Accidental Seven

Today was the first nice day in what seems like forever. It was sunny, relatively warm (which is anything over 35o these days), and beautiful. Throughout my entire day of classes, all I could think about was taking advantage of the sunshine and going for a run later in the afternoon. I loosely mapped out a route and headed out.

I ventured on a new running path down to the Arno River and past the school. It’s always fun to explore the city by running through it, and I loved running along the river for a bit. I was on the home stretch and feeling great until I decided to take a new way home. I ventured down a new street thinking it would loop around to my house, but as I kept running I realized it definitely did not and I was in fact lost! At this point it was getting dark and closing in on dinner time. I ducked into a nearby pharmacy and asked them how to get back to my street in broken Italian.

The first words out of the pharmacists mouth was “molto longo”, meaning very far… not exactly what I wanted to hear at this point. Fortunately the workers there were very helpful and even drew me a little map on how to get back to a familiar street. I ended up having to go back the way I came and take a long route home, all the while trying to make it home for dinner on time – a great way to make sure I kept my speed up! I made it home right in time for dinner, although I was very tired after running much farther than I had intended. After a delicious squash soup, frittata and salad dinner, I mapped out my run to see how far I had gone – 7 miles...on accident. At least it was a great workout!

Everything Chocolate

All week, classmates of mine have been talking about the chocolate festival in Florence! Some raved about it and others couldn’t wait for their chance to go. The “Fiera del Cioccolato Artigianale” (Artisan Chocolate Fair) is in Florence from February 10 to the 19. After my classes on Wednesday, February 15, a friend and I headed to the chocolate festival to see what all the hype was about and hopefully taste some delicious chocolate!

There were about twenty different chocolate venders in the Piazza della Repubblica when we arrived. They all had vast displays of their finest chocolates. Some sold truffles, other sold chocolate dipped dried fruit, and some had just about anything you could imagine made in chocolate! There were also chocolate dipped waffles to buy, chocolate covered fruit kabobs and hot chocolate. Basically anything you could think of covered in chocolate.

All of the venders were very nice about offering free samples – I’m so glad I learned how to say “can I try?” in Italian! I tried some interesting concoctions such as melon infused chocolate, a chocolate covered lime, and a bite of my friends white hot chocolate. I think my favorite item I tried was a white chocolate bar packed with dried cranberries. So flavorful!

I ended up buying some chocolate covered coffee beans (one of my favorites) and three chocolate truffles: a coconut, a coffee, and a pistachio. After getting my chocolate fill through all the sampling, I saved my purchases for later in the week. As much as I loved sampling the chocolate, I think my favorite part of the festival was walking around and seeing all the creative spins on everything chocolate. There were some innovative flavor combinations out there! Who knows, maybe I’ll have make it back there later this week!

Locks of Love


Pont des Art Bridge, Paris, France

Take Two

Today was our second Healthy Monday! I am happy to see that the program is running smoothly and it is being well accepted by both students and faculty. When walking through the halls, a faculty member told me she enjoyed the newsletter and encouraged me to keep up the good work. When a student put my face to the name on the bottom of all the Healthy Monday emails, she said how much she likes the program at Syracuse and thanked me for bringing the program to Florence. One day as my teacher was calling roll she said, “Ellen Bobich?…You started Healthy Mondays didn’t you?...Bravissima!” All the encouragement, excitement, and involvement is reassuring and lets me know all my hard work is for the better J

Our new poster thanks to the art department.

Today’s events started with a free fruit table outside the cafĂ©, where everyone was glad to grab an apple, blood orange, or Clementine. I sat at the table working on my newsletter, freezing, as I don’t think the heat was working too well this morning. Sergio, the owner of the bar and provider of the fruit every Monday, was nice enough to offer me a free cappuccino! I was very appreciative. I held it in my hands until my fingers were warm enough to type again!

As many of the students have been getting sick lately, I themed this week’s newsletter on “keeping your immune system at its best”.

For tonight’s “Move-it Monday” class, we all tried something new: Capoeira. Capoeira is mix between Brazilian dance and martial arts. We had an authentic Capoeira teacher and some of his students come teach the class – entirely in Italian! Luckily we were all able to get the hang of it. The teacher taught not only some of the moves, but the history and culture of capoeira. He even brought out a Brazilian instrument and started singing at one point! I must say it was more of a cultural experience than a work-out but fun all the same.

After traveling all weekend, and getting in late last night, the long day today was exhausting! After fish and salad for dinner at home, I called it an early night.

Au Revoir Paris

With a great weekend under our belts, Maria, Anna, and I had most of the morning to say goodbye to Paris before departing for Florence. We checked out of hotel and walked towards the Louvre on a beautiful street. The street was lined with five star hotels and many expensive stores, such Dior and Louis Vuitton. So this is where Paris shopping takes place! We did some window shopping, before approaching a large park right next to the Louvre called the Louvre gardens. There were so many people out for a run, playing soccer, or taking a walk. It was wonderful to see!

After lots of crepes and sweets over the weekend, all of our stomachs were in need of something healthy for lunch. We were lucky enough to find a restaurant with nice big salads on the menu. To stick with the French theme I opted for the nicoise salad. All the vegetables tasted great and were much needed.

With the time we had left in Paris, we did some more walking, experiencing the city in my favorite way – just taking it in, and observing the people and things around me. We then made our way to the train station to catch the bus to the airport. The metro proved very convenient and very easy to use. Before hopping on the bus we were all in need of a little sweet fix. So glad my friends have a sweet tooth like me! We stopped for hot chocolate near the train station, and I picked up a coffee macaroon for the bus ride!

When I wasn’t sleeping or writing post cards on our four legs of travel, Anna, Maria and I reminisced about our great weekend in Paris. We shared so many laughs and a wonderful first weekend trip of the semester. However, as much as we all enjoyed Paris, we were all looking forward to sleeping in our own beds that night back in Florence.

Blinded by the Art

On Saturday, February 11, my friends and I were up early and ready for more sight seeing in Paris. Our first stop: the Lourve. I was happy to discover that we get in free with our student visas but disappointed to have not adequately prepared for this endeavor – none of us knew what art pieces to see! I know, we are horrible. I meant to ask my roommate – the art history major – to write down all the artwork we needed to see in the Lourve but never got around to it. So we went in blind.

We headed to the Mona Lisa first, as that was the one piece we all really wanted to see in person. After that, we followed the brochure’s directions and went the pieces they highlighted. Everything was wonderful, however, I wish I had known more about at what I was looking. I needed a tour guide! Nevertheless, it was great to be in such a historic museum surrounded by famous artwork.

After we felt as if we had seen enough, we headed out and stopped for lunch on our way to the Notre Dame cathedral. French onion soups all around!

We then made our way to Notre Dame. As my parents can tell you, I am not big on churches. After seeing about 35 different churches during our family trip to Rome, I was probably set for the rest of my life. However, I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed the inside of this cathedral. I loved the beautiful gothic architecture and the peaceful ambiance inside the church. The grandness of the church, the hush of the crowd, and the dimly lit candles all attributed to a soothing atmosphere which I enjoyed.

We had then planned to see the gardens, but unfortunately Maria and I lost Rachel and Anna inside the church and couldn’t find the gardens! After looking for our friends and the gardens for what seemed like forever, we gave up and warmed up with a crepe made hot and fresh for us on the street. I got Nutella and coconut J

We then did some window shopping on a fairly happening street. I’m not sure if we were shopping or just escaping from the cold at every chance we saw possible on the way home. We made it home just after Anna and Rachel returned from the gardens with enough time to rest up before dinner. Tonight, we asked the man at the front desk of our hotel for a recommendation for dinner. He pointed us in the direction of a nearby restaurant which he described as “very good” and “very French”. When we arrived there was a line out the door! I guess that a good sign that the food is good. We waited in line hoping to be fit in before they stop seating people at ten. We were the last group seated and so excited to get in!

The atmosphere of this restaurant was amazing. It was a huge place, moderately priced, and every dish that passed by us looked amazing. Everyone ordered steak and fries, while I ordered fish. I had no idea what type was coming as I could not read the French menu, but the water assured me it was good. It ended up being a white fish with an artichoke sauce and green beans. Loved the artichokes!

We all ordered ice cream for dessert. I got mine with fruit while others got chocolate sauce. I have to say when he brought mine out, I was a little disappointed. I wanted it to be a huge sundae and it was just a scoop of ice cream, while my friends were served larger bowls filled with chocolate syrup. Oh well, next time I know to go big or go home!

Touring and Towers

After a complementary breakfast at the hotel, where I took full advantage of the coffee, my friends and I embarked on our first day in Paris! We spent the majority of the morning exploring and taking in the city. From the first block we walked down I could tell that Paris is much more developed than Italy, and I must say it was a nice change.

After walking around, and taking in our surroundings for most of the morning, we were ready for lunch and ready to take a break from the cold. We all wanted to try as many French specialties as we could while we were here, so Maria and Anna got croques with fried eggs and I got quiche with smoked salmon and spinach. Simple yet delicious!

After our stomachs were full and our feet were slightly defrosted, we made our way toward the Eiffel Tower – the first monument on our list. As we walked towards it, it kept peaking out behind buildings, teasing us, and then BAM. The Eiffel Tower was right in front of us. It was amazing to see the real thing, as it is such a well-known, noteworthy monument I have known of my whole life. I was surprised to see just how big it was!

After sitting in the park for a while, we went on a hunt for coffee to warm us up or in this case … STARBUCKS! Starbucks coffee is my favorite treat back at home but there are unfortunately no stores in Italy. While in France we had seen a couple in passing and knew a Starbucks coffee was a must this trip. I know, such Americans. After asking a few people, we hunted one down! I ordered a nice and big American coffee with hazelnut syrup. It was delicious - truly a touch of home to me.

We then got in touch with Rachel, a friend of Anna’s, who would be staying with us the remainder of the trip, and headed towards the Arch de Triomphe and Champs Elysees.

By then the sun had set, the temperature had dropped, and we were all exhausted from a long day of walking. We found the nearest metro and headed back to the Hotel to rest up before dinner. We didn’t wake up until 10pm! Thank goodness restaurants are open late here, because we were quickly able to find a quaint crepe restaurant nearby. I ordered an egg and cheese crepe with salad and a sugar and butter crepe for dessert. Crepes were the perfect way to end our first night in Paris.

Planes, Trains, and Buses

After a full day of classes on Thursday, February 9, I left school in a hurry to catch a bus to the train station. This weekend was my first weekend trip traveling on my own! Well I was not alone, but with two good friends Anna and Maria. After three buses, a plane and a metro we arrived at our final destination…


We arrived at our hotel late at night. We were glad to discover that it was in a great location, a block away from a metro stop, and fairly good for the price we paid. The night we arrived, we were exhausted from all the travel and went straight to bed to be ready for lots of touring the next day. I already love it here! – forgot they speak a different language …

Rolling Dough

Cooking is something I have really been missing while abroad. At Syracuse, I am usually enrolled in at least one culinary class each semester, am used to cooking dinner for myself every night, plus love to bake in my free time! To fill the void, in the evening of Wednesday, February 8, I signed up for a cooking class sponsored by the school. The school holds cooking classes every week for students, teaching us how to make authentic Italian cuisine. On the menu for tonight were three types of pasta and tiramisu for dessert! Although I wish we weren’t making so much pasta, as I feel I eat too much as it is, I was so excited to learn the skills of an Italian Chef and cook with my friends.

After distributing aprons and a short introduction by the chef, the students divided the tasks at hand to complete our dinner. Some worked on the tiramisu and others chopped vegetables for the pasta sauces. After the chef told us it would be hard work, I immediately thought “arm workout!” and jumped at the chance to make the pasta dough. After mixing flour eggs and oil, we kneaded the dough for about 20 minutes - definitely earned my big pasta dinner!

After the tiramisu was put to set in the fridge, the sauces were finished and simmering on the stove, and the dough had rested, we all gathered around the large central table to get a pasta rolling tutorial. We all got a chance to roll and cut the long sheets of pasta into ravioli, linguine, and angel hair. The chef even showed us how to make tortellini!

After all the pasta was made, we set the table as the chef put the finishing touches on our meal. Then bread was cut, wine was poured, and parmesan was grated…buon appetite!

Spinach and ricotta ravioli in a butter sage sauce

Linguine with roasted red pepper sauce

Angel hair with pomodoro sauce and basil

The best Italian tiramisu I’ve tasted yet!

The dinner was delicious and I felt right at home being back in the kitchen. Maybe I’ll do another class in the future and learn to make different delicious Italian dishes.