Perhaps the happiest and most alive I have ever felt was when I would go on bike rides to Fiesole. There were all of these fliers that SAI had provided my roommates and me with in our apartment. One of them was for Tuscany Cycle where one could rent bikes, go on bike tours, and Vespa tours through the Tuscan hillside and Chianti. I went one day early on in my semester abroad. I was greeted by one of the funniest and genuinely friendly person I have ever met. He was a riot, and I went on my first bike ride. I loved the feeling of riding by the water and seeing Florence from a different perspective, as I had mostly been running and walking before I started to bike.
I biked through the same path for consecutive weeks and I found that the route I took was very flat. I needed a change so the man who worked at Tuscany Cycle recommended that I bike to Fiesole. Fiesole was a small city in the hillside. He told me that it was a challenging ride and said “lets see what you make of it!” So I was thinking to myself he is probably just kidding. However, that was not the case. This bike ride was all uphill. I kept going higher and higher up the hill because the view of Florence and the rest of the hillside just kept getting better and better.
I finally reached the top and was overwhelmed by exhaustion, but was so happy to have made it all the way up. I found a residential home and a ledge and I just sat by myself and looked at the most incredible view for about an hour. Finally it was time for me to go back down the hillside and end my bike ride. The ride down was exhilarating. I could still feel the rush of the wind on my face and can still smell the flowers.
Most of my time in Florence was spent with my friends and people that I met. My bike rides, however were something that I did alone. I think I rode my bike to Fiesole just about once a week and sat at that beautiful home and just reflected on how lucky I was to be in Florence, and how my happy I am capable of being. These bike rides were so simple yet they made me feel something I never thought I could. Of all of the memories I have of my time in Florence, my bike rides to Fiesole are the most vivid. I almost cry every time I think about them. I yearn to be in Florence again and I wish ever so much that I could have just stopped time when I was abroad. I fell in love with Florence, and it will always be my home.
My time abroad can be best defined as surreal. For four months, I woke up each morning having to remind myself that I was actually in Florence and that it was not a dream. I felt liberated, where I was able to not only explore Florence and other countries, but I was also given a setting where I could reflect on who I was as a person and who I wanted to be. Florence is a place that I will always and forever be able to call home and not just a location where I had to live , but a place where I loved to live.