Wednesday, October 13, 2010

First days in Firenze!

After ten days in close quarters with the same kids, I was less than prepared to be separated from them and thrown into a sea of new people. Then there was the added nervous anticipation of the fact I would soon be moving in with a host family. Given that I had no clue who my roommate would be and do not speak any Italian, I was a bit anxious about the whole situation. I soon found out, however, that my worries were totally unnecessary.

The mamma of my family is Mara who is super sweet and affectionate. She works in the holistic field and is all about finding the balance in life. She is also a fantastic (and health conscious!) cook, I might add. Paolo, my host dad, is a business consultant and all-around goofball. He’s incredibly kind and funny and is a constant source of entertainment. Mara and Paolo met at a school for English instruction. Mara worked as a secretary of registration there and Paolo was there to sign up for class, and that’s where it all began. When relaying this story to us, Mara commented, “That was twenty-five years ago.” Always wanting the last laugh, Paolo quickly added, “Yes, I was only ten years old.” :P

I am also lucky enough to have two host siblings: Sarah is twenty-five and Matteo is twenty-three. They are both ridiculously cool. And attractive! :P

My roommate’s name is Melanie and she’s a complete sweetheart! We were both nervous to meet each other, and to face the task of adjusting to life with our host family. It’s easy to imagine the worst – awkwardly-matched roomies or families; a house in an inconvenient location… So Melanie and I were thrilled to have not only an awesome host family but also the most adorable house.

In bigger cities like Florence, houses are essentially nonexistent; everyone lives in apartments, but they are less apartment-like and more townhouse-like. We live about fifteen minutes walking from the piazza in which my school is located; we also happen to live right down the street from the soccer stadium. We live in the bottom two floors of a beautiful building, one of which is a basement – and, in Florence, when you have a basement, it also means you have a garden, of which my host family takes full advantage. In short, my housing situation is better than great. Have a look!

Melanie's bed is on the left side; mine's on the right!

This here is the little stuffed monkey Ethan gave me before I left. :]

Our chairs and desk area.

Our window is street-level - truly. Meaning, from our window we hear a lot of footsteps and traffic!

This is the adorable little kitchen. This one of the typical breakfasts we wake up to every morning. Delicious.

The terrace and the garden!

The first weekend living in our home stays were deemed the “Immersion Weekend,” during which our family would… well, immerse us into Italian life. This all began with a fantastic dinner party with a few of their friends. I don’t know how I got so lucky as to be put in a homestay with a master pizza chef, but I did! Mara prepared the dough and Paolo worked his magic in the outdoor pizza oven.

This was the spread for our pizza party. Mara and Paolo did a fantastic job of making us feel special by insisting we help prepare the meal. ;]

That's Paolo!

Preparing what Tuscans call schiacciata - we all know it as foccacia.

The really sweet pizza oven in the backyard.

And then... we waited.

Before pizzas, we ate what can only be described as some sort of pizza dough sandwich. It kind of rocked.

Just doin' mah thang!

I get by with a little help from my roomie.

That little gal down there is Mara! Look at that set-up!

My host brother Matteo wielding a finished product!

The most classic of Italian pizzas!

Immersion weekend also included a visit with Paolo to a little place called Fiesole. It’s an Etruscan town up on a hillside that overlooks all of Florence. Bellisima!

A building in Piazza Garibaldi.

I guess I'm into taking paparazzi shots, but a couple this stylin' needed to be photographed.

All of Florence!

Can you spot that massive dome? More on that amazing structure later!

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