Kayla Sides is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2016, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A psychology major, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester through the custom program at Norco College.
In this week's post, Kayla shares what a typical day in her Florence life is like so future study abroaders know what to expect.
It’s been a month since I first stepped foot in Florence, so I have had quite a bit of time to develop a routine. It was definitely a little hectic when I first arrived since we had orientations to go to, things to do, and places to see. After everything settled down, though, I was free to explore. I now have the opportunity every day to do just about whatever comes to mind… after completing my studies of course! (: I’ve already written about my morning runs, so I’ll just jump right into the rest of my day…
Thanks to the convenient location of my apartment, I have quick access to the 99 cent store and the local grocery store. I go grocery shopping every few days to stock up my shelf in my flat’s tiny refrigerator. By “tiny”, I mean TINY. I am so used to going to Costco and buying in bulk and having my food last for weeks at a time in the States. Here, we can only buy the handful of food that we plan to cook the next few days and once we finish that, make another journey to the grocery store. So, when it is time, I try to start off my day with grocery shopping since I’m a natural procrastinator and won’t get it done unless it’s the first thing on my to-do list!
After navigating through the hectic land of groceries, I slow things down and go to one of my two favorite places – Ristorante Natalino or I Ghibellini, which are just a few doors down from my doorstep. I pass by these lovely establishments every time I go to class, so I’ve quickly become a “regular.” By “regular,” I mean someone who the workers easily recognize and has a “usual” order.
Ristorante Natalino is a family-owned restaurant with the grandma as the owner, the son and wife as the managers, and the grandson and family friends as the waiters and cooks. Whenever I have the time to stop by (which is pretty often), I greet whoever is working and have brief conversations about the restaurant or our plans for the day. When I’m in a rush, they make sure to stop me and tell me to calm down as they start to prepare a cappuccino. No matter what, my morning is never complete until I exchange friendly “buongiornos” with the family. These fun interactions happen multiple times throughout the day so I feel like I practically live there! When they successfully pull me into their restaurant (which is, again, very often), they sit me down and flash bright smiles as they set down my coffee and offer me tiramisu, my favorite desert. This is when I either do homework, write in my journal, or practice my Italian. Usually, it’s the latter since I help the staff with their English as well. Occasionally, I will eat here for lunch or dinner and have them surprise me with a new dish. So far, my favorites have been Pasta Fresca alla Garfagnina (fresh pasta with mushrooms) and Pappardelle al cinghiale (pappardelle with wild boar). *I highly recommend this place because the staff treats every guest as if they are a part of their family and the food is molto buono!*
Photo: Natalino’s beautiful and delicious tiramisu is the perfect addition to any day!
If I’m not at Natalino, I’m sitting outside of I Ghibellini café with a caffe latte and a chocolate-filled pastry or a quiche. This corner-café sits right next door to their giant, fancy restaurant. As soon as I walk in, I’m instantly greeted with a warm “Ciao, Kayla! Come stai? Would you like a caffe latte and a quiche?” I kid you not, when I said “regular,” I meant it! The quiche here is delicious and very fulfilling, which makes for the perfect breakfast. It’s a very flaky pie-like dish filled with eggs, cheese, and spinach. That, along with my coffee and pastry, always fills me up and puts me in a productive mood.
After my fun little food adventures, I pick up my handy-dandy camera and set off to roam aimlessly through the streets of Florence. Every day I find myself discovering new places, street art, buildings and more food in this city. My usual route is walking straight down to Piazza della Reppublica, then to the Arno River. As I pass through the square, I’m always pleasantly surprised to see so much diversity in talent. Any day, there will be some sort of act or performance going on. I’ve seen role-plays, dances, music shows, and even bubble artists.
Once I get to the Arno River, I walk along it and make my way to the bridge right after Ponte Vecchio, called Ponte Santa Trinita. I would have to say that this is my “spot,” or my favorite go-to place. On the sides of the bridge are triangular platforms connected to the legs. What I usually do when I get here is buy gelato from my favorite gelateria, Gelateria S. Trinita, and either sit with my feet dangling off the side or, if I’m feeling athletic enough, jump over the side and sit on the protruding platforms. This makes for nice quiet time. When I’m sitting here after a long day of exploring, I like to take in the beauty of the Arno River and the pink sky right before sunset. After the sky goes to sleep, I turn around and watch Ponte Vecchio wake up. The lights are so bright and reflect off the water in such a beautiful way that I can’t explain it in words. This bridge gives me those moments of “Woah, I actually live here.”
Besides classes, this is what my usual day looks like – exploration, good food, and building connections with Italian locals – everything I had hoped I could do when I first chose to study abroad!
Photo: The platforms of Ponte Santa Trinita
Photo: Ponte Vecchio at night
Kayla's journey continues every Wednesday so stay tuned.