Saturday, September 1, 2012

The First of Firenze

FYI- this post is REALLY long.

Hey everyone! Sorry I haven’t given an update since I have been in Florence! First let me say, I am OBSESSED with this city. Everything about it is absolutely wonderful so far. We have probably walked around the entire city like 3 or 4 times—like at least 15 miles. Here is an update:

Wednesday: We flew all night and I didn’t really sleep. The cool French couple I sat by went to the bathroom several times and talked most of the night. I was SO tired when we landed! Going through customs and security I met a bunch of cool students going to Florence as well! I ended up getting Starbucks (for like $9!!) and playing every card game imaginable with some new friends during our four-hour layover. When we landed I was feeling really nervous and overwhelmed, but I was so very grateful to my awesome family and friends that woke up to pray for me when I landed! I got to Florence around 2 pm local time. We got off the plane a small bus took us to the airport baggage claim. Also, it was like 74827895894 degrees out. WHAT?? We got our luggage and were thrust into a sea of people waving signs and calling out names. I found Study Abroad Italy (SAI) after a few minutes. We were driven to our apartments by some really nice Italian guys in their twenties. We chatted a little in Italian and the driver bought us all botled water, which was SO appreciated! It was pretty scary being on the European streets for the first time since high school. I forgot how dangerous they seem! People just fly down the tiny roads and don’t care how close the other cars are. Ahhh! My apartment is up 83 stairs in the high end fashion district (more on my apartment later!), and all of my roommates were already there when I got in! It was awesome!! We walked to get our pre-ordered cell phones and found a super cute little ma and pop panini shop. We each got one, picked up some wine, and had a wonderful first dinner at home! We met with a guy who is a SAI affiliate and he explained a lot of the stuff in our apartment. Super helpful! We were all exhausted so we passed out around 10.

Thursday: Our first full day in the city! We woke up early and went to orientation. SAI talked a lot about what to do and expect in Italy. It was super boring but important information. My roommates and I walked across the Arno Rive to less touristy side of the city. We walked down a few streets and found an area with no other tourists! It was all Italian and all authentic. We ate lunch at a cute restaurant (with only other Italians) and had yummy pasta! We went back and had our second orientation. The jet lag and pasta was too much for Hayley and I—we fell asleep in the middle of the presentation. Whoops! I then went and took my Italian placement test. I CANNOT believe I passed, it was quite difficult! That was the first time I walked by myself in Florence. I walked home a new way and didn’t even get lost! We went to a free dinner put on by SAI that night. They had yummy small appetizers, champagne and tiramisu. We talked with the VP of SAI for about an hour. He is really cool and had so many tips and suggestions for us. He also has many connections to Baylor and Texas. We walked home and relaxed for a while. I discovered the art of people watching from our huge, gorgeous windows. The shutters open all the way with no screens. All of my roommates and I LOVE to rest our elbows on ledge and just walk everyone walk and ride by. It is fascinating. There are people from all age groups and ethnicities going down our street all the time! It really is magical to just observe the life pulsing below us. Our street also echoes like crazy so we can hear people’s conversations below us nearly perfectly. 

Friday: This was our first day to do what we pleased! We woke up to some really heavy rain and a city that had cooled off immensely. It felt so great not be constantly sweating.  I walked a few doors down the street and had a yummy pastry and macchiato for breakfast. My roommates met me there, and four of the five of us had to change a class. We trekked to the school building and filled out the class change paperwork. Next we went to the supermercato to buy things like milk, breakfast bars and nutella. Then we went to the San Lorenzo Market, which was INCREDIBLE! There are probably like 50 different little stalls all selling different pastas, bread, fruits, vegetables, cheeses and wines. We bought fresh fruits and tomatoes from a sweet lady named Maria. She let us try all of the fruit we wanted before we bought it and I got a huge bag of various fresh produce for only 4 euros! I also bought some fresh mozzarella and pesto from a cheese vendor and some bread. After our long morning out and carrying heavy groceries across the city, we all wanted to relax for a while! Hayley and I finally unpacked our room. We went out to a chic Italian outdoor café. We each ordered a drink and got to eat from a free appetizer buffet! We came back to the apartment and caught up with friends and family at home. At midnight, we went to the “secret bakery” that sells DELICIOUS hot and fresh pastries out the back door. It is unlabeled and you pay in cash. To order, you knock on the door and someone peaks their head out. You wait several minutes and then they come back with your steaming treats. I had a croissant filled with chocolate. YUMMMM!! We people watched and went to sleep at 3 am.

Saturday: Today! We planned to wake up and pop over to Pisa to eat a quick picnic lunch. We woke up to a downpour and decided against the idea. We made a yummy lunch of fresh bread, pesto, tomato and mozzarella and ate at home instead. This afternoon, Hayley, Ashtyn and I ventured out into Florence by ourselves. We walked SO far—literally a big circle around our whole side of the Arno! We walked through some gorgeous piazzas and gardens, and also some residential areas that aren’t very interesting or accessible to tourists. We bought gelato twice on our 2 hour 45 minute walk. YUMMMMM!!! I forgot how absolutely delicious it is. I guess I will have to get it every day now…. Tonight we made dinner as roomies. We had a yummy vegetable and potato dish and some pesto spaghetti. It was delicious!! Then we had some bread with nutella for dessert and chatted all night.

Pictures of all of this to come!! Look out on Facebook for updates soon :)

I have had the best time in the world so far. Each and every one of my roommates is so fun and sweet. We all get along quite well. I can’t wait to show all of you more of the amazing wonders of this city! Fino alla prossima volta i miei amici. Ciao!!

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