Monday, April 5, 2010


Firenze is the Italian way to say Florence. The original Latin name was Florencia, which eventually evolved into Firenze in Italian. However, elsewhere, the name remained closer to the original Latin, which is why everyone else calls it Florence.

So, it's really late, so I'm just going to write general reflections about Italy - I'll post the pictures tomorrow, hopefully. I still haven't really started writing my philosophy expose, so that really should come first.

Food: It has to come first! The food in Italy is so much better than the food in Paris, and not just because there's more of it. I loved every meal I ate there. Dinner Saturday night: gnocchi, then gelato for dessert - dark chocolate and banana - at Nero (best gelato in the world!!); breakfast Sunday morning: pastries and jam, a typical European hotel breakfast; lunch Sunday: started with a cannoli, then super spicy penne pasta and two full bottles of water, then some more gelato (let's see if I can remember...passion fruit, strawberry, and blueberry?). Dinner Sunday: pizza with fresh tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, and basil, then more gelato (dark chocolate, cream, and mint). Breakfast Monday: same as Sunday's. Lunch Monday: didn't have time for lunch, so we just got more gelato, this time it was straciatella, dark chocolate, and coffee. Dinner Monday: spaghetti in Pisa. Obviously, the food was good, or else I wouldn't have eaten all that. The best, though, was the dark chocolate gelato (as you can tell). All the food was also cheaper too. It was great!

Architecture: I don't know much about architecture beyond "Howard Roark laughed," but it's cute. Florence is a really cute city and it's definitely nice to look at. I just prefer Paris - there is a definite method behind the architecture in Paris and the city is designed to have a certain look and succeeds. For me, Florence looks like a city that's Frozen in time a little, which is nice, but a little boring. I take it not much has happened there since the Renaissance. And they obviously messed up on this one building in Pisa - it was slanted! Just kidding - we basically got to Pisa this afternoon, walked to the tower, had dinner, then went to the airport. The rest of the city is apparently empty.

People: Italian people are so friendly! It made me feel really bad about not speaking a word of Italian. The guy at the hotel was talking about how much he hates the French and how they come visiting places expecting everyone to speak French. He says that, when a French person comes in asking for "une chambre avec une douche" he tells them to speak either Italian or English, even though he understands what they want. But, he said he doesn't have a problem with Americans who don't speak Italian because English is such an international language. It bothered me that he thinks that - Americans are allowed to be lazy, but French people aren't? Why should Americans be lazy like that? Besides, I think a good portion of Parisians speak English, so I don't know who's coming to this hotel speaking only French. Sometimes, Italian people don't respect your personal space, however. For example, there was an Easter parade in front of this gigantic cathedral that's there (3rd largest in the world, according to Alexandra's Deerfield friend, Cameron - after Saint Peter's in Rome and Saint Paul's in London), and Alexandra and I were standing on a bench to try to see. Then, this lady grabbed my shoulders and pulled herself up onto the bench using me as a handle. Very strange. Then, this old man started to climb up, but there wasn't really enough room and he almost pushed me off! Finally, they're much more relaxed than Parisians, but it can get a little annoying that they all walk right in the middle of the street and just move at their leisure out of the ways of cars. In Pisa, they don't cross the street if the crosswalk sign is red, even when there are no cars!

Art: Well, we only got into one museum - the one with David in it. It took forever - Florence lines are the worst. It took a good hour waiting in line to get into that museum, and an hour and a half to climb the dome of the big cathedral this morning. We would have waited for other museums, but it was just too much waiting - who wants to waste 2 days in Florence by sitting in lines? Anyway, the David is a lot bigger than I thought it was (I'm not making a "that's what she said joke" - I mean the size of the entire statue), and I liked the way you could see the veins in the hands. But it was an awful long time to wait to see it, and I'm not sure if it's worth 6,50 (euros) when there's a fake version out for the entire world to see and it looks exactly the same. How are we even sure the one in the museum's original anyway? There's probably a Da Vinci Code-like conspiracy where they take all the famous works of art and hide them underground or something. The rest of the museum seemed superfluous, kind of like the city of Pisa.

Funny gelato story: The first night, we went for gelato (Alexandra's and Cameron's second time getting it that day - my first because I got there late) and these two nice American ladies took a picture of all of us with our gelato. We started talking to them, and they said it was their second time to the gelato place that day, to which Alexandra and Cameron responded: "Our's too!" So, the ladies said: "Okay, well, see you tomorrow then!" and we all went our separate ways. Then, the next day after lunch, Alexandra decided to go back to the gelato place, but couldn't remember where it was. Right when Alexandra called Cameron to ask, we ran into those two ladies! They asked us how many times we had been there, and we told them we couldn't find it, so they pointed it out and took a picture of us. It was really serendipitous! That kind of thing would never happen in Paris.

Anyway, now it's almost 1:00 in the morning. I'm sitting in bed typing, all comfy and happy to be back in the best city in the entire world (as far as I know)! It's nice to see Italy and hear another language, but I really missed speaking French. It felt weird to go three days without speaking any French and only speaking English even though everyone around us was speaking a foreign language. I've trained myself to speak French at the drop of a hat from the simple "pardon" in the metro to talking in university classes, so it was weird to be around foreigners (well, I suppose I'm the foreigner) and not speak French. When I got into the cab in Florence to go to the hotel, I asked the driver if he spoke English and he didn't. Then I asked if he spoke French, and he didn't speak that either. That was when I realized that all the work I've been doing learning French was completely useless in Italy. It was a scary thought. Anyway, Italian is very pretty - it sort of bounces since practically every word ends in a vowel. I really like the way it sounds.

Okay, I'm going to go to bed now. Then, tomorrow, I will start eating Parisian food again, which means I'll probably lose the weight I bet I gained this weekend. It's okay though, since it wasn't anything substantial - my pants are all still too big.

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