Italians have great taste

And I don’t just mean food. Well, of course I mean food. But they have great taste everywhere. The fashion, the architecture, the interior design…and don’t get me started on the doors. Italy really knows how to design beautiful doors. An entire culture that appreciates aesthetics! Che bella!

I arrived in Florence 3 days ago and I’ve already learned many things about myself since I left the US.

My first lesson…I can’t sleep on planes. I become the most fidgety human ever (dat restless leg syndrome amirite?) — I’m honestly shocked everyone around me was able to sleep with my constant shifting around. At least I had my headphones to keep me company.

The Madrid airport was a strange place. Right off the plane, I swear I walked a mile of those motorized walkways (what are they even called?) until I got to immigration, then the airport suddenly turned into a mall. I mean, like, legit nice designer stores, Bloomingdale’s-esque marble floors, atrium ceilings…a bit different from DFW…and LAX.

I looked ridiculous throughout the entire thing because I’m carrying two backpacks…err one backpack, and one converted “frontpack” (?)…and I now understand why pregnant women complain so much.

Just walking through the airport reminded me of how uncultured I am. I’ve always tried to consider myself somewhat culturally-conscious (I am a global citizen, right IB?) but there are so many people here who speak several languages fluently. I’m really trying, but I can barely spit out a “più lentamente per favore” before they’re onto the next sentence. It’s pretty intimidating. I hope studying Italian in a class setting while I’m here will make me more comfortable speaking it freely.

The good news: Florence is already starting to feel more like home.

On my way from the airport to my apartment, I anticipated crashing as soon as I figured out which bed was mine. But the apartment itself rejuvenated me! It’s truly unreal. Seriously, West 27th has nothing on Italian apartments. (not that West 27th is worth comparing to anything) My roommates are awesome too. Totally chill and up for adventure. There are four of us: two per bedroom, a living room, bathroom, and kitchen.

My door
My bedroom is huge.
Check out that chandelier
Our living room/dining area

I haven’t spent a ton of time in the apartment. They say Florence is a walkable city…but that’s if you really like walking. It’s beautiful but I had to give my feet a break today. We’ve toured practically the whole city, but I haven’t brought my camera out much yet. That’ll come. I’ll be walking around a lot. Everyone walks. At least it’ll offset the gelato and pasta. :)

On that note, another lesson: I never realized how much water I actually consume daily (*7 of these per day. bless up.*) until I was cut off from Pi Phi’s magical water machine and forced to pay for water every time I want a drink. Granted, the tap isn’t bad…but the bottled is better. As kind of a cheapo, it’s tough for me to justify paying so much for acqua minerale naturale, but whatever. I found a decent deal at the local market. And what do they say — wine is cheaper than water anyway, right?

That lesson came when 9 of us managed to share 6 bottles of wine for under 20€. Hell yeah. My parents are cringing. My second night here, SACI hosted a mixer/free dinner (not super fun) and after, some peeps and I went out (super fun). First we went to a bar around the corner from school (convenient) called Brewdog, which served a really great red ale. I’d never had red ale before but it’s 50x better than any Coors Light the frats are serving. Then, we realized it was only 8pm and everyone else in Florence was preparing to prepare for dinner…so we brought some wine back to the apartment and had a big game of King’s Cup. Fun. After, a few of us ventured out to another bar recommended by one of the guys. It’s known for its crazy funky shots crafted by — this is no exaggeration — Einstein’s great great grandson. Well, maybe not, but at least his Italian doppelgänger. They also played a healthy dose of Green Day so of course I was vibing. I met a few locals who insisted I try “The Mexican” which consisted of several layers of different tequilas, some sort of cream (not the best combo), and was topped with an apple ring with colorful sugars sprinkled on it. Gotta admire the aesthetics. I‘ll have to get photos the next time I go!

One of the local women I met wanted to go dancing at a club after the Einstein bar. That’ll have to be another night. Everyone here is very friendly and most are pretty patient with my general cluelessness. Although, who doesn’t seem friendly when every word flows like some kind of melody? Have I mentioned I’m really into the Italian language/accent??

Speaking of melodies…the music here is super bizarre. I’ll sit down at a restaurant that plays U2 one minute and Nicki Minaj the next. Sprinkle in a few songs by the Italian Adele and I’m wondering whether I’m in Florence or a Macy’s dressing room. I had a local ask me, being from America, if I’d ever had the pleasure of seeing Nickelback live? He was serious. And almost every wine shop I walk by is blasting some variation of hard EDM or Drake. K, let me just bust a move while I’m picking out my next 3€ bottle of Merlot. Oh, Wonderwall just came on at this pizzeria I’m writing at. The music here reminds me of some kind of angsty American teenager going through an identity crisis in the mid-2000s.

I’m currently eating this…SOS

Last night, the roomies and I treated ourselves to a nice meal at La Menegere Firenze. I love their site’s landing page. Gnocchi with cacio (sheep’s milk cheese), pepper, lemon, topped with sprouts and thin green apple slices. Not sure what the fascination is with apples, but it was a surprisingly great combination with the pasta. And it was an extremely small, but satisfying, portion — so you know it was fancy. It really makes a difference when they cook with truly fresh ingredients. Next on my agenda is a famous blueberry steak from Al Acqua Due. Another unconventional combo that sounds strangely delicious. Trying to be more adventurous here with my food! Still not into the whole fish thing, though. Florence isn’t coastal so fish isn’t a terribly common menu item anyway.

One thing I love about this experience is that I don’t feel the pressure to squeeze everything in like a typical family vacation. I have months to settle in and try to feel like I’m “living” here rather than just “visiting” — cute, right? I thought so.

“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” just came on, so I’ll take that as my cue to go explore more. The sun is setting anyway and I want to get some good photos. Ciao!

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