Friday, May 13, 2011

Happy Trails

So there's an amusement park that I have been going to every year since I was young. We spend the entire day there and, each year at the end of the night, as we are walking out of the park, Happy Trails plays on the speakers. I don't know what it is about that song that makes me so nostalgic but it never fails: another year has already come and gone and I can hardly believe it. Tonight, my last night in Florence, as we were walking downtown after watching the sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo, Happy Trails started blaring in my head. 

This past week has been the week of "lasts"...the last visit to my vendors at the Central Market, the last time I trip on an uneven cobblestone, the last time I eat gelato. I had finals and, as far as I know, got through them somewhat successfully. Besides that, my time has been spent nostalgically these past couple of days.

The Girls of San Gallo 33: Eve, Elle, Steph, and myself
The last 2 days were slam packed! I was done with finals by 9am Thursday and I still had gifts to buy so I perused the San Lorenzo Market for about 2 hours and spent money like it was going out of style. I'm happy with the gifts I bought for everyone so, while my wallet is sad, my heart is happy. The San Lorenzo Market is just outside of the Central Market and it contains stalls upon stalls of Italian leather products, souvenirs, clothes, jewelry, and ceramics. It makes me happy that bartering is allowed there (I'm pretty sure it should be made an olympic sport). 

Later on Thursday, I had my last date with my friend and conversation partner, Alessandra. LdM has a program that pairs you with a local Italian and you get together to hang out, experience Florence, and speak Italian. I loved Alessandra and she took me to this great place for lunch that she said was very typical of Florence. This tiny little bar was packed with Italians; the line was out the door! Ale and I pushed our way through and, immediately, the sweet Italian man at the bar complimented my beauty as well as my mother and father (all in Italian). It made me laugh at first but Ale explained to me that it's typical in Italy to compliment someone's parents if you find them beautiful. I'll take it! 

Because I don't eat red meat, I asked for a turkey sandwich. They didn't have any so the man yelled across the street to his father's deli to ask for some. It was the funniest thing! Of course, the Italians are all sipping wine with their Italian custom I have found so interesting. Wine with every meal? Say what?! Anyways, I loved everything about this place! Florentines are usually so closed off and cold but these guys were so funny and incredibly friendly! 
My camera never likes darkness. Shutter speed = SLOW!
Thursday evening, Elle and I had 7 girlfriends over. Everyone pre-gamed at our place (except me, of course. Drinking games had to be explained to me and, even then, my drink of choice was diet coke)and then we left at about midnight for a rager. Last one of the semester! We went to several clubs but midnight is a bit early for the clubs to be raging. After some quick visits to a toga party and a gay bar, we ended up dancing at Club 21 until 3am. I don't remember the last time I danced! I almost forgot how fun it is! It was a great way to go out of this experience.


Today, our last day in Florence, Elle, Eve, Steph, Alex, and I visited all of our favorite spots in Florence. The News Cafe for some coffee, the Duomo for some group pictures, Gusta Pizza, and Palazzo Pitti. Lunch was schiacciata at Pugi (delicious, salted bread with veggies on it. All Tuscan bread is unsalted so this stuff is amazing!) and we had out last cups of gelato at La Carraia (I don't know what I will do without gelato). 

The Jersey Shore crew showed up today and, though I've never even seen the show, we stalked them at their apartment for a while. We just wanted to see them. It got to a point where it was just too long to wait for them and most of us left. Eve stayed behind and, of course, they arrived about 20 minutes later and she got pictures of all of them. Also, I will probably be in paparazzi pictures and NBC news because both crews were everywhere. I really don't think I want to be seen on TV for stalking the Jersey Shore. Whoops. 

We walked to Piazzale Michelangelo to see the sunset one last time. It was surreal to look out over the city and think of all of the things that have happened here over the past 4 months. I tell people all the time that it feels like time has stopped and that this isn't really my life. It doesn't feel real at all and I don't think I will realize how ridiculous the whole experience has been until I return home. I know I've grown and changed but I won't know to what extent until I'm back in my old environment. It will definitely take some time to process it all. 

Elle, Eve, and I are pulling an all-nighter because Elle and I are taking a taxi to the airport at 4:45am. It's going to be a long day of traveling but, in less than 24 hours, I will be back in the States where people speak English, cars are big, and where life will be less of an adventure than it has been for the past few months. It's so sad to leave this place and these people but, unfortunately, it had to happen at some point. 

So, happy trails, Firenze. I hope to see you soon. 

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