My first week in Florence has been such a wonderful experience! After arriving on Monday, my days have been absolutely packed! (Read my previous blog post to catch up on my first day in Florence). Tuesday morning started off with complimentary breakfast at the top of the hotel Baglioni, with an incredible view of the Duomo. Then we had orientation sessions leading into the afternoon focused on housing and information relevant to the program. After taking a stroll through the streets of Firenze (Italian for Florence), my roommates and I were able to move into our home for the next four months!
Honestly, I was expecting our housing conditions to be pretty meager, but our apartment is actually quite modern and homey! I lucked out and got a single bedroom so I don't have to share my room with any of my 3 other roommates. But, even if I had gotten a double bedroom, sharing a room with any of my awesome roommates would have been absolutely fine! Later that day we had a guided city tour starting at Piazza San Lorenzo where we got to further explore the streets of Florence before heading to pizza night with the rest of the API family at O'Munaciello (which was my first taste of authentic Italian pizza -- pretty amazing, I might say!). Then to conclude our long day, my roommates and I took some beautiful sunset pictures on the Pointe Vecchio bridge a few blocks away from our apartment.
Wednesday, we started off the day at a local bakery and coffee shop. Then we went on a survival tour lead by a local Italian API faculty member in which we visited morning markets and a much larger indoor market filled with local meat and produce, as well as a range of restaurants on the second floor. Following that we went to a mandatory health and safety orientation featuring faculty and official representatives at the Odeon Firenze CineHall. This was our first interaction with other Lorenzo de'Medici students, and it also gave me a better understanding of what to do in emergencies and how to carry myself in social situations.
On Wednesday night we got to attend a cooking class where we learned how to make authentic Italian cuisine. We crafted caprese di melanzane (eggplant caprese), potato gnocchi, suggo alla sorrentina (sorrento sauce), ragu' alla bolognese (meat sauce bolognese) and tiramisu' -- all from scratch lead by our amazing instructor Nicoli. Following our delicious dinner, we watched the sunset at Piazza Michealangelo which towers over the city of Firenze. It was by far one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever scene.
Academic orientation with LdM advisers and student services was how we began our Thursday morning bright and early at 8:30am. Keep in mind we were running on a collective 10 hours of sleep in the past 3 nights (jet lag is really tough). But, we were able to see our full class schedules, look into school excursions and see a better visual map of our classrooms and the city. After the orientation, my roommates and I began searching for a nice local restaurant for lunch, but we unfortunately learned how many restaurants make extra money off of tourists. Surrounding the Duomo, there are many restaurants that offer outdoor patio seating, but the catch is that there is usually a cover charge for sitting outside. After our 60 euro lunch we realized we needed to start finding more local restaurants away from tourist locations. But hey, at least we're learning!
After running some errands I came home to finally unpack. To give an idea of how much I dislike unpacking, it's Sunday night when I'm writing this and I just finished a few hours ago. On a more fun note, the remainder of Thursday night was spent at a LdM cocktail hour event at the Borghese Palace Art Hotel, and it was as beautiful as it sounds. There, we got to mingle with other LdM students while sitting in a literal palace!
Friday was our first day without any mandatory events or orientations. The first thing we did was sleep! The exhaustion definitely caught up to all of us, but the extra sleep was well worth it. Emma, one of my roommates, and I went to the LdM library to pick up our Italian language textbook and also book a trip to Pompeii, Sorrento and Capri! We then took the opportunity to stroll through local stores and better acquaint ourselves with our new location. We found a grocery chain called Conad, and we picked up ingredients for our first family dinner later that night. We finished the night with a sweet treat of gelato at one of our new favorite gelaterias called La Carredrale Bar Gelateria.
Saturday was another day of sleeping in and further getting over our jet lag. After getting a bountiful night of rest, we decided to venture onto the local side of town over the Pointe Vecchio bridge for a more authentic Italian dining experience. We went to a nice spot by the bridge with a good view of the river, delicious food and kind staff members. That evening after resting, doing laundry and organizing our apartment, we tried our hand at Italian night life with other fellow students where we met some great locals. To bring the night to a close, we found an amazing late night pizza spot called Firenze fo' Caccia la Notte which actually translates to Florence Flatbread of the Night!
Sunday, today, was spent unpacking, as mentioned earlier, organizing, and running more errands. Emma and I went to the 99 cent store (which I was surprised they had), then to OVS, a small department store, to get school supplies, kitchen utensils and a much needed fan for my room. The fan left be previous owner's in my room broke, and there's no air conditioning here in our lovely 4th floor apartment (which also has no elevator -- yes, walking up the steep cobblestone steps multiple times a day is as exhausting as it sounds). Now, as I sit at my kitchen table with Emma (who graciously helped me write this blog), and Gal to my side line-drying her clothes (because dryers also aren't a thing here), I'm readying myself for my first day of classes tomorrow!
It's crazy to the think that all of this has happened in the past week and I haven't even started classes yet. I've already experienced so much! We have program-scheduled excursions to Lucca & Cinque Terre, Venice & Verona, Bologna, Rome, and Pisa. And I have my own trips planned to Santorini, Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Barcelona and hopefully Budapest as well. All in all, my time here so far has been amazing. My roommates are great, the city is beautiful and I'm excited to continue exploring Firenze, more of Italy and other European countries!
A presto! (Talk to you soon!)