The Largest Pizza in the World

…is what I promised myself, whispered while also making a whole host of promises to God (to be more selfless, to attend church twice a week), if ever I escaped the hellish aluminum contraption known as an airplane. I really hate flying. No, like really, really hate flying. If you ever suffer the misfortune of flying have the chance to fly with me, you’ll likely experience one of three outcomes:

1) If it’s a smooth flight from takeoff to landing, I’ll put on a brave face and you’ll think that I am just another normal person.
2) If there’s light turbulence, I’ll probably look up in alarm from my book and whisper “I really don’t like flying.” You’ll probably still think I’m pretty normal, if a bit prone to anxiety.
3) If there is moderate turbulence for a prolonged period of time (>5 min), or severe turbulence for any amount if time, I will sink down into my seat, grab the arm rests on either side, look wildly about, and tell you, “I hate flying,” over and over again. Then, I will start cursing the incompetent pilot (because, really, shouldn’t they be able to avoid turbulence and other unforeseeable events?) and probably start praying. You’ll think I’m a crazy person. And you’ll probably be right.

The last time I encountered this kind of turbulence on a plane (prolonged, moderate turbulence), I was also on a plane between European countries. I was clutching my mom’s arm and sending up prayers, as my sister and dad slept soundly across the aisle. This time, though, surrounded by strangers that didn’t speak English (my lovely friend Kat left for home today), I thought I was done for.

Luckily for me, the Italian couple to my right happened to speak a bit of English, and were extremely kind to me. They saw that I was struggling a bit (the “I hate flying” mantra may have alerted them), and talked to me throughout all of the turbulence, asking me questions about my Europe trip, and telling me about their own lives to keep my mind off of the plane. It turns out that the lady just 2 seats to my right teaches private pastry lessons in Pisa! We talked about cake decorating, making macarons, and the cupcake trend flooding America – and, apparently, Europe as well.

Even in the midst of my fear, it was a really touching moment for me. I was reminded of how many genuinely nice people there are in the world. And it’s not at all like I was surrounded by terrible people this week. It’s just that, sometimes in the hustle and bustle of scurrying around – traveling, sightseeing, even in my everyday life – I feel like I forget to slow down and appreciate the amazing people around me. People I have met, people I am meeting, people I will meet…they all help shape my life, and it’s something that I don’t ever want to forget.

While I remember, I want to say thanks to all of you – family, friends, stumbleuponers – for reading my blog and keeping up with how I’m doing. I especially want to thank the Goliard Board, for making this view possible:

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(Whoops on the picture quality…taken on the moving bus to Florence)

After settling into my hotel in Florence I did finally get my pizza:

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Sorry, I was really hungry, and forgot to take a picture when it first arrived.

And, of course, dinner wouldn’t be complete without dessert – strawberries and gelato! Refreshingly delicious and just what I needed after a long traveling day.

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(I know it’s only one, but don’t worry, I ate three chocolate éclairs for breakfast)

Tomorrow, check in to see how I fare as I take on the gelaterias of Florence!

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