January 14, 2013 by booksandbruschetta
A nice way to describe the past weekend would be to call it immersion weekend, as the school does. I would say it was more like being dunked into a pool of Florence than gently immersed! We got thrown into our host families in a major Italian city and left to fend for ourselves for a weekend. It sounds terrifying, and at times it was, but honestly it has been one of the best experiences of my life!
On Thursday we were assigned our host family and roommate. I was so anxious and nervous and excited! We got our assignments and panic set in. The paper said that my host mom was an older widow who spoke no English and lived fairly far from school and the city center. Of course I immediately got scared because I haven’t learned any Italian since junior year of high school! After hours of anxiety I finally met my roommate, Danielle and our host mom Silva or “nonna” as she likes to be called. What a relief! Danielle is great and knows some basic Italian and although I am having trouble communicating with Nonna she is one of the sweetest women I have ever met. (She also loves to cook us food, I just haven’t worked up the courage to ask her if I can take pictures yet! Don’t worry those will come.)
After unpacking and getting settled in at home Nonna gave us some time to explore on Friday and Saturday. We went to the Duomo, which is a beautiful church located in the center of Florence and of course got our first gelato of the trip while we were there! The building was absolutely breathtaking.
Then we ventured off to Ponte Vecchio not too far from the Duomo. Ponte Vecchio is a ver famous bridge in Florence over the Arno River. The view is gorgeous and there is a ton of fine jewelry shops all across (don’t worry mom, I’ll scope them out for you).
On Saturday while exploring we stumbled on a small cafe called Pagie’s and I fell in love. The cafe is almost literally a hole in the wall on a small side street near Ponte Vecchio. The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming. We ordered an antipasti tray overflowing with thin sliced pancetta, salami, and soppressata. There was soft velvety cheeses, hard parmesan, pate on toasts, and an amazing fig jam!
Once I got started with the antipasto I was ready for more! I ordered ravioli’s in sage and butter for my “main course”. After just one bite I thought I might cry. The ravioli’s were homemade and the sauce so simple, but so flavorful that my brain and my tastebuds didn’t know what was going on. The sage was soft and the taste of the pasta itself was so fresh.
Top it all off with a bottle of Chianti and you’ve got yourself an all-star Italian lunch! We sat and we ate, we talked and we sipped. I felt like a real Italian!
Before this weekend our schedules had been fairly busy and our eating schedules all over the place, but this weekend I got a better understanding of how things might go. Breakfast is small consisting of fruit, caffe, and some toast with nutella or a pastry. Dinner is larger, consisting of usually a pasta dish, then a meat with some vegetables, followed by by formaggio (or cheese) and fruit, and then finally some sort of dolce (either cake or small cookies). It seems like a lot of food, but I think that’s just because Nonna likes to pile it all on our plates! This week I should get in more of a rhythm now that classes are starting.
Nutrition info for my red wine, antipasto app and ravioli lunch:
Calories 1208 // Protein 47g // Carbohydrate 78g // Fiber 2g // Total Fat 61g // Sat Fat 30g // Mono Fat 22g // Poly Fat 5g // Cholesterol 570mg // Sodium 3313mg
A total of 524 empty calories: 337 calories from solid fats, 34 calories from added sugars, and 153 calories from alcohol.