I finally understand the importance of internet cafés.. Having no WiFi or 4G anywhere else forces me to write my blog immersed in Italian culture. I’m currently writing this while sitting in an open-air café. Cigarette smoke infused the atmosphere while two ladies chat in Italian on my right, and my friends use the precious moments of WiFi access to update their social networks on our latest adventures.
It’s a bit past 9 pm, but the sky above me is still a quintessential blue. Italians whiz by on their mopeds through the cobblestone streets with threatening speeds while pedestrians walking the narrow allies between the tall Romanesque buildings jump out of the way. Today being the third day in Firenze, I would have thought I would still be jet-lagged, but surprisingly enough, I was adjusted by the evening of the first day!
Since it’s the weekend and classes don’t start until tomorrow, we’ve been mainly doing group activities. Yesterday we went to an Italian public pool, which made us the only Americans there! The pool was enormous and even had a diving pool with Olympic-height diving platforms. I hope to eventually jump off the tallest one during one of our weekly pool outings. Adding to the cultural immersion, the pool required everyone to wear fabric swim caps, which made us all look hilarious.
After swimming, a group of us introduced ourselves (with vocab help from our leaders) to a group of 15-year-old Italian boys who were playing cards in the park next to the pool. After we were unsuccessful in learning card games in Italian, we switched to playing soccer with them, which turned into an Italian game called “Scopa”. In the game, you use the ball like a volleyball and volley around the circle of people until the seventh pass when the ball is spiked at a person. It was quite an adventurous game, which none of us were too talented at.
Today we went by bus to a little town outside Firenze. The buses have very few seats, so we ride standing up. The town we went to was up in the mountains surrounding Firenze, which created quite a roller coaster ride as we slammed and slid into each other while going up and down the hillsides and around tight bends. There we hiked up to one of the most gorgeous views I’ve ever seen! We were able to look down at the red-tiled roofs and tall naturally sculpted trees of Firenze.
The food experience here has been new and delicious! Every morning, my friends and I have gone out to a café for a breakfast of croissants and fresh fruit. My goal by the end of this trip is to be able to order my breakfast fully in Italian. For lunch, a hole in the wall sandwich shop served me a Pecorino e Pomodori Secchi sandwich, which is dried tomatoes and sheep’s milk cheese. I definitely found myself a new favorite cheese! It tastes similar to the smell of a freshly washed wool sweater.
Eating gelato is also a big part of experiencing Italia. I’ve had it at least once, if not twice, every day. Tonight I had gelato flavored as mascarpone, which I figured out is a type of cheese. It was creamy and delicious! I will definitely suggest the flavor to my local gelato shop at home!