by Estelle Li
“Buongiorno! Volevamo …”
“Due Caffè Macchiati, vero?”
Although it’s only been a month and a half, we start our daily routine just like the Italians by going to our favorite Caffè, Caffè Pascucci, and ordering some macchiatos before our morning Italian class. Even before we say what we want, the baristas already know our orders because of our perfect attendance at the caffè compared to the 9 AM lectures in Goergen. The most exciting moment is always guessing what the latte art will be before the barista brings our coffee. A star, a smiley face, or a peacock, they are just equally as pretty and it almost feels like the coffee tastes better with the latte art. A simple macchiato costs only 1.1 Euro and once you’ve tried one, it’s impossible to go back to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. If we are running out of time, we can skip breakfast, but we can never skip coffee!
After speaking Italian for two hours, our stomachs start doing the same to us. Here comes the most difficult decision to make, should we go to Panini & Co. or La Tua Piadina? Unlike choosing between Douglass and Danforth because lunch feels more like a mission, panini and piadinas are so delicious that we almost feel guilty picking one over the other. Piadina is typical Italian street food with flatbread and your choice of protein, cheese, and vegetables. Our most ordered Piadina is Piadina Classica which has prosciutto crudo, arugula, and soft cheese inside. Don’t worry if you go alone to get a piadina, because the pigeons will keep you company and finish your scraps if necessary 😉
If you are expecting to get dinner at 5:30 PM, it’s too bad that you might just need to go to the supermarket and get some snacks. Dinner is much later here than in the States. Most restaurants open at 7:30 PM, including the ones we go to the most, Ciao and ’O Scugnizzo. Ciao is a typical family-owned restaurant that serves Tuscan cuisine. Francesco, the owner of the restaurant, serves the customers while his mom stays in the kitchen and performs magic tricks to feed hungry college students as well as other customers. With a generous capacity for friendship, Francesco never fails to put a smile on our faces and delicious food in our bellies. The plating at Ciao is deceptively simple as it delivers flavors that can surprise your palette. With simple ingredients of pecorino cheese and black pepper served on some homemade pasta of pici, Cacio e Pepe, a famous Roman dish, is the most ordered pasta among the five of us. Together with delicious roasted potatoes, gyms might be the only option if you want to stay in shape.
’O Scugnizzo, on the other hand, is a famous pizzeria with more than 30 options of pizzas. From the classic Pizza Margherita to the “Warning: Extremely Hot Vesuvio Calzone” that made my ears ring, all your cravings for pizza will be satisfied.
How can you call a day perfect without having some desserts? Not only is mid-February the midterm season, but it also marks the beginning of the carnival, and carnival sweets are definitely something you can’t miss. Getting the sweets from the street vendors is easy but making them is even more fun. Chiacchiere is one of the traditional carnival sweets, and although I am not sure if the name is derived from its meaning, I certainly chatted a lot with our program director when we made them together. Mixing, kneading, rolling, and frying the dough in a pot with 370°F of oil, time will fly by if you follow exactly what the name of the pastry suggests.
Standing up after a meal like this will be the hardest thing for you to do just like how saying goodbye to you now will be the hardest thing for me to do. If you really start craving for some authentic Italian food and gelato, don’t worry! Flights from JFK to Florence will only be ten hours and while you look for a flight, I am going to go and get a cup of espresso and get ready for my foodventure tomorrow.