Daily Failtales: Week 2

Continuing from my Week 1 recap of Daily Failtales, here’s some more funny little tales of fail from this past week or so:

Casually strolling through the Strozzi, nbd

Credit: italyguide.it

My Architecture class takes place in the Strozzi–the same building Day 1 of orientation took place in. Hmmm, this looks different than last time, I thought as I wandered into the Palazzo Strozzi for my first class. I obliviously strolled through an enormous, lavish room that reminded me of Mr. Darcy’s mansion in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice. As I looked around for any doors or stairwells, the construction workers inside looked at me. Oh shit…I’m not supposed to be in here, am I? Realizing my error, I hurried out the open door on the opposite side, puzzled. DOVE IS MY CLASE? I thought, as a construction worker at this doorway shooed me away. I then joined a student in walking to the Strozzi common building next to the Strozzi PALACE of Florence that I had just casually strolled through.

LESSON LEARNED: If the building’s interior looks like a palace, it very well may be. So do not continue walking through.

Mouse Maze

The grocery store around my corner is set up like a maze. It begins with the produce, and takes you through a one-way adventure of zig-zagging isles until you finally reach the cashier at the end. While purchasing my food, the employee was trying to tell me, in Italian, that I needed to weigh my produce before. Non capito, and I didn’t know what to do at this mid-purchase moment. There was someone behind me in line, so I said, “I’ll just go put these back then?” and hastily did this awkward speed-walk/jog/gallop through the damn maze of isles until I finally reached the produce section at the start, put back the bananas, and hurried back to the cashier to finish my payment. Hopeless.

LESSON LEARNED: Weigh your produce before paying.

An unintended walking tour

My textbook-purchasing errand involving four different copy stores and bookstores somehow turned into an unintended 2 to 3 hour walking tour all over the city of Florence, thanks to a few wrong turns and some unexpected traffic areas to get around. On the downside, I was carrying around what became a heavy backpack, and the heel of my boot broke on a cobblestone street. But on the upside, I had the fortunate experience of wandering into the final scene of the 1991 version of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves–minus the fighting. (Your movie tastes must be infiltrating my brain here, mamma). I have no idea what church this is, but it has such a beautiful medieval look to it!

LESSON LEARNED: Keep getting lost in Florence, but wear better walking shoes.

That time Chelsea caused a Fiasco

Chelsea, Heather and I finally built up the courage to check out a local bar on our street last Friday night, which we had been very curious but very intimidated about. “Ciao,” a tall, gorgeous Italian man standing outside the door greeted us as we walked in. We ordered beers at the bar and took a seat in the corner, slowly getting acquainted with the place. “Yeah, I can definitely see this is as a good go-to place by our house,” we were agreeing, feeling quite comfortable and pleased with the atmosphere. [Cue fiasco].

Brawny, I think I found your next spokesperson for a brand image makeover.

Apparently the table was wobbly, and with a little kick, Chelsea accidentally clonked the table enough to knock over the beers. Heather’s lap, the table and the floor were soaked in birra. The locals looked at us. The three of us looked at each other with that “Oh shit” look, and before we could get up to seek paper towels, that gorgeous Italian man appeared out of nowhere holding a giant roll of paper towels. “May I help?” he asked. Where the hell did he come from? we were all thinking.

“You know,” he said while beginning to wipe up our mess, “you didn’t need to spill your beers to get my attention.” He then introduced himself (in perfect English!), and we found out that he is one of the owners–Paolo. We conversed a bit, telling him that we are students here and whatnot. A little later, he brought us [very undeserved] drinks on the house…but asked that we drink them instead of spill them.

LESSON LEARNED: No crying over spilled beer–it might lead to something good.

Is this lotion?

Heather kindly ran some errands for me today. Personal products can be confusing to purchase when you can’t read Italian, though. She picked up what looked like a bottle of body lotion, and tried asking the barely-English-speaking employee to make sure. Apparently, it was lotion to be used for–errr, intimate purposes. The old lady behind her gave a strange look. “Ooooooh!” Heather laughed, “no, no.” So she picked up another one, which the employee nodded to.

At home I started rubbing it on my skin and instantly knew something was off when a clear, kind of sticky fluid came out. “Ummmm,” I said to Heather–not wanting to sound ungrateful for her running my errands, “this doesn’t feel right.” I inspected the container. “Detergente fluido,” I read. “Detergent? Did I just rub detergent on my arms?” We laughed about it and typed up a bunch of the text on the container into Google Translate (one of our dearest friends here in Florence), and gathered that it’s some kind of cleanser for the skin–but not soap. Honestly, I don’t know what it is!

LESSON LEARNED: Italian translation for “lotion” is “lozione,” and “intimita” means “intimacy”–as in for-sexual-purposes.

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Italian cuisine [in casa]

Allora, as I shared in my last post, I’m house-bound for a few days until I get well. But even within il casa, there is plenty of culture to talk about….like the differences between my cooking/eating habits here in Italy versus back at home in the US:

1. Oldschool coffee-making

This interesting little contraption brews a mighty strong coffee in a magical way. It’s a small, three-part metal device. Water is poured into the bottom, coffee is scooped into the filter that is placed on top of the water, and then the pitcher-like layer is screwed on top, empty. I turn on the gas valve and light up the stove (yes, that’s oldschool as well), and after several minutes of heat, coffee magically starts emerging in the top. I still haven’t mastered the proper quantities to make a perfect cup of coffee, but at least I learned how to actually make it!

2. Low-quantity/high-frequency grocery shopping

In the United States, I tend to grocery shop once per week or so, buying items in bulk and stocking up to last a whole week or more. Here, it’s totally different. My housemates and I find ourselves going grocery shopping about every other day. We have a small fridge that isn’t as cold as in the US, we usually are paying in cash, and there are so many grocery stores just a quick walking distance away. There is also a great selection of fresh food, which is best to use right away.

3. Fresh, flavorful ingredients & Less processed foods

We succeeded in making the perfect sick meal 🙂

I am thoroughly enjoying the quality of most ingredients here. My meals feel more nutritious and wholesome, revolving around fresh vegetables, olive oil, fresh herbs, and delicious cheeses. This is my preference at home too, but it’s too-often dominated by the readily-available quick-and-easy processed fixes.

This afternoon, some of my housemates and I made a delicious chicken noodle soup from scratch. While it wasn’t difficult at all, it’s something I’ve never done at college in New York because there is always a colossal collection of canned Progresso soup in the closet, which would only take a few minutes to make. I’m not only learning to cook more home-cooked meals, but learning to appreciate them more, too!

4. Fancy cooking fancy

...The first pasta dish I made here. May the last one be 10x more delizioso!

Taking the time and creativity to prepare a delicious dish has been an enjoyable requirement here. Maybe it’s the availability of great ingredients; maybe it’s the pleasure of having more free time in my day; maybe it’s the inspiration of the cultural love for food here. Whatever the reason may be, I find myself constantly attempting to level-up my cooking skills and invent interesting variations for meals.

6. Vino, vino e vino

There are bounteous places that sell cheap bottles of delicious wine. I’ve found some excellent red wines for only 2 to 5 Euro per bottle. My housemates and I are enjoying trying different Chiantis (a key wine of Florence) and various Tuscan region wines with our dinners. Sometimes I’ll even make a meal out of wine, cheese, antipasti and bread. Mi piace molto 🙂

Credit: Heather Ayvazian