Cercare- To search.
My big thing before I left for Italy was that I did not want to look like a tourist. The fashion I figured I would eventually pick up, but I would not allow myself to walk around with a map. That rule lasted about an hour; it’s quite difficult to navigate without one.
The past few nights we have decided to look for inexpensive restaurants to eat at for dinner. We would pull up the restaurant on Google Map and then mark the location in our own personal map. Good plan, right?
The first night, we accidentally left our map at home and were convinced to eat in a more expensive restaurant by a persuasive Italian (see previous post). The second night, my roommate and I met up with my friend from home and her roommates. We had the map this time- nothing was going to stop us.
The five us wandered up and down the streets, map in front of us, looking for the location of the restaurant. For my fellow Harry Potter fans out there, I started picturing it as the Room of Requirement. I guess, we weren’t thinking of the proper thing at the time or we didn’t walk past it enough times, because it decided not to exist for us.
Later on that night, after a lot of getting to know you and catching up conversation, a few of us decided to look up pubs. Again, we had the map out and marked up.
We found it this time. Except it was closed until September 1st for Ferragosto.
Last night, we were more than determined to find the restaurant from the first night, La Mangiatorria, which online, boasted of cheap and delicious ravioli. Three of us embarked to where we believe the trattoria was and wound up at the Piazza Felicita (online it said the restaurant was located in Piazza Felice, was it the same?). So of course, we pull out our big map, standing in between two fancier restaurants, and could not find another piazza with a similar name. Disappointed, yet still determined, we wandered down the street past the Palazzo Pitti (which was not part of the original plan; I was wearing wedges- poor choice on the cobblestone). At every food establishment we passed, we would quickly check the prices to see if they were in our budget.
Exhausted and hungry, we decided that at the next place we saw we would just deal with whatever the price is, sit down, and enjoy our Italian meal.
The next place we came across, at first glance, looks like just a pizzeria. The menu was outside and we realized there was a restaurant in the back- and the prices were actually very reasonable! I was so excited that we finally found a good place. My friend then points up at the sign and simply says, “We found it.”
We found La Mangiatorria. And it was everything it promised to be. We were greeted by a petite middle-aged woman who was thrilled to speak English to us and to serve us our ravioli and gnocchi. Over dinner, I constantly repeated that we were going to return to this place, befriend the woman, and eat the delicious pasta all the time. Living the Florentine life.
Although the map had failed me in many ways, it has at least given me a general idea where to search. It seems that even if we have a plan, things do not always go according to plan, and that sometimes just stumbling upon a place offers a bigger reward. We just have to accept the fact that Florence has a mind of its own; its going to surprise its visitors. But it is important to keep going and exploring to see what’s available. And it’s okay to use a map.