My first week here in Florence has been one, long roller coaster ride of emotions and activities. It has been the most exciting and the most stressful week of my life. Mainly the stress is coming from the hundreds of tours, meetings, and first week adjustments. Of course, we are all experiencing a bit of culture shock, but so far it has all been for the better. Well, except for the showers. I do desperately miss my own shower.
Most people have been complaining about the weather, which consists of constant sprinkling rain and 50-60 degree days. However, compared to the icy, winter, snowstorms everyone is experiencing back in the Midwest, this feels like a tropical vacation to me.
Other than the weather, we have also learned that Italians do not believe in street signs, stoplights, or the phrase, "Pedestrians have the right of way." We keep forgetting that the roads are ACTUAL roads that people drive on. Because they are so narrow with no lines or markers, it is easy to forget that the sidewalk is actually the thing that looks like a tiny curb on the side of the road.
Also, we finally moved into our apartment! Apparently our building is a medieval palace that is mentioned in many history books. It a beautiful apartment, complete with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a gorgeous living room and kitchen. It came equipped with all the essentials (silverware, pots, pans, ect...) and is in the perfect location. We are only a block from the Ponte Vecchio, which is a famous bridge in Florence. If you have ever seen a picture of Florence, I am sure it included the Ponte Vecchio. My walk to school resides along the river, and we are far enough away from the tourist area to be mainly surrounded by locals. The best part about our apartment is that we are two blocks away from the best thing about Florence: The Secret Bakery.
Now, we do not know the actual name of the bakery, seeing as it is only open between the hours of 2 and 7 in the morning. But we were strolling the streets around 2am (still adjusting to the time difference), and we saw these people emerge from an ally with these delicious looking pastries. So we decided to head down the ally and see if we could find the source.
As soon as we hit the right street, a wonderful smell filled the air. We followed it and found a group of about 50 Italians waiting outside a glass door. Though you could not see through the door, so we were not entirely sure what everyone was waiting for.
Eventually, we made our way up to the front and a tiny Italian man with a large white hat popped his head out of a tiny crack in the door. He stared at us and we had no idea what to say, so I shrugged my shoulders and mumbled, "Chocolate?" He nodded, closed the door and disappeared for about five minutes.
When he returned, he handed us each a bag in exchange for one Euro. We were then yelled at by hungry Italians to move out of the way, so we headed back to our apartment. We opened the bags and inside laid the most beautiful, scrumptious pastry I have ever devoured. My new plan is to open my own secret bakery back in the United States; I am positive it would be a huge hit.
School starts tomorrow and I think we are all more than ready to be on a regular schedule. My classes include: Art, Music and Film, Body Language and Communication Techniques, and Italian. I am looking forward to observing the Italian education style and really falling into step with the local students.
However, tonight we are returning to our United States roots and gathering around to watch the SuperBowl of course. Let's just hope Italians aren't as serious about American football as they are about their secret bakery.