Florentine Daze
Madelaine, Florence, Fall 2015
October 1, 2015

This past weekend I travelled to Rimini, a beach town on the Adriatic, to meet a friend from my home university who is studying in Turin. Being such a distance from home, I felt a level of independence I have never experienced before. I navigated the foreign train stations with delays, connections, and all. While traveling, I realized that trains in Italy are very often late, sometimes in your favor, sometimes not. It is best to have patience while traveling and hold on to the belief that everything is going to be okay. And while it may be tempting to nap for the duration of the ride, it is an opportunity to see the diverse landscape of the Italian countryside. If you slept you would miss all the views. Back in Florence, I felt the wonderful relief of making it home. Florence, though I have only been here a couple weeks, has already begun to feel like home. The beauty of the physical environment is immeasurable, but also the sincere hospitality of the residents really makes Florence a special place. I am so grateful to the residents who welcome me now, and the past residents who built such a jaw-dropping city.

Madelaine - Florence - Fall 15

the beach at Rimini  

Madelaine - Florence - Fall 15

view from the Oltrarno

Something I came to realize during my first few days in Florence was that traffic versus pedestrians is dog eat dog. Because the sidewalks are small does not mean it’s a good idea to walk on the side of the street; single file with your friends is always best. Before traveling to Italy I had been looking forward to hearing Italian music because I thought it would be a great way to connect with the locals through their pop culture. However, I am surprised to find that a huge number of establishments play all top 40 music from the United States. I asked my linguistics professor, who is a young local, for suggestions of places around the city that provide live music. I am looking forward to finding these places and listening to music that Italians enjoy.

Madelaine - Florence - Fall 15

sunset over the Duomo

Because Florence is such a hot spot on the tourist scene right now, you might have to go against the flow to find truly authentic experiences. I have found this to be beneficial the past couple weeks. A piece of advice that I have found useful is that tourists hit the street around mid morning. If you are able to get out and about before then, you will see the city in a different light, not only beautiful morning light but also the streets a little less crowded. Just like dawn, dusk in Florence is astounding. The sight of the sunset over the Duomo is bound to make your day, every time. Although I have done only a limited amount of exploring, there are hidden gems for both dining and shopping. As a true believer in authentic design, I highly recommend seeking out the local boutiques. Italy is known in the fashion world for its beautiful designs and textiles. When in Italy there is no need to go into an H&M. I highly recommend finding the leather market for your essential Italian leather goods. While you’re there find the bronze boar and if you drop a coin from its mouth and it falls in the grate below it means you will be coming back to Florence in the future.

Madelaine - Florence - Fall 15

Success! I will be coming back to Florence

Madelaine - Florence - Fall 15

local boutique

I think the thing that I have been most impressed with, and excited about, is no matter which café I go to, I have yet to have a bad espresso, pastry, or panino… so basically I have been in café heaven. I have also managed not to complain that the majority of the city’s establishments go on siesta from around 13:00 (1:00pm) to 16:00 (4:00pm). If you plan your day accordingly, you too can enjoy a mid day espresso or catnap.

Madelaine - Florence - Fall 15

My morning heaven

I appreciate the local’s patience with my intermediate Italian. I have been surprised by several instances when I have spoken Italian to someone and they respond to me in English. I will be joining an Italian yoga studio because I think it will be a great way to both practice my Italian and also feel involved with the Florentine community.

Madelaine - Florence - Fall 15

The views of my walk to and from class


Having never been to Europe before, I find all of the travel opportunities extremely tempting. Though there are hundreds of places to visit, it is absolutely not possible to see it all. While in Italy I am appreciating and learning what makes Italy so wonderful. If you live for what you will see next, you will miss what is in front of you right now. I am making sure that I appreciate the smells, the sounds, the foods, and the views on my walk to school. I am so grateful for my opportunity to live in Florence and “Grazie mille” cannot even express it enough. Even if you forget how to say good morning to the old man you see on the corner every day, or to the shop owner whose window you always look in, a smile is a universal greeting that everyone is guaranteed to understand.

Madelaine - Florence - Fall 15

My new favorite lunch dinner and study spot

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Madeline is a current student at College of Charleston studying at Florence University of the Arts in Italy during the Fall 2015 term.

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