Featured Student Blog: It’s A Beautiful Day

API Student Blogger: Alaina W.
API Program: Florence, Italy: LdM Direct Enrollment, Semester Program

I hope that a burst of song filled your head when you read this blog title…IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY! A month ago, it was snowing. Today, it is in the 70’s, sunny, and completely cloudless. Beautiful.

Today, I fell in love with Italy all over again.

My day started when I woke up around 10. Ate breakfast, the usual, enjoyed the beautiful weather out the window while I ate. Then Gillian and I finally made it over to the San Ambroggio market, another food market, located in the eastern part of the city. I personally have never been to that part of the city, so I enjoyed our walk in the perfect weather.

The market itself was…markety. Pretty sweet. I’m definitely going to miss markets when I am buying my produce at Publix in just over 6 weeks. Ew.

Haha, check out the stall owner smoking while he works. Typical.

Another lunch place that is on our list, and it’s actually located IN the market. We would have gone here yesterday, but we had a date with Sergio.

We each bought a few things, and spent a bit of time inside, chatting with one of the cheese vendors. He had a thing for Gillian and kept giving us free samples of all kinds of things…three different kinds of pecorino, an unidentified kind of creamy cheese on a cracker, and finally, a large green olive.
Then we walked back toward the city center…

Yet another thing on our to-eat list: Florentine street food! Trippa, or tripe, which is…cow’s stomach, is very common locally, and we are determined to at least sample it…no matter how scared we may be. I think Gill and I agreed to split one later, just to be on the safe side.

Then we came upon this little area, which I had no idea existed…

More used books.

I think the weather has drawn all of the couples out into the open…and they are not shy about PDA around here.

Then we stumbled into this little courtyard. It’s full of little junk shops! Most of them were closed, but I really want to go back and check on one in particular that looked like it had some antique postcards and prints inside.

Then of course, since it was Wednesday, we had our usual lunch at Sergio’s! Sam’s friend from home, Kasey, who is studying in Stockholm, joined us. I had the pasta e fagioli, a soup with little round noodles and beans, topped with the mandatory dose of olive oil. It was, as usual, delicious.

Before lunch, Gillian and I had done a bit of shopping at San Lorenzo. I picked up a pair of sweet shades and a bracelet for a few euro.
Thennnn the weather was so gorgeous that we took a blanket down to Piazza di Independenza and just spread out to enjoy the sunshine.

Sam did some homework…

While Gillian napped.

I, of course, took the opportunity to show off my new sunglasses! I haggled the guy from 20 euro all the way down to 5. Good job, me.

I spent most of the afternoon, though, with Sam’s copy of Eat, Pray, Love. I picked up directly from the park and went to my cooking class. I’m not gonna lie, I wasn’t exactly enthralled with what we made last night, but free dinner is free dinner.

We started with pasta coi ceci, which is a kind of pasta and chickpea “soup” which, like most Italian sounds I have encountered, is thick enough to eat with a fork. On the side, broccoli al limone, broccoli topped with a lemon and olive oil sauce, and a nice slice of Tuscan bread.

For our main course, we made lamb with fresh mint, but I personally wasn’t a huge fan. We roasted it, with the garlic and mint wrapped up inside, in the oven for over an hour, stopping to add white wine to the pan as it evaporated. There was just something weird about the taste (plus I got a particularly fatty piece). I wasn’t a fan, and didn’t stop to take a photo.

Dessert was cicerchiata, which is a kind of carnival food. It is essentially fried dough balls, which we topped with a honey glaze made from raw honey, crushed almonds, cinnamon, and lemon zest.

They were good, but again, uninspired.

I literally ran from my cooking class down to Via Ghibellina, where I met up with the rest of the API crew for Momix, the modern Italian ballet, which had been described to us as a mixture between dance and Cirque du Soleil. I have never actually seen Cirque, so I was a bit unsure about what to expect. Our seats were pretty sweet, on the top floor in a box front and center of the stage (though it took us about a year to find them…)

I enjoyed Momix, though it was quite different from what I had expected. The word “ballet” to me just automatically means choreographed dance to music, but this was much more…interpretive. There was a lot of play with light and different kinds of music and the “dancing” itself was unlike any ballet I’d ever seen.

At the end of the night, we walked home and enjoyed some freshly baked dark chocolate chip cookies that Gillian had (angrily) prepared earlier in the evening, while the internet had been playing games with her. A perfect end to a perfect day.

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