So we've had an eventful last several days. On Thursday afternoon I went to the HUGE Coop supermarket outside of town with my friend M. It's lovely being able to take a car outside the city sometimes. After parking in the underground parking garage and riding this long moving ramp up up up with our shopping cart, we came into a large indoor mall build around the Coop store. It was about 3x the size of a Publix back home...and complete with one of the largest produce sections ever! We spent almost an hour and a half picking out ingredients for that night's dinner and I also made a separate stack for home (since everything was *literally* 40-60% cheaper than the cheapest store in the city center). We picked out asparagus, tuscan bread, fresh cheese, spinach, some sort of fancy mushrooms, truffle sauce, more fresh cheese, fresh ravioli, avacado, spices, potted basil, and more random things - then headed back to M & G's flat to make a table full of vegetarian tapas dishes! It was so nice being able to have some "girl time" that afternoon, and also great to have a double date making dinner, listening to music, setting the table, and enjoying a long meal with lots of laughs and conversation.
On Friday, our class was reduced to about 1/2 the size and even our teacher was out sick - it seems that the cold I had last week went around the entire class (Chris has been suffering for the past several days as well). It was a great class though with the smaller number of students and it's great feeling that I understand more and more words on the street everyday. Chris wasn't able to come to class either that day because he was sitting at home with the Telecom man! We were told (through an Italian text message) that he was to arrive to set up our DSL line on Friday between 8:30 and 9:30. At 8:28 the doorbell rang - amazing! When I got home from class, Chris was smiling and was happy to announce that *HHHAAALLELUJAH HHAAALLELUJAH hallelujahhallelujah ha LEEaaLUjaHHH!!!* we had DSL!
Saturday for lunch, we were able to finally meet up with Melinda after about a year of email exchanges! We met in Piazza della Signoria and she took us to a small Osteria that her boyfriend had recommended near there down a small alleyway. We enjoyed typical Tuscan dishes of Pappa al Pomodoro (a type of tomatoe bread soup) and an artichoke homemade pasta dish! It was so nice to be able to meet in person and talk about work, moving to and loving Florence, getting adjusted and exchanging recommendations for shops and restaurants around town. Her love for Florence can really be felt by talking with her about even simple subjects. We walked to Gelato dei Neri for a lovely ending to the afternoon - and I also discovered a new favorite of Crema Giotto (a type of toasted coconut flavor). I look forward to meeting up again soon!
Later that evening we were invited to M & G's house again to "take a pizza" (order in) and then go out for J's birthday! We enjoyed our first tasty pizza in Florence. One thing that is so different from back home is that everyone gets an entire pizza to themselves. Each box comes with a plate under the pie, or you just rip the top of the box off and have at it! I didn't quite finish mine, but did enjoy every bite! We then headed to Negroni's to meet several other of their friends (some that we'd met before and several new ones). It was so great being able to talk even more Italian than just one week ago - G's best friend even said "Brava!" to me as he overheard an entire conversation I had with another girl in Italian. We'd met him 2 weeks ago and he said he could already hear improvement! After Negroni's we headed up to Piazzale Michaelangelo for an amazing view of the city at night. The temperature had dropped considerably, and so shivering, we walked to a cafe and several of us ordered ciccolato caldo (hot chocolate). They drove us home and we double-cheek-kissed goodbye and wished G a wonderful birthday...when we walked in our apartment I glanced at the clock in surprise- it was almost 2:30! I still felt wide awake and even stayed up reading for a while. Then I remembered that my pizza had also come with a can of Pepsi, which I drank. I hardly ever have sodas, or caffeine at all...but this one did me in. Also, since there were so many people still out around town when we left to come home, it didn't hit me that it was so late.
Tonight we had our first experience at a kebab restaurant. These restaurants are all over the city, and specialize in middle eastern semi-fast food. The first time we visited Florence we noticed these weird pillars of meat slowly turning 'round and 'round in the windows of these joints and had no idea what it was. And now, after returning to the city, we've never even thought to go to eat there because we somehow imagined that the main dish served was slices of this meat pillar thingy. However, we were invited to join another couple (who I'd "met" through our blogs and who also just moved to Florence recently) for dinner at Turkuaz - a kebab place near our apartment. We went and had a great time meeting Emily, her husband Adam and their baby Giada, along with another friend of theirs and were introduced to a GREAT place to go for vegetarian food! Almost all the fresh dishes were vegetarian and cheap (a lovely combination). Chris had a big falafel wrap and I had some sort of layered spinach and cheese pastry with freshed squeezed oj to drink! We will definitely go back! After that we walked across town for a gelato, then said goodbye and promised to get meet up again soon.