Thursday, September 15, 2011

Week One

My view of the Ponte Vecchio walking home from school

So I have just about finished my first week of classes and everything is going swimmingly! I actually have Italian for 2 hours every day, which is great because it will help me get a better grasp on the language, but bad because 2-4 is prime naptime and tends to follow a delicious meal that only makes me sleepier. If only I liked coffee.

But, I am learning! My favorite word so far is piacere -- meaning literally "pleasure" (I think), it's used when you're meeting someone -- "molto piacere" or "piacere mio" -- or for please -- "per piacere." My English class is also very enjoyable, and surprisingly one of the easiest to stay awake for, considering that it's from 9-10:30 and my earliest class. My film class only meets once a week, from 10-1 on Wednesdays, and that is also a struggle to stay awake for 3 hours in one cramped chair. But, it's also really interesting. Our teacher for that class is Italian, which is an added bonus. The first movie we watched was Rome, Open City, which was very sad but very good. I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of real Italian cinema and getting a better feel for the culture and history of this country.

I've also been out for a lot of great meals (and gelato), of course. My favorite meal so far was our first at Trattoria Nella. I had spinach and ricotta ravioli with walnut sauce and my roommate Marie ordered gorgonzola gnocchi and we shared. A. Ma. Zing. Which is not to say that everything else hasn't also been has. We had a welcome dinner on Tuesday where they gave us more food than I've ever seen in my life -- appetizers, two pastas, main course, and dessert! We made friends with the waiters, who at first seemed very stand-offish, but were actually extremely sarcastic and funny (in a picture below). We've also been to this little place called Pizza ToTo' about 4 times so far for pizza by the slice and calzones for quick lunches, and it is soooooo good. I don't know how I ever lived without daily access to this kind of food. Not to mention all the new gelatos I'm trying, such as Bucalenti, a Florentine cream flavored gelato available at a tiny gelaterie around the corner from my apartment. It tastes like sweet butter, which I know sounds awful, but you have to try it to understand.

Ravioli with walnut sauce at Trattoria Nella

Marie and I in front of the Duomo at night

Welcome dinner picture with the waiter (me, Marie, waiter, Kristen, and Katreina from left to right)

Of course, I've also been sure to stock up on bread and cheese to make grilled cheese at my apartment. It's interesting having grilled cheese made with provolone, but surprisingly good. They also sell the most amazing, cheap brie at the supermarket right by my apartment, and I've already gone through more of that than I care to admit. I'm really hoping to make it to the Mercato Centrale soon for fresh bread, cheese, and fruit, but with weekend plans up in the air and class every day, it's been harder than I expected.

I feel like I'm learning my way around the city fairly quickly. It's amazing how fast I stopped feeling like a tourist -- crossing the Ponte Vecchio on the way to school I get annoyed with the crowds of people stopping to take pictures everywhere and I have to remind myself that was me just a few days ago. But, knowing my sense of direction, or lack thereof, I am glad that it's been pretty easy to find everywhere I need to go, and it's been fun learning new ways to get to school, restaurants, and landmarks. It's strange that just a week ago it was confusing weaving our way to the Santa Croce, and now I know exactly where it is in relation to school, my favorite chocolate gelato, and the 99 cent store.

Beautiful sunset above the Arno

Another update is that we did a little roommate shuffling, meaning that I now have a single room! I love all of my roommates, but I also love time to myself, and having already done the roommate thing when I moved to the dorms in SLO, I'm now happy to take my own space whenever available.

Well, I have class again at 2 (last class of the week! I can't believe it's already been a week), and I want to squeeze in a nap, lunch, and some travel planning before that, so I'd better go. I'll try to update more often; I'm assuming/hoping things will calm down a little more after this first week. Tomorrow we have a half-day trip to Fiesole, where they promise it will be a little cooler, and I'm hoping to hang out on the banks of the Arno and explore the rest of the city some more this weekend.

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