Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Scandicci: Livin Like a Local

After all the crazy adventures in Greece, I decided to stay in Florence this past weekend. The rest of April, I’ll be traveling every weekend, so it was a much-needed break. My campus has weekly activities to keep us active in Florence. I’ve already done a few, including the Gelato Making and Pasta Making, which I’ve blogged about.

This past Saturday, I experienced A Day in the Life of a Florentine. Two LdM staff members took us to a suburb of Florence for a very informal tour of the neighborhood of Scandicci, where they both grew up. The intent was to give us an idea of what a normal Saturday might consist of. It was a beautiful day to explore, and we were able to see so much.

The morning started off with a tram ride out of the city center. As we saw all the crowded city buildings disappear behind us, we drove through parks, fields, and outlying shopping centers and suburbs. We arrived in Scandicci after about 20 minutes and went straight to the market.

It was basically a giant outdoor flea market, with everything a person could need, including rows and rows of clothes, a few odds and ends, and plenty of delicious street food. While some were brave enough to try the lampredotto, a type of tripe popular in Tuscany, I found a stand that specialized in deep-frying. Not the healthiest option, but it was pretty damn delicious! Anything that could be fried was fried. They had fried potatoes, zucchini, corn, rice (both sweet and savory), several varieties of doughnuts, and my favorite—fried pizza dough!

Emma (our activities director) was a great tour guide. She kept pointing out places and programs that she was very proud about. It was really a great experience to see her point of view. She even pointed out where her parents live, and where she lives now! We saw a youth center, where teens and 20-somethings can come and have a creative space to paint, write, practice with a band, or even host competitions. 

Next, we had a brief tour of the local library. It had recently been converted from its former use as a primary school established during the fascist period. The library was huge for the small size of the town, and a very modern and comfortable place to study.

There was a volunteer center where we learned that all non-emergency ambulances in Tuscany are operated fully on a volunteer basis. It is a popular volunteer activity for people living in the area of all ages, especially high school students.

Our last stop was seeing the Scandicci Castle, now owned by the Scandicci community. It has been restored by volunteers in the community, and sits in the center of a beautiful, expansive park where we sat out and took in our surroundings in the sun, while enjoying a few snacks we picked up from the market.

The entire community of Scandicci was so different than Florence. It was much more laidback. There was a very strong sense of community and the people really took pride in the neighborhood. Although geographically close to the city center of Florence, it felt worlds away.

Of course no tour in Italy is complete without gelato, so before leaving, we had to stop at Gelatando for Scandicci’s finest! In the summer, the line here gets so long they actually have a ticket machine to distribute numbers. We were told that on a hot day, the line can get to be well over 100 people long. I tried their signature flavor, gelatando, a flavor similar to tiramisu—so good!

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