Archive | August 2012

Searching for restaurants

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.

gnocchi pesto (what I ordered) ctsy. hiddenboston.com

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First day (primo giorno)

We, me and my fellow Marist students, arrived Tuesday morning, 9am here, 3am for U.S. time, ready to explore.  We arrived to our apartments an hour later. I still don’t know what to make of it.  The apartment is fairly large, or long is the more  proper term, with an expanding hallway that on either side includes entrances to two bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and two bathrooms.  The bathroom quickly prompted me to Google search how to use a bidet. Not yet a fan of it.  Although the apartment is spacious, it’s old.  Which means, no air conditioning (great in this 90 degree weather!), noisy pipes, and creaky furniture. The view is nice, we’re within a piazza with other old looking buildings colored the classic Tuscan yellow.  We’re also located right next to Ponte Vecchio, which is a beautiful sight within itself.

Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio

My roommate and I decided to do a lot of walking in order to stay out of the apartment and battle the need for sleep (sleep won around 6p.m. until dinner).  We went to a 99 cent store to get cleaning supplies, which took us an extra 15 minutes trying to figure out what was laundry detergent.  After, we went to a grocery store, which proved much more daunting than we expected, especially since neither of us cooks. A half hour later, we left with the familiar items of frozen chicken nuggets, cereal and eggs.  We’re really hoping for improvement on that part.

Later on, we walked around the different plazas and past the various vendors. I love the fact that the Florence symbol is the fleur de lis (also KKG’s symbol) and it’s on everything. Potential gifts for my fellow sorority sisters? I think so.

Firenze Fleur de lis. Courtesy of italiannotes.com/wordpress

For dinner, my roommate and I met up with our friend at a restaurant across the river. The owner of the restaurant convinced us to eat there with his charming Italian ways (and the fact that he knew English) when he saw us viewing the menu outside where we were trying to compare prices.  Our friend managed to insult the owner by asking him specific prices about everything (typical Americans, obsessed over money).  The owner was surprised when we explained to him that water is free in America.  It’s not like we can drink the tap water here though; the argument is moot. The ravioli I ordered was amazing and the creamy sauce was heavenly, nothing like I ever ate at home.

I’m going to need to learn how to cook more to resist the temptation of eating out every night.

An introduction (introduzione)

This semester, my Junior year in college, I am studying abroad in Florence.  This includes exploring and absorbing what Italy has to offer, as well as exploring other European countries.  Some of those countries include Greece, England, France and Switzerland. I hope to tackle all of these countries and embrace all of the cultures.

Some words to describe me: A writer. Ajournalism/public relations student. A sorority woman (KKG to be exact). A runner. Guided by my wanderlust.

My goal for creating this blog: I’m creating this blog to organize my adventures abroad in a more visual and appealing manner. As a journalism student, I feel this is a way to hone my skills and to explore a more creative writing outlet, one that I am not used to.  I hope to look back on the blog and see how much I have developed over the semester; in cultural knowledge and as a writer.

What I hope you gain from reading this blog: By reading my blog, I hope you gain a shared knowledge of all my travel experiences.  I also hope you get to live vicariously through me and be slightly jealous (just kidding).  There will also be plenty of pictures of your viewing pleasure. If you know something  about a topic that I don’t (which is very likely) or if something in particular I write about interests you, I would like to hear about it in the comments.

I would also hope you would gain a few smiles from reading my blog. That would be nice.

Things to look for: Weekend updates (which is when I will be doing the majority of my traveling), Italian words/phrases of the week, and the “new thing” of the week.

I’m going to try to update this blog as often as I can, but I’m sure as the semester progresses, it will be more difficult. Especially since the internet connection in my apartment is spotty.  But it will at least be weekly.

Make sure you check out my adventures ablog! (Credit to my friend, also named Nicole, for the cleverness of ablog).

Ci vediamo. See you later.