So from this point on I got totally stuck in! My art course was going swimmingly. As well as all the drawing techniques I was learning, I was working on an acrylic portrait of my cousin. Another girl had joined our class to make us three: a very talented 14-year-old Dutch girl called Emma, who, like me, was also there to learn portrait painting techniques.
One evening I was very lucky to be messaged by an Italian anglophile called Eleanora. She had seen my post in the language exchange group and, having just returned from 6 months of au-pairing in England, she was keen not to lose her English. That same night, she invited me round to her home where she lives with her mother and sister for wine and snacks. She was so friendly! And luckily only lived 5 minutes around the corner from me. She said we could go out partying some time and she would introduce me to her friends [score!!]. I later found out she is the kind of person who knows everyone, especially since she is Florence born and bred and her family have been there for generations.
The next evening I went for coffee with a French girl, again for language exchange. She was nice and friendly, although like me only in Florence temporarily. It was good to practice my French! Then on Friday evening I had a language exchange scheduled with a Spanish man, who also spoke fluent Italian, so I thought I could kill two birds with one stone. His name was Juan and he also wanted to be a tour guide for me. We went to Piazzale di Michaelangelo in the pouring rain, then to Esselunga (the supermarket) where he insisted I got a loyalty card, which to be fair has since come in useful! Juan was funny and endearingly goofy, and he talked and talked and talked!! I felt exhausted by the end of our meeting, but nonetheless accepted his invitation to go to Lucca the next day, as he was a good laugh. Lucca was really nice, adorable and tiny. We went up into an old tower which for some reason gave me vertigo which I haven’t felt since I was a child! This led Juan to hold my hand for most of the way up which I think gave him slightly the wrong message…whoopsy!! Amusing as Juan was, he was a bit intense. So I continued to meet with him, we went to the Boboli Gardens together, to Palazzo Pitti and for aperitivo once or twice. But I rationed the time with him because, really, I’ve never met someone who talks SOO much!