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Italy is a fascinating beast that one holds in her heart and thinks about whenever dreaming of exciting romances, beautiful countryside, and an unquenching amount of history. Italy is love, is nature, is beauty. Italy is ravishing.
Naturally, you would expect me to start my blog of my travels the day I left, or perhaps even a few days before. But my study abroad experience was something more to me. I had so much going on in my life, a show had closed, I had lost someone close to me, I was ending my second year of college and off in the distance Italy called to me like a beacon. I had never been to Europe, and Italy evoked my curiosity at a young ago. It proved itself a culture that always fascinated me, ancient Romans, the beautiful Mediterranean and of course above all the food and wine. Rolling Tuscany flitted through my dreams at night as everyone around me continued to tell me, “You’ll love Florence”. I didn’t quite know it yet, but I was about to find my true first love. Who knew that it would be a city?
I hadn’t been to any of the events for the study abroad group (theatre life allows no time for any other extra curriculars) and I was going into this trip head on without any clue what to expect. I knew two people on the trip, my to-be roommate Austin, and Kelly, who was riding with me and my folks down to Miami for our flight. Two friends, one new country, and a lifetime of friendships and memories up next.
I had never flown before (my parents refuse), never been through airport security, and my first flight ever was overnight transcontinental. Needless to say, I was shaking in my boots. I sat next to Kelly and Dr. Cleary’s (one of the professors on the trip) wife. They talked me through take-off, along with about 500 text messages from my mother, kept me sane as my nerves skyrocketed. Once I realized I wasn’t going to die, I think I might have decided I actually enjoyed flying.
Our connecting flight from Zurich to Florence had some turbulence that legitimately made me cry tears of fear, but obviously the plane handles more than the people and we arrived safely in Florence.
Day One Had Begun.
As wonderful as American Institute of Foreign Study (AIFS) was for the rest of our trip, our arrival into Florence was COMPLETE chaos. Unfortunately for me and my other 4 roommates on our flight, my last name begins with a Z and we were the last group to get in a taxi to take us to our Florentine apartment. Take 100 something kids and teachers, and 1 taxi, and the streets of Florence, and you can say we waited in the airport, quite hangry, for around 3 hours. Putting that aside , we got to our apartment around 6 p.m., received our keys, and became enamored.
Three bedrooms and two bathrooms in an old Amphitheatre, we were on the top floor. 71 narrow steps up. Out of our window we see the Duomo, looking down there was a courtyard with a trattoria, and a breakfast café. Scooters were parked half-hazard next to the Star Chicken that our apartment resided above. Modern Culture mixed with ancient streets and buildings, and my heart beat with infatuation.
Across the street sat a man on his balcony drinking a beer. We would soon learn his name was Davide, and spoke absolutely no English.
Downstairs lived a pregnant woman with her mother, and across from her a man in his mid 50’s.
Our neighbors next door to us were two little old ladies who didn’t speak a lick of English either.
We waited for Austin to arrive, then celebrated our arrival at a little restaurant we never found again over pizza and wine.
I had found home.