The very first night in Florence, my roommate Emma and I decided to go out and experience the exciting nightlife the city has to offer. Little did we know we were going to meet a few locals who are now two of our really good friends.
At one of the more well known clubs, Space, my roommate, Emma, and I were approached on the dance floor by two gentlemen who began speaking Italiano to us. We told them we were from the US and didn’t know Italian, but were able to become quickly acquainted with them because their English was nearly perfect! We spent hours talking with them and exchanging cultural curiosities. We exchanged contact information, and since that night, we have seen our new friends, Fiore and Alessio, every week. Being friends with these two has really made my abroad experience even better, and I have learned so much more about the Italian culture through them than I would have on my own.
Fiore is the head chef at a restaurant called Industria, which is right around the corner from our apartment., and Alessio is the cook at Caffe San Carlo, which is right across the street from Industria. Emma and I often eat at Industria so we can not only enjoy the food they have, but visit our friend as well. I go to San Carlos almost every morning for a coffee and to say hi to Alessio. But these aren’t the only encounters I have with the guys. Almost every week, Emma and I meet up with the guys and hangout, whether it’s going out to dinner, or going to a museum. Last month, the boys took us on one of the most beautiful hikes through the Tuscan hills. This was an amazing experience because it was something that I don’t think I could have experienced without knowing locals who could show us where this amazing hike was. They drove us about twenty minutes out of the city and took us to where we could hike up and see all of Florence. It was amazing to see a part of Italy that I never thought I would see.
Another awesome experience Emma and I had with them was a few weeks before spring break, the guys cooked us a full five course dinner at their apartment. There was a full table of appetizers which included a selection of meats, cheese, crackers, and bread. They also made us the traditional Italian drink, Spritz to go with our appetizers. Then there was a buffet with three different pastas, chicken curry, roasted potatoes, and three different sides of veggies. It was such a delicious dinner that the guys spent all day preparing for. I felt so blessed to have met such genuine friends.
Those were just a couple examples of what Emma and I have done with Fiore and Alessio. We have had too many adventures with them, it’s impossible to write them all in one blog. Meeting Fiore and Alessio has made my abroad experience so much more authentic and memorable. Being friends with them has also helped me improve in the Italian language. Before coming abroad, I didn’t know a single phrase in Italian, but just by speaking with them, I have been able to pick up on most of the basic conversational phrases. A lot of my friends always ask “How did you meet Italians,” and the answer is simple; I went out of my comfort zone a bit. It was a bit difficult being new in a country I am not familiar with, not knowing how socializing works, and dealing with the slight language barrier that is there. But after really taking the time to talk with them, and meeting up with them a few times a week, we all have been able to form this really strong friendship. I can’t stress enough how sad I am going to be when I have to say goodbye to Fiore and Alessio at the end of the semester, but we will cross that bridge when it gets here.
– Chloe is a spring 2017 SAI Florence student from Washington State University.