Every hour I wish-wash between being excited/ready to go home and then feeling sad that I am walking through Florence for the last time. I am conflicted because I really must see my dogs, but I also feel that I am not yet finished in my new city. It is hard to leave a place that you love when you don’t yet know when you will return. I fell in love with not only Florence, but italy as a whole; as I did the majority of my traveling here. The people, the food, the culture, the environment. It is so diverse in scenery that it never gets old (although I will say that I have seen way too many churches and they all start to look the same after awhile). This blog has allowed me to reflect on this amazing experience while reminiscing, venting, and getting a little choked up now as I write this last post.
One thing I’ve already noticed that is different is the way I look at food. As I scroll through my instagram feed of all of the artisan food posts I am a bit more judgy and a bit more envious about certain things. I saw a post recently about fresh pasta, and the recipe posted with it said to use all-purpose flour. NO. That is a big “no no” in Italy; depending on what shape of pasta you are making there is a certain ratio of pastry flour to semolina flour. This is very important. I also saw a post of homemade pizza recently. This grossed me out a bit with the thick layer of tomato sauce and ultra pasturized cheese. I couldn’t bare to look at it and scrolled past quickly. So pretentious, I know.
On the other hand, I am seeing posts of beautiful salads and egg dishes that I am so upset that I cannot cook or have access to. Salad is a contorno (side dish) in Italy, and really an after thought. I cannot wait to be able to eat clean again as I have no kitchen access and no say in what I eat for dinner. I would love to have an egg for breakfast and some fresh berries. I am not a fan of the dessert for breakfast trend here (my homestay mom lays out cakes and wafer cookies for the morning…). I have asked italians countless times how they eat in this country and don’t look like giants?! I haven’t gotten a straight answer yet…
When i get off the plane I am having my parents drive straight to a sushi restaurant. There is definitely no shortage of delicious food here, it is just not very diverse. One thing I will not miss is the insesant mosquitos here! Luckily I do not have to worry about Roman Fever anymore, but they definitely like new blood. I also think I am slightly allergic to them here because I get a giant welt whereas my roommate only has a little red dot. We now have a plug-in repellant in our room that has saved my life.
At home I think I will look at the streets differently, at the buildings differently, and just the way we always cover up what is old. In Italy, tradition and heritage is what is important, so I get to walk on the cobblestone streets that Boccaccio did, and stand in the same church that Bruneleschi did. I love that. I love watching films and TV shows that are time-pieces, that take you back to an era. Italy is its own time-piece. Everywhere you go there is a deep history that comes with the area. I will be driving and walking on newly paved streets, past shiny metal buildings and others with a fresh coat of paint. Everything is new at home. A chair in Europe could be older than than the U.S.. I am lucky to live where I do and have that opportunities that I do, but sometimes, after being in Italy, I wonder if we are doing everything right.
I have collected a business card from every restaurant/business/cathedral/museum I have been to, and plan on making that into a book when I get home. This will be what I remember. Years from now when I want to come back or even just reminisce about my times in Italy, I will look at that book and be instantly transported back. I know this because I did the same thing with a 2 week family trip about 10 years ago. I looked at the book before I left to come to Europe and even went back to some of the places.
I don’t want to leave this place. But I know that I will return in the future and revisit my favorite places in Italy. For now, I will have to depend on the ceramic jar, balsamic vinegar, truffle salt, and copper molds to keep me connected to Italy and my time here.
Ciao. A prossima volta
- Don’t be afraid to travel alone! it’s such a fulfilling experience to find a place on your own. And, if you go to smaller, more unique cities it’s usually very safe. Don’t miss out on one of your bucket list places just because you can’t coordinate with your friends.
- Travel before the semester starts. You’ll get over the “shock” stage quicker and ease right into living in your place. Also, you will know how to use the trains and airbnbs by then.
- Get a eurail pass. You’ll feel much more comfortable about traveling every weekend when the train tickets are either free or only 10 euro. Also, don’t buy your train tickets ahead of time. get to the train station 20mins before your train and buy at a kiosk. Then you won’t be locked into a time if you decide you want to stay in a place for a few more hours than you planned.
- Do the group processing for the visa! Don’t be like me and pretend like you can do it on your own, and then when you can’t get an appointment at the consulate, stress out about it and beg the OGS to help you…
- Come to Florence and live in a homestay! All of my friends in apartments can’t speak Italian, and have spent SO much money on having to eat out every night because their kitchen is always too messy to cook in.
- Take a semester of language before going to your abroad site. It will help a lot.
- Travel around Northern Italy in the winter. It’s supposed to be cold there. If you go to Capri or Sardegna when the weather isn’t good for getting in the those beautiful clear waters, you’ll be disappointed.
- If you do go to Sardegna (which you definitely should) either know someone with a car or rent you own (although you would have to know how to drive stick). There is basically no public transportation there and you definitely want to see things like Alghero, Neptune’s Grotto, Gorropu, and Stintino. Also, car rentals are very cheap in Italy.
- Try and visit thermal hot springs (acqua calde). They are all over Italy and some are in really beautiful settings. It’s a nice way to relax without going to an expensive spa or something.
- Speaking of spas, it’s so expensive to get your nails done in Italy! Try to bring your own supplies to do that at home.
- bring an extra suitcase, or have your parents bring one when they come to visit, so that you can have space for all of the random stuff you are going to buy. But, you can also buy a cheap one while you are abroad.
- go for “aperitivo”. If you order a drink you get free access to a whole buffet of yummy food. So pretty much a free dinner. But definitely order a Spritz.
A list of some of my favorite things in a few cities:
-Vino, Pane e Salame (for great paninis and wine)
-Camilo (great for dinner with typical tuscan food done well)
-Osteria del Milione (a 15 minute drive outside of the city for great food)
-The Blue Shop (amazing print shop)
-Parri’s (genuine florentine and exitice leather. Really nice stuff)
-Le Sorelle (cool store in l’oltrarno with soaps and reuseable bags)
-Massimo Dutti (an Italian fashion brand one step above Zara)
-Farmacia Santissima Annunziata (really pretty old school pharmacy and not touristy like S.M.N.)
-Ara (amazing Sicilian pasticeria with some of the best gelato in Florence, but get a cannoli too-best I ever had)
-Helianthus (where to buy natural face and body cosmetics all made in Italy)
-The Bench (Brooklyn-y coffee shop with great pastries and real breakfast menu)
-La Piola (same chef as Michelin star restaurant “Piazza Duomo” but more casual and cheaper) (get the fresh pasta with shaved truffles..worth every penny…)
-Tartufi Ponzio (buy everything truffle here)
-try to get on a truffle hunt here! during white truffle season in the Fall
Emilia Romagna (this is a region not a city, but the whole thing is worth it)
-Parma Food Tours (Laura knows everything about Parmigiano, Balsamico, and Prosciutto and takes you to on an amazing tour through the area)
-MAMbo (amazing contemporary art museum in Bologna)
-La Sorbeteria di Castiglione (by far the best gelato I had in ALL of Italy, must go!)
Antonio Viva (been making hand-made leather sandals his whole life, amazing)
-Taormina (no specific things here, but would highly recommend to stay here in the smaller town instead of Catania. It is so picturesque and much more charming and quieter. Take a day trip to the bigger city instead.)
-Stromboli (instead of going to mount Etna, take a couple of days to go to this volcanic island-less touristy)
-Eat all of the arancini you can, order everything with pistachios, and get a dessert called cassata
-B&B Mich&Letti (do not stay anywhere else, people are great and the B&B looks like the NY apartment I want but will never have)
-Bottega (great for a glass of local wine and meat platter)
Badia a Passignano:
-Osteria di Passignano (expensive, but an amazing meal in the Tuscan countryside on the Antinori vineyard)
-Fonte de Medici (an agristurismo that offers a great hands on cooking class)
-Baratti e Milano (ITALIAN HOT CHOCOLATE)
-Restaurant David Toutain (make reservations for lunch. 12 courses, 3 hours, enough said)
-Merci (really cool concept store with a cute cafe that you’ll want to go to breakfast at before shopping)
-Roellinger Spices (amazing spice shop)
-Dos de Mayo (great tapas)
-Petit Cafe (best butter-cake of life)
I was feeling a bit uneasy, and like I was very ready to go home and be finished with my journey in Italy. I had plans later that evening to walk around with a friend and grab some dinner. We ended up just wandering around for hours, far from the hustle of the tourists near the Duomo. We entered a ceramic furniture shop with the most beautiful hand painted tables and benches. I fell in love with an outdoor ceramic grill. We both imagined our future homes with these pieces inside and the afternoon began.
We then wandered into an antique shop with Italian treasures from hundreds of years ago and even some things from the art deco period: carved wooden armoirs, small enamel boxes, even a statue of a poodle that I was thinking of getting for my grandma who has a real one. I love being surrounded by things that surpass the age of even my own country. I feel transported back in time and lucky to be able to view a handcrafted chair from over 400 years ago.
After this came the highlight of the evening. We found an old print and framing shop established in 1903 that carried stacks and stacks of prints dating as far back as the 1600’s, hand carved and painted wooden boxes, and hand made frames. The walls were covered in framed prints (probably their most prized), and the tables were layered with tall and short stacks of prints ranging in theme. We spent hours in this store. There was a stack of fruits, a stack of architecture, a stack of roman gods, a stack of religious scenes, a stack of french clothing sketches, a stack of herbs, and so on and so on. Some of my favorites were illustrations from a 1900’s cookbook with pages of sweets, fruits, vegetables, and more. My absolute favorite though, was the stack that consisted of prints of roman columns, showing the details of the base and the top in a sort of “zoomed in” way. They were then hand painted to look like marble details in a range of colors (my favorite was the blue green), and from 1821.
We began walking to dinner during the twilight hour and experienced the most beautiful lighting on the statue lined street, creating shadows in the grooves of the draped statues. Everything had a sort of peach colored tint and I had a relaxed smile on my face.
I fell in love with the store, the prints, the nonchalant feeling of being a flaneur and finding real treasures when you least expect to find them. And in my case, when I was having worries about my place in Florence and in Italy. That evening truly made me understand the beauty and uniqueness of where I was and made me feel right, within it again with it.
This may come off a bit as a rant and a venting session, but I am currently in the midst of a mini crisis (at least it is right now). I had an adventure full weekend in Sardegna, and was heading back last night to Florence. My flight connected in Rome, so I had two very short flights. Each flight left late and I didn’t end up getting to florence until 12am (an hour and a half later than scheduled).
On the first flight I was feeling anxious and nervous for all of the things that will be happening in the next two and half weeks, all of the things I haven’t booked, all of the things I haven’t yet seen, all of the money I still need to spend, all of the dates that need to be set for flights and train tickets to be purchased. For 45 minutes this is all I can think about and I am nearly in tears stressing myself out because there is nothing else to preoccupy my mind. I decide that I will spend all day Tuesday (I don’t have class until 3pm) planning things and getting my life straightened up and organized.
We arrive in Rome where I should have had a two hour layover and leisurely dinner to stress some more during. My flight arrived late though and I had only 10 minutes before boarding to get to my gate. During my speed walk through the airport I decide just in case that I will ask the transfers desk if everything is OK and that my bags will make it onto the flight. He replies very politely “oh yes everything is fine” with a pleasant smile. We end up taking off an hour and a half late because there is no staff to load the bags onto the plane. I fall asleep though and arrive in Florence no problem.
Now I am waiting for my bag at the belt, and it suddenly stops as a staff member walks over and says “that’s it, no more bags.” Of course….Of course my bag would get lost. Of course, when I need to spend all day the next day researching flights and cities and finishing homework Alitalia loses my bag with my computer in it…
They said my bag would arrive on one of two flights today at either 11am or 4:10pm. I called at 5pm to see what was going on and they just said to call back at 8pm. Great customer service…But, as I write these last few sentences, I have just received a text from Alitalia saying that they found my bag, but no other information of when it will arrive.
I hope I can say later that my bag did arrive tonight, but until then, I have no photo to post with this blog entry as I am on a school computer. I hope you are all having a better day than I am. (rant finished)
UPDATE: 8:40am the whole apartment wakes up to the Alitalia delivery man ringing the doorbell like a child. Everything is in my bag, my computer is not broken, and I have a renewed faith in humanity : ))
I had had some really pleasant experiences with strangers throughout Italy. The first was the woman I met in Treviso from Sardegna. Very bubbly and full of optimism. We spoke of our travel plans and places in life. I told her that I had planned to go to Trieste or Udine in two days, and she recommended Belluno instead.
So, the next day I headed to Belluno on a regional train. The sky was clear and the sun was out on the winter day. As the train entered the valley, clouds settled and the small town of Belluno seemed deserted and gloomy. Unsure of what exactly I was to do next I asked the attendant in the ticket office at the train station if there was a favorite place or certain activity I should do, and he seemed puzzled and just kept saying “well the Dolomiti are nice everywhere!” This really didn’t help me much, but he kindly offered to store my bags in the office for my few hours in the area.
I then went out to the taxi stand and asked (in what little Italian I knew at the time) if he could take me somewhere he thought would be nice or if he had any idea of what I could do. He was not so helpful, but neither was I. I had come to the small town on a whim and a recommendation and had no clue what the area offered. Luckily, another taxi driver overheard my struggles, more importantly, he spoke perfect english. He offered to take me near the Dolomiti mountains, and up to Nevegal that overlooked the valley and the whole mountain range. He would later drop me off at one of his favorite restaurants in the center of town for a typical Bellunese lunch. It turned out to be one of the most pleasant three and a half hours riding around with Alberto as he told me about the area and its history, took me to the highest point to get a beautiful view and take pictures, and told me about his family and favorite things in his hometown.
I left Belluno to go towards Brescia with the best taste in my mouth (not only from the food, but also from the warm and friendly people). Simona from Sardegna was absolutely right about this charming little town and I am actually going to visit her in her hometown of Alghero, Sardegna this weekend. I cannot wait to experience all of the magical and unexplainable wonders that she so vividly described while at the B&B in Treviso. She has offered to tour me around Sardegna and seems excited to do so, which I am so grateful for. These encounters with strangers have been so rewarding and fulfilling, and I hope to keep in touch with these people in the future. Italians really are the warmest people.
Mark Twain’s A Tramp Abroad chronicles the travels of Twain through Europe, and the small details that travelers such as himself come across while on a long journey. He notices the colors of hats on students, identifies small bugs on the ground, and the characters of renowned hotels and gesticulating Italians. When you visit a place for a day or even a weekend, you have no time to notice these small things or take time to “smell the flowers.” Many of my friends here in Florence and in other abroad sites decide that they should go to a new city and country every weekend in order to get the most out of their time abroad. Sometimes just understanding a place in its entirety is more fulfilling than saying that you went to 13 different countries, but can’t remember what made each unique. I feel that many people travel in this way just to say that they went somewhere or saw something, not for their own appreciation of a new culture. It’s not eye-catching if I post a photo of the sidewalk I walk on every day, but it is if I post a picture of the biggest monument in a new city everyday. Twain takes pleasure and time in the small aspects of travel and gets to truly know the places he ventures to. This is how how I have chosen to travel and understand Italy.
There are many comical instances that Twain comes across while abroad in Europe. He recalls a conversation with his friend while on a train to get directions while in Germany. His friend prompts him to “Speak in German—these Germans may understand English.” This brought a smile to my face because it is such a similar feeling. To only speak some Italian in the hopes of finding someone that will realize that you are not from the area and offers to speak English. This is the best feeling! I do enjoy practicing my Italian, but it is such a relief when I don’t have to focus solely on conjugating and translating sentences in my head first. Sometimes, I just want to ask for some cold medicine without struggling to find the words for “sore throat” and “stuffy nose.”
Twain also wrote about a german legend about how glasses became so popular in the area call the “Legend of the Spectacular Ruin.” this reminded me of all the old wives tales in Italy about very particular rules. Especially how Italians think that wearing a scarf will protect them from sickness or the cold. It magically creates a barrier between the neck and the outside world that wards off illness. Then there is the mysterious “no milk after breakfast” rule. Italians think that milk gives energy, so it is not good to have it after a certain time of the day. This means no cappuccinos after lunch or dinner or you will get weird looks or made fun of. This also means that you are in fact drinking a stronger coffee without the milk which would give much more energy…very interesting logic.
Then, Twain goes to each city to view the great works of art in italy. He comes to a realization that it is not the artist who is great, but time and age that makes the works great. This is exactly how I feel about many ancient ruins like the Colosseum and Pompei. They are both very greatly preserved and impressive structures, but the only reason they are important are because they lasted. The Colosseum was only used as propoganda and to stage animal fights. It was like going to the movies. No one would be impressed by a 16 theatre movie theatre today, right? And Pompei was actually a poor, insignificant town before it was wiped away by the volcano eruption. These things that people and tourists flock to as important cultural markers are really just famous because they are still there, not because they had some great historical significance. It is interesting to view things from an objective viewpoint when traveling rather than flocking to what everyone else says is important. Twain found the ants to be interesting during his travels, so there is no one to say that you cannot find some small aspect to fall in love with.
Florence is of course the birthplace of the renaissance, and one of the art hubbs of the world. This seems to be the outstanding identity of Florence when the city is mentioned. But, that is the tourists definition of Florence. The Florence everyone thinks about really only encompasses a few key places: the Duomo, Museo L’academia, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza Michelangelo. To outsiders, only these four places are the whole of what the city is supposed to be, and when I go to these places I don’t feel Florentine, I feel like a tourist. When you break it down, every Italian city has some art, a main church, and a lookout point. What everyone thinks of Florence as its attractions do not actually make it unique. In these areas there is no sense of place or being, only of the coming and going of travelers.
The Italians that I have talked to say that the real Florentines live on the other side of the river. There it is much more laid back and calm, and the food is better too; authentic, traditional, innovative, quality, and most importantly filled with local Florentines. I don’t blame them though, because if I had my life in Florence I wouldn’t want to wake up every morning to the site of herds of different groups shuffling around one another, and getting their caricatures drawn.
For me, my sense of place in Florence is the red and white fenced construction I walk by everyday, the beautiful Farmacia Santissima Annunziata and erboristeria on the eastern edge of the city that I go to for skincare, the panini shop where I have frequented and become friendly with the owner, the unusual juice bar in the city of Florentine Bisteca a little bit of a walk away, the dogs barking (more like shrieking) at the same time every morning. The sense of place I’ve tried to stay away from is the duomo centered experience. For me, it’s a walk along the Arno in the opposite direction of the Ponte Vecchio, and the hidden restaurants in small side streets.
I pass through streets with buildings that are a bit more modern (in the sense that they were built in the last 100-200 years), but with the most beautiful ornate moulding along the edges and intricately designed iron window covers. And then a completely stone brick building which looks hand chiseled, built probably 600 years ago. But of course on all of these different exteriors there is some sort of graffiti or paper advertisement pasted on the walls. In particular there is a sort of famous graffiti artist in Florence that draws little stick figure people with red heart balloons. This has become a common sight, but reminds me of New York in this way.
Florence is unique in its own way, and I’m sure the longer I stay in this city the more my sense of place will shift. But everyone experiences a place in their own way and their own time.
I could not leave Florence without seeing the David by Michelangelo and the Museo L’academia. I would have felt like I failed my semester abroad in Florence without seeing this sculpture. And maybe I don’t have such a passion for art to be in the city of the renaissance and the art capital of the world, but I knew I would at least see the David. It’s “THE DAVID” after all, right?
So I waited in line to get into the museum and luckily It was free for NYU students. I walked with my friend straight to the statue and was surprised not to be looking from the back of a crowd, like at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. I think this was because I went in the off-season for tourists in early March. We looked at it for about five minutes and were maybe a little underwhelmed? Of course the detail is amazing and the artist is famous, and I still wonder how that came from a block of stone. But, I feel like I have just seen so many pictures, so many copies, so many cheesy aprons with David’s “parts” printed on the front that when I saw the real thing it just seemed familiar and not so special.
This is how I feel about a lot of things. I was upset when Dylan’s Candy Bar came to LA because that is significantly New York, and really annoyed when Laduree came to New York because that is so specially French. And so I feel that when something is so popular that it is brought to other places and so overdone, that it loses its specialness and sense of awe.
This is how I feel about the David; a copy in front of Palazzo Vecchio, a copy at Piazza Michelangelo, tourist shops lined with postcards of the David, and those cheesy aprons. I had already seen the David before I actually saw the David, and it lost the wonder and spectacle it should have had. It was like a movie that got too hyped up and then underwhelmed. I don’t regret going to see it at all, but I feel like I have just seen it too many times.
Dean MacCannell describes in depth about the differences between what is authentic, what appears to be authentic, and the separation between tourists and locals. He explains the division between front and back, and performance and “backstage” or back region. There is a clear division between what tourists and outsiders see and search for, and what actually exists in the quotidien of the local population. Tourists are constantly searching for “behind the scenes” to delve into where the sheeps are raised to create the patterned wool scarf they bought at a shop in Edinburgh, or the large copper pots where the morning milk is cooked to produce parmigiano reggiano, or the baskets upon baskets of different colored and textured leathers used to make custom sandals in Capri. Are these “how it’s made” experiences really real, or are these all just stage 4 in the different structures that tourists are allowed to witness?
This article made me think back to my recent travels and desire to see the “real” Italy. I’ve been telling people that I’ve decided to do most of my travels throughout Italy because I really want to “know” the country. I’d like to think that I saw some authentic settings and experiences. While traveling in the north I tried to stay away from the major cities and focus on smaller, less traveled places. Even when I told my plans to some locals I met they were surprised that my path was not studded with major monuments, sparkling lights, and well-known paths.
I think now of my food tour in the outskirts of Parma. I was being driven around by a woman who grew up in Parma and even went to the local university. She took me to see the early morning production of parmigiano reggiano cheese while the morning milk is cooked at a high temperature in large copper pots with some renit. I watched as the head cheese maker and his assistant hoisted the cheese curds from the bottom of the pot with a wood paddle, then cut the round block with a saw, then tied cloth around to drain the liquid, and finally to move the drained curd to the cylinder molds. I felt like I was getting in on the big secret of why this cheese is so special and even protected. I wish I had woken up early enough to even see the cows being milked. But thinking back after reading the article I am wondering what kind of authentic experience was I really getting? I think I am a knowledgeable enough cook with significant restaurant experience to know when something isn’t from scratch or portraying real methods. So, do I trust my extincts and experiences when it comes to judging how “real” an experience I am having? Or do I always question in what stage I am?
I’m going on the same food tour through Parma when my family comes to visit in two weeks. Hopefully I will know then.
I read the book A Room With A View by E. M. Forster which describes a vacation to Florence and then of course a love story ensues. Lucy Honeychurch and her cousin stay in a Villa overlooking the Arno river, and Lucy, who has been bitten by the travel bug, wants to explore all of Florence and then continue to Greece. Italians always say that there is no reason to leave Italy because there are so many different environments, landscapes, cultures, and foods. I also have plans to travel to Greece after my semester in Italy, and now wonder whether that is even necessary, or if I’ll even want to take time away from exploring Italy.
Lucy is frustrated with people telling her what to do and where to go and wants a sort of local perspective of the city. Some people staying in the Villa as well tell her that she absolutely must go to Fiesole and Settignano; both small, ancient cities very close to Florence. I too have been told the same thing and and exactly which bus I can take to each place (the 7 for Fiesole and the 10 for Settignano). They are both nice day trips from Florence, so I am told.
Young Lucy also talks about being in a new place, and the little things that odd and unfamiliar. She is opening the window to see the view of the Arno from her room and describes it as “pinching the fingers in unfamiliar fastening” (pg.14). For me, opening the windows is sort of a maze. You first have to slide the tab out of its slot to open the inside shutter. Then, you flip over the hook that holds in the outdoor shutter. Then, you lift up with shutter and place a rod beneath it to prop it open. I agree with Lucy that is is indeed quite unusually tedious.
When looking out of her window, Lucy sees a boat on the Arno, because it makes sense that the river would serve as a way of transportation and trade. Today, I could not imagine a boat on the Arno. The water levels are very low and I often see the water skirting around the rocks on the bottom. I’m not sure of the last time the river was ever used for transport. Although, I have heard that the University of Florence crew team does practice on the Arno.
While reflecting on her short time in Florence, Lucy says that “the traveler who has gone to italy to study the tactile values of Giotto, or the corruption of the papacy, may return remembering nothing but the blue sky and the men and women who live under it” (pg.14). This is definitely a testimate to the sort of trance that Italy can put you under. I remember saying to my family and friends while traveling around Northern Italy that “even the farmland in Italy is beautiful.” A field of dirt, degrading stone on a sidewalk, and a falling apart Fiat cincquecento have beauty in them in Italy, that would seem meaningless and a sign of hard times in any other place. Italy has some sort of magic that makes you fall in love with everything.
Before leaving the area, Lucy goes to shop for souveniers and basically describes everything as poor quality, a bit cheesy, and very expensive. I laughed when I read this because obviously this has not changed in the last 100 years. But, of course, she had to buy something because “it looked so typical” (pg.18). I have the same problem of going to whatever town and buying whatever I think is a typical product of that area. Although, the signs saying “cucina tipica!” of whatever region I am in seem a little too forward for me. Lucy is a tourist in Florence and Italy and it is funny to see that this sort of tourism and exploration of Italy leaves the same impression as it did 100 years ago.