5 things you (probably) didn’t know about Firenze

June 22nd, 2012

Hi guys! Sorry I haven’t been posting – to put it lightly exams kicked my butt! 3 exams back to back to back was not fun but I feel confident in all of my classes.  In my cooking class part of our exam was to cook a dish without the recipe, and we were awarded top dish! It was the scariest feeling when he was about to try it because although he’s one of the nicest professors, when the subject is food he’s all business. Luckily, he loved ours so I think I’m ready to become an Iron Chef – Food Network Channel here I come!  ;)

All of us girls have been out and about, enjoying our last days here in Florence. Today, were packing and cleaning since we’re leaving to the airport tomorrow. Tonight we’re going out for Gusta pizza since that place has become our official date night routine! After, we’ll probably hangout in the piazza and take some finale pictures.

I won’t be on here until next Tuesday or so. After flying to Florida for a couple of days, I’m off to DC on Friday and then next Monday I will be in Madrid! But in the meantime, here are 5 things that you (probably) didn’t know about Florence:

  1. Crepes started in Firenze – not France.  The daughter of the Medici family here in Firenze married the King of France and brought them with her to France.
  2. Gelato was first created here and you can find a Gelateria on every block.
  3. Florence use to be the capital of Italy before Rome.
  4. 89% of the businesses in Florence are family businesses
  5. If you have blonde or any sort of curl to your hair the vendors will call you “Shakira” as you walk by.

goals so far..

June 18th, 2012

As you guys might remember, the first blog I wrote I listed some goals that I would like to accomplish and since it is getting close to the end of the trip I figured now is as good as any time to check them off!

Below were my goals:

  1. See Casalduni, the town in Italy where my family is from: Couldn’t end up going since there are no hotels by that area and my Italian isn’t that good.
  2. Be able to understand Italian by the time I leave: mostly, so check!
  3. Find a vintage clothing/antique store in every country (sorry mom!): check! 
  4. Don’t gain more than 5 pounds, this by far will be the hardest: I’m proud to report that I lost 4 pounds here – the all pasta and gelato diet actually works! ;)
  5. Take this journey for what it is – a life changing experience. Explore, Learn, Experience daily. Minus the many rainy days which kept us inside for the more part, I definitely turned this into a life changing experience. I explored through the mountains of Italy (canyoning), I learned all about the Italian culture and regions in Italy, and I experienced once of oldest cultures in the world. 

I will always remember the days I spent learning how to cook in Italy, the day I saw a Vogue photoshoot on the Spanish Steps in Roma, the nights spent staying up just so we could go to the secret bakery, and the many friends I met along the way. This trip was amazing and I can’t wait to tell everyone the stories that never made it into the blog.

Calcio Storico 2012 Azzurri

June 17th, 2012

Calcio Storico has been an event that Florentine’s have been waiting for all year. It is a medieval game that has been around since 145o and used to be played with prisoners.  It is a mix of boxing, soccer, rugby and hockey with one goal: get the ball behind the opposing players wall.  They can use any force necessary (punching, kicking, etc.) in order to get the win and there are no rules.  It is common to see players taken off by stretchers and have broken bones by the end. For those Hunger Games fans, it was basically a real life version of it.

There are 4 teams made up of the districts of Florence and my district happens to be “Santa Croce” which is Azzurri (blue).  The players are massive and if you can imagine the craziest fan base you know and times that by 10 you’ll have the crowd at Calcio Storico.  They threw their water bottles at the players to distract them, the cheer nonstop altogether, and they WILL give you dirty looks if you sit down. They have flags, smoke guns, whistles and everything possible in order to help their team win.

It was intense, and all I can say is thank god our side won otherwise I don’t know how it would’ve gone! We ended up winning 11-0 beating the Santa Maria Novella district which is red.  Now our team faces Bianca, which is the district on the other side of the Arno in the finals on the 24th.  The game was overwhelming, interesting and addicting to watch all at the same time.  The game ended with the players throwing out carnations into the stands for the victory.


June 13th, 2012

Today was another day without classes which meant a day spent doing more papers and relaxing.  Instead of having a complete day off, I had to go to a meeting with a class at a company called Confindustria.

What do you think of when you see a product with the label “made in Italy”? Typically we think it’s good quality.  Well Confindustria is an organization which controls companies that put “made in Italy” on their products.  Their job is to ensure the consumers are getting the best quality since it is representing Italian culture and goods.  The organization has been around for over a thousand years now and they are in charge of 135,000 businesses globally.  Typically they don’t let students or anyone from the public meet with them but our teacher pulled some strings and got us in.  Everyone was very nice and they brought us out food and answered any possible questions that we had.  After we sat and talked to the Director for a good 30 minutes which was a very pleasant surprise.

On a side note: officially ten days left in Italia. I’m sad to leave but happy to get back all at the same time.  I started packing my souvenirs too hoping that I could fit everything in my one bag.. we will see later how that goes!

relaxing day in Firenze

June 11th, 2012

Hi all!

Not much to post about here since everyone had tons of homework to do.  But I realized I never really described to you guys about Firenze or my daily life here..

Firenze is a city that is trying to renew it’s image and not to be known just for its’  history. Firenze is where Gucci first started, Pinocchio’s author is from here, and many other famous people either lived here or did something important for the city.  The youth rebel by spreading graffiti all over the streets and a lot of it has to do with political issues.  Most people keep to themselves, but for the most part it is really safe here.

I live on a street which is about a 15 minute walk to the Arno (the river). It is a quiet street filled with old shoe shops and many apartment buildings.  Directly across the street from me is a coffee house which I go to daily for either a coffee or crostata and to the right from me is a very cute vintage shop called Lady Jane Boutique. I love walking away from the busy life at the piazzas and getting to our quiet street which is filled with jasmine plants.

Everyday on my way to school a local shoemaker in his 50′s always says good morning to me which brightens up my day.  I run into several families taking their children to school which is probably the most adorable thing ever to see a five year old dressed so fancy! The streets are extremely busy in the morning and everyone gets settled into their daily routine. The rest of the day is spent walking to classes, helping tourists find places, and meeting people simply by sitting on the steps of Santa Croce which is the big church by our house.  It’s a simple, easy life here in Firenze and that is exactly what I needed right now!

dolce vita

May 30th, 2012

I’m exhausted today so I’m going to keep this post short and sweet!

Class was the same as usual but Hiba and I went to go see the real statue of david. It was surreal and massive! The statue is a sign of freedom for Florence and they have a fake one outside where the real one used to be. It was moved indoors when the Romans tried to destroy it. We aren’t allowed to take photos in the museum but I managed to get one from my cell.

I found out why Toscana doesn’t use salt in their breads. They got into a fight with Pisa, their salt supplier, centuries ago so the locals had to make breads without it and it just stuck. Weird, right?

Then Chelsey and I went to a dolce workshop to learn how to make biscotti and a traditional cake from Florence. It was some of the best pastries I’ve had since I got here! Don’t worry guys, I’m bringing the recipes home with me.


May 29th, 2012

So around 8am, an earthquake hit Bologna which is an hour north of us. Florence didn’t get any damage, but I guess 10 people died in it in Bologna.  Some people felt it here in Florence, but I slept through it all. The news stations are saying to expect more, but we all know what to do if one happens closer to us.

On a side note, we went to an Italian family business in my class today.  The two brothers run a menswear shop and have for 60 years but they are currently selling it. I guess my professor spoke to the older brother, but it was the younger brother who greeted us at the store.  He was CRAZY. He sang to us. He proposed to all the girls. He feel to the floor and crawled after a girl. And lastly, he would not talk about the business at all. The funny part was that he gave us a demo tape like we were a record company or something! haha

Tonight we ended by going to Taco Tuesday with all our friends. Most of us stayed in since there were protests in the streets about bars having to close by 10pm. Its insane here but so much fun!

sweet summertime

May 28th, 2012

My roommate Hiba and I were on the search for the perfect tanning spot which we found conveniently located in the Arno River.  Many locals seem to use the river dam as the their own beach which made for a relaxing Monday afternoon.  After that it was homework and laundry all day long!

Lastly, since I was here I became Financial Officer of the organization, Wishmakers at USF which works with Make-A-Wish Foundation, Autism Speaks U – at USF added ten new members, and I was offered an internship with Nielsen Company to work in their Global Trade department with buying and selling international businesses. OH. And I am officially a Senior in college – YIKES!

Here are a few top things for me in Florence:

  • Best gelateria: La Carreria which is located on the other side of the Arno and is very cheap with around 25 flavors to choose from.
  • Best gelato flavor: fondente (dark chocolate) or ananas (Pineapple)
  • Best pizzeria: Gusto Pizza. 5 euros for a whole pizza and it is simply the best.
  • Best view of Florence: Michelangelo Piazza – it’s beautiful.
  • Best market: San Ambrosio (highly debatable!) small, but cheaper than San Lorenzo
  • Best supermarket: Billa. Clean, friendly but don’t ask the baker for anything in English. She only speaks Italian and becomes frustrated when you can’t understand. Oh and they play Shania Twain there – ‘nough said!
  • Best place to get pasta: Yellow Bar or O.K Bar. YUM!
  • Must do: Shop on the Ponte Vecchio, go to a secret bakery, see the statue of David and the Gucci museum and rub the lucky pig statue for good luck!