At LDM we don’t have classes on Friday which is wonderful! To celebrate our completed first week of school my roommates and I tried Aperol Spritz which are insanely popular here. It’s basically the classic Italian cocktail. We went to a café near our university that is always packed, so we figured it was a good choice. Something cool they do in Italy is during happy hour, cafes have all different types of appetizers and breads out to snack on (for free!). As college students we typically love anything free and this was no exception. Our drinks were pretty good, definitely not what I was expecting but I absolutely love the color and it was very refreshing in the Florence heat.
The appetizers were fantastic, it was fun to try more authentic Italian foods. Of course everything was a variation of bread, but my favorites were slices with truffle oil and ones with a cream cheese like spread and a spicy sauce. All three of my apartment mates were going to the Almafi Coast for the weekend so we grabbed an early dinner at our favorite restaurant, Il Gatto e La Volpe. I tried the four cheese gnocchi dish this time….unbelievable. Give me a dish of that every night and some gelato and I would be one happy girl. After dinner we hurried back to the apartment so the girls could make their bus to the coast.
After they left and I found myself alone in our apartment, it struck me that I haven’t been alone in months. It was actually quite refreshing since the end of the school year had been so busy, I had been home for three days and then hopped on my flight to Morocco. I spent the night in, doing some of my homework, catching up with family and friends and reflecting on the past week in Florence. I was still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I had the opportunity to travel to so many amazing places with one of my best friends. And after that I have the opportunity to live in the stunning city of Florence for an entire month! My prayer and hope is that I’ll value every minute, whether exciting, tedious or challenging. While backpacking and studying abroad are extraordinary experiences, I aim to continue that practice back at home. Whether it’s at UNC studying, leading Wyldlife, interning in Asheville, etc. I think we’re called to make the best of every situation, no matter how comfortable or uncomfortable it may be. I don’t think we were created to be complacent and comfortable in the lives we lead. Relying on the Lord isn’t always easy and it definitely doesn’t call for being comfortable all of the time. The past month has really shown me that in a tangible way and I’m extremely grateful for those lessons!
Since I was riding solo on Friday, I slept in and had a lazy start to my day. A heat wave hit Florence this weekend and I was so so thankful our landlord had dropped some fans off the other day. I’m still adjusting to the lack of air conditioning and constantly sweating…I really have no idea how Italian women always manage to wear pants and long sleeves in 90 degree heat without breaking a sweat. I started my day by figuring out how to use the printing services at our university and navigating the library. After getting my train tickets printed for the next day, I started my adventure!
Since I’m always hungry, my stomach led me to explore the Mercato Centrale. This huge marketplace, very similar to many that Grace and I visited in other cities, offers fresh produce, meat, pasta, etc. However the one in Florence has a super neat upper level full of different stands from local farmers and restaurants. I had read about a phenomenal place called La Grande Bianca that served meat and not pasta! (Don’t get me wrong, the pasta here is the absolute best, but a girl needs her protein) I asked the woman working to give me her favorite dish and ironically ended up with a hamburger. I told her that just because I was American didn’t mean she should recommend the burger, but she insisted it wast the locals favorite! However it was a great choice and just what I needed.
While waiting in line for my hamburger to grill, I noticed the girl next to me was speaking English. I started chatting with her and invited her to eat lunch with me, as I could tell we both didn’t want to eat alone. Her name is Jamie and she goes to Pittsburgh but had just finished her study abroad program in Florence and was staying a week extra by herself. We got along nicely and set out together to walk around Florence. We walked to the Santa Croce piazza where there is a beautiful church and some quaint shops. We wandered into Scuola del Cuoio which is inside the Santa Croce Monastery and was created after WWII in order to give orphans of the war an opportunity to make a living and learn a practical trade. Florence is famous for its leather production and this place is one of the reasons why! I loved walking around the whole complex, looking at all of the products but also having the opportunity to watch people hand make all of the leather goods.
Jamie and I spent the rest of the afternoon getting to know each and walking around the city. We walked all the way up the hill across the river to check out some gardens. However they turned out to be pretty subpar and cost 8 euros so down we went. She took me to her favorite gelato place which was amazing and the cheapest I have found so far. Definitely will be back there!
It was awesome getting to know Jamie and hearing about her month in Florence, I loved getting her advice and recommendations on different things in the city. We parted ways and I headed back to the apartment to get out of the heat.
After finishing my work for class and eating dinner, I strolled along the river, stopping at the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge to watch the sunset. Sitting on the bridge, listening to music, watching the sky change colors and the city slow down was beautiful. I think I may like Florence even more during the evening and at night. All of the major squares clear out and you can find great places to sit and admire the architecture and the people around you. Watching the sunset was by far the best part of my day…I hope to catch as many as I can in the next couple weeks.
(Pictures really can’t capture it to the full!)
I walked around a couple of squares, enjoying them immensely since they were packed with tourist groups. I also walked through the Uffizi square on my home and had major déjà vu from the first time I went abroad after graduating high school. One of my best friends Avery and I had our caricatures drawn in that same square! Out of all the places I visited in Italy and France on that trip, I fell in love with Florence from day one. Even though I only spent a couple days in the city, I knew I wanted to return and here I am!