27 April 2009

sciroppo per la tosse

Unfortunately, the pesky frog that appeared in my throat two weeks ago has grown into a full-blown hacking cough. After a few days of oranges and fluids, I've finally given up and made my way to the local farmacia (pharmacy) to buy me some meds. I've put this off for two weeks because I generally don't like taking medicine and because le farmacie are so expensive here. As charming as Europe is, sometimes I just need a freaking CVS to pick out my own preferred brand of sciroppo per la tosse (cough syrup).

The pharmacist gave me a Vicks brand sciroppo per la tosse, and being sick and uncomfortable, I was happy to recognize the name. While I was there, I also learned a new vocabulary word: Muco (mucus), nice.

He also gave me directions to take the medicine three times a day before each meal. But since I like to read instructions anyway, I took a look at the box. The recommended serving amount read: Adulti e ragazzi di età superiore ai 12 anni: 15 ml (equivalente a 3 cucchiaini da caffè). (Adults and teens older than 12 years: 15 ml (equivalent to 3 teaspoons of caffè or, as it is in Italy, espresso).

Seriously, only in Italy would the measurement of 15 ml be clarified as 3 teaspoons of caffè. Not to mention that the bottle had no sort of safety/protection seal to prevent tampering.

Anyway, here's to feeling better!

23 April 2009


Welcome to my Ikea filled apartment!
The desk is an old artist's table that's pretty banged up but has a ton of character-- remnants of paint and cup rings and just regular wear and tear.

My (nearly empty) closet! I love the plastic orange Ikea hangers- fun. I didn't post up a picture of the other side of my room, but I have an old baby-diaper changing cabinet as another dresser. I also have more art hanging above my bed-- My host mother is the director of her own art school here in Florence.

My favorite part of the apartment-- where the magic happens in the kitchen. It's a small, narrow kitchen, but my host mother makes SUCH great use of all the space. If I didn't feel creepier doing this, I'd totally take close-up snapshots of all the shelves. Note the kickass hand-made wooden table. It was the wooden panel underneath an old bed that was stained with a hot pink wash. Very cool.

Another picture of the kitchen. Mm... breakfast :) LOVE the green wall and pink dining table. I don't think I'd be able to pull it off in my own apartment, but it just works so well here.
Europeans don't seem to eat much for breakfast-- some of my friends had asked me if I really eat bacon in the morning (rarely) and if breakfast sandwiches in the US are popular. I LOVE breakfast. So while they sip their caffe and have ONE bowl of cereal, I'm slicing several pieces of fresh bread, pouring myself some cereal, taking an extra piece of cake... etc.

The smaller of two bathrooms. This one only has the shower and sink, along with the washing machine (note, no dryer!-- silly Europeans). Again, amazing use of space. Normally, I would consider the red heart bathmat from Ikea incredibly tacky, but somehow it really works in this apartment.

Funny blue afternoon light. We don't actually use the bathtub or bidet, which I like-- it would be a completely different bathroom if there was a shower curtain blocking the window. And I swear, someone I know has that green and blue striped bathmat also from Ikea-- I can't remember, is it you?

The view from my window with the terrible afternoon glare, but you get the picture. The old church bell tower in the background! The palm tree (behind the first)! The statue in his niche! The green shutters!

And thus, my apartment. In total, we have four bedrooms with students always coming in and out. There is one other Swiss-German girl who is here for a long-term stay, so it's really nice to see her on a regular basis. Otherwise, it seems to be mostly high school students from various places in Europe who are doing a one or two week exchange-- I would have LOVED to do this in high school.

My sister is also coming to visit for my last week in May! She managed to snag a seat on my flight back as well, so hurrah for that! We were together in Paris that same week one year ago, so it's nice to be together in Europe again so soon!

22 April 2009

In which, the espresso intake becomes quite severe.

Italians absolutely do not drink cappuccinos after breakfast. I think 11AM-ish is the cut-off mark. Ordering a caffe with milk or creme after that is considered very touristy and very un-Italian.

To my delight and dismay, my host mother got her stove-top espresso machine (also called Moka) fixed and all week, I've been starting off each morning with two espressos. And then of course, during the 30-minute morning break in class, I go to the local bar and have a cappuccino. And as I write this at nearly 3PM, I'm drinking some more.

I asked my Italian teacher about this no-milk after breakfast thing and she thought it was so strange that I thought it was strange. I love the European cafe culture, and I wish more of it existed back in the states. Tips don't really exist here either, and so in restaurants and cafes, you can sit for as long as you like without feeling rushed out (and no tipping bartenders either!).

Mm, just before I left for Italy, I was trying to cut down on my caffeine intake, but after my first cappuccino here, I've given that up. I am definitely going to miss this when I am home.

I have a brand new Bodum French press waiting for me at home, but after I've seen how cheap the Bialetti Moka espresso machines are here, I'm so tempted to bring one home. I'm tempted but I've definitely decided against it, although that doesn't mean that I still don't lust after one every time I smell the caffe in the morning. Illy is so cheap here as well! Ohhh, if I only had the space in my suitcase... :(

15 April 2009

In which, Italy gets a bit more real

Last night, the homeless guy I see twice a day, introduced himself to me, kissed my hand, and offered me marijuana. How picturesque-- I don't think that I've ever walked home so quickly before in my life.

Edit: I saw the same guy again today as I was walking home from class. He recognized me and gave me a really friendly, "Ciao signorina!". Haha, omg, I have a new Italian friend, don't I?

13 April 2009

In which, Easter comes and goes

In Italy, Easter Monday is considered a holiday, rather than Good Friday. So this morning, I very lazily got up to a day of sunshine and no school-- the perfect combination.

Someone is playing jazzy Italian piano music in the courtyard and it's, so, picturesque. The worst part is, it's all spontaneous-- I find myself in all these adorably quaint moments in my day. Haha, I say the WORST because it's almost too typical for these moments to occur in Italy. It's like, too much, Under the Tuscan Sun, ha--

For instance last morning, I was walking with my friend to the Sunday markets, and two cyclists ride by and with a friendly wave, shout out, "Buon giorno bella!". I am not even making that up. They actually say that here.

To balance out the cutesyness of this post, I should tell a creepy story. Last night, as I was walking by myself to meet up with some friends, this sketchy guy slithers up and says under his breath, "Ciao bella". Ew. It's not just a slogan on a t-shirt-- but they actually say it.

11 April 2009

In which, (some) pictures are FINALLY uploaded

Self-portrait in front of the Baptistry at Pisa: I had a really lovely afternoon in Pisa on Monday with my roommate Dan. We spent a few hours in town before heading to the Pisa airport to pick up Winston.

Ceiling of the Duomo in Pisa: It was dark and I don't have a tripod, but I still like the way it came out.

Showing off my super-hero strength: I am still slightly embarrassed of this picture, but it was obligatory.


A gate inside the Bargello Museum in Florence

Ponte Santa Trinita: One bridge away from the Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio from Ponte Santa Trinita

Piazza SS Annunziata: I live just around the corner from here and walk through here at least twice a day.

Interior courtyard of Santa Croce: I went in just before closing and practically had the courtyard to myself.

The best kind of graffitti in Italy.

And of course, Florence's Duomo. I was listening to this guy conduct what sounded like a business meeting on his cell phone.

07 April 2009

01 April 2009

In Which, Clara starts to overeat...

It's 11:30 pm and we just finished dinner which began around 8:30 pm. This is kind of amazing, but slightly probmatic at the same time. My new host mother Loves to cook and to have guests over, so every other night is like a dinner party. Today for example, she prepared a three course meal in honor of a student who is leaving this week. Some students from her studio and a coworker also joined us for the meal.

The first course is always a heaping plate of pasta, the second course varies but usually involves some sort of meat, salad, bread, etc. And the dessert was this great chocolate tort and biscotti and Vin Santo. At one point there were four bottles of wine on the table. And it's a Tuesday night!

I kept telling her that I couldn't breathe from eating too much but this pleases her and she insists I eat more. Haha, so it's a challenge for my stomach as well as my language skills as we only speak in Italian. Each dinner is like a mini victory for me. I'm updating from my phone right now and although I can't upload pictures from my camera I might be able to upload pictures from my phone! Hopefully tomorrow or at least the day after. I still can't breathe, haha omg really, too much food!

About Her

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a pseudo grown-up: book lover, wanderlust-er, sometimes photographer, blog follower, coffee drinker, dessert baker (and eater), music listener, Italian learner, storyteller, story writer