Saturday, February 6, 2010

international shenanigans.

So my roommates and I had been planning all week for a day trip on Friday to the close city of Pisa, located about an hour outside of Florence by train. Of course, on Thursday, we received word that the weather was going to be slightly less than cooperative. After waking up to ominous skies and debating the merits of going on Friday versus Saturday, we decided that a little rain was not going to stop us. Weather be damned, we were going to Pisa!
We started at the Santa Maria Novella train station in Florence, where we purchased our one-way ticket to Pisa. It was surprisingly easier than expected. The complicated nature of the TrenItalia website had led us to expect something significantly harder.

Tickets in hand, we boarded the correct train, remembering to stamp them at these little yellow boxes before boarding. Without this stamp, your ticket is invalid, and you are likely to be kicked off the train. The train made a surprising number of stops on the way to Pisa, but we finally arrived around 1:30 in the afternoon...just in time for a real Italian lunch. One of the API directors had recommended a little place called Vineria or something like that to Sam, so we were determined to find it. Of course, the torrential downpour started as soon as we disembarked, so we decided that a cab was our best bed. It only ended up costing a little more than a Euro apiece, and was well worth it. We found the restaurant with little trouble, where I had my first bowl of "real" Italian pasta. It was calmari pasta with fresh tomatoes, spinach, and an olive-oily-buttery sauce.
I devoured it much faster than any self-respecting Italian would, but it was so worth it. After leaving the restaurant, the rain had nearly stopped, so we decided to just walk to the leaning tower, which was obviously the main attraction of our visit. We found the tower within a few minutes (after being stalked by a particularly persistent umbrella salesman, intent on selling Laura a black model). Of course, we indulged in taking the kind of photos that obviously mark you as an American tourist.

One example. There were many other varieties, group shots, and blooper photos that are posted on my facebook for the world to see.

After the tower, my roommates and I decided to get our first Italian gelato! It has been so cold here I haven't really wanted it, but I decided that if I kept putting it off, it would eventually be May and I'd be getting on the plane before realizing that I'd never had Italian gelato. I had almond flavor (I think), and it was quite good. We are still going to try Grom Gelato in Florence, which is supposed to be the most amazing gelato ever.

After gelato, it was nearly 4:15, so we decided to head back to the train station. We probably walked a good couple of miles (working off that gelato!) before we found it. Pisa actually has a very similar look to Florence, which I guess isn't surprising, since they are located so close together.

We caught the 5 o'clock train back to Florence, where we grabbed a quick dinner of Turkish kebabs (DELICIOUS) before settling down for the night. We were considering going out to the bars, but I decided I was too tired/cold/lazy to get all dressed up, so I promised Sam I'd go out with her tonight.
Also on the agenda for today is a visit to the chocolate festival taking place in Piazza Santa Croce. Supposedly they are giving away free samples (!!!!!!) but I'm sure I'll also end up buying a couple of nice varieties to take back to the apartment.
I may be getting internet in my apartment soon, so all of you who have not downloaded Skype need to do so, so that I can see your lovely faces (I'm looking at you, Kaley Goodfellow and Shannon Fahey).


  1. i <3 your blog. you write so well!!

  2. Haha. Thats all Kaley. I don't have a webcam. But I will make sure she does it. I wish you could bring me home some Gelato. :] Miss you!

  3. yes, if you could invent someway to bring us Gelato, we would greatly appreciate it. I'm lazy and haven't downloaded Skype. But, i promise i will. Stay dry!