There are days in your study abroad experience when you wake up and decide you have to take a day trip to the nearest city. In my case that city is Florence. I’ve been to Florence before and every time I go it’s with new people. This time I went with two Latina friends I made within my program. I met them the day our cohort went on an excursion to a vineyard. That was actually the day all the Latin@s found each other. We kind of all occupied a table, got to talking, and found out we all had very similar backgrounds. It’s nice to meet people that share your same culture and language, especially being this far from home; it gives the opportunity to form a network of trust and camaraderie. However, as I was saying, my friends and I decided to head to Florence for the day without giving it much thought.
Our trip started off with taking a train that I almost missed. At this point, almost missing trains has to be part of my personality. However, I will always make it on the train even if I have to shove my hand between the closing doors; it happened once when I was catching a train to Naples. On the train ride to Florence, which is only about an hour long, I contemplate how convenient and enjoyable it is to travel via high-speed trains. It’d be nice if traveling was this easy in the states. That’s one thing Europe definitely gets a point for; transit. I’ve never had an issue getting around Italy or any other European country I’ve visited.
Once we arrived in Florence it was still early in the morning, around 9:30, so we headed toward the city center in hopes of finding a lovely coffee shop. The coffee unfortunately didn’t meet our standards, we agreed we had had better in Bologna and at a much better price as well. After coffee, we go on a stroll and look at the breathtaking Catedral di Santa Maria del Fiore. No matter how many times I’ve seen this 13th-century cathedral it never ceases to amaze me. We continue on our stroll and come across many interesting sculptures. One of our last stops was Palazzo di Pitti, we had to cross the Ponte Vecchio to get to it. Palazzi di Pitti is a palace built during the Renaissance period in Florence. It houses many important collections of paintings and sculptures. However, my favorite part of the whole place is the Giardino di Bolobili, the gardens right behind the palace. These gardens seem to be a labyrinth; there are levels to it and it seems to be never-ending. From the top of the gardens we were able to get a panoramic view of the city as well as more fields of green. It was nice to just lay there for a while and take in the experience.
Later that day, we met up with two other friends. One of them had actually missed the train back in Bologna, and they were going to meet with a friend that lived in Florence. Being amongst Latin@s, we decided we’d all go to a Mexican cantina and have some margaritas and nachos.We chatted about our experience living in Italy and how much we miss authentic Mexican food. I even found out that the Florence friend and I had a mutual friend back home in LA; you never really realize how small the world is.
What I took from this day is to plan more unplanned day trips. They’re fun, spontaneous, and somehow will always end up being a good time. It’s also days like this when you get to take advantage of being in the country you’re in and relish in what it has to offer.