study abroad: laurie vs il supermercato

Study Abroad Florence Italy

SAT. JUNE 13: Day 4

My morning was spent walking up and down the same street a bajillion times trying to find Student Cells so I could buy an Italian cellphone. I realized it had been right in front of me the entire time, of course, but failed to check the hours. It was closed, as most businesses are on the weekends.

I had to cure the disappointment (and the sweat dripping down my back). Gelato to the rescue! I went to a hole-in-the-wall place where the gelato was handmade and the employee, GORGEOUS. Che bello… how beautiful he was… with those giant brown liquid-center Italian eyes that just unstitch me.

Study Abroad Florence Italy

Every time I eat something, it is somehow better than the last. The mango gelato didn’t just hit the spot; there was definitely a huge collision. So fresh, so juicy. It is as if the mangoes that went into making my gelato were handpicked from God’s fruit garden.

I swung by Conad, the supermarket, to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, and a couple other ingredients. As fun as eating out is here, I can’t afford to do that every day for seven weeks. I’m hoping to take a cooking class soon so I can make my own Italian food.

1. Look at the hand basket-cart hybrid.

Study Abroad Florence Italy

2. Nutella in Europe is a trillion times better. The consistency is much looser and thinner, the hazelnut flavor more potent, the overall taste more natural, and it comes in the cutest glass jar!

Study Abroad Florence Italy

3. The size of items is significantly smaller. Shampoo bottles, for example, are teeny compared to the U.S. Also, peanut butter doesn’t really exist. I found one, very tiny, very expensive jar of Skippy and that was it.

4. All things food-related are better in Italy. Everything is organic and natural. Their produce and meats have no GMOs, chemicals, pesticides, or injections. I have never eaten such juicy, sweet, pure produce in my entire existence. I don’t know how I’m going to go back to living in the U.S., where the FDA approves horrendous things.

5. Do not touch produce with bare hands! You have to wear a disposable plastic glove for hygienic purposes. The gloves can be found near the produce bags. After bagging your selection, you must find the electronic produce scale. In Italy, it is the shopper and not the cashier who weighs the fresh produce to determine the price. An adhesive price tag will print out of the scale and you simply attach the sticker to the bag of fruit or vegetables. If you forget to weigh your produce and attach the price sticker, the cashier will most likely set it aside, sigh at your American ignorance, and say, “Go weigh these.”

6. Buying milk in Italy is confusing. I never knew there could be so many different kinds! Many of them are unpasteurized and come straight out of the cow. Moo. The milk can also be found unrefrigerated on shelves. This is because it’s processed at ultra-high temperatures and doesn’t require refrigeration before opening.

7. There is a relatively small cereal selection. As for the coffee section, the instant coffee jars are dwarfed by the moka and espresso machine style of coffee.

8. Of course, what is lacking in the cereal aisle is made up for in the dry pasta section. I have never seen so many different shapes and sizes of pasta in my life. Can American increase their pasta selection? I want heart-shaped pasta.

9. A surprisingly special area of the supermarket is the water area. A wide assortment of bottled water takes up much of the final leg of the store. Sparkling, still, large and small, with countless brands. When ordering water at a restaurant, you have to specify whether you want water with gas or without. Carbonated water tastes like unflavored Sprite. What’s the point? I don’t know.

10. One thing you will not find in an Italian checkout stand is a bag boy. You are expected to bag your own purchases, and even to purchase your own bag. Italy banned plastic bags in 2011 so bring your own reusable bag or expect to pay a small fee to purchase a biodegradable bag as you check out.

I love how green Italy is. Garbage, for example, is not collected at your house like in America. You are responsible for taking your trash out to these silver dome-like bins that are placed around the city (trash, recycling, compost). The trash is sent below the city, so no trash is visible, which is why Italy doesn’t have animals such as rats, raccoons, and cockroaches.

If you leave a trash bag anywhere else besides the bins, the city will search through your trash for something with your name on it, and send you a lofty fine. Yeah. They don’t mess around.

The city streets are also cleaned every single night and day. There can be bottles and cigarette butts on the floor, but by morning, the city is spotless. I love that Florence looks dirty (mainly because it’s old) but there is absolutely no litter.

Study Abroad Florence Italy

My day ended at Space Electronic, the dance club that Vincenzo suggested. It was…okay…just like any American club back home. The difference? Go-go dancers. Awesome.

You get a drink card on entry where you get one free drink. From then on, the card is stamped when you purchase a beverage, and when you leave for the night, you pay for what you drank. If you lose your card, however, then you have to pay €50.

I doubt I’ll ever go again. Being there felt too out of place and the Italian men were very grabby. I’m glad I gave a discoteca a chance though! I had fun dancing, of course, but I felt strange being there, like I didn’t know how to feel about the whole fact that I was in a club in Italy, surrounded by a bunch of drunk Americans, in a city where being drunk is frowned upon. I don’t know how else to explain it. Hm.


Laurie Hamame

Ball of sunshine. Chronic giggler. A lover of all things sweet potato. An overly friendly, world traveling, body positive warrior. Avid bookworm. Self-proclaimed chef and spiritually Italian. Promotor of daily walks, coffee dates and 30-second dance parties.

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Laurie Hamame

Ball of sunshine. Chronic giggler. A lover of all things sweet potato. An overly friendly, world traveling, body positive warrior. Avid bookworm. Self-proclaimed chef and spiritually Italian. Promotor of daily walks, coffee dates and 30-second dance parties.

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