Galleria dell’Accademia and first week of classes

Galleria dell’Accademia Sunday 2/5

Somehow we managed to sleep in until about noon and that is pretty embarrassing but I think we are all still adjusting to the time difference. We cleaned up and cooked a simple lunch before going to see the David at the Galleria dell’Accademia. It is free on Sundays and only a block away from us! Unexpectedly, there was a very short line to get in – maybe only 6 people so we got in right away! Only an hour later this is what the line looked like:

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The line into the Accademia on free Sunday

I was truly blown away by Michelangelo’s David. It is absolutely huge! My favorite part was that in the right light you could see his muscles and veins in his arms and hands. It is extremely life like and I plan to come back since we live so close!

The rest of the day was spent running errands and cooking! I finally bought another blanket (from my favorite store Tiger). Another notable accomplishment is that we all finally ate at our neighborhood restaurant called I’Tosto. We walk by it almost everyday and it is usually busy with people waiting outside. I got the Sunday special for 6 euro and it was delicious! I had to save 2/3 of it to eat later because it was too big.

First class: Topics in Nutrition Italian Style Cooking 9am

I think I’ve finally mastered the street numbering system here, so I didn’t have nay problem finding my class on Via Faenza because I recognized the street near the market. The classroom was a very simple kitchen with enough units for all 9 students in my class. The professor was a very friendly Italian woman with a thick accent. She told us a lot about herself and why food is her passion – she is from Parma which was named UNESCO’s gastronomic center of Italy. Their specialties are parmesan (obviously), ragu, lasagna and the Barilla pasta company is from Parma. The professor got very animated and excited when she talked about food. She said that cooking is a way to show your love to your family, it gives you happy feelings and is very special. I liked hearing from a real Italian about their food culture.

We went over the syllabus and found out that the class would be divided into sections about nutrition and then have practical applications towards the end where we will cook and share with the class. There are exams and projects that don’t sound very hard but might be more work than I expected from a cooking class. Luckily, I will know all of the scientific nutrition things that most people in the class may struggle one.

As a class we went to the central market and the professor showed us her favorite stands and had them give samples to us. We learned about balsamic vinegar and tasted three vinegars that had been aged 5, 7 and 10 years. The five year old one was very strong and stung a little bit – I don’t think anyone liked this one. The oldest one was very thick and a little bit sweet. As far as eating spoonfuls of just balsamic vinegar goes… the best one was obviously the oldest.

By the time we reached the top floor it was around 11am and time for lunch. They surprised us with a delicious meal prepared by their chefs. It had pizzas, fresh mozzarella, different types of breads and cured meat, cannolis and fresh squeezed health juice with apple and beet root. Everything was amazing and I enjoying conversing with my classmates and especially the professor!

Elementary Italian language 4:30pm

I was able to find this building because of the very obviously American students standing outside of it. The classroom was on the 4th floor (what we would call the 5th floor) so my legs were burning by the time I reached the top. These stairs haven’t gotten easier yet but I think by the end of the semester I’ll have buns of steel.

There were about ten of us in class and I happened to sit next to a girl from U of I too. The professor is quite young and very friendly as well. She said that after introducing the syllabus she would not be speaking English anymore – this was shame because her English was very good! Moving on with the class I was very thankful for my background in French. Most of the basic words are almost exactly the same or close enough to figure it out. Some people were completely clueless because she never actually defined the words – she just used them in simple sentences until we guessed it.

I am really looking forward to learning the language because it is embarrassing when you have to point at something you want or say it in English. Most people speak English but there have been a couple times where I’ve embarrassed myself quite a bit.

Day 2: Food and Culture 3pm

This was my only class of the day and it started at 3pm. The class is really close to me on a street called Pucci (in relation to Gucci) and apparently the building is still owned by the same family. The building was the nicest of the LdM buildings I’ve seen so far – it is what I imagined my abroad school to be like with a courtyard in the middle.

The class itself was really interesting and I am looking forward to it for the rest of the semester. We talked about food choices and how Italians view food compared to America. The professor also addressed the problem that in Florence and Italy overall they don’t have a big mix of food because they strongly prefer their cuisine over any others. That is something that I’ve found strange because I really enjoy Asian foods like Thai, Japanese, Chinese and Indian and I cannot find a decent place to eat here. The same thing for Latin food – it either doesn’t exist or it has terrible reviews.

The professor also talked about his mother’s health which I found interesting. She is 93 and lives by herself, still drives, cooks, gardens, cleans and is very healthy. She has 3 other very elderly neighbors who are the same way and that really reflects how Italian lifestyle ages well.

Day 3: Palaces of Florence 9am

Iimg_8129’d say this is the one class not related to my major in any way…but is the most relevant to my life here in Florence. I was one of the only people taking the class who wasn’t in an art or fashion major but that’s okay. The professor was very stereotypical Italian with high heeled boots, lots of necklaces, a stylish trench coat and Chanel sunglasses.

The class is structured where some days we will start the day in the classroom with a short lecture and then walk around town to see what we learned about. Some days we don’t even meet in the classroom and we are walking for the whole 2.5 hours

This class we talked about the history of Florence and its foundation for maybe 30 minutes of vigorous note taking. Then we took a ten minute break and met downstairs in the courtyard before our walk. She pointed out a lot of details on the buildings that I walk by every day. The goal of the class is to be able to look at any building and have an idea of the time period and history of it. Along our walk she also gave us some tips on the best restaurants. Along the way my “notes” consisted of snapchats with captions like this one^

Intro to Environmental Issues 12pm

This class is at Piazza Strozzi on a really high floor…I’ll have to count how many steps it is but I am always panting by the time I get to class (update: have counted and it is 92 steps up). The professor got there a little late but he is very nice. He warned us that since he is Florentine that he enjoys crude humor so sorry if he ever offends us. He went through the syllabus and by this time I am falling asleep because we were up until 3am the night before booking a trip to Berlin in a few weeks. When we took a 10 minute break I ran down the stairs and sprinted around the corner to get an espresso. After downing the scalding but very strong espresso, I made it back up the stairs and to class with time to spare.

The rest of the class was much better with a little caffeine – we watched a really touching speech from a young Canadian girl named Severn Suzuki at the UN conference in Rio 1992 – I would strongly recommend a watch! It was basically a call to action for people to wake up and realize that we are destroying the Earth and I think it pumped up everyone to learn about natural resources and food chains for the rest of the class.

Elementary Italian language 4:30pm

My last class for the week! I still really like this class we learned about ordering coffee and buying foods at the market. I realized that I ordered my espresso the wrong way – I asked for an espresso but in Italy that is just called caffè normale or macchiato. Whoops. At least cappuccino is still a cappuccino because that is what I’ve been doing most of the time if I have time in the morning.

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