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living on airport road.

there are worse things than a camera singola in a prefab condo situated smack-dab between Pisa's Cheap-Flights-To-The-Rest-Of-Europe airport and Pisa's main train station.  no telephone, no Internet (ack!  no Internet!!!), no heat at night (don't even ask), a highly questionable showerhead, and two rather hairy young men for flatmates.  there are worse situations, right?

i am glad to be out of the corporate apartment.  nice as it was to have high speed Internet, a dishwasher and a dryer (ack!  a dryer!!!) -- it didn't quite feel like Italy.

not that much of Pisa, as yet, feels to me like Italy.  i get whiffs of it.  the folks at the bar where i get my first morning coffee of the day greet me by name; the folks at the bar where i get my *second* morning coffee -- they call me bimba.  the shopping on little Corso Italia kicks ass.  fish-rich Livorno is only minutes away, as is Carnevale-happy ViaReggio.

but as a place, Pisa hasn't quite started speaking to me.  i cannot quite read the city yet.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via dell'Aeroporto, Pisa]
[lunedý 31 gennaio 2005 ore 21:29:05] []

whoa.

so some chick's living and working in Italy for some financial software firm, and she's written this article and it's hardly high literature but you know at least she's trying to get people to answer their emails and stop interrupting each other...


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via San Martino, Pisa]
[giovedý 27 gennaio 2005 ore 19:24:20] []

ode to clementines.

how wonderful.
there's something in your day this perfect.
all small and round and uncomplicatedly sweet.
all pleasure and no fuss -- no seeds, no stubborn peel.
and the consequences, apart from a dribble or two down your chin, are *all* good.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via San Martino, Pisa]
[lunedý 17 gennaio 2005 ore 18:46:41] []

all the stuff i've been meaning to write about, and haven't.

how much a part of everyday London language is the word bespoke -- how cool is the word bespoke.  how much more dizzyingly important it sounds to say you can provide bespoke content management solutions, instead of saying uh, we can custom-build that for you, ya know.

how cool also (but in a completely different way, and coming -- clearly -- from a completely different place), is the word beefpatty.  and how much i want one, right now, from the little Jamaican stand on the lower level at Grand Central.  jerk chicken, even.

how high the likelihood that a PhD dissertation will have in its title (or at the very *least* in its body), the words "cognitive dissonance".
and/or "dichotomy".
and/or "paradigm".


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via San Martino, Pisa]
[venerdý 14 gennaio 2005 ore 19:34:22] []

some epiphanies are brighter than others.

the Gran Raccordo Anulare may sound all nice and grand (and raccordo and anulare, for that matter), but Roma is a *bitch* to drive into.

the Italian word "anulare" comes from the word anello -- which means ring.  as in circular access road around a city.  as in circular band of metal around your finger.
this is a suspicious one letter short of the verb "annulare".  as in get rid of that circular band of metal around your finger...

the Sistine Chapel is the least chapel-like chapel i have ever been inside.  even the second time around.  the Vatican has some really questionable Modern Catholic Art.

Vico Equense still has the best pizza.  Positano still has the best sunset-on-a-pebble beach.  and Baba al Rhum is still the single-greatest thing about the Italian Riviera.

if you wait too long to get your cat spayed, she will go into heat.  cats are not fun when they are in heat.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via da Morrona, Pisa]
[sabato 08 gennaio 2005 ore 20:21:10] []

feast of the new year.

this new year's eve Ciro and i decided to bolt the craziness in Firenze, and steal the keys to his parents country cottage in Lucignano.  we had pasta de grano duro with his mamma's always-excellent rag¨, complimented by an equally-excellent bottle of 2000 Pomerol Lafleur-Gazin (meaning, um, really good Bordeaux, to you and me).  at midnight, we opened an also-excellent bottle of champagne (i got reprimanded for mistakenly asking where the prosecco was at one point), and we didn't have to scramble with seventeen other revelers to get a glassful either.  we watched a so-so movie, and i gave a short, impromptu lesson on routers and small-office LANs (on *request* i swear).

new year's day we met some friends from Cortona for lunch at La Rocca, quite possibly my most favorite restaurant ever.  at the very least, they serve my most consistently favorite meal in the world, and i will admit i am shameful about always getting the same thing here:

we start with Pici alla Nana con Tartufo.  pici is handrolled fresh pasta, traditional to the region.  picture spaghetti except thicker, slightly uneven and with more "give" to it's consistency.  the "nana" refers to anatra, or duck, and the truffles -- well.  depending on the day, you get beautiful black or white flakes of the stuff drizzled *most* generously (to paraphrase Ben and Jerry, some in every bite) all over your little hill of pasta.  in winter, you can smell the stuff as soon as you enter the restaurant.  nyc diners, eat your heart out...

for secondi (and already you know this must be good, if i am making myself do both primo and secondo here) it is also, always the same.  Filetto di Chianina con Lardo di Colonnata e Prugne.  sigh.  take a steak.  not just any steak.  take a Chianina steak.  Chianina that is almost worshipped here for the quality of its meat, for the generations of food history and tradition it conjures up in the mind of a Tuscan.  Chianina that is jealously guarded and supervised by the Val di Chiana's "D.O.C." standards the same way Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino wines are.  some restaurants will still show you the cow's official birth-and-slaughter certificate before serving you.  so anyway, take this most divine of meats, and wrap it in another altogether ridiculously divine concept -- Lardo di Colonnata.  arrange a trio of large, succulent prunes around the bedded beast, drizzle with aceto balsamico, and let the opera begin.

as you can see, this is hardly a meal that can be described as lacking.  but it is at this (albeit extremely deserving) table that Ciro decides to put down his bottle of 1997 Solaia.  according to Wine Spectator 2000, *only* the best wine in the world.  please note the lack of modifiers in the previous sentence, the resounding full-stop or period, at the end.  phew.  you should have seen the boy's face as the waitress drove the corkscrew in...

it is a Tuscan tradition of good luck, to eat lentils on new year's day.  not because lenticchie are anything of a specialty here, mind you.  in fact, there is an Italian phrase about letting something go for un piatto di lenticchie -- giving it away for next to nothing, for a song.  i think the idea is that, starting your year off with something so humbly simple, so lowly as a plate of lentils, will mean that things can only get better from here on.

hm.  so much for *that*.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via da Morrona, Pisa]
[sabato 01 gennaio 2005 ore 21:07:16] []