Land of the [Gluten] Free

Happy 4th of July to my fellow Americans! I figured I would take today to write back to my homeland in honor of its independence.

So in the last week, I boarded a plane, moved into an apartment with three girls, had three caffes, ate a hearty meal, totaled 13 hours sitting in one classroom, viewed one of the largest taxidermy collections in the world, climbed stairs, saw Florence from an old astronomical tower, purchased a calculator, visited Cinque Terre and Viareggio, met cool people, wrote a paper, spoke French on way too many occasions, walked.

Just an FYI, the elation you experience when you find that the number and letter on your boarding pass correspond with a window seat is not nearly as potent as the elation you experience when you look out the window of said corresponding window seat and witness the Swiss Alps in all their snow-capped, cloud-shrouded, sun-setting splendor.

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I have 20 amino acids to memorize.

I enjoy reading the book, Napoleon’s Buttons, for my Historical Perspectives of Chemistry class. To deduce major events in history to singular molecules or chemical groups is quite plainly, fascinating. The book has a nice flow and begins with the spice trade.  It’s also interesting to listen to an Italian professor speak about American history.

It’s even more interesting when the people I meet become interested in my career aspirations once I tell them I’m both a dance performance and biomedical sciences student. At first, it seems as though they don’t get it. “You’ll have to choose one someday,” they say. But no, I’ll never be faced with the hardship to choose. They’re already one.

The walls are closer here, the streets more narrow and more conducive to J-walking. The monuments and landmarks are closer too. I’ve crossed Ponte Vecchio eight times. I merely went to the Eiffel Tower twice.

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There was a patisserie down the street from our residence in Paris. You could smell its baked goods even when walking past its metal-clad doors at 1hr. I’m certain you can still smell it here in Florence too. All of the patisseries have been replaced by gelaterias. Gelato can get you into some pretty sticky situations as it can also get you out of some pretty sticky situations. Quite literally, if you fancy positioning yourself under a Florentine sunset clutching a cup stacked high with gelato, you might find that the cream sets faster on your hand that the sun on the horizon. This leaves your hand sticky. However, if you don’t fancy wetting yourself, you might find that purchasing a gelato is your only ticket to a client-only toilet. This leaves your pants dry.

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I was spoiled in France when the nights cooled off by at least 10 degrees. I am spoiled in Italy when locals speak to me in perfect English.

Cinque Terre is beautiful. Now I know where to go if I ever need a secluded place to write a novel or flee from an ex-husband. Viareggio is a beach town. The only difference between this beach town and the ones I grew up on was the mountain range in the backdrop. I think beach towns are novelties that remain constant no matter the continental plane.

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You know what else remains constant no matter the continent? My awkwardness. Even my professor can’t capture me at my “best”—or perhaps this is my best… (Note the pants. Also awkward.)

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If you say anything remotely sounding like “sono celiaco” or “sienza glutine”, the Italians immediately empathize with you. They’re accommodating. (After all, it was an Italian who first drew the connection between gluten, intestinal damage, and autoimmune disorders). Therefore, today I decided to consult my trusty friend the internet and locate an acclaimed pizza place specializing in gluten free takeout, just steps away from the Duomo. It did not disappoint.

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Ciao from the land of the [gluten] free [away from] the home of the brave.

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