Sunday, March 14, 2010


I'm studying abroad. I'm in Italy exploring, discovering, experiencing, and seeing all of the things Florence is famous for and all of the things only those who live here could know. I'm getting to know the secrets of this town. Each of us who studies abroad here has found something or somwhere in this town that we think is really special. Whether it be a discount scarpe (shoe) store, a particularly beautiful street, or a cheap restaurant or wine bar, we’ve all got our own special spot. We feel connected to the place, like we know about something that others don’t. Somehow going to this spot once weekly, to a familiar place when we're living in a city where everything is fresh and new, creates an atmosphere around our special somwhere that makes it feel like it has something to offer that all of the others don't. I’ve got a lot of those places. I’ve gotten into the habit of dedicating myself to one gelateria and one gelateria only. Unless I’ve got an insatiable craving and my gelateria isn’t nearby, or unless all of my friends stop to get gelato somewhere else, I only go to one particular place around the corner from me. I get a cappucino in one tabacchi, generally speaking. I frequent the same nightclubs and bars (i.e. Sei Divino and Babilon). I get fresh fruit from one small market on the way to school every day and the man who works there knows my name. During school, I always go to the pizzeria down the street on my break and get myself a slice of Margherita. I’ve managed to find a lot of places in Florence that I love and just like every other study abroad student I feel pretty fucking cook when I go to those places and they know who I am.

There is a restaurant around the corner from me that has conquered the task of making into onto my special place list. Regginella is a quaint little Italian restaurant half a minute's walk from my apartment and it is truly a cookie-cutter, authentic Italian place. The menu features the same items I'd see on any Italian restaurant menu in Italy. I saw "in Italy" because the menu's in Italian restaurants in the United States are entirely different from the menu's here. I'll mention this a hundred times before I leave here, but alfredo sauce doesn't exist in Italy. Really. Somehow, though, it feels different to me to eat at Regginella than to eat at any of the other joints around Florence. The food is cheap, well-made, and quick; these are all qualities in a restaurant I value. That isn’t what makes this place so different, though. The house wine is also cheap and its of a relatively fine quality. Sure, I enjoy this in my restaurants, but cheap, good wine is something I can locate pretty much anywhere in Florence. This includes the post office. I have been to a post office here in Florence that has sold me cheap, good quality wine. I’ve done some serious restaurant shopping here and Regginella is one of the only restaurants that really stands out to me. Why? I decided I was really going to tackle this question because I want to understand what exactly makes Regginella such a favorite. It isn’t just me who loves the place in this manner, either. I’ve discovered that I’m not the only one that feels like Regginella is the place I want to go after a really long day at school. I frequent this place with my roommates Selvaggia, Benny Lava, and Sway, and I've gone here more than once with the boys Selvaggia and I are so close with. I've gone here with alot of my apartment builing freinds, too. Reflection on the place has become a must.

My conclusion is that the Regginella service is the ingredient that really brings the place together. I went there two times and they had already pegged me as a regular, taking time to get to know my face and my name. I live around the corner and they see me walk past when I’m on my way to pick up some groceries or drop my trash in the bins. Here in Italy the garbage service is made the responsibility of the residents. We have to take out our own trash and the nearest place to get rid of mine requires me to walk past Regginella. I'm always walking by in my sweatpants, unmatching, and the servers are never too embarrassed to shout “Gabby!” and call me over. They tell me about their day and to ask me to come by later in the evening. I look forward to walking past because all three of them have superb taste in music. I can expect to hear artists like Biggy, Billy Idol, and Beyonce when I go by.

There are three servers who work in this restaurant who’ve gotten to know me. I understand now that their amicability and liveliness will be something I go home remembering as a part of my trip that really made me feel like I was a local. They take the time out of their busy workday to stop me and ask me how I am and what I’m up to. They have conversations with me, they treat me like a friend, and they give me the scoop on different things going on they think I might enjoy. They recommend places they love and want to share with me and always sit down at my table for five or ten minutes at a time to enjoy my company. These three servers are the reason I go to Regginella at least twice weekly. Sure, Regginella makes a mean pizza, but so does everywhere else in Florence. The staff are what makes this little place really worth my time. They give my friends and I free wine every single time we go there because they really just like us. We're always invited to hang out in the restaurant longer than we should because they want to hang out with us. They give me hugs and kisses when I walk through the door. I've danced with one of them on the street. They say "Ciao" and wave and me every time I see them and it makes me feel really fucking cool in front of all the people they are serving. Regginella is honestly "my spot". I'M A REGULAR SOMEWHERE IN FLORENCE!
I'm henceforth recommending this place to all my study abroad friends who are reading this blog. I know there are at least a few :) Regginella is located on Via del Giglio in the Piazza Madonna del Aldobranini, literally two minutes away from the Duomo. Study abroad is about integrating yourself into the community of Florence and eating at Regginella has really succeeding in making me feel like I’ve done so. You should all go eat at Regginella and feel that way, too. My dish of choice? Calzone. So good!
Arrivederci, for now.
Love, Gabby.

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