C’era una volta…

I found another yummy tea!
Rilassante=Relaxation=YES PLEASE!
It’s minty but has hints of lavender and other earthy tastes. It has such a unique taste, different from other mint teas I’ve had. A box might just have to stow away in my suitcase…
Perhaps it’s because my time here is nearing it’s end, or maybe it’s just that I’m at “that age”, but I have really been noticing how much this semester has challenged me to figure out who I am. I feel like here I’ve had so many experiences that have made me say “well, that’s just not me.” Almost like a process of elimination thing? It’s been interesting, a little painful, a lot fun. That’s my thought for the day 🙂
Tuesday Alaina and I ventured by bus to Cascine Park to check out the market that sets up there once a week. We’ve never been and with our time here nearing it’s end (which we are NOT talking about yet, thankyouverymuch), we figured it’s now or never!
It’s a serious haul to get there, so we bussed it. It’s so pretty! And massive.

The market turned out to be really sweet. I got a shirt and a cute dress. The shirt ended up being, um, less than flattering, but I like the dress a lot! I’m hoping to break them on this weekend’s adventure.
All my pictures of the market, of course, are of the furry friends we met…

Just chillin in one of the stalls. It’s pretty obvious who’s boss.
Dogpile….of BUNNIES!!! So fluffy and cute!

Lots and lots of boids.

PUPPIES. Oh man. I had to drag myself away from the babies. So. freaking. adorable.

And CHIPMUNKS! I have a special connection with chipmunks. When I was little, my grandfather would make up stories for each of us grandkids with our own personal sidekick – mine was Chester the Chipmunk. We visited Maleficent (from Sleeping Beauty, obvz)’s castle many times together. So yeah, I have a thing for chipmunks 😉
After walking through the market, it was definitely lunch time. We are revving up the restaurant tour of Florence to high speed, and it was time to check Nerbone off the list.
Nerbone, like Mario’s, is a true institution here. It’s inside the market, and if you go arund 11 or so you will all the little hold men hanging around, sipping wine and eating sandwiches. It’s been around just about since the market itself has, and a reputation for serving Florentine food as typical as you can get.
After much debate, I went with a classic: pasta e fagioli. I’ve had it at Sergio’s, so they were up against some pretty intense competition, but I had faith.
Complete with an artful swirl of olive oil.
I’ll be honest…I was unimpressed. Of course, it didn’t help that a) I had this place built up pretty high and b) I am used to the amazingness that is Sergio’s. It was liiittle too soupy for me, and I wasn’t a huge fan of how tomatoey it was. I spent the majority of my young life despising tomatoes, and didn’t like them until my first trip to Italy. They taste different here – SO fresh. But I think I have reached my tomato capacity for a bit and they just haven’t been tasting all that great to me. This was by no means bad, but wasn’t the incredible experience I was expected either. Perhaps I will try to go back and get a panino – maybe the sandwiches are more their thing. It was fun to eat inside the market though 🙂
~~~
Gather round kids…
It’s story time!
Once upon a time…or c’era una volta, as they say in Italian…

There was a big old fortress. A tall, dark, menacing figure from the outside…but on the inside, oh the wonders it held…
A craft fair! Artisans from all over Italy (saw LOTS of Sicily, interestingly enough) came to show off their wares in one big convention. They had pretty much everything, from furniture to copper pots, to artworks and beads…and food. You know what I was there for.

Chocolate, cookies, and pastries, oh my!
I just love pretty chocolate 🙂
That would be some form of pasty dough STUFFED with chocolatey goodness. A sight for sore hungry eyes!
SO many drool-worthy cannoli to be had! I haven’t actually had one since I’ve been here yet (not a big Tuscan thing), so Alaina and I decided to split one.
With chocolate chips, of course!
Ohsogood. The ricotta was unlike anything I’ve had before – you could definitely tell it was cheese, not just some sugary cream fakeness. The creamy, sweet ricotta with the chocolate and powdered sugar plus the crumbly pastry was just heaven. I’m glad I waited ’til now to try it!
We wandered around the entire room once, sampling breads, olive oils, LOTS of cheeses, some wine, a little chocolate, and several truffle stands. Basically, my idea of the perfect evening.
There were also a couple chocolate stands with marzipan in fruit shapes, which I have always loved because they’re so pretty and colorful!
I got myself a pear and a strawberry. I love marzipan!
Yummmm.
I also bought these 2 little plaques with the cutest drawings ever. I couldn’t decide which I liked better, so I got both *blush*.
 They just make me smile. A lot.

LOVE.
So, you may be curious about this weekend’s adventure…well, alright, I’ll tell you. We’re off to BARCELONA! My roommate from school is studying there, so she will be our lovely tour guide. We leave tomorrow evening and don’t return til LATE Sunday (as in, almost Monday), so Gillianasana will be sadly postless until then. BUT fear not, my new yet-to-be-named camera will [hopefully] be accompanying me, and I intend to get to know her/him very well 🙂 My last cooking class of the semester (*tear) is tomorrow, so I will do my best to update before we leave, but I can’t be sure (there is a good possiblity I will be running around the apartment wildly throwing things into bags…don’t you wish you were there to see). 
Ciao for now!
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