Italian drivers and the poison beach
Briana returned from Finland and decided to continue taking Italian lessons. Although La Parola was a great school, she decided to see what other options may be available. She learned of a brand new school “monnolisa”, that offered very competitive rates and smaller class sizes so she signed up for 8 weeks.
Briana began to pick up Italian quicker than myself, already being bilingual was a great help for her. I seemed to retain our Italian lessons better when Briana and I would practice together at home. I suggested that she return to class and tutor me on lessons when she came home. It has saved us money and lucky for me, Briana is a great teacher.
It was during this first week of class that we spoke to our lawyer about why my Permesso di Soggiorno had not arrived by mail. We were told it would take 4 weeks and this was week 6. Our lawyer suggested to visit the questura to inquire in person. Thus far, the visits to the questura had not been great and we thought we were done with them, for this reason I went alone. No sense in both us spending hours in line, which is ultimately what I did. It took about 7 hours of waiting in line hoping this would be the last time. I don’t know why the permesso was never sent to our home but they had it printed out and I walked out that day with my legal right to live and work in Italy.
Funny thing about weekends, when you’re unemployed they don’t mean quite so much but that was about to change. Being back in school meant conforming to a somewhat normal schedule once again. Our lives were becoming more regimented so we decided to join a gym and try to not be as indulgent with the rich foods we’ve been eating non-stop since our arrival in Europe.
The first few weeks working out again left us quite sore and beaten up, but It wasn’t long before we fell into a routine. Our exploring was now limited to the weekends which helped motivate us to find fun things to do. The next 3 weeks, we covered some ground.
We read about an art exhibit at Fort Belvedere in the Tuscan Hills. The Fort has various art installations but the main attraction was the giant skeleton laying at the base of the Fort. The skeleton is at least 20 feet long and the skull had a beak. The backdrop is the Florentine skyline which made for quite a unique view of the city.
One of the coolest things about our outing to the fort was a discovery we made while leaving. We decided to walk down the hill from the fort and find some gelato, only to stumble across the house of Galileo. There were no crowds or even signs pointing the way to this monument. We had randomly stopped because we thought the building was pretty and on closer inspection, we read a placard saying that it was the house of Galileo. Upon further inspection we saw that the building also had his portrait. One of my favorite parts of exploring Florence is the unexpected discoveries like this which are actually pretty common.
We have been experiencing an extreme heatwave the last month so the following week we headed to the beach. I researched beaches in our area and found a promising beach that had been awarded a blue flag rating. There is a world wide rating system for beaches in which they are judged by their cleanliness and environmental sustainability. Beaches that are highly rated get the blue flag approval.
We arrived at the beach with our friend Rachel and were blown away. The turquoise water and white sand reminded us of the Caribbean. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing. This beach was nothing like we had seen thus far in Italy, and we were incredibly excited to find somewhere this beautiful relatively close to Firenze. A few hours into our beach day we overheard some beachgoers remarking on the water color. One said the the sand was bleached white from chemicals seeping from a factory that also gave the water its appearance. We were skeptical that this could be possible but it worried us.
When we got home we looked up the beach with the tag word “chemicals” and sure enough that guy was right. We couldn’t believe that this beach that was supposed to be a “blue flag” beach was more like poison beach. Turns out the locals in that neighborhood also have a higher mortality rate than nearby communities. If you find yourself in the Livorno province, don’t go to Spiagga Bianca.
The poison beach was a huge bummer but hopefully one visit wouldn’t make all our hair fall out. We planned on seeking out a different beach or possibly a river that following weekend but unfortunately we had a small car accident. Now let me preface this rant by saying I love Italy and you take the bad with the good but damn…there are some crazy ass drivers that we encounter daily. I will in the future make a post all about driving in Italy because there is plenty to cover but suffice it to say that most traffic laws are not observed.
People often drive in the middle of two lanes, make lanes out of the shoulder of the road and absolutely never use indicators when changing lanes. I’m convinced that the only time they use indicators is when they accidently hit them after using hand gestures while talking on their cell phones (Italian speak very emphatically and with their hands).
While we were driving to the market, one such driver cut across traffic to drive directly into my door. She tried to flee the scene when we asked her for her insurance information so I informed here I was calling the police, at which point she became somewhat more compliant. We later found out that she claims the accident was our fault, which is ridiculous but we are now awaiting the judgment from the insurance companies.
Like I mentioned previously, you take the good with the bad. No one was hurt which is what is most important. Ultimately, even if we get screwed over by the insurance, things could be much worse. Being extra vigilant on the road is a small price to pay to live in beautiful Italy.