A New Year's resolution: finish at least 1 book a month. January: "What's So Amazing About Grace" (Philip Yancey) and also I'm catching up on reading the entire blog "Living in Florence" by Californian-turned-Florentine, Melinda. I've been emailing periodically with her, and it's been really nice to have a link of sorts to our future home. There are also a couple other people I've "met" through the web - and it will be exciting to finally meet in person when we get to Florence in the fall (and possibly some great recommendations for local activities/restaurants, etc). February: "The City of Falling Angels" (John Berendt - author of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil") which takes place in Venice. We borrowed this book from Betsy, who is in our weekly Italian group.
This past Wednesday was our first informal post-Italian-class meeting. We've all decided to continue to get together regularly, so we meet at homes each Wednesday night and have a dinner once a month. Whoever hosts decides what activity the group will do for the week (Italian Scrabble, readings, travel shows, etc); and this week we watched "Pane e Tulipani" (Bread and Tulips), an Italian movie with the tagline "Imagine your life. Now go live it!". It was fun picking out lines that we understood while passing around dictionaries thoughout the show to learn more!
This past week has also been filled with the beginnings of an apartment search. At first I thought it may be too early to start looking, but I found out that many places fill up many months in advance - and it's been fun researching through all the possibilities. The apartments range from very modern lofts to Renaissance-style flats that give the feeling of old-world Italy. We've narrowed the list quite a bit to stay in our budget, and would prefer a place that includes the utilities in the price (even if it's higher, so that we don't have to deal with paying extra bills, etc). On our "must-have" list: walking distance to school, washing machine, at least 1 bedroom (as opposed to a studio, so we can have at least a sofabed for visitors), full kitchen, DSL, and A/C...on our "wish" list: terrace, bathtub (not just shower), dryer, Satelite TV. Of course, we're only looking at furnished apartments and there are specific details we have to look for that are required by the consulate in order to get our visa. There are 2 options we've put at the top of the list for now....updates to come!