Friday, September 11, 2009

The Ups and Downs of Firenze

Buona sera!

I'm currently sitting in bed and really should be sleeping, but couldn't stop thinking about my next update from Italy. As promised, I'd like to touch on some things that distinguish my current home from my normal home, maybe talk about what I miss, but also what I love about it here.

First of all, EVERYTHING is smaller here. The stove/oven is small, beds are small (and not that comfortable), portions of food are smaller (which is definitely not what I was expecting, Italy being one of the gustatory capitals of the world). The fridge is small, and the cars are all SUPER small, including mini 4 wheel pick up trucks.

Food shopping has been quite an experience, in good and bad ways. It's great to be able to buy fresh local food and to practice the language, but when heading to the supermarket for a large amount of groceries (which are fun to carry all the way home) it can be a bit of a challenge. All the labels are obviously in Italian, which isn't as difficult or confusing as actually reading the directions on how to cook specific things. I've been making it up as I go along. As far as cooking for myself, it's a hassle because I'm not used to it, but we're getting the hang of it. Tonight we managed to turn 3 chicken breasts, garlic, onions, tomatos, pasta, wine, balsamic, EVOO, and lettuce into garlic and balsamic marinated chicken, a small salad, and pasta with a white wine sauce that fed 4 hungry girls into satisfaction. We also conconcted some fondue treats from nutella, apples, kiwi, and biscotti cookies. Needless to say we're quite proud of ourselves AND may make a tradition out of bringing random contents of our kitchens together and seeing what we can make.

Unfortunately on the food side, Peanut Butter, a good old fashioned American staple, is not such an essential item here in Europe. It's been compared to vegemite for the Aussies. Aparently they think it's gross and prefer Nutella on everything. Crazy. But after some scouting of local food stores, I managed to find a small jar for a steal of a price, 2.90 euro. Terrible but I need it in my life. They also aren't big fans of salad dressings here in Italia, and stick to simple oil, vinegar, or balsamic. And as far as we've heard, cheddar cheese is nowhere to be found, which is a bit of a let down for one so accustomed to fine Vermont cuisine. Regardless, we're making due and still loving the fresh and delicious food we do have.

On a more positive note for Italy, it's gorgeous here, and so much fun. There's no shortage of things to do, even if it's just going for a walk. Yesterday and today I took wrong turns on my return to the apartment and ended up discovering some fun new sights and features. Literally every Piazza is different in some way, and I ran to the park today and got so distracted by everything in it that I'm not sure my time for the run was too impressive. On that note, tangent, nobody runs here (they all bike everywhere) and so it's a dead giveaway to our status as Americans when we're running down the bike paths. BUT I'm marathon training, so what are you going to do?

After dinner tonight my 3 friends and I sat down to begin plans for our fall break and our weekend travels. We've got a pretty secure list down of where we're going and when, so I thought it'd be nice to just list for you all some of the things/places you can look forward to reading about in the future:

The Nextech Electronic Music Festival in Florence
Pisa and the Cinque Terre
The Florence Marathon's Corre La Vita charity walk
Venice and Verona
A Florence soccer game
Opera night in Florence
The Eurochocolate festival in Perugia
Fall break in Ireland (Dublin and Galway), Spain (Madrid and Barcelona), and France (Paris)
Horseback riding in the Chianti region
Skiing in Switzerland

Those are the planned fun adventures for me this semester. Some are included with the program, and some will cost me, so we'll see how many I can afford to do, but as far as I'm concerned my semester is looking to play out in an amazing way.

That's all for now. I've got to get to bed. We're taking the bus over to Fiesole tomorrow, which is supposed to offer breathtaking views of Florence at any time of day. I'll be sure to take a ton of pictures. Check back soon for those and a review of the "classes" I'm taking while I'm here.


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