Hi Italy, where have you been all my life? -June 28th, 2014

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As I sit on my old-fashioned sheets in my spacious italian hotel room and listen to the chimes of bells on a nearby old building, I realize that life is pretty great. We left the cruise ship today, very sad, but it was quite bittersweet. I am oh so excited to be in Florence, Italy now that I could pinch myself!

This mecca of holy food and wonders and FOOD! I was pleasantly surprised to find out hotel room is quite spacious and consists of three beds, which pretty much never happens at hotels. Of course Ben called the biggest bed and Will called the other better located one leaving me with the one nobody wants. But oh its okay because I will also be the last one who gets the shower tomorrow morning. Sharing a room with my brothers is so much fun when you are the mature older sister who doesn’t care and isn’t so high maintenance like them. :)

We walked around the small, charming town of Florence today and I was pleasantly surprised. It’s the perfect median between the hustle and bustle of an urban, highly populated city like Istanbul and a middle of nowhere ghost town. It also feels very safe and there are so many lovely people walking around. We got to drive around the “Beverly Hills of Italy” or at least it seemed like that. Dozens of high-end shops with names like Pucci (yes pucci not gucci) and Dolce & Gabana and of course they had a Zara which I can’t wait to go into. There are gelatto shops galore and the pastries looked SO GOOD. I swear I would rather live some place where I had to walk everywhere but I could eat those pastries all the time and stay fit than be able to drive everywhere but not even have those delicious delicacies #la. We stopped and had lunch and I got some arrabiatta pasta which was nice but not as spicy and amazing as the one I had yesterday as well as some refreshing caprese. Afterwards we got gelato and out of like 12 people I was the only one to get medium sized, of course. My mom got mad but I wanted the good sugar cone!!! It’s not like I have to wear a bikini in florence anyways. And since I stuffed my face galore on the last day of the cruise ship I wouldn’t be too worried about one measly cone of gelato affecting much. If you want to know a funny story (actually not that funny) listen up: so yesterday when Allie and I got back on the boat we decided to go to the jacuzzi of course. So we are out at the pool and I’m like I really want ice cream and she says she’ll come so we walk over to the cafe with me so we go. I walk in and am overwhelmed (as usual) by the endless possibilities of food and the delicious smells from everywhere. It also happens to be that  walked in just in time for the everyday sushi. SO i decided I’d have a little snack so I grab some. THEN i grab some mashed potatoes and indian food that looked really good. THEN I go and eat it and realize I need some dessert! I go back in and well, there are TWO CHOCOLATE FOUNTAINS one chocolate and one vanilla. So i had to get three marsh mellows covered in chocolate and three in vanilla. and some fruit. THEN I see that there are these fruit tart pastries like my favorite thing and so I had to get a pineapple one and strawberry. SO I hate all of that deliciousness and then I realize I never got my ice cream! So after that I got a scoop of vanilla on a cone :) And then I REALLY didn’t wanna go into the jacuzzi in a bikini. End of story.

So back in Italy we then walked into a leather market and the aroma of both fake and real leather lingered throughout the entire maze of vendors. These ones were much different than Istanbul’s. The Italians aren’t so agressive and in-your-face about trying to sell you their products like the turkish were, thankfully. If they saw you browsing there stuff they might comment or ask a question but nothing rude and annoying. Lots of leather! Then we explored the food market and this place called eataly which is like a little dining hall. SO many kinds of cheeses, pastas, and meats I didn’t even know existed and they are DELISH. My mom bought this truffle and olive dip/salsa thing and its delicious and I can’t wait to come home and eat it. Usually the market is full of life I am sure but it was mostly closed today so only a couple of sellers, but I could just tell that on a good day it was vibrant and filled with delicious fresh food. We went out to dinner at a restaurant where Nicole and me shared a filet marinated in chianti as well as a pasta dish. The pasta was great but the filet was a bit questionable: too rare for our taste considering blood was dripping out on the plate. We later learned that this is common in Italy: they like their meats pretty raw. I got to have a bit of wine which was great though! :) yay  Italy. Afterwards we walked home and I got a baby cannoli. I prefer the bigger ones because the cream tastes fresher and not as much like sugary frosting. I ended the night trying to write this blog but fell asleep out of exhaustion so currently I am writing it from the next day point of view. Ciao!

~xoxo Ali~

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at the famous Florence leather market (leather is kinda what they are known for)

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Ben & Will chowing down on some fresh peaches ( or are they nectarines?)

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oddly shaped, don’t ya think?

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my dad doing his best Italian mobster impersonation (not very good of course)

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Nicole eatin’ some gelato

IMG_5443more of that european teen expression, i suppose?

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