Mangiare La Cucina Americana e Fare Shopping

Trip Start Jan 06, 2011
Trip End Apr 30, 2011

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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Saturday, February 26, 2011

Spring Break 2011 turned out to be the best spring break ever.  Since the Umbra Institute uses an American schedule, I was lucky enough to have the same break as a lot of American schools, including PC and Western Carolina, where my best friend Rachel is working on her Master's Degree in math.  But before Rachel got here, I had two days of break to fill.

I spent my first day moving out of my old apartment and into a new one about ten minutes away.  My first apartment was a big, beautiful, old-fashioned townhouse about five minutes away from Umbra.  I lived there with seven other girls from the U.S.  Unfortunately, our schedules didn't mesh very well, so I made arrangements to move.  My new apartment is a little bit further of a walk, and it's literally uphill both ways.  I like it a lot here though--it's more modern and well-lit, and our landlord even pays for us to have an Internet connection and has a wireless router set up for us.  Two of my new roommates who were still in town on Friday very kindly came and helped me pull all my suitcases up and down Perugia's cobblestone hills, and I spent the rest of the day unpacking and settling in.  That evening we saw an Irish band, Celtic Dust, play in a pub called Elfo's, which was really fun.  It's amazing how international the music scene is in Italy.  Everywhere I go, I hear American Top-Forty songs mixed in with music from European countries.

The next day, my roommates and I got up early and just barely caught a train to Florence for some international cuisine and shopping.  After all, you can only have so much pasta and pizza before you need a break!  We arrived in town right around lunchtime and headed for a Mexican restaurant that we had heard rumors about.  Unfortunately, it didn't open until dinner and we would have had to take a train before then to get back to Perugia that night.  Also it looked a little fancier than we were expecting, so we took things in stride and executed our Plan B, heading over to The Diner.

The Diner is a traditional American diner located on Via dell'Acqua in Florence.  I highly suggest that any Americans studying in Italy take at least one trip there during the semester because you will inevitably end up missing a few foods that Italians tend to eat less than us: for instance, burgers, cheddar cheese, broccoli, or bacon.  I ordered a bacon cheeseburger, which came with home fries, and a Coke with real vanilla syrup added in.  I really enjoy getting to try all kinds of Italian dishes, but that day American food really hit the spot for me.  My roommates had fried chicken, broccoli soup, and pancakes.

After finishing lunch, we headed via Piazza della Signorina over to H&M, where I had never shopped before, since the nearest locations to South Carolina are in Atlanta and a new store in Raleigh.  The clothes there are adorable and very inexpensive by Italian standards, and they are tweaked a little to fit in with local styles.  The location in Florence is huge at several floors, so we spent a couple hours looking through the clothes.

After leaving with our wallets noticeably lighter, we headed for Florence's leather market where one of my roommates bought scarves for a few of her friends, and I got a great deal on a leather purse.  Then we headed over to the international food market, where we found foods we had been missing back in Perugia, such as macaroni and cheese, stir fry seasoning, taco fixings, and ginger snaps.  The prices actually weren't too bad, when you take into account that everything is imported there.

We took the train home and got back in time for dinner (8:30 or so).  I had a great time eating and shopping, but now I am especially ready to visit Florence's tourist attractions and enjoy the local cuisine in a couple weeks when I travel there with my Food & Culture class!
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