By Leslie Diaz and Leah Weiss, Marist Italy FFE, 2013-14
The intensity of the rain hitting the roof echoed throughout the quiet apartment. We were afraid that the rain outside was a terrible indication of what was to come later that day. Through LdM’s clubs and activities, the previous two days were filled with new adventures and insight into Italian culture. Today’s activity was called ‘A Day in the Life of a Florentine’. The city we would be exploring, Scandicci, was only a short tram ride away from the center of Florence. We knew the tour would be special because our guides, Emma and Margherita, grew up in this small town. The first stop was the local shopping center where we had time to walk around and browse the shops. We were told this center was considered one of the largest Italy had to offer. However, it was little compared to America’s standards. By this time, the skies had cleared up, and the sun was shining over the pastel-colored houses. Our next destination was the heart of Scandicci, and to our delight, there happened to be a chocolate festival in town that week. However, we had to wait until the end of our tour to buy any chocolate. We agonizingly walked through the festival, attempting to ignore the taunting aroma of cioccolato calda and tortapistocchi. Next, we arrived at a weekly open-air market. White tents lined the streets selling assorted goods such as clothes, fresh produce, and toys. Our noses led us to a tent selling fried goods, and we each purchased a bag filled with coccoli, mozzarelle, pollo fritto, and cenci: all typical Italian delights. While enjoying our delicious goodies, we further explored what the market had to offer.
Next, we went to Scandicci’s library to see where the local teens study and spend their free time. The building was clearly recently renovated, as noted by the modern design of the interior. After this, we were set to finally go to the chocolate festival. However, on our way there, our tour guides mentioned that a gelateria we were passing was the best gelateria in town. They informed us the nocciola was award-winning and around merenda time, there would be over 100 hundred people eagerly waiting in line. Being gelato enthusiasts ourselves, our bodies naturally gravitated towards the store, regardless of how full our stomachs were from the fried goodies earlier. How could we ever pass up gelato? Of course, the gelato was just as amazing as Emma and Margherita claimed it was. Now, without delay, we were off to the chocolate festival. Being completely satisfied by the Italian cuisine we tasted today, we restrained ourselves from purchasing any chocolate. However, Emma and Margarita kindly offered the group a sample of tortapistocchi, a sort of cake made with only the purest of ingredients, AKA just chocolate. It was like nothing we had ever tasted before. It was rich. It was fudgy. It was the epitome of decadence.
We checked the time and were surprised to see how late it was. We had already spent more than four hours in the little town of Scandicci. However, it didn’t matter because this town allowed us to experience a day in the life of a Florentine.
Before our departure, we made one last stop at the open-air market to purchase some fresh strawberries. While searching for the cheapest and best looking strawberries available, we spotted strawberries for only one euro! We contemplated buying from this particular stand for a bit. Then, all of sudden, the vendor started yelling at us and shoving the strawberries in our faces, pressuring us to purchase a whole crate of strawberries.
“Le fragole! Volete le fragole! Tutte fragole solo sono sei euro!”
In all of the chaos, we impulsively bought them. That crazy purchase marked the end of our excursion in Scandicci.
After we finally made it back to our apartment, we sat on the stairs and reflected on the eventful day we had in Scandicci. From the “big” shopping center to the award-winning nocciola gelato to the most decadent Italian dessert ever, our day turned out to be memorable (despite its rainy start). We had an amazing day venturing to the outskirts of Florence. We reminisced on Scandicci, looked at the crate in front of us, and asked each other out loud, “Now, what are we going to do with all these strawberries?”