My last blog post addressed a realization that I was traveling away from Florence too much rather than exploring this charming city. After the post, I began taking more time to get involved with the community rather than sitting at home relaxing or surfing the internet. Constantly on my feet, I have burdened myself with perpetually throbbing soles, but the benefits far exceed the cons. Among other museum visits, art exhibitions, and concerts attended, the following are just a few of the many amazing experiences in Florence I have been able to add to my repertoire thus far. Some of them I have been able to take part in through my school, but the rest I have found out about through one of the English speaking newspapers here: the Florentine or Florence News & Events. Hopefully, this will give any visitors or future students ideas of how to experience the culture and charm of the Florentine community.
FIORENTINA VS NAPOLI SOCCER GAME
This was particularly great to experience in a culture that holds this sport in such high regard. My roomie and I had to come a little late to the game and we could hear the stadium crowd all the way from the train station. I sported my best purple shirt to support the local team and even asked a screaming Italian sitting next to me for the words to one of the chants was so I could join in.
FRESH PASTA MAKING WORKSHOP
The school I attend, Florence University of the Arts, put on some Italian cooking workshops where we got to learn how to make favorite local food. Although they were all amazing and culminated in a belly full of some of the best food I’ve had in Florence, my favorite was the fresh pasta workshop where we were taught how to mix the right amount of ingredients, knead, flatten and cut the pasta to perfection.
CORRI LA VITA BREAST CANCER RUN
This event is a huge city-wide walkathon and 5k that raises funds and awareness of breast cancer. Taking part was an amazing opportunity to get involved with the compassionate Florentine community, see much of the city that is not usually open to the public, and help out a great cause. Even the luxury fashion company Salvatore Ferragamo designs and donates shirts for the cause each year. I now own my first designer t-shirt.
ITALIAN FILM SCREENINGS
FUA hosts an Italian Film Club where I have been able to satisfy my love for film while simultaneously exploring Italian culture. In addition to this club though, the Odeon Cinema is a local theatre that very often plays movies in English or with English subtitles. A particularly fun and surprisingly free event was the premier showing of “La Storia di Sofia” with the cast and director of the award winning short film.
TEA TASTING AT PALAZZO STROZZI
This event was held at Palazzo Strozzi, a gallery building with some very moving art exhibits that were open to the public for free during this event where we were able to taste some exquisite tea from a local producer, look at some art, and even listen to a live local band.
CHAT PAL CONVERSATION EXCHANGE
Along with learning the Italian culture comes the Italian language. In addition to learning the language in class and on the streets, I took part in a program put on by FUA that paired me with an Italian wanting to improve their English so that we could each practice speaking. I actually ended up with two chat pals. One of them even took me on a day trip to the Chianti valley to pick up a block of cheese from a local farmer for her restaurant in Florence; all the while learning another language.
Jessica is a student at Colorado State University studying at Florence University of the Arts during the Fall 2013 term.