Benvenuti a Firenze!

These first ten days in Florence have been such a whirlwind! I started my first ever travel journal about four days into my stay. Catching up on four days’ worth of my trip when I got the journal took longer than expected, but I’m glad that I’ll have something to look back on to remember everything that I did throughout the semester. That is, besides this column and the many photographs that I’ll be taking!

My trip began with a bit of a rocky start from New Jersey. It started when the second leg of my flight from Munich to Florence was cancelled just a few minutes before I stepped out of my front door to head to the airport. Since I hadn’t left home yet, I decided not to even attempt facing off with the snow in Germany and instead, rescheduling my flight for the following day. The awesome part was that I was one-hundred percent packed and ready to go, so I got to enjoy one more relaxed evening with my family. The next minor setback happened when my carry-on was apparently too big for the second flight to be a brought on board as a carry on (but it was fine for the first flight – go figure). It was sent away to be boarded onto the plane with the rest of the luggage, except that it never made it from Frankfurt to Florence, which I found out once I got to Florence. Being well-prepared came in handy here, as I simply gave them the school post office address and received my carry on the very next morning. After that, all I had to “deal with” was the rain here, which wasn’t nearly as complicated.

One of the best things about studying abroad in Europe is how easy it is to visit other cities within Europe. What weekend trips should I plan? Where should I go for spring break? What day trips should I take? These questions have been nonstop among all of the students since I arrived, and I am certainly partaking as well! I have my bucket list and will be certainly be writing about each adventure. My first trip is already planned! Within 48 hours of arriving in Florence, my three roommates, two other peers, and I already booked our weekend in Venice for Carnevale coming up in the middle of February. What better weekend to travel to Venice than one when it is well known that the streets are crowded beyond belief? I’m sure that there will be pros and cons with traveling to Venice during the opening weekend of Carnevale, but regardless, it will certainly be an experience that I will never forget!

Speaking of experiences: I got to eat dinner in a palace! Thankfully, this event did not require a ball gown, because that definitely would not have fit in my suitcase or my budget. The Palazzo Borghese was absolutely gorgeous. From the outside, the building seems fairly ordinary, with only a very large door distinguishing it from the surrounding buildings; which is saying something, because the entrance doors here are usually very tall and skinny. Once inside though, the chandeliers glimmered, paintings decorated the ceilings, and statues and mirrors lined the walls. There was such an aura of royalty. This makes me wonder what other gems are hidden inside all aof the ancient buildings here.

After my first week of classes, which simply flew by, I took my first tour here in Florence: a tour of the bridges of Florence. This was the first day during my stay that it did not rain; it was great to see sunshine! Needless to say, this was a perfect opportunity to be touristy around the city and take a lot of pictures! It was fascinating to hear about the history of the bridges, their countless reconstructions, and details about their architecture. Over the course of the weekend, I also did some exploring of my own. One of my biggest discoveries was that getting lost is how you find some of the best places. This is how I found the leather market, an organic supermarket, a section of the city with all of the high-end stores that you could possibly imagine, and a little pizza place that is open well into the night, which has absolutely delicious pizza. Now the goal is to find at least one of the secret bakeries hidden around the city!