After being in Florence for about a month now, there are definitely a few things I would put on a “must-do” list.
First and foremost, take a cooking class. SAI has cooking classes offered throughout the semester, and they’re great, especially because you just have to put a small deposit down, and you get that back when you show up! Basically free – we all know college kids can’t pass up free. One evening, a few of my roomies and I learned to make vegetable millefoglie, fresh egg pasta, spinach and ricotta filled ravioli, and chocolate souffle…easily one of the best meals I have had here. It was interesting to learn how to make everything, and you gain an appreciation for the food and time it takes to prepare it all. Each participant even left with a booklet that has the recipes inside, so you can take it home to the states and show everyone what you learned. Although I haven’t been able to attend a pizza making course, my roommate did, and she said it was so much fun and also tasted amazing; so that could be another to add to the list!
The second order of business on my “must-do” list would be taking a gondola ride in Venice. I took a day trip there and experienced the Venice Carnival, saw a glass blowing demonstration, ate some gelato (because you literally can’t pass up gelato), and hopped on a gondola for a ride. Though a little pricey, taking a nice 30 minute, relaxing ride on a gondola is worth it. It was a beautiful day, and an eye-opening experience to Venice and how everything is on water. Since it was Carnival, it was very busy in town, but amazing to see the costumes and experience the culture.
Another SAI activity I really enjoyed and suggest was the SAI book making class (again…free!). Be prepared, as the class is 3 (!) hours long, but so worth it. We started out with only our materials, and learned how to properly construct and assemble a small, cute book, as well as some history on book-making. This class definitely made me work on being patient and taking my time; you cannot rush or you will make a silly mistake that will mess it all up. I am honestly so proud of the book I made, and think it is a really cool piece of Italy to take home.
Last, but certainly not least, and probably the most important: try all the wine possible! I was fortunate to be able to take Wine Marketing and Communications at FUA, as well as Wine Appreciation I, so I was exposed to a lot of information regarding wine, and have done some tastings outside of Florence. If you are able, try to take a wine course, even if it is not through FUA, but just something to gain information on the topic. I used to say I did not like a more “spicy” red wine, because I simply didn’t like the taste. But now I have a new appreciation for it, and know better what foods to pair it with, because of those classes. There is so much that goes into it besides “fermented grape juice.” It is fun to try new wines with new foods, and you can really notice how they play a role with each other and the taste created.
While I could make this list pages long, these are some stand-out memories I have that I believe are worth suggesting for other students, or travelers, abroad. I have found the smaller memories are the ones I am cherishing the most; and apparently the ones I am learning most at too!
– Kara is a Spring 2017 SAI Florence student from Kansas State University.