Before embarking on our Full-Time travel journey and becoming digital nomads, our passion for travel took us to Florence, Italy. While I was attending the University of Florida, I signed up to study abroad in Florence for 6 weeks, and friend, it was the greatest 6 weeks of my college experience. This is why you should study abroad in Florence:
Since my childhood, I always fantasized about going to Paris and seeing the Eiffel Tower. There was something about eating flaky, fresh croissants, all while walking through the streets of France that I loved. The study abroad advisor told me that unfortunately, there wasn’t a program suited for me in Paris. I remembered Facebook-stalking all of my friends when they studied abroad in Florence and loving their pictures. Since I knew that I wanted to travel and my friends had been there before it also felt like the safest option. A week later I mustered up the courage to give my deposit for the Florence Program! I swiftly began booking all of the travel arrangements for my almost two-month adventure.
I remember arriving at the airport and getting picked up by the Taxi with our program director. They were mumbling things in Italian to each other, and though I had taken three years of Italian, I struggled trying to grasp what they were saying. I felt like I was in a dream. From the narrow cobblestone roads to the colorful laundry hanging out of local’s balconies set out to dry; It was a scene taken straight out of a movie. Because Florence wasn’t my first choice, I didn’t put much thought into what to expect from the city. I had heard something about there being a really big church in the middle of town that was pretty but didn’t think much of it because, at the end of the day, it wasn’t the Eiffel tower. I wish I could go back and slap myself.
My Home in Florence
The taxi dropped me off in front of this giant door on the side of a narrow street. Daniele, the program director, gave me the keys and told me” welcome home”. I opened the giant door to be welcomed by a smelly, dark stairwell that honestly felt like the entrance to a haunted house. I was instructed to go to the third floor, first door on the right. I dragged all of my luggage, which was two suitcases full, up the old, slippery staircase. (We have since learned how to pack like pros, click here for our FREE packing list) When I entered the apartment, I was welcomed by the sun beaming through the windows at the end of the hall. The walls had paint chipping off, but under the paint, it revealed old murals. Florence city center, come to find out, has not changed since Michael Angelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Dante Alighieri walked the streets. It’s a stroll through the Renaissance.
My apartment was quaint. It had two bedrooms and three bathrooms that I shared with my three roommates. The kitchen had a gas stove, a small refrigerator, and a washer (with no drier). My bathroom had the world’s smallest, most claustrophobia-inducing shower in the world. Slightly agitated, I just dropped off my belongings and started walking around the town.
My First Day
Florence took some adjusting to. For one, the street curbs are about a foot tall in comparison to the four inches we have here in the US. Also, the people walking around town are all very well dressed. So much so their cops wear uniforms designed by Armani, and nobody wears yoga pants. Lastly, it was time to have a serious lesson in Italian.
My apartment was conveniently located 5 minutes away from all of the beautiful, touristy, iconic plazas (Piazza in Italian) in Florence. I didn’t realize that until I went looking for a place to throw away my trash, and peaking around the corner I saw it. Towering above the four-story buildings was the gothic architecture of the Santa Maria Del Fiore Basilica. I can tell you that it’s big and beautiful all day long, however, nothing truly prepares you for just how overwhelming it is to see. My eyes watered in amazement. I was in awe from the detailed carvings all throughout the building depicting stories from the core of Christian faith.
Why You Should Study Abroad in Florence
A Life-Changing Month
Many days were spent eating Gusta Pizza and drinking wine on the edge of a bridge that overlooked the Arno River. Evenings we walked around the town trying to figure out how people created something so beautiful. It’s no wonder Dante, Michelangelo, and Leonardo Da Vinci were so inspired. I remember going to L’Academia (A museum) and seeing a painting from the 1200s that depicted the Palazzo Vecchio, a building that I had to pass every single day to get to class! I was shocked that I was able to see, over 600 years later, a building that inspired them to create masterpieces.
The Night I Left a Piece of my Heart
On our last evening in Florence, Daniel and I went to the Santa Maria Del Fiore and just stared. We tried to grasp every detail we could because we knew we wouldn’t be back soon. My heart aches as I write this because I left a piece of my heart on the steps of that cathedral that night. Florence truly has a way of sweeping you off your feet. It shows you that even when people had limited resources, their imaginations took them to achieve things far greater than they imagined. So, when people ask me which of the 26 cities in Europe I visited was my favorite, I laugh. Favorite is merely a superficial adjective to describe just what Florence means to me. It’s in my heart. I hope that whenever you go and travel, you have a town impact you like Florence.
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