t know about. There was a lot, and I took plenty of photos because I feel like that’s what Ai would want. It was really such a fulfilling experience to see so many of one of my favorite living artist’s work.
We stopped by a very touristy place to get a calzone so I could check that off my list– I had made the goal of having my first calzone be in Italy, even if it’s not the most Italian food. Like I think Americans care a lot more about calzones than Italians do. And Corrina got some decent gelato.
We chilled at her place and watched Downton Abbey for a bit. She was about a season behind me but I was happy to rewatch for when I finally finish this series. She kindly agreed to film my eating my first calzone, which I need footage for for my drama class project– a one-minute single-take video self-portrait. I think trying new foods and talking about them is a pretty good self-portrait.