As I sit in my apartment I have no desire to begin packing to head back to the States in a few days. I obviously am excited to see my family, play with my band and distribute the odd souvenirs I have acquired from all over Italy (one of which being a bottle opener with an image of the pope and the various assortment of small items from around the world I have acquired from haggling with street sales men) but, I simply don’t want to leave Florence.
My time here has been simply phenomenal and I have seen so much but, I just want to see more. Are there things I regret not doing? Of course but, that just makes the pain of leaving that much harder.
During my time here I decided not to travel the mass of Europe like many of my classmates have. Instead I decided to see as much of Italy as I possibly could. While I really do want to see more of Europe I don’t regret that decision for a moment. During my time in Italy I have seen over twenty one different cities in ten different regions. I have seen in person works of art many have only seen in books or on a screen. I have been in buildings older than the discovery of my birth continent and stood in the shadows of the great minds that formed the Italian Renaissance. I look out my window every day and see a church built before the Black Plague. The word nostalgia doesn’t even begin to cover the sense of pure awe that these sights inspire in me. At the same time I have experienced the modern side of Italy. I have experienced both sides of calcio (soccer). One at the stadium cheering along with all the fans and the other sitting at a bar and complaining about referees and certain players. I have been to concerts and yet seen equally good music on the street. I have made friends I will probably never see again, but the memory will remain. I have walked the streets of many a modern city with a historic nucleus.
Honestly, I do feel a little bit bad that I didn’t visit any countries besides Italy but, I suppose they will still be there and hopefully this will not be my last trip to Europe. I just felt that I had been preparing for this trip for so long that I didn’t want to have all those preparations go in vain. I studies the Italian language for over a year, something I highly suggest you do before arriving in Italy. Although one can easily get by without speaking a word of Italian it does definitely help as I went to some places where not a single person I encountered spoke English. Also, let’s just say you won’t encounter very many signs in English. In one of my first days in Italy a woman came up to the table where me and my roommates were eating and after a bit of small talk she said something that stuck with me for the rest of my stay, “Siamo nell’italia, parliamo italiano.” Forgive me if my grammar wasn’t the best but, after that I tried to speak and be around Italian as much as possible.
Over the semester I feel like what I have learned has enhanced my experience so much while here in Italy. Learning about each individual piece before or after seeing it made actually seeing them that more emphatic. Take my favorite sculpture in Florence for example, the David. No, not Michelangelo’s giant marble David but, Donatello’s older and smaller bronze David. While not as well-known as Michelangelo’s David this David is more historically important in my opinion. First of all, it was one of the first David statues in Florence being built around the 1440s it was actually the second David sculpted by Donatello as he had also made one in 1408 of marble. The historical significance of this piece goes far beyond mere age as it was the first free standing male nude sculpture since the fall of Rome. To me it is the ultimate symbol of Florence’s position as center piece of the Renaissance as it brought back the ancient methods of art and archeology that the Renaissance is known for. Also, it is a symbol of Florence’s most powerful family, the Medici. As the statue originally sat in their courtyard with the Latin PRO PATRIA FORTITER DIMICANTIBUS ETIAM ADVERSUS TERRIBILISSIMOS HOSTES DII PRAESTANT AUXILIUM (To those who fight bravely for the fatherland the gods lend aid even against the most terrible foes) which took on the opposite meaning after the Medici were exiled and the statue sat in front of the Palazzo della Signoria, the Florentine center of government.
All of the facts and opinions I just prattled off were learned/formed in my two Italian history courses, History of Italian Renaissance and The Medici Family: A Florentine Dynasty. But, I didn’t only learn about Italian history, I also learned about the role the Italian peninsula is played in the formation and divided in religion through my History of Christianity class and the modern problems of Italy, such as immigration, through the minds of its greatest authors in the Contemporary Italian Literature class. All of which were wonderfully taught I couldn’t ask for better teachers or learning experience.
As much as I don’t want to leave Italy, I do really miss my parents and friends back home. I still have a few days left and I plan on going back to my favorite museum in Florence, the Bargello and maybe go reflect with the great minds in the Santa Croce. Then I might sit in Piazza Santa Croce and listen to my favorite street band, Romdraculas. Before signing off I would like to thank all of my teachers, classmates and everyone I have meet while abroad. It has been great experience and I would recommend it to anyone thinking about studying abroad. Last but, not least a big thank you to SAI as the staff here has treated me very well and without the scholarship they provided I probably would not be here today. Thank you for reading!
Charles is a current student at the University of Missouri studying at Florence University of the Arts during the Sprig 2015 term.