La Dolce Vita

Living in Florence has been quite the sweet life. There are endless things I love about living in Italy, the food, culture, shopping, museums and all. I’ve tried my best to embrace the lifestyle by shopping at markets for fresh food, taking walks around town, enjoying typical Tuscan cuisine, and attending calico matches to cheer on Fiorntina (the Florence soccer team).
Exterior of Santo Spirito Church
I live in the neighborhood of Santo Spirito, which has a nice square flanked by the Santo Spirito church dating back to the 15th century. While it may seem plain on the exterior, the inside is beautifully done with endless paintings and sculptures. It also houses the main attraction – a crucifix by Michelangelo. The square is constantly filled with locals and students during the mornings while the market is in action. At night it turns into a large get together with all of the bars and café’s surrounding the piazza. I love living in this area because there are locals and small shops that make it seem more authentic and homey. It’s comforting to know that right outside my door I can find anything I need or spend an evening enjoying a delicious meal or glass of wine.
Santo Spirito Market
I am yet to find a restaurant I do not like. There is a restaurant down the street from me called Osteria Santo Spirito that is right on the corner of the square and it is always packed. They usually require a reservation but once in a while you can squeeze your way in. There is a large outdoor patio which originally caught my attention, but the inside seating is almost always available so I’ve only sat inside. They have so many traditional Italian items and I’ve grown to love Ribollita. I cannot say enough about this soup. Ribollita is a typical Tuscan vegetable soup originally made in poor families because of the simple and the addition of stale bread. Stale bread? Yes! The bread is used to thicken the soup and I can tell you it is amazing. This restaurant offers large and small portions of their dishes and the small is enough to fill you up for only 5 Euro! Maybe I am partial because it reminds me of a soup my mom makes that we call, “Betty Soup”, so it’s a nice reminder of home.
Tuscan Ribollita Photo Credit
Although classes do take up a good portion of my day, I have Fridays and the rest of the weekend to explore the city. My parents also came in a few weeks ago and I finally fulfilled my tourist experience. We went to all of the main sites and museums including the Uffizi and Accademia Galleries. The crowds are pretty overwhelming but it is so rewarding to see these pieces in the flesh I’ve studied in Art History classes over the years.
            Now for the shopping. There are leather shops galore, which is very dangerous for me. I am the type of shopper who has my eye on something for a long time and weighs out the options. This was the instance with my hand made leather sandals. There was a shop on the way to the main leather market that had a pair of leather sandals hanging on their wall for a good month. They were tan with a thick strap across the top and around the back and they were so simple and perfect. After a month of passing by I finally stopped in the store to try them on, and they were exactly what I wanted. They were a little more than I wanted to pay (40 Euros) but I decided for the quality of the leather and the fact they were hand made in Florence, they were worth it. Plus, I bargained for a purse I bought previously, so I had a little extra to spend ;). Florence has a variety of shops from vintage and high end to markets and discount retailers, so everyone can find something they love.
            Not only is the clothes shopping fantastic, but I also love grocery shopping. It was quite intimidating at first since everything was in Italian! But I’ve grown to love shopping at the grocery store because it forces me to learn new words and phrases. Plus the food is very fresh and I feel like a true Italian buying fresh bread and produce to prepare a nice dinner.

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