Another Week At Il Bisonte, Lyn's Birthday & Our First Wedding Anniversary!

Remember this?? It has now been year since we got married in Riddells Creek (February 9th) in the middle of a bushfire!

Lyn's Week
The time has gone so quickly- we have now been in Florence for over 5 weeks, and I have been at Il Bisonte for 5 weeks.
We haven't gone anywhere out of Florence this last week. We have been for a couple of long walks- the Ufizzi card has been very handy as it allows us to go into the Boboli Gardens and as there are many exits and entrances we often use the gardens as a way to get home rather than walking down the street. The weather has been lovely, cold but sunny. In fact, we have again had the heating off during the day and left the kitchen window open.

I started a new etching, but I haven't called it anything yet.
I wanted to try aquaforte the way Nunzio Gulino did it. No lines are etched and small crosses and lines are used for shading.
I just drew a simple sketch (a bit like a children's drawing) and this is how the print turned out.

It was a lot of fun doing it and I only had Vincenzo say "più scuro" (darker) a few times with this plate!
After I finished he showed me how to use the "cencio di nonna" which means "rag of the Grandmother". Cencio is a Tuscan word and other parts of Italy say "stroccio" (rag) instead.

The plate on the left is the one without the cencio di nonna being used and the one on the right is after using the cencio. I asked Manuel how it works and he said; MAGIC!! 
It is a large piece of gauze and you stroke it over the plate after inking - it draws the ink to the surface. I thought,"yeah, right!", but you can actually see it happening. I have had a similar effect using the inky tarletan that I used to initially wipe the plate after inking, but it leaves a lot of plate tone  and this gauze doesn't.
When I get home I am going to get myself a few metres of hospital gauze. 
Maybe there's a chemical reason for it, or maybe it is MAGIC!!

Il cencio di nonna

I have started another plate from an photo I took in Venice when we were on the gondola - for this one, I am going to use line etching and aquatint. I will show you next week.

It was my 60th birthday on Wednesday.
Guy gave me some sandalwood perfume he hunted down and he found me a beautiful handmade card and a big bunch of roses. 
Giulia gave me a lovely little ceramic dish she painted and the students and Vincenzo had a bottle of Prosecco and some M&M's for me and sang Happy Birthday (in English) 
Vincenzo and Yuta pouring Prosecco
Students toasting me for my birthday 
Lucia filing the edges of her plate (she looks cheerful), but she was getting annoyed as it took so long and it was cold outside
Tony using the cencio di nonna on his plate ("Mr Potato Head"). He posed and did a big theatrical flourish for me!
I now have another new Italian printmaking word - "piuma d'uccello". This is the name of the bird feather used to fan the plates in the acid (it actually just means bird feather).

I also have a few new techniques that Manuel has showed us- they are pretty toxic though!

I have had a few interesting adventures with the Italian language. I was asking the girls in my broken Italian where ordinary people buy their clothes, as only tourists can afford to wear Prada and Christian Dior! 
There was a lot of discussion and they came up with Chinese shops, getting hand me downs from the family, charity shops, the market and a few chain stores out of town. They are going to think about it some more (or maybe hand me down their nonna's old clothes).
Lucia was saying that it is very expensive to buy clothes in Italy and we were joking that she needed a rich husband - I said I would find her a rich husband in Australia and said "Ti troverò un marito ricchione in Australia". The problem is that I said " ricchione" which means "gay" instead of "ricchi" - and it's not a nice word for gay either! So everyone was hysterical with laughter (they are often hysterical about my Italian). They then said that "omosessuale" is a nicer word for gay. 
They asked me what a bad word for omosessuale was in English and all I could come up with was "poof", so of course that set them off again and they were then all copying me saying POOF with an Australian accent.
I won't even begin to tell you how Ben and I tried to explain the expression "Smart Arse". Apparently   in Italian it is "intelligentone", which actually sounds more like a compliment.

Guy's Week
It was our 1st wedding anniversary on Monday, so I managed to find a nice hand-cut card for Lyn and bought some roses from the local flower merchant in the Piazza Santo Spirito where the language school is.

It is amazing how different your shopping habits have to be in this city. You can not just "go" to a newsagent to find a card or magazine and you have to know where to look to find those odd things that we take for granted in Australia.
You will be walking down the street and happen to glance into a small shop and see exactly what you are looking for in, even though the shop might have nothing to do with the item you are looking for. In some ways, it is like having millions of small general stores everywhere.
There are no "malls" in Florence (that we have found) and no major department stores (apart from Rinascente in the Piazza di Repubblica where you need a mortgage to buy anything and the selection is crap).
This week was my final week at language school and I finished with mixed feelings. I can see that carrying on would definitely benefit me, but I need a break for a few weeks to see more of Florence and see if I actually want to carry on with the studies.
I can (sort of) make myself understood and I haven't made too many mistakes.
I had to buy some new globes for our lounge and went to a store in the centre of town that I had found. I asked the young guy there for the globes and he waded straight into full-blown Italian at machine-gun speed. I sort of understood it and then we had a bit of an exchange to get the right ones (LED vs incandescent, blah, blah, blah) - and it is all good. He actually thought I was Italian (I think) - or he was having fun at my expense. I will never know, but he made me feel good!

On Thursday night, Lyn & I went out for dinner with Bob and his wife Vikki. Bob is an Californian guy in my language class - we had buddied up early on so that we could pat each other on the back and wipe away the tears over a coffee after each day of Italian.
They wanted to try a cafe/restaurant in Piazza Pitti (at the end of our street), so we didn't say no!
The meal was great and the food delicious.
We had a really good night - they were very funny and we think that they thought the same about us.
They are retired as well and have moved to Italy permanently.
They came to Italy for years on holiday and then in 2004, decided to get married while they were here. Somehow, they managed to arrange a wedding ceremony in Montalcino (a small historic town south of Florence) with the help of someone they had met locally and then had a wedding reception including copious wine and suckling pig! The locals arranged everything for them and they had their wedding with all the locals. They knew virtually no-one and very few could speak English.
To put the icing on the cake, the mayor and his wife were two guests! Go figure!

This week, I also got my first taste of the Italian postal/ courier system.
I had to buy an external power source for my iPhone (see last post), so ordered one from Amazon UK and had it delivered to the apartment. When I ordered it, I wondered about the wisdom in this decision, but thought - what the hell, I gotta try and lets see how it goes.
I was told that someone in the apartment block always lets the couriers in when they ring the external bell - someone hangs their head out the window to check who it is and then opens the door using the remote unlock from their apartment (in fact, someone usually just hits the button without checking!). The courier then leaves the item at the internal post-box, or leaves a card for so that you can contact them if no-one was there to open the door.
Well (you guessed it) no-one was here, so the courier left a note.
When I got home from Italian school, I then had to Google translate it to find out what to do. It said that I could telephone the company to arrange another delivery within 3 days, but when I rang, the speed of the Italian auto-message ruined that idea.
Plan B - I could arrange a redelivery on their website... err.... no, because if you are not an expert in legal Italian, you can't fill in the forms and if you use the English version webpage, the form doesn't exist. OK - deep breaths!
Plan C - you can speak to an english speaking operator on Skype between 4pm & 6pm - Yes!
Plan D - just catch a series of buses out into the middle of nowhere to get it yourself.
Deep down, I had a bad feeling about ever seeing this power supply.
As I was contemplating my options (well two anyway!), the apartment block front door bell rang and when I looked out the window, the courier was back. I ran down and he confirmed that I was "Gooey" - that's Guy with an Italian accent for those of you who can't work it out!
Now think about this - just try and convince a courier in Australia to come back for a second time to try and deliver a parcel the same day.
I love the Italians - just when you think...argh!, they really surprise you!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Lyn and Guy,
    I have been reading your blog, and going green with envy!! You seem to be having a wonderful time in Bella Italia, and I am very impressed with your language skills.
    Firstly, Happy Anniversary to you both, and Happy Birthday Lyn for Wednesday last.
    I just love your most recent etching - it is just beautiful.
    Look forward to seeing all your work on your return - you will probably have enough for an exhibition to pay for your trip :)
    love from very sunny and hot Gisborne