I never thought having a “favorite country” would come to me so abruptly. I literally did not see this coming. I’ve barely explored a fraction of this Earth, but discovering Italy last weekend was a huge revelation in itself– it was like I received a cultured slap in the face by a warm doughy hand that oozed cheese and homemade marinara sauce and whispered, “Yes, child. You’ve found me. All your life’s enjoyments are coming together and finally make sense. You’ve found your true home. You’ve found Italia.”
DISCLAIMER: I would like to apologize for my failure to keep up my post streaks last week. I got terribly sick with a sinus infection and spent the last two weeks resting whilst trying not to cough my lungs out. But never fear…Rebijord is here! 🙂 (mostly) healthy and all!
But first, a brief history:
Growing up, I’ve always had a fond love of carbs in every shape, color, and form. I can remember vividly vying to go out to Italian restaurants with my dad and sister every Wednesday night and ordering either a pepperoni calzone, gnocchi (bolognese or pesto), four cheese ravioli, or a delectable prosciutto, ricotta, and arugula pizza. My dad has always been the expert when it comes to tiramisu whilst my sister and I always chose the chocolate cake OR the zeppole at Olive Garden when we were feeling up for it. GOD, I’m literally drooling typing all of this. Also I know, Olive Garden ain’t nothin’ compared to the real deal. They will always hold a special place in my heart, though.
Now that I have a better knowledge of nutrition and have continued to stick to a pescatarian diet since December, prosciutto was not part of the menu last weekend in Florence, but plenty of carbs, cheese, and desserts definitely were! 🙂 And guess what. I didn’t regret a single meal. BALANCE, people! Plus, Italian food is and has always been my favorite cuisine in the world– one cannot stress about such a magic. On a scale of 1-10 Italian food has always been an 11 for me, but after eating Italian food IN ITALY it’s bumped up to infinity. *breathes deeply* I know.
So what did I eat? I rly need to figure out how to add multiple pictures to posts so y’all can see what my lucky self got to consume (but for now, check my Instagram @rebijord). :*
FRIDAY FEB. 24:
- SNACK: Dried Pitaya – snatched this up at the Autogrill gas station on our way up. It’s sold alongside the raisins and nuts and was surprisingly delectable. It also reminded me of being in California haha RIP. Also this was just the warm up I promise the food choices get waaaay more drool worthy after this.
- DINNER: Vegetable pizza and chocolate cake – RIP my soul it died that night. Never have I ever eaten a pizza that flawless. It had a thin, but perfect layer of cheese, the crust was the ideal combination of crispy and doughy, and sliced then grilled zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and onions, were lied out beautifully across the top. The cake was thick and fudgey. Aaaand the tiramisu was pretty amazing too. 😉 I took a couple spoonfuls from my friend, Shelby, who couldn’t finish hers hehe. RESTAURANT NAME: Il Pizzaiuolo.
SATURDAY FEB. 25:
- BREAKFAST: Museli with milk, peaches, prunes, and a poppyseed croissant. Also coffee!!! This kept me full and fueled enough for a museum and walking tour, but still left me with enough room to shove more carbs and sweets down my esophageal sphincter continuously throughout the day. PLACE: Our hotel, Tornabuoni Beacci.
- LUNCH: Homemade spaghetti with a spicy marinara sauce – BEST. SPAGHETTI. I’VE. EVER. HAD. IN. MY. ENTIRE. LIFE. But fuh-real. When homemade, the noodles are thicker which makes you think the pasta might be chewier or sit heavier in your stomach but it was just the opposite. I felt relatively light on my feet after eating a bowl (and kinda wanted another) and my teeth cut through the pasta as if it were made of butter. The noodles twirled onto my fork like little tendrils of absolute bliss. I think I cried. RESTAURANT NAME: Paszkowski Ristorante.
- SNACK: Dark chocolate gelato – Died again. Freaking Italy won’t let me live. Words to describe this heavenly creation? Thick, creamy, rich, decadent, velvety-goodness. GELLATERIA: Venchi.
- DINNER: Homemade linguine with shrimp, arugula, and tomatoes – Had to get some veggies in. My friend Elle found this awesome place that had great prices and gluten free options (for both pizza and pasta!). My friends and I also decided to go out that night and since I was still getting over my sinus infection (antibiotics are no joke) I couldn’t drink alcohol so I downed an Italian Espresso and was set until approximately 3:30 a.m. RESTAURANT NAME: Ciro and Sons Ristorante Pizzeria.
SUNDAY FEB. 26:
- BREAKFAST: The same as the day before, but not any less satisfying.
- LUNCH: Mozzarella and tomato calzone – We had to rush back to our bus after our final museum tour to beat the traffic we were bound to hit after the first five hours of our long journey home so I grabbed a quick calzone from a side street shop. Although moderately pissed I couldn’t sit down and get one last pizza, the calzone was surprisingly filling and quite satisfying. PLACE: tbh not really sure, but it was a super casual grab n go place right outside the Galleria degli Uffizi museum exit.
- DINNER: Rusti mediterranea – Basically an Italian grilled cheese. I snagged this from an Autogrill on the way back. It’s funny because I never buy food from a gas station in the states unless its a candy bar, but Italian gas stations got it going ON. It’s just that damn Italian cooking. There’s not way they can mess it up. Like I said, magic.
Food diary done, I must mention the only other thing that captured my heart as much as the warm promise of cheese filled carbs was the lush culture embedded within Florence’s history. I was fortunate enough to take part in a guided tour of the Galleria dell’Accademia where I saw many of Michelangelo’s works including his most famous sculpture, David. Hearing the context of his life, his interests, and curiosities as an artist lead me to appreciate his work even more and walk away having understood and seen a man’s life story carved into stone with nothing more than a hammer and chisel.
Other things I got to do: walk inside the Duomo (of which I could see from my hotel window!) that took over a century to build and whose architecture told stories of a city in which innovative thinking was booming.
I saw the Arno river, the leather market, and Michelangelo’s grave in the Piazza di Santa Croce. I touched a copper boar statue that has stood ground since the 15th century and dropped a coin as the merchants of Florence once did in the hopes, or thanks, that the boar would, or already did, help them (and hopefully me!) make a profit that day. And guess what. I did: IN FOOD AND KNOWLEDGE. #winning
On the final day, honing in on 3 hours of sleep (haha can you tell by the above pic, no regrets tho), I went on a guided tour of the Galleria degli Uffizi where I saw magnificent paintings highlighting the forward thinking and teachings of the renaissance era by none other than Leonardo da Vinci. Then saw where Kim Kardashian and Kanye West got married…LOL.
I left that day feeling more enlightened than I ever had. The weekend was full of amazing food, people, and culture making it the absolute best in my book. I went into my Art History Class the following Wednesday feeling like I’d studied (we talked about renaissance art the entire time), but also like I hadn’t cracked a book in years. I felt relaxed, yet knowledgable. And still day dreaming about that pizza, gelato, and spaghetti. God. I already want to go back. *tries to aggressively hold back tears*
Have you been to Italy? If so, what cities do you recommend? What do you suggest seeing, doing, or eating? I know the Trevi Fountain and eating a cannoli are at the top of my list for next time. 🙂 Italy was literally perfect and I cannot wait to go back. But until then, let’s see what else I can discover first. #adventureisoutthere
See ya in a week! (I promise this time) 😉