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Thursday, September 20, 2018

An Italian in Hyde Park

By Francesca Gottardi

Last August I left home – Italy – and moved to Hyde Park. Love and learning motivated my choice. I moved in with my boyfriend and started a study experience at the University of Cincinnati – College of Law.

Francesca Gottardi at U.C.
I immediately felt comfortable in the neighborhood. Its European-style piazza surrounded by cafés, restaurants and shops vaguely reminded me of my hometown. 

What I love about Hyde Park is that much is at a walking distance. In Italy, I tend to walk or bike everywhere or to rely on public transportation. I thought this would not work well in the U.S. Although this is generally true, in Hyde Park I can easily reach restaurants, cafés or shops on foot to satisfy my needs. 

Hyde Park Square as seen by Francesca 
One thing I like doing in the summer is going to the farmers’ market in the Square. My initial impression when I first went was, “Wow, this reminds me of Europe so much!” The little piazza, surrounded by espresso  cafés and teeming with people strolling and browsing through the fresh produce at the market immediately made me feel home. In addition to that, the very first time I went to the market I visited a stand where an Italian couple sold amazing Italian products. This also helped me feeling home in the U.S. right away. 

Here Awakenings seems very European!
One of my favorite places in the square is Awakenings, a cozy café where I always go when I am missing home. There, I can have a great espresso and either study, socialize or enjoy the live music on weekends. After a while going to Awakenings, the place became familiar and it is a great opportunity to exchange a few words with the other habitués. 

My days are punctuated by the St. Mary church bells that ring every half hour and hour. This also reminds me of the alpine village where I am from, where life is dictated by the rhythm of the church bells. I also enjoy going to the service, as the sense of community is very strong. 

The Echo for Francesca is a very American eatery.
A place I really like is The Echo. To me it represents the American diner of the movies, where I can have a good hearty breakfast to start the day on weekends. The Echo gives me a cozy and personal feeling that is sometimes hard to find in the U.S., where big food franchise restaurants rule. There is the anticipation of waiting in line in a Saturday sun to get a seat in the restaurant. My preferred spot is one at the counter, where I most feel like a part of a true American diner experience.

Peeking through the cherry blossoms in Ault Park 
Finally, Ault Park is where I go to decompress. My favorite thing to witness is the view from the top of the hill in spring time when the Japanese cherry blossoms are in full bloom – Sakura is the Japanese word for it. They fill me with joy! Another of my favorite activities is walking on the trails around the park - it is so peaceful! A must-see is the view of the setting sun from atop the Ault Park Pavilion. Red and orange hues melt together in the sky, and the sight of it is truly breathtaking.

Life for an Italian in Hyde Park has been welcoming, new with a familiar feel for me, and hopefully will bring more new pleasant discoveries in the future!

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