WED. JUNE 10: Day 1
This trip is already exceeding my expectations and it’s only the first day, which was really only half a day.
When arriving at the Firenze airport, I rode a bus to baggage claim where I quickly befriended an American family who let me kindly use their phone to tell my mom I arrived safely.
Upon grabbing my bag, I realized…wait. I’M IN ITALY. WHAT.
I met with an Accademia Italiana staff member (yes, she was holding a cute little sign for me, just like in the movies) and we headed to the apartment I will be staying at during my time here. When I was handed my key, I did a little happy dance. I am a resident of Italy! I have an apartment in the city! Also, the keys are so interesting here! Each one looks like a cityscape.
My apartment is massive and reminds me more of a small house than an apartment. The 16 girls on the trip with me all live in the same complex, with 4-6 per unit. We have a kitchen, washer, bathroom, a study room, living room, two bedrooms, and a balcony (where we hang our clothes to dry!)
It is so spacious and wonderful! Apparently, it’s 500 years old and was once lived in by royalty! Ooh la la.
After settling in and unpacking my clothes into my wardrobe, I took my first shower abroad. It was kind of a big deal.
The girls congregated in one living room to begin our six-week bonding session. I was worried about clicking with the others here, but it has been pretty good so far! They are all hilarious and fun.
As 7:15 arrived, we all dolled up for our welcome dinner. It was so fun to me. A large group of beautiful girls in dresses walking together to the steps of Piazza Santa Croce.
I still cannot believe I am here. I am going bananas! I am embracing every giddy second. I’m so giddy that I took a photo of an Italian stranger.
Our first meal was at Trattoria Pallottino. Trattoria’s are usually run by families, and can be considered the Italian version of a mom and pop shop. It doesn’t open until 7:30, as Italians eat dinner between 8-10 pm. This makes me smile because it is so representative of their culture, as business are normally closed during the afternoon (and weekends) and reopen in the late evening.
– rigatoni pasta with tomato sauce and bacon
– penne pasta with a white cream sauce and arugula
– red and white wine
– almond biscotti
– vin santo (holy wine; a style of Italian dessert wine; traditional in Tuscany)
Italians are very particular about what they dip their biscotti into. The Italian Food Rule: only dip biscotti in vin santo, not in coffee.
The appetizers were (and still are) absolutely delicious. And to think that the food is only going to get better…
I’ve never had such ripe, fresh, juicy, sweet tomatoes in my entire existence on this planet. The mozzarella tasted pure. I could clearly taste the difference between Italian homemade cheese and whatever “mozzarella” is in the States. It melted in my mouth like an ice cube on a sunbathed sidewalk.
The pasta…I couldn’t stop eating. I seemed to never get full no matter how much I shoveled into my mouth.
The dessert I could have done without. Don’t get me wrong—the biscotti was fantastic and completely incomparable to the “biscotti” at Starbucks. The wine was awful. Even looking at it gave me a headache. I appreciated it, and I am glad I tried it, but I am not a fan.
A huge, open, wall-to-wall window embellished the dining area, and a sweet accordion player entertained us as he passed by.
Our advisor told us: “They don’t do this for money. You don’t even have to pay them. They just go around the city and play because they want to make people smile.”
I love the open window trend of Italy. In reality, it’s due to the huge lack of air conditioning, but in my happy little world, it’s because of the fresh air, the welcoming culture, the sounds of the city, and for the sweet trill of Italian vernacular to nuzzle against my ear.
Day one: I love Italia.
After dinner, me and the girls headed back to our apartment. On the route, we passed by a brilliantly lit store; gleaming bottles of liquor and wine flirted with us on the shelves. Today was Brianne’s 21st. Yep. Lucky girl celebrated her birthday in Italy.
She bought a bottle of cheap limoncello, an Italian lemon liquor. It tasted, as Gabby so well put it, like lemon Lysol. It’s an… acquired taste…to say the least. I just so much gave this shockingly yellow liquid a flick of my tongue, and squished my face in disgust.
We spent the next hour or so talking about slang and dialects and ended the night by watching Italian nightlife over our third-story windows.
Now, I must hobble off to bed, as I must be up early for day one of orientation. I hope my jet lag isn’t too bad!