Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Fabled Secret Bakery Exists!!

In the first week of my new life in Florence, I heard about it: The Secret Bakery. Students from my university would proclaim loudly about how their late night rendesvous ended at this bakery. What makes the pastries from this bakery different from any other in Florence is that it opens at 2 a.m. and is completely impossible to find. It caters to those students returning from nights of revelry and debauchery whose sole desire in the world is a late night snack, and because Italian's don't belive in 24 hours this bakery provides the perfect solution. The thing is, though, only certain people know how to find it. It is a secret, and not a very well kept one. All the American students know about The Secret Bakery; its just a matter of finding it. During that first week I started to hear from friends that they'd gone and enjoyed the freshly baked gooey goodness of an Italian pastry in the late hours of the night on their way home from partying.

"Where is it?" I'd ask.
"I dunno," was always the reply, "Somewhere near the Santa Croce, I think."

How discouraging is that? Week after week I asked questioned my friends hoping to find the whereabouts of this bakery. Soon enough almost everyone I knew had been to the Secret Bakery and I hadn't. When I found out that Casalinga had gone, I was desperate. It seemed to me that going to the Secret Bakery was an integral part of the Study Abroad Florence experience. By mid-semester, I'd devised a plan. Have you ever watched Beerfest? In that movie, there is a scene where the American Beer Team is trying to find the place where the secret Beerfest games take place, in the heart of Munich. Two people had gone the year before, but couldn't remember how to locate the place, when one of the team members suggests that perhaps they would remember better if they got drunk, since they were drunk when they went in the first place. This was my plan. I would get my friends drunk hoping they would remember the way. My nights out with them always ended this way:

"Wanna go to the Secret Bakery?"
"Shoore, dooo you knoow how to gat there?" slurring.
"No, but you've been there before, right?"
"Yah, I jisst can't member how to gat there." more slurring.

I lost all hope in the Beerfest theory until last night. I'd lost all hope in ever getting to enjoy a hot pastry in the middle of the night. I went out with my friends for one last hoorah before we left Florence and the Secret Bakery wasn't even on my mind. All my roomates and apartment building friends, the guys, and some friends from school, went out together for our farewell party. The night wore on, we all got drunker, and at around 2:45 Casalinga, my Sculptor friend, Foto, two of my other friends, and I all decided we wanted to go home. We're walking (or at least trying to walk), laughing, and singing Shania Twain, when Foto looks at Casalinga and says: "I'm starved". SHE REMEMBERED! Apparently the guys from Beerfest have touched on a real scientific discovery. Drunk people CAN remember forgotten moments from previous drunken experiences.

When we got to the Secret Bakery I was giddy. We turned a corner and saw posted on the ancient walls signs, all reading SHUT THE FUCK UP OR LEAVE, basically. If you aren't completely and totally silent when you get to the Secret Bakery, people from the floors above will pelt you with water balloons. We turned another corner and saw a group of people with pastries and even pizzettes in their hands and none of them were making a sound. There was a line which my eyes followed to a closed iron door. In a few seconds it opened, revealing a stout Philipino woman proferring pastries, dripping with sugar and marmalade. I felt a screech of delight welling up in my chest and it took all of the will power remaining me in my drunkeness to not let it out. For 1.50 euro, I got my pastry. I made it to the Secret Bakery, and damn was it delicious.
Arrivederci, for now.
Love, Gabby

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