Posted by: francescacoviello | September 9, 2010

La Prima Settimana.

The first week of school is finally in session, as I try to blend into my new environment. Hurrying to my class yesterday, I could barely move through the crowd. The hustle and bustle of the city is somewhat comforting because it reminds me of home, but it’s more reminiscent of the places I avoid – like being stuck in Times Square. There are so many clueless people touring through the sites, which tempted me  (on several occasions) to yell “MI SCUSA! OUTTA MY WAY, YOU’RE MAKING ME LATE FOR CLASS!” I definitely ruined over a dozen photo-ops, frantically maneuvering in front of foreign camera lenses. So instead, I just held my breath. As much as I wanted to announce that I actually have somewhere to be, I decided not to because I would likely be yelling at one of “my people.” I can navigate around the city without a map, yet I still feel like a visitor. Thankfully, tourist season should be coming to an end soon and I will be able to camouflage more confidently. Today was rainy and miserable, which makes the chaos in the streets a lot less fun. Involuntarily clinking umbrellas with every passerby, I’d much rather be clinking wine glasses inside.

I found shelter at a cafe to dry off. Farfalle pasta (meaning butterfly, but known as bow-tie in the states) with pesto, string beans & potatoes for lunch, washed down by acqua gassata (fizzy water). Other than gnocchi, I had never eaten potati with my pasta. It was tasty, and a proactive way to experiment prior to my food writing class. The man who served my pasta pinched my cheek (FACE – Italian men are much less inappropriate than I anticipated… so far), and asked if I had come from Connecticut. He was almost accurate. Clearly I am American, but no one has ever assumed that I’m from a particular region – other than being shocked to learn that I’m a ‘Lawnguylander’ with my not-so-harsh accent.  I often sit alone to eat and absorb the noise around me. I don’t mind eating alone, I actually enjoy it and I appreciate the stares I get from people who must think I’m lonely or weird. Oh well.

The other day I sat at a cafe next to the Duomo (in my neighborhood) and had a big salad with arugula, tomato, mozzarella bread, and “Eat, Pray, Love.” I know, I know, it’s super cliche of me – but I can’t help being interested in learning about how other’s experience EATaly. While reading about the author’s desire to speak Italian, I was hearing it all around me, which was a bit distracting but extremely cool & fascinating. Although I was visualizing Rome, I could still relate – especially with the philosophy about being on a No Carb Left Behind tour. My diet is on point, making sure I get a healthy serving (or more) of pasta every day! Upon completing the chapter about having a relationship with pizza, I paid my bill and walked a few streets to my Italian class – perfetto.

Another interesting tid-bit about food in Florence… Pizza and gelato can be found on every corner. Similarly to New York, they all claim to be ‘the best’. It’s almost as though gelato and pizza are treated as a separate food groups. For instance, 9:30 in the morning is a completely acceptable time for nutella gelato, apparently it isn’t considered ‘dessert’ here. Same with pizza, I’ve noticed people devouring Pizza way before noon as if it were an egg sandwich. (I really miss big bacon & egg breakfasts. Italians chug cappuccino at a crowded bar and have a pastry on the go). Oh, another crucial fact concerning consumption in Italy – if you want to be characterized as American order espresso or una cafe after 11, and I dare you to drink it while sitting. My evening classes would feel more invigorating with a grande (or venti) iced coffee & two pumps of caramel. But that’s neither here nor there… wait, yes it is, conveniently located at a drive-thru on West Kennedy Boulevard. Mama Mia!

Living in Firenze has already made a huge impact on me. As much as I miss certain conveniences from home, I can live without them. An essential part to studying abroad is to adapt outside of one’s comfort zone, which sometimes entails “doing as the Roman’s do.” Honestly, Italians really know how to make cigarette smoking look good, possibly even sexy like the word: fumare. It’s a European way of life, but no – I will not be adopting that habit here, I’d rather admire from afar where I don’t have to breath in the fumes. Thus far, I appreciate the little bit of Italian musica played, but to my disappointment the most overheard songs are “Party in the U.S.A” and “New York.” I’m pretty sure I am in NOT in A) The U.S.A., B) New York, and C)Definitely not in Kansas anymore. I have some investigating to do in the nightlife department… could have sworn I was in an Ybor city nightclub last weekend. The ‘American girl’ stereotype is held here for a reason, and my plan is to change it. But that can wait – as I have much more important things to do. Like, spend this weekend immersed in the rich landscapes throughout Tuscany. Harvesting grapes in Montepulciano vineyards, eating the famous pecorino cheese from Pienza, and basking on the golden sandy beach of the gulf along the Tuscan coast.

Look forward to upcoming picture postings !

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