Posted by: francescacoviello | September 4, 2010

Transformation, Orientation, Familiarization.

Well, here I am! It’s been a long and tiring week of adjusting, to say the least. Just to recap – I departed for Italy on Monday evening and was more than pleased with the flight. Upon checking in, the young lady at the counter offered a business class upgrade for my ticket, and surprisingly enough my dad went for it. (I LOVE YOU DAD, THANKS AGAIN!) I apologize for complaining in the previous post about my aisle seat. The hot towel, champagne and menu I received upon taking my seat, which reclined into a bed, made the transatlantic journey a real treat. I honestly wish the flight had been longer to really soak up the (once in a lifetime opportunity) to sleep laying down on a plane, after enjoying a filet mignon followed by strawberry shortcake dessert.

After switching planes in Zurich, I was back to being a peasant again (just kidding). It was only an hour flight to Florence and the view of the Alps didn’t seem real. Once arriving to the small airport in Firenze, it became apparent that the plane wasn’t able to hold all of the luggage that was checked by the many students traveling abroad. Luckily, I found both of my oversized bags, with priority tags. I’m certain that if I hadn’t agreed to the upgrade special, my bags would have been left behind as well. In the airport I exchanged some U.S. dollars for Euro, and tried to speak Italian. As for now, it’s best I stick to English until I learn more, I’d rather not confuse the ‘Fiorentini.’ My cab driver, Claudio took me to check in and then to my place, when I realized that I was assigned a 5th story apartment and offered him 10 Euro to help me drag my bags up. He declined the offer, as he explained the urgency to return to the airport.

I climbed up to my front door with just my carry-on items, already sweating. THANK GOD two of my roommates had already arrived and were willing to assist me. My new home couldn’t be anymore “typical” and the work-out to the 5th floor is a blessing in disguise. We have a very cozy spot with an amazing view of the city that overlooks the Duomo. The kitchen has a toaster oven instead of a stove (a huge disappointment for my roommate who is a pastry chef, and all of us who were eager to taste her baking). There is a bathroom attached to the kitchen, which definitely does not make up for the lack of stove and dryer. Funny, considering that our apartment was assigned to the Apicius culinary students and (supposedly) guaranteed a full kitchen. We have had mandatory orientation’s each day, informing us about the different school locations and recommendations for traveling in and outside of Italy. Both useful and boring. Basically every woman involved with the SAI program is named Francesca, they are all shocked when I introduce myself – apparently I don’t look the part. Another name observation – the few times I have shared my cognome (Coviello) I have received the same reply: “Napoli?” My last name seems to be the Smith of Naples, and all the natives know it. And they are correct, because my ancestors are originally from the area.

It has yet to hit me that I am living in Italy, I’m patiently waiting for the realization to come over me – walking around the city seems like a dream, there is so much beauty and history to admire. I cannot wait for school to begin on monday and to have a set schedule, hopefully that will make this whole experience seem real. Eating out has become a way of life, experimenting with different Trattoria’s & Ristoranti… while avoiding the tourist traps but that is never an easy task. Luckily my first pizza in Firenze was delizioso, with it’s super thin crisp crust and savory sauce with toppings to perfection at Le Colonnine, right near school.

My roommates and I agreed over espresso – it’s time to cook on our own. We finally made it to the Mercato Centrale this afternoon, a place I have been dying to visit since I decided to study in Firenze. Yesterday I bought some water, yogurt and eggs at a standard grocery store, with the intent to hold off on everything else – and buy  the fresh produce at the infamous market that closes at 2:00. Although I had been warned about the ‘extent’ of options at the mercato, some things did catch me off guard. The aroma of fresh meat, fish and cheese fills the air, which can be a not-so-good thing on an empty stomach. As much as I appreciate the food culture and possibilities that the mercato offers – I don’t think I was ready for it, especially my two vegetarian roommates! You can purchase most every part of a cow, pig, chicken, boar… feet, heads & all (you get the idea). Let’s just say I kept my shopping on a low budget for the essentials: Spinach, Tomatoes, Garlic, Mozzarella. As I made my way out I grabbed some Italian Penne, when the man suggested I buy “De Cecco” because it is less expensive. This surprised me, wouldn’t he want me to spend more money? And why would I buy a brand found in the states? I had no problemo dropping 3 Euro on authentic pasta, and a refreshing Coca-Cola classic on the go. I’m definitely ready for a nap after avoiding all the business-hungry vendors on my short walk home. Perhaps tonight I will cook my first meal in my italian-size kitchen, unless of course I decide to test another local dining spot. After all, I am here to eat, and until school starts I will use the excuse that I am waiting to learn new recipes. Ciao for now!

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