“Bella, bella, you want umbrella?!”

Apparently the Archbishop recited special prayers for Italy’s much-needed rainfall last week: apparently it worked.

My friends and I have been fortunate enough to experience NO rainy days since our arrival in Florence in late January. Maybe it drizzled once or twice, but other than that we’ve had nothing but clear skies.

Now, we’ve had nothing BUT rain for days! I was so happy to have my family visit this weekend, but we were so disappointed that it rained miserably their entire stay! (We of course still loved being able to spend time together in Italy — but the rain definitely dampened the trip and stopped us from doing all we’d do).

Today the rain is back again in full force. Natalie and I swam to our 12:00 class, splashing through the cobblestone puddles. “Why did I wear white pants today?!” screamed Natalie as we dodged umbrellas left and right. Our entire class sat through the two and 1/2 hour lecture cold and soaked.

At least the damn flower guys who transform into umbrella guys are probably having a few good days of business, hitting up all these tourists splashing through the streets like lost ducklings who don’t understand water or traffic. I feel like I encounter vendors at every corner of this city. “Bella, bella, you want umbrella?!”

With only about one month left in Florence, I just hope the rain goes away soon and stays away. So far, the forecast shows rain for as long as we can possibly view in the future…and in a city environment like this with tons of amazing outdoor places to spend our time, the rain really is a problem.

Maybe the Archbishop would be willing to recite a special prayer for the Mets this season 😀

My prospective Italian husband made the big move

Let me begin this post clarifying two major points:

  1. The four-part Spring Break series about Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris is indeed on its way (better late than never, right?)–but I must delay it un po’ more because of the absolutely uncanny occurrence that fate bestowed upon me last night.
  2. Yes, I acknowledge that today is April 1st, but no, this is not an April Fools joke–contrary to what you may suspect. This actually happened.

Allora, it was about 1:30am and Heather and I were on the hunt for a kebab after a lovely evening with some friends at our beloved local pub on our street. The late-night food places in our area generally are closed at this hour, as we’ve unfortunately discovered. But I was fixated on this kebab. We ventured towards the Duomo–where nightlife is always still hoppin’–to seek any of those Mediterranean fast-food places that would hopefully still be open. We were on a mission.

One phone call instantly aborted this mission.

-“Ciao Chelsea, whatsup?” I answered to a call from my housemate.
-“Liz, where are you?” she asked in a dead-serious tone.
-“By the Duomo.”
-“Guess who I just ran into.”
-“Luca the First!” I jocularly exclaimed, and laughed at our inside joke.

(To fully appreciate this story, you’ll have to read the background story about Luca I in one of my first blog posts, “Day 4: Prospective husband? Si.” Back in January, on the first night that my housemates and I went out in Florence, we met an Italian who showered me with compliments and passionate declarations of love in the way you’d stereotypically expect an Italian guy to do. As American girls who had just arrived in Florence, it was hilarious to see the stereotype already come to life. That night was left to rest without any exchange of contact information, leaving us only with a good story and never-ending inside jokes about my prospective Italian husband. (Since then, I’ve also captured the eye of two more Lucas–Luca II who liked my red dress, and Luca III who said “I love you” at “Disegno video giorchi” (“I design video games”). But Luca I is the one who my friends and I continually reference in jokes).

-“You’re kidding.” I was overcome with disbelief. It was only a few hours ago when I had casually used the “that is danger” remark that we often jokingly use in reference to our initial conversation with Luca that first night. We have spent months joking about the unlikely idea of just happening to run into Luca I in the large city of Florence again. Not only did it happen, but he actually recognized my friends and remembered me.
-“Where are you?” Chelsea asked. She and our other housemates she was with apparently all took Luca and his friend to that local pub on our street, where they were expecting to find me. I told her where I was, and she told me they’d be there waiting. The pub was technically going to close soon, although, they always stay open later on weekend nights–especially for regulars.
-“I’ll be right there.”

“Abort mission!” I yelled to Heather, as we instantly turned around from our kebab hunt and headed back to the pub as I filled her in on this freak incident. I was so excited, but also a little nervous, and overall just completely flabbergasted. We were utterly in awe. I’m still amazed.

Walking into the pub was unreal. As soon as I entered, I saw him in the back sitting with the group of friends, and suddenly reached an even higher level of overwhelming disbelief. Usually I greet the bartenders and other regulars I know, but my mind couldn’t acknowledge anything else in the room. When I joined the group, I looked at Chelsea and the other girls, and we just burst into laughter.

Unlike when we first met, this time I could speak and understand a little Italian. So, we were able to communicate a little better–but still with a struggle. I tried to tell him that I was surprised he remembered me, and that I am glad we met again, and that we are still just friends though. When you only know a little vocabulary and a limited ability to form sentences in another language, the “conversations” can get really funny. In order to prevent the conversation from going dead, you either end up repeating the same content a lot, or you end up making random comments on anything you notice and are able to express a a comment on. For example, our conversation consistently came back to how surprised we both were, but with random interjections like “In America, il tuo orrechino significa che, uh, ti piace ragazzi–non ragazze” (In America, your earring signifies that you, uh, like guys–not girls.”) Again, when you’re desperate to form sentences about something relative to what’s present, some funny and random remarks will definitely be made.

A little later, my prospective Italian husband made the big Italian gesture: he bought me a flower from one of those damn flower guys. Mamma mia…

Valentine’s Day at the Florence Chocolate Festival

Note:  Pictures and stories from my Venice trip and the Carnivale are coming soon!–I’ve been very busy catching up with classes and errands after last week’s illness and this weekend’s travels, so sorry for the delay! In the meantime, let’s talk chocolate.

Aaaaah, Valentine’s Day in the enchanting city of Florence… Young Italian lovebirds are flocking the streets, and those damn flower guys are chasing potential clientele at every major corner.

Whether you have a lover or not, the Chocolate Festival is where everyone’s Valentine’s Day is sure to be sweet. The annual Artisan Chocolate Fair of Florence will last a few more days since it began last week, summoning people in good spirit to stop by the popular Piazza della Republica anytime between 10am to 10pm to try some delightful chocolate treats. A myriad of mouth-watering chocolate types fill the booths, along with different shapes–from shoes to animals to oldschool espresso makers. Some of them are expensive, but I’ve had college-budget success simply asking for X Euro of whatever chocolate chunk I’d like. E’ delizioso!

Apparently I must try the hot chocolate too–which is much more like melted chocolate in a cup than the typical Swiss Miss hot chocolate you’d probably have in mind. I am sure I’ll be returning tomorrow 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my family and friends at home! Love you!

Buy some flowers, bro.

(Written January 29th)

I cannot possibly convey to you the hilarious joy in watching Rob run away from the flower guys. Apparently in the evening and night, especially by the major sites and bars, these vendors walk around with a bouquet of roses in effort to sell them to young men who are trying to charm the ladies.

Some friends and I first witnessed this hilarity of this the other night while walking near the Duomo. Rob, being the only male in this group, must’ve been bombarded by a flower guy every 10 minutes or so. The vendor would suddenly appear in our circle of friends, holding out his flowers to Rob with this “I got you, bro” kind of look. Rob practically had to run away sometimes, yelling “No, grazie! No!” Good laughs…

The best was what my housemates and I witnessed last night. Apparently these vendors come into bars as well (good salesmanship, especially considering the Italian PDA norms by the restrooms in the back). We watched and laughed as the flower guy went up to each table and huddle of friends to offer a flower purchase to the males; we ABSOLUTELY LOST IT when this vendor actually disturbed a couple making out in the back to offer that guy the rose purchase. These flower guys are relentless!