Ciao amici Americani (Hello American friends)! I have been in Florence for less than 3 days and I already have so much to share with you all already. Everything from my apartment, roommates, clubs, my school program, and attempting to speak in Italiano.
I arrived safely in Frankfurt, Germany after an 11 hour flight from San Francisco International Airport. Once we got into Frankfurt, Brianna and I felt like we were walking in circles as we went through customs and security again. (Very confusing airport for future reference). Our flight had a bunch of gate changes but luckily our flight was delayed.. twice. At the gate, there were about 20-30 other students in my program. This ended up being awesome since our flight into Florence was detoured to Bologna, Italy. Lufthansa (the airline) provided a bus ride about an hour and a half into Firenze where we then met with the program leaders at the airport. We all waited about an hour and a half for cabs to take us to our apartments. Originally, I was landing in Florence at 2pm but I arrived at my apartment closet to 8pm – it was a long day.
Once in my taxi to with 2 other CAPA students, the first song on the radio was Closer by the Chainsmokers. I swear that song follows us Boulder peeps. The boy from Indiana University in the cab with me asked if Boulder kids freak out when we hear that song. Well we used to and now its in Italy which was ironic cause I told my mom I was going to freak out if I heard it here.
Solid 24 hours of traveling later, I arrived at my apartment. My actual roommate, Victoria, is also a student from CU and the other 2 girls, Molly and LeAnn, are from Merrimack College in Massachusetts! I was the last one to get there because of my delays and to my surprise, the apartment was incredible (minus carrying a 40 pound suitcase up 3 flights of stairs) but they helped me with my carry on and tote!
My roommates are truly great and the apartment was not a wooden Italian shoebox like I was expecting. It was better than anything I could have drawn up. I will post more pictures later but it is super cute and modern with wood floors, a towel heater, even painted ceilings in our rooms. We live above a café, which we have already befriended the owner. He liked that I was close to San Francisco! Across from us is a 1950s themed American Diner and Chinese restraurant but doubt I’ll be trying that anytime soon haha.
Our apartment kitchen.
After some paperwork, the girls and I headed out to grab some dinner together for the first night. We went to a restaurant close to the Duomo where we toasted to the next 3 and a half months of our lives. Felt totally surreal to say the least. Our waiter served us limonchello and an Italian boy walked over asking us in broken english to go out because he was dared (LOL). We should have said yes.
Saturday morning, our orientation was 9am sharp. CAPA provided us with walking directions to the hotel which was super helpful. It was very hectic due to a lot of excitement and hellos. A lot of people knew each other from coming together or the fact that there are 85 CU students in a program of 170.
The orientation consisted of safety guidelines, class schedules, meeting the CAPA staff, and trying to figure out Italian sim cards for our phones. We had an hour break until we began the walking tour so myself and 5 other girls found a bar with pizza and paninis to spend this time at. The program broke off into groups for different CAPA Staff, my walking tour was lead by Valentina. She showed us the the Duomo, Piazza della Repubblica, the Arno River, and the Uffizi. I was very familiar with these places since I had been with my parents already but it was super fun to listen and see other students reactions to the overwhelming, beautiful city.
In the Piazza della Repubblica, a man began to sing and play guitar into a microphone and it was Hallelujah in English. Our walking tour halted to listen to him finish as some of us sang along. His voice was amazing and took over the piazza. This moment made the first afternoon in Firenze a welcoming one.
Molly, LeAnn, and I walked down to a phone store close to our apartment to figure out our phone situation. The employees spoke very little English so it was time to really use the little Italian I know. I explained that we were students, we lived close, and explained that I was learning Italian. They set us all up within 20 minutes. Still not 100% sure what I signed up for but wifi is good until I do (sorry, mom).
From there, Victoria and I met up with 10 other CAPA students to go to a restaurant called Corte Dei Pazzi. There wasn’t room for 12 of us so we split into 2 tables of 6. Our waiter Niccolo, who we also believed to be the owner identified as “half-American.” He lived in New Hampshire for a little bit but grew up in Florence. His English was practically perfect. I ordered gnocchi in a sweet pepper cream – delizioso! (But I think I’ve decided that I don’t really like gnocchi in general). Antipasta, 2 bottles of chianti, and limonchello later and we were there for 3 hours.
There was a large table in front of us which happened to be Niccolo’s daughter. She was celebrating her 15th birthday and they popped prosecco for her and her friends. They sang to her in Italian and then asked us to sing to her in English, which of course we did loud and proud.
Following dinner, we headed to our friends apartment around the corner and got ready to go out. We settled on a club called Space which let students in for free until 1am. Take note that I am usually in bed by 11pm and not one of us got more than a few hours of sleep in the last 2 days.
This club was super fun because although there were many American students, especially from CAPA and Boulder, I’ve never used so much Italian in my life. We had a blast dancing to songs from 2007 (yes they played Low which took me right back to middle school dances)- so much so that we didn’t leave until 4am. (Not okay with my grandma-in-bed-by-11-with-a-lavender-neck-pillow lifestyle). No sleep was traded for a fantastic first night out in Florence.
This morning (Sunday) we had a tour that led up to Piazza Michelangelo which overlooks the entire city of Florence. My roomates and I thought that we were meeting at our program center but missed the memo that we were meeting at Santa Croce, a church we didn’t know how to get to. Due to a tight schedule they left without us. Attempting to track them down lead to beating them by an hour and a half to the piazza. The stairs to get up there was the most cardio I’ve done in months and our friends had our jackets so we were literally chilled to the bone but the view was beyond worth it.
Victoria, Molly, LeAnn and I at Piazza Michelangelo.
After finding our crew of friends, we again lost the tour but for the better. We took our time taking pictures and found ourselves in another restaurant with unbelievable ambiance. My friend Caden ordered a pizza, I’ll let you see for yourself: (prosciutto, basil, and a fried egg).
Is your mouth watering yet? I wanted to order it myself.
After lunch we walked to famous Ponte Vecchio where a woman was singing and playing guitar in the center. The golden hour was hitting as she sang Bob Marley. It was a pretty great “Wow, I live here” moment. She had a notebook for passer-bys to sign. I’d never seen this before. She had a sign at her feet that read, “The money arrives and goes off but one day I will be old and tired. Your comment will be in order always.”
I came home to rest for what literally felt like the first time I even sat down. Busy, busy, busy but all in a good way. I uploaded pictures, texted friends and my parents, and rested until Victoria and I went to get pizza later.
We went to a place nearby our apartment called Livio. It was super aesthetic and rustic Italian decor. They didn’t speak much english but attempted to speak with us. They took our picture for their Facebook page, leaving me with the impression that they recently opened. I ordered a pizza which was handmade in front of me with black olives, mozzarella, artichoke, ham, and mushrooms. Another fantastic meal even though we did “take away” and ate it in our dining room. We will be back very soon.
Now I’m sitting in my bed trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I will live here for the next 3 and a half months. Its still surreal and everyone feels like we are just at for camp for 2 weeks.
There is a little bit of culture shock like eggs not being refrigerated, wine being cheaper than water, and realizing I never really learned how to convert kilos to pounds (theres an app for everything) but all in all it has been a fantastic time so far.
Classes start tomorrow but Victoria and I don’t start until Tuesday (Yay for 4 day weekends!!) so we are definitely sleeping in! Next Saturday we are going on a group wine tour outside of Florence which should be super fun!
Grazie per aver letto (thanks for reading)!!