Content in Florence for the Weekend

16 Sep

While everyone around me was talking about their weekend travel plans on Thursday in class, I kept quiet. Unlike my fellow peers I wasn’t planning on jet setting to London for the weekend, or hiking the Cinque Terra, instead I was looking forward to simply spending my weekend in Florence. It seems that everyone around me is desperate to travel as much as possible while they are here in Italy and of course who can blame them, after all the countries in Europe are so close and one can manage to get around quite inexpensively. In fact before coming to Italy I was also a travel driven tourist desperate to see as many countries and get as many new stamps in my Passport as possible. Prague, Greece, Morocco, and Turkey, were amongst my top destination choices. It was only once I arrived here In beautiful, historic, and, charming Florence that I fell in love and realized I didn’t want to be apart from this wonderful city every-weekend, I wanted to stay here and get to know my own city.

Sure I love exploring, I love discovering new places, and expanding my horizons, but there is something about Florence that feels like home, and no matter where I am and how beautiful it may be, there is always some feeling I get deep in the pit of my stomach which makes me feel desperate to return to my city, my home.

And no home is complete without having loved ones and I sure do have my share of loved ones here, I am absolutely sure though, that without them Florence would most definitely not feel like home.

So while everyone else was planning their exotic trips, I made plans to have an authentic Italian weekend with my Italian friends, Friday night I had plans to spend time with Irene and her friend, Cecilia, and my friend Alley for a girls night out. Saturday I made plans to meet Camilla in the center than return for her house for dinner, and Sunday I was invited to Wanda’s for lunch. I had so much fun and I am willing to bet that my weekend here in Florence could easily rival just about anyone elses weekend.

On Friday night around 8:00 p.m., we headed out for our girls night on the town, Of course Alley and I being new residents of Florence didn’t have the slightest idea of where to go for dinner, so we requested that Irene and Cecilia show us around the city and take us somewhere unknown by tourists and frequented by Italians. We headed to Moyo, a chic restaurant which offer aperitive, or happy hour. For just 7 euros one can enjoy an alcoholic beverage and an all you can eat buffet, and I am not talking about your standard American buffet with less than desirable picky food. No this buffets offers “real food” for example I had roasted chicken and potatoes, vegetable cous cous, mussels and clams, and a delicious fresh salad. Every few minutes new fresh offerings of different items are brought out (although delicious this can be a bit dangerous, I strongly urge you to remember your will power when you go out for Happy Hour here in Italy). After dinner we roamed the populated city streets of Florence and Irene and Cecilia pointed out the tourist traps to stay clear of and the local dives we absotley had to visit. We had such an enjoyable evening, it’s ironic that although we live such diverse lives so far away from each other we can still easily find common ground. For example we easily talked about our shared taste in music, TV shows, and pop culture. Or night ended around 12:00, Irene explained to me that finding parking in the center was difficult, so She and Cecilia had biked all the way into the center of Florence to see me, It still amazes me the great lengths that these girls would go through just to be able to spend a few hours with me!

Saturday morning I headed to the pool, I manged to find my bus without a problem, However I had factored in extra time in case a problem had occurred, fortunately I did not get lost however I did arrive at the pool an hour early! Awkwardly I stood outside of the pool, consulting my watch every few minutes. I had been so proud of my accomplishment (yes finding the bus and getting off the right stop is an accomplishment for me) I wanted to have someone to share it with, so I quickly called Roberta, my second mother here in Florence. She too was quite proud of my accomplishment and shared in my joy. After creepily waiting outside of the pool for about 55 minutes, I finally went inside. There was a big group of young people swimming in the lane beside me and although they were unaware of it, I used them as motivation and tried to build up my endurance by racing them. I tiredly got out of the pool and exhaustively walked towards the locker room when I saw Roberta standing before me, a big smile plastered on her face. She had taken time out of her busy day simply to check in on me and bring me home, it’s these little acts of kindness that I will never forget.

A few hours later I met up with Camilla, we spent time walking around the city as we chatted, Although Camillia is a very studious and conscientious student who informed me she had “a ton of homework” this weekend, she still was willing to take time out of her hectic school schedule to spend time with me. We headed back to her home around 7:30. There a smiling Lucia, Antonio and Costanza met me, we spent time playing games such as taboo, an especially tricky game to play in Italian while we waited for dinner. At 9:00 we sat down to a delicious dinner of steak and potatoes (Italian style)! I was eating my steak when Antonio gave me a quizzical look, “you must put salt, olive oil, and lemon, on it” he pointed at my naked steak. I did as I was told and was surprised to find just how much more flavorful the meal had become! Obviously here in Italy, Olive oil is the condiment of choice, it goes on everything, salad, vegetables, even meat!  After dinner Antonio ran to a nearby gelateria to pick up gelato, and of course sorbet for me (as I do not eat dairy). He returned with a carton of melon, lemon, and strawberry sorbet which was absolutely amazing!

Around 11:30 Antonio and Camilla sensed I was becoming a bit tired, so they agreed to take me home. I didn’t realize just how much of a hassle taking me home was until we reach the center of Florence and sat in traffic for a good twenty minutes, the sound of loud beeping surrounding us. Apparently there are designated hours you can and cannot drive into the center of Florence. So instead of being able to simply pull up to my apartment, Antonio hd to pay to park in a garage and accompanied me to my apartment which was about a fifteen minute walk. Despite my pleads to take the bus which they craftily ignored they said bringing me into the center was no problem and they were happy to do so!

Today I woke up with a stuffy nose, clouded head, and generally felt terrible. However, I had agreed to lunch at Wanda’s and she is an amazing cook so even though I didn’t have much of an appetite and would have preferred to lie in bed all day I knew I would regret not going for lunch. And boy did I sure make the right decision. Wanda is an amazing host, she’s a creative cook, a welcoming hostess, and she puts together a beautiful presentation for guests, you can tell she truly enjoys it. Normally it is typical that there is a primo piatto (usually consisting of a pasta dish) and a secondo piatto (a meat dish) in a tradition Italian meal. When I informed Wanda that I was not eating grains I don’t think she knew what to do, she was besides herself with worry as to what to make for me, this for her meant no primo piatto and no cake for dessert (yikes)!

However, now that I am trying to reintroduce grains (gluten free grains) back into my diet, she was more than ecstatic, she went out to buy gluten free pasta specifically for the occasion!

It was so delicious, the sauce was simple yet so flavorful, it was a great start to an excellent meal!

Next up on the menu was an absolutely gorgeous looking meat dish. “what is this” I asked? ” roasted rabbit”  I was told. I was ecstatic, trying rabbit has been on top of my food to do list, forever. It was prepared with rosemary, and Greek Olives, brought over from Greece by Wanda’s brother.

It was delicious and tasted quite similar to chicken, although I would like to have rabbit again I am not quite sure anyone can top Wanda’s, guess i’ll just have to persuade her to make it again!

For dessert Wanda put out delicious lemon sorbet for me and a plate of fresh fruit, she also made an amazing looking homemade Tiramisu, which I enviously watched everyone else enjoy! Wanda is determined to be on the look out for Soy milk and soy cream, and there is no doubt in my mind that with her creative cooking skills she will be able to whip up a delicious dairy free dessert for me!

Almost two hours later I was stuffed and exhausted, but I wasn’t the only one, The family’s dog, Zoe was enjoying a nap besides the table, on the couch, I started at her enviously wishing to return to my own bed to do the same.

I was determined to return to my Apartment on the bus, after seeing what Antonio had to go through the night prior, there was no way I was going to make a repeat performance with Wanda, yet she insisted that she drive me, “your sick” she bargained. I was actually quite content to oblige, the idea of sitting in the sun waiting for a bus and then walking back in the sweltering heat to my apartment was less than ideal especially because I was wearing a heavy sweater (I would get the chills followed by spontaneous hot flashes).  I returned home around 5:30, happy with my productive weekend! It’s so comforting to know that although I may be far from my real family and home, I have also managed to find a family with the people here in Florence and make a home for myself!

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3 Responses to “Content in Florence for the Weekend”

  1. Cynthia Hill September 16, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    I am so enjoying your stories from Italy! Please look into the dangers of consuming most soy/soy milk products. You will discover it is not the health food it is proclaimed to be! http://www.westonaprice.org/soy-alert http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/soy-health_b_1822466.html http://www.marksdailyapple.com/soy-scrutiny/#axzz26fHk697Q
    Keep the stories coming!

    • La Cucina Di Kait September 17, 2012 at 5:47 am #

      Cynthia,

      Glad you are enjoying the blog posts. Thank you for the info on soy, i will try to stay clear of it, I did manage to find almond milk here, so I hae been using that as well although I am still on the lookout for coconut milk!

      • Cynthia Hill September 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

        Great – coconut & almond milk are good choices! I hope to travel to Italy & France someday and your posts make me feel like I am there 🙂

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