Ciao! A semester in firenze

Yet another week filled with new experiences, people, and places. Just when I think life can't get any better... it does! As a group, we had a few different plans this week which was a really nice change of pace. Don't get me wrong, I love my normal weekly routine, but having a couple different items on the to-do list this week was very refreshing!

Tuesday began with our usual classes, Art & Architecture and Geosci, and ended with a big 21st birthday celebration for my roommate, Josie. The program I am a part of offers various activities and outings to sign up for throughout the semester and this week there was a Linguistic Aperitivo to attend. Most, if not all, small bar's in Florence offer aperitivo every night. Basically, aperitivo is a special offer where you order a drink for around 7 or 8 euros which then gives you access to a buffet with various dishes of vegetables, pasta's, sandwiches, and more. Biggest bang for your buck we've found thus far! The linguistic aperitivo was a chance to try a new restaurant while simultaneously meeting local Italians (the fact that it was paid for by CET also didn't hurt). A group of about 15 Wisconsin students went to the restaurant, which was a refurbished prison, ate some yummy food and even made a couple new friends. At the end, the group of young Italian students we were talking to invited us over to their house for a homemade, authentic Italian meal the following week. Not sure if they were just trying to be nice or if they were actually being genuine but I guess we will find out! After parting ways with our new friends, we headed out for a night on the town to properly celebrate my roommates 21st!

With a late night on Tuesday, I was especially grateful for a couple extra hours of sleep on Wednesday morning. After the roomies caught up on our beauty rest, we made our way to our Food and Culture class. Today, we had a wine tasting in a cellar that is older than America itself!! We were provided with various types of meat, cheese, and bread while we sipped on a white, red, and dessert wine. Coincidentally, my friends and I had planned a wine tasting three weeks previously and it just so happened to not only fall on the exact date of our Food and Culture wine tasting but also ended up to be in the very same location! What are the odds. We heard about the wine tasting because of our frequent visits to our favorite panini store, Pino's. Pino is a handsome, middle aged dad who not only owns a delicious sandwich shop but also a ancient wine cellar that dates back to the 11th century where he provides private wine tastings. Even though the two tastings were on the same day and in the same place, they were two completely different experiences. The walls of the cellar are covered with dusty wine bottles and vases filled with corks; the atmosphere itself puts you back in time. Pino first taught us the steps to wine tasting: looking at the transparency and legs of alcohol to tell the age of the wine, smelling to pick out different fruits and flowers (usually apple/jasmine in white and plum/cherry in red), and lastly tasting. Our first wine was a white wine from San Gimignano, one of the most famous winery towns in Tuscany just south of Florence. Our second wine was a red wine from the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany and our third wine was a red desert wine from Pontassieve. We also learned how properly pair prosciutto, parma, and tuscano salami with wine. Much to my surprise, I'm slowly starting to enjoy the taste of red wine! At the end of the tasting, Pino was informed it was Josie's birthday so he kindly popped a bottle of prosecco to toast her 21st! While we sipped our bubbly, Pino talked about his family and life outside his sandwich/wine business. At the end of the night, he even whipped out an ancient bottle of wine that he originally bought for 100 euros but now would sell for over 20,000!! After the celebration died down at Pino's, we made our way back to our apartment where we had two cakes ready for Josie from her favorite gelato store- Gelateria dei Neri. The pure joy on Josie's face after a day celebrating warmed my heart. I wish every day was someone's birthday!!

Last weekend marked my first solo expedition! I started to become a little anxious for my travels when I hit a couple road bumps early in my travel plans. To begin, less than 24 hours before my flight I received a text from Swiss Airlines saying my flight was cancelled. Then, I got a follow up text saying I was re-booked for 24 hours AFTER I was originally supposed to leave for Copenhagen. Surprisingly, I didn't freak out but instead got on the phone and called customer service where I successfully re-re-booked a flight for a couple hours earlier than my original flight. The next mishap happened when I didn't have a place secured to stay in for the upcoming weekend less than twelves hours before departing. Thankfully, my friend Christa and I dug around on the internet and ended up finding a place to stay. Turns out, the location of our airbnb was absolutely perfect- only one block down from Allies dorm! In hindsight, I was happy to get those rough patches over with before I actually left for the weekend. As it turns out, the rest of my travel went absolutely perfectly! All of my flights were on time with terrific flying conditions. I even had a whole row to myself on the plane during a couple legs of my journey. My first experience traveling 100% on my own went even better than expected!

The rest of the weekend was filled with touring Copenhagen thanks to my trusty tour guide Allie Reinke. It was so good to see a close friend from Madison especially because I had been feeling a little homesick the week before. Overall, Copenhagen was a really neat city although much different from Florence. The city itself was HUGE. You basically had to use the metro every time you wanted to go somewhere. We hit up the classic tourist attractions including taking a stroll through Nyhaven, jumping on the trampolines built into the sidewalks, hanging our wish on the trees on Paper Island, and climbing to the top of a tower to see a panoramic view of Cope. Along with being absolutely freezing, Copenhagen is also an EXPENSIVE city. In order to get the biggest bang for our buck, we ate at Paper Island one night for dinner. The industrial walls of Paper Island was once home to paper storage facility for the Procurement Association of the Danish Press for many decades but is now used as an indoor area for dozens of food carts. Every stand looked better than the last but we finally decided on a Mexican joint for some tasty burritos. Definitely didn't disappoint.

Another one of our friends, Mikey, who is also studying abroad in Copenhagen for the semester had a 21st birthday that needed to be celebrated. One of my favorite parts of the weekend was being a part of the planning to surprise Mikey with his best friend from home, Ush. It made the celebration that much more special and fun! We treated him with a trip to the Dessert Huset which is famous for their ascetically pleasing and delicious desserts. We ended up getting majorly lost on our way to the little dessert shop, but it was more than worth the extra hour it took us to get there. My final night in Copenhagen did not go as I originally had planned. With an early flight to catch Sunday morning I knew it would smart lay low for the night but unfortunately, I did anything but. I ended up going to bed at 6am! When in Copenhagen, right? A quick one hour cat nap later I had to be up and out on my way to the airport. I immediately crashed the second I sat down in my seat on the plane- no surprise there!

I'm so happy I was able to spend a whole weekend with my close friend from home. The memories we made together in another country will last us a lifetime. I'm so excited to show her my neck of the woods when she visits Florence in April!

Until next time! Wish you were here

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Morgan Collins

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