So I've been in Italy for over a week now and while time has flown by, it feels like I've been here forever. I spent Monday-Wednesday last week getting my administrative things in order (residence permit, healthcare, school registration) and meeting my follow MiDICers as I suppose we are called (people from my master program). Wednesday night we went out as a group for the first time and it was fun. The group is quite diverse, both in academic and geographic backgrounds, but we all share a love to travel and a general sense of uncertainty about what we want to do in life so we get along quite well. I look forward to getting to know everyone better!
On Thursday it was an Italian holiday, the anniversary of Italy's 150 years of unity. It was also St. Patrick's Day. I was honestly very unsure about which holiday people were celebrating, but it was amusing nonetheless. I went to the Irish pub with my fellow North Americans to have a Guiness in honor of the Irish holiday. I was home by 10pm since I knew I had to catch an early train the next morning to Florence.
In Italy, when there is a holiday on a weekday such as Thursday, they have something that they call a "ponte" holiday. Ponte in Italian means bridge. What happens during a "ponte" holiday weekend is that you get the day off after/before the actual day of the holiday making it into a 4/5 day weekend. For example, Thursday was the Italian 150th Anniversary of the Republic so most people (and of course the university) got Friday off making it a 4 day weekend. SWEET deal no? Problem this year is that most of the holidays over the rest of my time in Italy actually fall on the weekend, so we have no extra long weekends :(
So this "ponte", since I had no school on Friday, I decided to go visit Kelly in Florence and check out her villa. No big deal, just your everyday normal day trip to Florence that I take forgranted.
Kelly's Georgetown villa is in a small town 20 minutes outside of Florence called Fiesole. It's super cute and the villa is gorgeous. The views are incredible.
After a less than perfect train ride (my train was sold out so I had to buy 1st class on another train, booo) and a total of about a 3 hour journey, I made it just in time for a quick tour and a nice lunch. After lunch, we headed down into town to be touristy and go to the Church of Santa Croce. I have been to Florence countless times and seen most everything there is to see, but one thing I was missing was Santa Croce!
It was fun to take in some culture and wander around inside the beautiful church. There are frescoes by Giotto (an early Renaissance painter who was the first to put emotion into his portraits) and the tombs of Michelangelo and Macchiavelli (the writter of the famous political how-to book, The Prince). It was also interesting to learn a bit about the 1966 flood in Florence that was extremely devestating to the Renaissance capital. We saw pictures and even some art that had been damaged during the flood.
After being all cultural, we did a bit of shopping. I bought a leather notebook (which I actually DID need) from a mean lady who wouldn't bargain with me. I swear she told me the price was 8 and I tried to bargain for 7, but she refused and the notebook was exactly what I had been looking for, so I agreed to 8 and gave her a 20. She gave me 11 back and when I called her on it, she got super mad and gave me back my 20 and told me not to take the notebook! But in the end I took it and paid 9 because, like I said, it was perfect. I hate the market people in Florence. They really don't need your business so they aren't very nice.
After that we had a lovely aperitivo and then a yummy dinner at a Napolitano restaurant. Then we got wine at a cute little wine bar and chatted away. A nice night of taking forgranted the fact that we are two Californian girls sitting in a wine bar in Florence.
It's amazing how easy you can fall back into old routines, take forgranted seeing your close friends who otherwise live halfway around the world, and forgetting how people spend their whole lives dreaming of cities that I sweep through in a day on a whim.
I vow to not take it forgranted.