Lemon Fanta

I know I’ve promised my thoughts on Rome. I know I should report on yesterday’s adventure to Orvieto and Civita de Bagnoregio. I’ve kept this blog fairly light, but I should probably bust out something contemplative and deep one of these days.

But not today.

Today I’m going to talk about Lemon Fanta.

It’s a fizzy, flawless balance of tart and sweet. Its pale color can’t quite be termed yellow, only lemon. It has actual lemon juice in it, but in the same sense the lemonade I used to make at my aunt’s house after school as a kid had actual lemon juice in it — 10 percent juice and 90 percent sugar. And it’s available anytime I want it at the vending machine nook not far from our apartment.

Tim and I gave up pop (soft drinks, soda, whatever you want to call it) almost completely in the past year. It’s just pure sugar — and we’re both nuts for sugar but aware we should limit it at least a little. Soda’s out so ice cream and M&Ms and gummy worms can stay.

But oh, Lemon Fanta, you have broken my will.

I bought some on a whim our first night in Viterbo, tired and thirsty and charmed by the vending machine nook I found near the guest house we stayed in. (A side note on vending machine nooks: These are peppered around Viterbo and appear at first to be storefronts, but instead are little rooms that typically contain a vending machine for hot drinks, one for cold drinks, and one for candy and snacks. With my limited knowledge of the world, I have no clue if these exist elsewhere. But I hope so, because I love them.)

We were immediately hooked on that magical carbonated goodness. We try to ration it, treasure it, buying one can at a time to split … most of the time. It’s just so delicious.

Then, this afternoon, I realized something. When this is all over, I won’t be able to have Lemon Fanta anymore.

They don’t sell it in the U.S., and if they did they’d probably take out all the lovely juice and dye it the color of a freshly purchased highlighter.

This realization has put me into a strange state of pre-nostalgia for the things I’ll miss about this place when we leave. Cornetti from the caffe on the corner for breakfast. Fresh, thick yogurt from the latteria down the street. Salami Milano sliced and wrapped in paper. Un pezzo di pizza for lunch for €1.50, maybe €2 if I get one with toppings or go to the fancypants cafe with the fluffy crust. Kinder Pingui. Every single flavor of gelato.

Tonight’s dinner — cheese from the latteria by Porta Veritas, bread from the bakery by Fontana Grande, proscuitto from the salame shop on Via Garibaldi, produce from various markets.

OK, so right now it’s mostly food. We’ve only been here a week and half, and a good chunk of that has been attending USAC orientations, adjusting to our apartment, and taking whirlwind trips across this gorgeous country. Making friends has been slow, especially with the language barrier with the locals and my age difference from the other students. The food has been our anchor, the first thing to become a daily part of our lives.

It’s not perfect. Finding good peanut butter required a hike to the big supermarket across the city. We haven’t found bread we really love. The hot dogs here are either comically tiny or comically big. I assume there are taco stands somewhere in Italy, but not in Viterbo.

But these things are all part of the story, too.

Some of my friends who have experienced the FIDA program in the past have said you never stop wanting to go back to the place where you studied, and I can already see that’s going to be true.

The Lemon Fanta is the first of my attachments, but the tendrils of favorites and friendships here in Viterbo are starting to grow. This will be our home for six weeks. It’s going to stick with us forever.

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