Over the past few years, we have taken several trips to Europe each ranging between 10 to 14 days. Within two weeks, we usually begin to settle into routine and habits. We get used to new greetings, how to ask questions, and the culture we are surrounded by everyday. Just as we would begin to settle in, it was time to head home. Just as we finally figured out the correct way to greet someone or say "excuse me", we would head back to the normal "hello" back home. This time it is different. Two weeks in and we are feeling settled. This time, we aren't heading home to normal, but instead continuing to lean into our Italian existence.
As we continue to live for a bit in Florence, here are a few of the things we are leaning and settling into as well as accepting as our Italian normal.
- Grocery Shopping: Definitely a different experience over here. We stop at the grocery or market almost daily for small trips. Only the essentials. At home, we usually went to the grocery for one big weekly trip and maybe only one other time throughout the week for whatever we forgot. Not here. We have to walk, round trip, about a mile to the grocery. There is no Costco style shopping over here when you don't have a car or roller bag to bring your groceries in. Yesterday, Adam carried 9 liters of water plus a bag of equal or greater weight back to our place. Our biggest trip yet, and not something we want to regularly do. Best to spread it out.
- Fresh Pasta from the Market: After using grocery store pasta our first week, we have returned to Sant'Ambrogio market for fresh pasta. This is the "locals" market according to our Tuscan lunch hosts, and better than the central market for meat, pasta, and produce. We went yesterday and walked away with 3 fresh, new pastas to try including one with pear and one with lemon. Both delicious.
- Walking Everywhere: We rarely see a day with fewer than 7 miles of walking and/or running. Days we don't run are maybe closer to 5, which is not too shabby either. We easily rack up the miles just doing normal things like going to the grocery, language school, for a stroll, or to the market. A mile here and a mile there, next thing you know we have been on our feet for 4 hours walking the city after running earlier that day. We love this part of life in the city. Everything is accessible and walkable. We simply have to give ourselves a bit more time to get where we need to go. Definitely something we are happy to try and implement back home in the States as I wrote about here.
- Eating LOTS of Pasta and Cheese: At home, we tend to eat more meat and veggies than cheese and pasta/carbs. Over here? Not so much. We are eating pasta and cheese daily and we are happy to report we aren't blowing up like blimps in weight. The pasta is fresh and light, the cheese is just plain delicious. It is hard NOT to indulge daily or EVERY meal. We have decided we balance it all out quite nicely with the 7+ miles we walk/run in a day. It is amazing how hungry you get when you are always walking, running, going. In Denver, we basically walk to our car and to the store or in to work. Not much for distance. We would never eat this way in the States, but when in Rome! I mean, when in Florence!
- Crazy Hair: I had the same issue in London. Not enough time to let my hair do its thing and dry properly. Nope. Just get out of the shower and let the hair fight the elements and dry however the wind takes it. Not ideal and certainly not my best look. I have even resorted to using the provided hair dryer on occasion to look halfway presentable in public with soaking wet hair. Just learning to embrace the chaos.
- Espresso: Courtesy of our AirBnB, I am learning to enjoy espresso. No "cafe americano" or "dirty water" (according to Italians) for me. While in Italy, I'm embracing the espresso and loving it. I may just want to pick up a killer espresso machine back in Denver!
- Simplified Wardrobe: Adam and I brought one large back and one carry-on (plus an empty carry-on) over with us. Our wardrobes are simple and versatile. We are both quickly finding we have all we need. I have often thought/talked about moving towards a more simple, minimalist wardrobe and this trip may be what pushes me into action. I don't need much. I love everything I have with me. So why keep a closet loaded down with things I don't like or don't wear? Definitely more to come on this one.
- No Dishwasher: Shock, I know. No dishwasher. We have to HAND WASH everything. With no dishwasher, meals run a little longer and usually involve some teamwork. One washer, one dryer. It takes a little more time to wrap up the meal, but we don't find it burdensome so much as a part of our routine.
- No TV: We don't usually watch a lot of television anyway, but here we haven't turned on the television once. We did bring movies with us, but when we watch a movie it is intentional. Television so often is used to fill a void of time or have noise on in the background or because we are simply bored. No more of that. Intentional movie watching or not at all. A welcomed change.