It felt like the longest day in terms of journeys go and by measure of time, it surely was. A 9 am train out of Poitiers with a three hour wait at CDG, a 2 hour flight, and a touchdown at 6 pm, the arrival in Florence was both bitter and sweet. A goodbye to familiarities, and a ciao to new adventures.
The first moments in Florence were as strong as a shot of espresso. Jumping into a taxi at Peretola, the rude awakening of the language barrier splashed right into my face. A quick realization of technology aided in what was one of the wildest cab rides to an apartment I rented near Santa Croce square. Stepping out onto Via San Cristofano, a friendly older man peered out the window and yelled out “Ciao Jessica, that is you?!” I murmured back with what was an ugly compilation of oui and si.
He couldn’t had been more friendly, opposite of what I had experienced just moments before. Dragging my close to 50lb suitcase up two flight of stairs, his wife who was the postcard Italian women, awaited in the door of my small studio. It was just what I would need for the short time in Florence— a bed, closet, humble bathroom, and a small terrace. (I had arrived before my husband, who was coming to join me for a two week vacation.) Settling in, I was ready to eat.
Rarely do I research on where to go in a city, but where to eat is an entire different topic. An endless list of cafes and restaurants, and one that I had my eye on just so happened to be two blocks away. As the rain started to fall, I made my way to Cucina Torcicoda arriving moments before it opened. Finally the doors open, I came in, half apologizing for coming in soaked. I took a table by the window, with a perfect view down the street looking at the Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze.
I felt like I had envisioned this very moment a thousand times. Or perhaps it was the scene from the movie Eat Pray Love where Julia eats her first pizza in Italy. Either way, I came for the pizza. One part cucina and one part pizzeria, this small place seated every table in the house within 45 minutes of sitting down. With a glass of red wine in hand, as the rain dripped down the window, the pizza arrived. Steaming with a proper crust spotted with charcoal, the fresh burrata and ham could be smelled in the air. I went at it with my hands, like most, and kindly was reminded that the fork and knife were left on the table for a reason. The urgency to taste the pizza could be heard across the room as I scraped the knife across the plate. I looked around, realizing that it didn’t matter, and took my first bite.
It was everything that I imagine, and though to myself, “this is Italy.”