Wednesday, April 28, 2010

culture > classes

Two whole days without posting? Who am I? What is wrong with me?

Oh, wait, as usual, it's not my fault, but that of my internet, which was darn determined to keep me from posting both of the past two days. Blah! So here is my past-two-days recap (and you'll get another entry tonight, after I get back from cooking....lucky you!)...

Monday I was feeling ambitious! I have no classes, so when I woke to a gorgeous day, I decided to take a walk down to all of the junk stores where Gillian and I went earlier in the month.

Look familiar?

Unfortunately, not only were they closed, but there was a locked gate keeping me from even walking between them! Boo :[ So I walked some more, and....HEY! Look what I found!

It was hot on Monday, so I felt no qualms about paying less than 2 euro for a gigantic cone of coolness. This one was cioccolato fondente (dark chocolate) and cioccolato bianco con fragoline fresche (white chocolate with fresh, wild strawberries). I was less-than-impressed with the white chocolate, but the dark was to die for.

Oh, Grom, you have been bested, for sure.

I wandered a little more, passing the Ponte Vecchio. Long time no see!
Possibly my favorite of all Florentine landmarks, though the Duomo obviously gives it a run for its money...

Though I'm also a fan of the San Lorenzo market.

I just can't choose! Please don't make me!
If memory serves me, the temperature got up past 30 degrees Celsius (that's more than 86 degrees Farenheit!!) on Monday, so we trucked it down to the Piazza Independenza to do a little sunbathing...I got overheated pretty quickly and retired to the apartment. Ahhh, shade.

Tuesday morning I woke up and went to Italian like a good student...but then ditched writing to go to the flea market at Cascine park. It only happens on Tuesdays from 7 AM until 1 PM, so I absolutely had to skip class to see it! It was necessary for my cultural assimilation!
(That's my story and I'm sticking to it!)

It was definitely the LARGEST market I've seen to date, and stuffed to the gills with all kinds of interesting people and products. Gillian picked up a couple of clothing items and we spent the rest of the day perusing kitchenware, jewelry, food, what looked like used make-up (ew) and an assortment of other items.

[We interrupt your reguarly scheduled blogging to bring you these pictures of adorable animals.]



Guinea Piggies.

And, why yes, that is a chipmunk[ie]!

[Thank you for your patience. Regularly blogging and writing sans cutsie endings will now resume.]

We took a bus back to the city center, where we took advantage of a free afternoon to hit up a lunch spot we have been waiting to try...Nerbone!

This little piece of Florentine culture is actually located inside il Mercato Centrale, and is therefore only open until 2 PM. Due to our regular date with Sergio's and conflicting class schedules, we have been unable to make it...until yesterday!

In true Italian style, everyone sits at communal lunch tables to enjoy their meal, after fighting tooth and nail to reach the counter to place an order.

I had pappa al pomodoro (Tuscan tomato soup) but the picture was a little...unappetizing, so I decided to spare you. I wasn't totally impressed with it, but sometimes food isn't necessarily about the food but about the experience, and dining at Nerbone, elbow to elbow (or, in my case, back to back) with the locals was certainly an experience I was unwilling to miss.
Then, Tuesday night, API took us to the Mostra d'Artigianato, which is an international crafts and foods fair, where people from all over the world come to display their wares.

What would a fair be without a giant carousel?

And flowers pointing the way?

There were cars made of twine and polyester...

inspirational wall art....

But once we found the food section, it was all over. We spent the better part of the evening stealing samples from the people. I ate what probably constituted an entire meal made of samples of bread, cheese, wine, crackers, and the occasional piece of chocolate.

We saw this Sicilian stand first thing and knew that us buying a cannoli was not only likely, but an inevitability.

Mountains of dried tomato, olives, and oregano. Normal.

Marzipane fruit! (Gillian bought a couple pieces.)


What did I tell you? More cannoli. It was like they were calling our names.
[It's amazing how loudly one cannoli can yell!]

I split this gem with Gillian.

We walked out of the food fair with our pockets slightly lighter and our stomachs totally stuffed. I'm kind of bummed that I won't get to go back to explore the rest of it, since we leave tomorrow and the fair will be gone when we get back on Sunday night. The fair was HUGE and took place in this old fort. There were something like 8 buildings filled with all kinds of different crafts.

Anyway, the roomies and I are currently preparing for our weekend abroad in Barcelona! We leave tomorrow night around 8 PM and won't be back until late Sunday night...three whole days of Spanish fun! And with Gillian's roommate from home there to show us around, I'm certain that we will be kept plenty busy.

Like I said, look for another post tonight about my last cooking class of the semester!

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