The end came way too quickly… there was talk of doing things “for the last time” and suitcases began to emerge and I didn’t want any of it! I wish I could stay all summer but all good things must come to an end :(. In summary, this week was spent eating all of the food, saying goodbye, buying souvenirs and taking exams. I also spent the week taking pictures of everyday scenes that I am used to now, but know I’d miss.
The week started out tough because I had 5 finals and hadn’t studied because I spent the weekend in BCN (no regrets). I had a practical in nutrition class and needed to prepare a few slides for the presentation portion – everything went well, we made a caponata di verdure for a panel of judges and I think things went well. This final was in the mercato centrale and I originally left class without saying goodbye to my teacher Patrizia and assistant Errico because they were busy – but walking out I could see them through the glass and waved. They stopped what they were doing and both left class to give me a big hug and kiss and it made me very sad.
I spent the rest of the day spending time with my roommates, studying, and trying to catch up on my sleep. My next final wasn’t until Tuesday afternoon and it was food and culture – I wrote essays about the Mediterranean diet, food responsibility and the slow food movement – then I said goodbye to my professor, Franco, who was the wittiest old man with a loud friendly voice. Before class, I woke up early with Molly to walk around the leather market. She needed to go home and study, but I went to my favorite poster shop where I was friends with the owner and bought a map poster. Then, I went to my favorite restaurant in Florence – Marios! It is really easy to go here alone because it is always so busy that they need to squeeze people in at the same tables. Within 5 minutes I was sat down, ordered (in Italian), got my acqua frizzante and pollo arrosto. This place is my favorite because it is no thrills, authentic, fresh, delicious and inexpensive – it is owned by one family and they are always working there. The roast chicken is the best chicken I have had in my life… I don’t know how it is so good but it is just simply delicious.
I had 3 exams on Wednesday – Palaces of Florence, Environmental Issues, and Italian. So, the rest of Tuesday was spent studying. The exams went pretty well I think! I finished most of them with time to spare and in my free time I roamed around the city. After all of the exams I needed a treat so me and all of the roommates went to Trattoria 13 Gobi – a place famous for their rigatoni. When our waiter came to take the order he asked, “6 rigatonis?” he wasn’t far off as 5 of us ordered it. It came in a huge bowl with a fresh tomato sauce with lots of cheese melted into it. By the end we were all feeling sick but in the best way.
Before going home, we stopped by Rachel’s apartment to get her vacuum because she seemed to be the only person in Italy who had one. Casey and Molly needed it for their vacuum packing bags. After quickly packing, Jordan Kristen and I decided to go out to Kikuya for a drink. We were handed the funniest flier about a guy named Loris – it was his birthday and his friends played a good joke on him by handing out tickets to girls saying “Find this man and he will buy you a drink” and it had a picture of him. We found Loris, who turned out to actually be named Lorenzo and he bought us a shot. We made our way to Lion’s fountain, a typical college bar, and ran into a bunch of people we knew. On the walk home I saw a couple get their phones stolen and I felt so bad for them – the boyfriend ran after one of the guys and actually got the girlfriend’s phone back though.
Thursday, Kristen and I finally found the time and perfect weather to do all of the Duomo related activities. We started the morning in the museum that was actually really nice and new.
After, we got a juice from Shake Café and walked over to the market to meet Jordan at Mario’s again for lunch. We all split the Ribolita, a Tuscan bread soup that they do well, and each got a roast chicken. As always it was amazing and we left so happy.
Later that day after some more shopping it was time for me and Kristen to climb the duomo (cupola). It took awhile but it was soooo cool. I was glad that I waited until the end to do this because I could point out all of my favorite places in Florence now – and I learned a lot about the dome and learned to admire Brunelleschi
We ran out of time (and energy) to do the bell tower and Baptistery so thankfully the tickets are good for 48 hours. Tonight (Thursday) was Molly’s last night so we tried to make it extra special. All of the roommates minus Alyssa and plus Rachel went to Arte Bar and then dinner. At arte bar we got our favorite cocktails and many bowls of chips and popcorn – something funny was that the people in this bar completely changed from the beginning of the semester. Until now, there were only Italians here but this time it was only Americans and they had raised the prices by one euro.
Since the drinks took so long (worth the wait) we were late for our reservation by about 10 minutes, Italian style. The table still wasn’t ready so they gave us a small cup of wine to drink on the street. We sat on the curb drinking our wine and moving our feet out of the way so they wouldn’t get run over by mopeds.
When we ordered, Molly told them that it was her last night in Italy and told them to surprise her – she got lots of special treatment! While we drank the house wine, he brought her a nice glass of wine for free as well as traditional crostini with chicken liver. Even though it looked gross we each took a bite and it was pretty good. I got spaghetti alla chitarra with tomatoes and I think it was my favorite pasta I had all semester. The spaghetti was clearly homemade and the tomatoes were amazing. Kristen and I split a panna cotta with berries while Molly had a free Grappa. Grappa is a liquor that some Italians drink at the end of the meal to clear the palate and help digestion, but it is DISGUSTING. We all chased an amazing meal with complementary limoncello with the check. By the end of the meal one of the other waiters had developed a crush on Kristen and was stopping by to talk to us every time he passed by to go to the kitchen. It was pretty hilarious and we got a picture with him and the original waiter to remember an amazing night.
On the way home, it was very late so there were no street performers. However, we did stop to ride the carousel in Piazza della Repubblica and go into a record shop/bar that was in Piazza del Duomo. At home, we all piled into two beds pushed together and played some catch phrase. In the morning, we all woke up at 6am to help Molly carry her bags and say goodbye before watching her drive away 😦
We went back to sleep and woke up around 10 to go to the market and get food. After walking around, Jordan and I split some pear ravioli from the downstairs homemade pasta place in the market.
Then, we went upstairs to split a pizza. We watched them make the dough and add all of the toppings and it all went together so quickly. After the long lunch, it was time for me and Kristen to do the Baptistery and bell tower. The bell tower was really tough today because our legs were jell-o from climbing the duomo. There were so many levels and I actually liked this view better because you could see the duomo in it.
After the Duomo/Baptistery I had a lot of packing to do, so I devoted a speedy hour and got a lot of it done. Me, Jordan and Casey wanted to do Piazzale Michelangelo one last time even if it was raining. The big cobble stones were slippery in the rain so we nearly died getting there but it was still fun. We sat there and finished our bottle of wine and talked while we watched the sun go down and the city light up.
For our last meal, we went to good ‘ole Gatto e la Volpe. It isn’t the best food overall but we kept going back all semester for the delicious homemade balsamic. Kristen met us here and we had some delicious homemade pici pasta with burrata on top. We ate until midnight and went home to finish packing and cleaning the entire apartment. We blasted Britney during the cleaning frenzy. At 5am the next morning, we said bye to Alyssa and Casey.
My cab wasn’t coming to get me until 10, so Kristen, Jordan and I went to get coffee at Gilli. Gilli is a fancy coffee place in Piazza della Repubblica and the barista asked if we had 16 or 17 years – we looked a mess. On my last walk home, I took everything in and tried not to get sad. My cab was on time and I gave Kristen and Jordan a big hug before driving away.
Rachel was on my same flight to Chicago and everything went well aside from having to pay extra to check my bag and almost missing our connection. The plane was really nice and we sat together while watching movies the whole time. Tommy came to pick me up and we went to get dinner in the city – bring on the culture shock!
I am going to miss everything about this amazing city that has been my home for the past 4 months. Over the course of the semester, I’ve really learned to love the little insignificant things that may have annoyed me at the beginning. I love the crude people in the city. I love when things get lost in translation or having people come up to me speaking a foreign language. I love being able to walk in the street, beer in hand. I love going grocery shopping every day around the corner at Conad. I love our dingy street and the 4 flights of stairs up to the apartment. I love being able to go for a walk and see something new and meet someone new every day. I am especially going to miss my roommates who have quickly become my best friends. I love living with 5 other people – a big surprise for me because I thought I’d hate it – it is so nice to come home and always have someone there to chat with I got extremely lucky with my roommates – the roommate matching questionnaire really worked because we all worked together so well. Of course I will miss the ease and opportunity to travel all of the time, but it is the people and culture that made my semester so special. I hope that this will not be my last time living in Europe.