If you haven’t read any of my other blogs, you may not know that I love Europe and hope to marry into royalty to get EU citizenship (and some crown jewels of course). Normally, when I want to be European, I wear my purple-knit beret when it’s cold out, eat chocolate croissants and crepes at Carma’s and Belgian waffles at Dominion Ice Cream, and if I’m really motivated, I fais la grève (strike) about the lack of AC in the AMRs like the French (just kidding!).
Last week, that wasn’t cutting it, so I decided to study abroad next semester. Unfortunately, I’m already enrolled in all my classes and those last minute flights to Europe are just so darn expensive (and the Charm City Circulator is completely free and doesn’t have a carbon footprint like planes do), so I decided to just study for a few hours in Little Italy, Baltimore instead. Armed with some books, I decided to go straight to a cafe and get some studying done. However, I got a little sidetracked along the way.
One of the reasons I normally get sidetracked is because I have a horrible sense of direction. To avoid this, I went to the Baltimore Visitor Center. This is a great resource even if you aren’t a visitor because they have lots of information about Baltimore, coupons, free tours of the area, and a great, free map of Little Italy. I would definitely suggest getting one because they are really pretty and it really find interesting things in the Inner Harbor.
After I visited the Visitor Center, I started to walk over to Little Italy. However, I couldn’t help but stop and notice the pretty fresco-type artwork.
Even though those lovely frescoes might have had some subliminal messaging, I tried to stay focused and find a cafe to get some studying done. It was very hard though. Little Italy has lots of boards pronouncing the food available at their restaurants. When it gets towards dinnertime, you’ll see lots of people outside their restaurants encouraging you to come in and try their food (and if you’re skilled in the art of bartering, you can even get cheaper food– when I went here with a friend, we got free dessert!).
As I continued to walk around the neighborhood, there were lots of people on their stoops (oops, they call them front steps in Baltimore) talking and chatting. It was very fun to walk around. I even learned some Italian from process of elimination on the chalkboards; I learned that “have a good meal” is “buon appetito” and “insalata” is salad. The pronunciation- I’m still a little unsure.
I decided to look for an interesting place to take my parents when they come to visit. I walked around the neighborhood and got very confused when I saw Max’s Empanadas. But, never fear- even though the cuisine is Argentinian, the owner is half-Italian.
I got averted from studying once again by this sign.
Apparently, Nancy Pelosi used to live in Little Italy with her father, the former mayor of Baltimore. I was curious about other people that lived in Baltimore, so I pulled out my Baltimore history guide from the Visitor Center and apparently Babe Ruth, Emily Post (the queen of politeness), and Michael Phelps were all born in Baltimore!
Since I considered that a considerable amount of studying for a summer day, I then decided to walk back to the Inner Harbor to go home, but I was sidetracked by the bocce courts. I wanted to play a game of bocce, but unfortunately no one was there to play with me and that was the only day I forgot to put my bocce ball in my bag. I talked to a man for a little bit and he said that the games get pretty rowdy after dinnertime.
After all that sightseeing, I got pretty hungry. I was about to turn around and go to Max’s Empanada’s. However, my mind was swayed when I saw restaurant with my favorite quote.
I walked inside Vaccaro’s and instantly, S Club 7′s “Never Had a Dream Come True” popped into my head. It’s filled with cannolis, tirasmisu, cookies, cakes, and gelato. Since it was a hot summer day, I settled for a mint chocolate chip gelato. It was delicious. Needless to say, the lyrics to the song still ring true.
1). For some reason, I am persuaded to do things by street signs.
2). If you’re itching to go to Italy, you can go to Little Italy for a much cheaper and quicker journey. You don’t have to worry about culture shock (or reverse culture shock when you return), exchanging money or credits, or finding an apartment. And this is one of many cultural neighborhoods in Baltimore, so you have lots of options of where to study.
“On an evening in Roma!”
-JHU “Non capisco italiano” Kate T.