Ciao! a semester in firenze

As the weeks continue to fly by and the weekends quickly become booked with new destinations, I begin to realize how important it is to cherish my days spent in Florence. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love exploring cities and countries, but there is something special about calling Florence home. NO days off here in Europe. Heres a typical week in Florence...

Monday: I won't say I dread Mondays, because a Monday in Florence is significantly better than anywhere else in the world (biased, I know), but it is definitely hard to roll out of bed and walk the 30 minutes to our Italian 101 class. Our stroll to class is usually silent, as my roommates and I are still waking up, so I try to take this time to list the many things I am thankful for. By the time I reach our destination, I'm usually only a quarter of the way through thanking the big man above for the countless opportunities and experiences i've had this semester. After Italian, we head straight to Conad, our local grocery store, to pick up the items we need for the week. With no time to spare after grocery shopping, we quickly drop off our groceries and b-line it to our second and last class of the day: Food and Culture. Only after completing our homework and making dinner, the Via Dei Neri roomies head off the Trivia Night at a near by bar, Red Garter. My team came in fourth place out of fifteen teams this week. Updates to come on our rankings next week..

Tuesday: Tuesday's usually begin with a field trip to a local museum with my Art and Architecture class. I love learning about the history, commissioning, and significance of a piece of art an then having the opportunity to see it in person. I've never really been a fan of art history but how can you not be while living in Florence?! This week we went to the Museo del Bargello which is an old execution site owned by the Medici family. After burning the midnight oil at trivia, the class was looking a tad groggy which our teacher so kindly pointed out. We definitely learned our lesson after being scolded. After classes wrap up on Tuesdays, like clockwork, my apartment gets to work on the little homework we do have before the sun sets. Tuesday nights are reserved for trying a new restaurant and going out as a large group, considering we aren't all usually together on the weekends. Last Tuesday was extra special because it was Valentines Day! I had a blast enjoying the company of nine of my closest friends here in Florence (the delicious dinner didn't hurt either).

Wednesday: I know i've said this before, but Wednesday's are my favorite day of the week simply because I am able to sleep in AND we always set aside this day to explore a new piece of Florence. This week, we took on the Baptistry, Duomo, and Bell Tower. We begin in the Baptistry and saw the tomb of Anti-Pope John XXII who ironically was a rapist and an extremely corrupt pope. The commissioner of the Baptistry agreed to have him buried there as long as he received the finger of John the Baptist, the Patron Saint of Florence. Odd trade off. Next, we decided to climb the 463 steep, dark, frightening steps of the Duomo and another 414 steps to the top of the Bell Tower. Anyone who knows me, knows that i'm not the most stable person in the world, so this task was quite the feat. Thankfully, I made it to the top without a scratch and the view was STUNNING. Our timing was impeccable as we reached the top of the Bell Tower just as the sun was setting on a gorgeous day. The faint sounds of a saxophone in the distance combined with the warmth of the sun on my face and the golden hues from the sunset made for the perfect ending to our day. I was once again reminded how grateful I am to be living in Florence for the semester.

Thursday: Thursday's are the busiest days of the week because we have a whoppin three classes. Usually, I lay pretty low on Thursday nights either getting organized for the weekend of travel ahead or just enjoying a quiet night gathering my thoughts. This Thursday was no different because I had to pack my bags for a short trip to Rome!

Every weekend has been extremely diverse but equally amazing since arriving in Florence. A quick stop in Rome this weekend was no different. Friday morning was tough because I was expected to be at the meeting spot at 7:20am. Nevertheless, I made it with time to spare. Four long, boring hours later, we finally arrived at Hotel Medici. The Lizzie McGuire Fan Girl inside me was freaking out throughout the entire weekend. Upon arriving in Rome, the shear size of the city was evident; the buildings are more modern, the streets wider, and there are more trees/green space. The original forecast said it was supposed to rain the entire weekend, but we definitely lucked out-- 65 degrees and sunny. Taking advantage of the weather, we sat outside for a quick lunch and then boarded the bus again and headed to Vatican City! The entire weekend I kept thinking about how much my family would love this trip.. fingers crossed I can come back again with them at the end of my program! The tour of The Vatican, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica were absolutely stunning. We weren't allowed to take any pictures inside the Sistine Chapel, but take my word when I say it was breathtaking. The main thing I learned on our tour was that Michelangelo was quiet the comic. He was practically forced to paint the ceiling and one wall inside the Sistine Chapel and to show his distain, he made a self portrait of himself looking like a skeleton. Ha. Unfortunately, Pope Francis was no where to be found (cue the tears). Yet another reason to come back to Rome with the fam!! For dinner we headed to a nearby restaurant provided by CET. The waiters were dressed as the cast of Peter Pan while handing out carnival decorations and blasting American pop music making the whole ordeal a bit overwhelming. However, the food was scrumptious. A platter of meat and cheeses, bruschetta, pizza, and carnival biscuits all made the menu. Malto bene.

Saturday was another full day of site seeing. We boarded the bus around 930am after a yummy continental breakfast and drove straight to the Roman Forums. Quick tip: when visiting big attractions, definitely pay a little extra to have a guided/audio tour. Thankfully, our tours were all included in our trip (thx CET) but it It definitely makes a difference to actually learn about the old stuff you're looking at. The Forums were extremely interesting and amazing, but the highlight of my day was hands down seeing The Colosseum. Yet again, STUNNING. Kind of a bummer, we learned that a lot of the fighting that took place inside The Colosseum were actually rigged. In order to make large profits, the city would decide who would win the fight based on the citizens bets. Further, the masculine, chiseled men that pops into mind when thinking about Roman Gladiators is actually misleading. In reality, the men had layers and layers of fat in hopes to protect themselves while "fighting". Nevertheless, It was an incredible feeling to be in the center of arguably the most powerful and successful civilization that has ever been built.

The rest of the day was filled with walking around the beautiful city of Rome and successfully finding the rest of the hot spots: Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and The Spanish Steps. I tossed my coin in the Trevi, ensuring my return to Rome in the future, and felt extremely content. In totally, about 3,000 euros are thrown into the Trevi each day which are then collected and donated to a local charity in Rome. Today was filled with great company, amazing sites, and unforgettable memories. Although it was short a visit, Rome was everything I could have asked for... and more!

Because we came home on Saturday night, we had the whole day on Sunday to explore Florence. We got up in the morning and went to mass at Santa Croche, the largest Franciscan order church in the world. The mass was entirely in Italian, but I could definitely identify which part of the mass we were at. Although I understood very little (actually, none) of the readings and homily, it was nice to be able to sit and pray in a gorgeous church. Luckily for us, it was another 60 degree and sunny day, so we were able to spend a lot of time sitting in Piazza de Santa Croche basking in the sun. Today was relaxing, peaceful, and perfect. I'm so so happy for my days spent in Florence.

The upcoming week is jam packed with activities. We have a wine tasting with my Food and Culture class, a linguistic social with local Italians, my roommates 21st (!!!), and a trip to Copenhagen to see one of my closest friends, Allie! Looking forward to another week in paradise!

Wish you were here

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Morgan Collins
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