Simple phrases like “ciao,” “per favore,” and “grazie” can get you far in a tourist center like Florence. I’ve been in Italy for almost a week now, and I’m starting to get used to the rhythm of the city. Although this is not the first time I’ve been out of the country, Europe is so different than South America in many ways. The buildings and streets are so old in Florence, and in some cases medieval, but there is also so much life happening all the time. The first night I could barely sleep through the noise of the cars, vespas, and people in the streets.
The traffic is much different than anything I’ve experience in the U.S. In Florence, any place that a car or vespa could conceivably fit through is considered a street. At first, it was intimidating to cross the street because vehicles here do not stop for pedestrians, but I’m getting better at walking like a local and navigating the mad rush of bikes, trucks, motorcycles, and people.
One of my favorite places to walk here is next to the Arno River. My roommate, Audrey, and I wandered there the night we arrived and fell in love. The river and all the bridges, including the famous Ponte Vecchio, are beautiful at any time of the day or night. The river is also quite a helpful navigating tool since we live a block away. If we can find the river, we can find our way home!
Audrey and I share a house with our Italian mother, her adorable dog Tor, and several other students from around the world. Italy, Mexico, Germany, England, Switzerland, and the U.S. are all represented when we sit down for dinner every night. Almost everyone speaks more than one language, but there is no common language that every single person can understand. Not everyone understands English, but not everyone understands Italian either. Dinnertime is always an fascinating experiment in communication.
Our group has already seen some of the amazing sights of Florence. We pass the Duomo every day on our way to class (and it’s even more stunning in person than in any picture), and the Palazzo Vecchio and Uffizi are surrounded by restaurants and boutiques. One day we decided to visit Forte Belvedere to see the city from above, and we were able to view an exhibit of artist Jan Fabre’s “Spiritual Guards” there as well.
Anyway, I’ve been consuming plenty of espresso and gelato, and sometimes I catch myself translating my thoughts into Italian as I’m falling asleep. I can’t wait to learn more about the language and the people (and of course the food)!
Il Giardino di Boboli (Boboli Gardens)
My lovely roommate showing off her Italian street style
Il fiume Arno (The Arno River)
My first Italian scoop of gelato