I was fortunate enough this semester to take a trip to Florence, Italy to visit a friend from home who is studying there. I visited her for a weekend and experienced “La Dolce Vita,” which I know I will be returning to someday! Florence is a beautiful city filled with amazing food, ample history, and friendly people.
One thing I found interesting was the quantity of American study abroad students living there, the city was flooded with them! With this many Americans, most store and restaurant owners spoke English. Because of this, most study abroad students knew very little Italian. Without being forced to speak only Italian, the students there did not reach their full potential for learning the Italian language, which made me appreciate this aspect of the Holy Cross program. Although frustrating in the beginning months, I feel that because I have been forced to speak only Spanish I have improved by leaps and bounds.
Another difference of my friend Lindsey’s study abroad life in comparison to mine would be the food. She lives in an apartment with three other American girls, meaning they cook their own food, whereas with my host mom, I eat whatever she makes for me. When I visited, we went out to eat for almost every meal, which was probably bad for the bikini diet, but so delicious that it was worth every calorie! I am a huge fan of Italian food from what I’ve tried in the States, but authentic Italian food knocked me out of my socks. The ingredients were so fresh and simple, and the taste was something I will never forget. We had enough pizza, pasta, paninis, wine, and gelato in one weekend to keep us full for a whole week. As I am writing this, my mouth is watering, remembering every savory bite.
The best food of the trip may have been at a famous butcher shop in the Chianti region of Tuscany, which we stopped at during a day trip. This butcher shop does so well that at while they are open they give out free bread and salami for anyone to try. Many celebrities have visited this shop and I found out why when we went. Also on that day trip to Tuscany, we went on a hike and saw some amazing views despite the rain and we were invited into a man’s house for a wine tasting and lunch. My expectations of the Tuscan countryside were derived from the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun,” and although I did not meet an Italian man or buy a cute little house, I found all my expectations to be met. Tuscany is so beautiful, romantic, and relaxing that I highly recommend you visit someday.
Overall, the trip was amazing for many reasons. I caught up with my friend Lindsey, who I’ve been friends with since the second grade, and experienced part of Europe with her. I lived like an Italian for a few days and understood why it has the great reputation that it does. And finally, I appreciated aspects of my program through Holy Cross and felt grateful for my experience in Mallorca.
Lindsey at a pizzeria! Lindsey and I in Tuscany
View of Florence and the Duomo from above Famous butcher shop in Chianti
Tuscan countryside The Duomo