Nº. 1 of  15

sarah beth pagani

a semester in Firenze, Italia

Your words were found, and I ate them, and they became to me the delight of my heart. Jer. 15:16

Don’t give up on me just yet. I promise there will be something to read by the end of this week… I am just lovin’ America too much right now!

Well y’all, today marks the final week here in Florence, Italy. I am currently inside of a rented apartment awaiting the arrival of my family. Can hardly wait to see their faces…’bout to pee my pants!

We will spend two nights here in Florence before continuing on to the Chianti hillsides for 5 days. Should be interesting to watch my brother function without a cellphone.

It’s been one hell of a semester and gone by all too fast. I am sad to leave a thousand +1 things here…most of which I will list once I am finally  home and Florence seems much like a dream.

If you don’t hear from me in the next couple days it’s because I have reunited with my other half. I’m not signing off quite yet…for those of you who care. 



For awhile I have been debating whether or not to upload a picture of Nino and Gabriella. A lot of you have conjured up a mental image of what these two look like and I think it’s almost better that you continue to go along with that.

They are precious humans who accurately fit the Italian stereotype. Nino’s eyes are always smiling and Gabriella’s attitude is always upbeat. One of my favorite things about coming home at the end of the day is making my way into the kitchen that Gabriella spends endless amounts of time in. I knock on the door and she greets me with a smile, asking me how my day was and never forgetting to mention her thoughts on the current weather forecast. I say it’s hot and she says it’s cold and we laugh and agree to disagree for it never seizes to amaze her that I find no need for a sweater while out and about in the city.

I ask her what she is making as the smell of Italian cuisine has already filled the house from end to end. We discuss the preparation process for her chosen recipe and when the conversation begins to run flat, I slowly began to back away muttering things like, “Bene…Allora…Bene…Allora” which in English is the equivalent of saying “Alright…well…” Before I make my exit she offers me some tea which I gratefully accept and then retreat to my room till Taylor and I receive the knock for dinner.

Every evening. 5:30-6pm. This exact scenario takes place.

While it may not seem too memorable, I can’t help but think that months/years prior to my semester in Italy, I never would have thought this would be my day to day life. And though it’s just a fraction of what I do here, time spent with Gab will be one of my most cherished memories about Florence. She took Taylor and I in on nothing but faith that we would be decent human beings and made us part of her life instantaneously.

The other night, Taylor and I were the only two to remain at the table after dinner had finished. We sat there next to Gabriella and continued to talk…answering questions and asking them. Gab promised to set aside some time on Friday to help me translate her favorite recipes into English. She has a binder PACKED with handwritten recipes…a “Holy Grail” of Italian greatness. I scanned through absolutely amazed at how much work went into this ancient pile of words.

But soon silence fell over us and out of nowhere, for the first time, Gabriella said, “I am sorry.” Confused, Taylor and I asked why and she quickly corrected herself realizing her misuse of the English language.

"I am sad" she said.

We were too. She continued, “Whenever I say goodbye, I like to always say, ‘I will see you later.’ I don’t like to think of not seeing you again. So I say, ‘see you again.’ “

We agreed and continued to sit in silence while scanning over the past four months in our heads. With a promise to write often and a bid ‘goodnight’, Taylor and I once again retreated back into our own room inside the Pagani home and spent the remainder of the night in awe of how blessed we were to have been placed with a family such as the Paganis.

Film Fotos.

I think I’ll call this series…. "TAYLOR"

The Italian Stare Down.

I don’t know if y’all remember my post awhile back regarding the typical Italian woman’s grief towards sharing a sidewalk but this post shall be a continuation.

Unfortunately, I have no photographic evidence to accompany this post but you’ll have to take me at my word.


When approaching an Italian woman (typically older ones) on the street, you gotta be prepared. There is no room for insecurity around these parts. As an American or uh, I don’t know…a polite human, my intention is not to stare back but when these women have their eyes locked on you so intensely, you can’t help but stare back out of sheer bewilderment.

You see her coming towards you and her eyes meet yours. She stares at you up and down. Up and down. Is it out of disgust? Is she offended? Is she just ill mannered? No one knows.

It is at this point that I kid you not, their eyes do not leave your eyes and/or figure until a point is reached when she can no longer see you from her peripheral vision. If Italian women could turn their heads 360degrees, I am sure their lives would be a whole lot easier…the 180degrees their heads normally turn is just simply not enough.

And listen, I don’t walk around this city in a mini skirt and platforms… nor do I wear crop tops or low-cutters. They just stare. Granted I almost always have gigantic headphones on my head…this may give them a reason to stare but even so, I am not the only one who notices it.

As for the men and their wandering eyes…well they’re men.

So here is your forewarning: It’s deadly…and if you’re not expectant: IT’LL GETCHA.

Can’t ya just smell the pretty coming off these blossoms?

Can’t ya just smell the pretty coming off these blossoms?

MTV in Piazza Santa Croce

I had heard from several of my classmates that something big was going on in Piazza Santa Croce; a square not too far from my school. Rumors started swirling that a celebrity-attended event would be held there within the next couple days. As talk progressed, the supposed celebrity-attended event turned into the MTV TRL Awards* and many began saying that musicians like Eminem, Rihanna, Katy Perry would be present with a performance by Lady Gaga…cool, right? False.

The first thing that went through my head is why on earth an event such as this would be held in Piazza Santa Croce in Florence, Italy. I mean, Florence is beautiful, yes, but not exactly a top choice among event destinatons that want to attract our generation…such as the MTV TRL Awards. Secondly, I couldn’t care less about Lady Gaga…Eminem & Rihanna, yes…but Gaga, no.

Sure enough, the square was buzzing with workers as a large stage was being assembled. Tents with the MTV TRL logo were spread throughout where Italians and tourists alike were gawking at the preparation process. While getting a closer look at what was going on, I read the graphics on a tent where a list of attendees was posted. Any sign of American-musician greatness was nowhere to be read and therefore I didn’t attend the event having never heard of bands like Grido, Dragonette, and Marracash.

*MTV TRL Awards = Music Television Total Request Live Awards: A popular award ceremony in the U.S. that brings together the most popular musicians…similar to The Grammys…but not.

8 days : 19 hours : 21 minutes till my annoying family gets here.


I may or may not have made up the word ‘BUTTI’ but  the Italian word ‘TUTTI’, pronounced Too-Tee, means “everything” while the intended meaning of ‘BUTTI’ is…BEAUTY.



Nº. 1 of  15