Hello Everyone! I hope all is well! I have so much to tell you all about Italy, and even Europe as a whole, but I figured explaining a typical day in this beautiful city would give everyone the best insight into what it is like to be a student here in Florence! As a disclaimer, some days are full of travel to different cities, different countries or even continents, or even full of spending hours at a local cafe studying for exams, chatting in Italian, and finishing up projects! But here is a typical day in the life of a study abroad student in Florence!
Morning: Most days of the week, I have classes fairly early in the morning (9am), so I typically start my day quite early! 9am may not seem too early in the US but here, in the Italian culture, where individuals don’t sit down to dinner until after 10pm and like to be out and about all night, 9am is very early, and most stores and cafes do not open until few hours later! My favorite Cafe, called Gili’s, is open quite early to my delight! At this point the workers know me and have a cappuccino out and ready at the counter before I even order! Interesting difference from the US and Italian culture, in the morning you do not take coffee to go like you do in the US, instead, you typically stand at a bar and drink a cappuccino or shot of espresso fairly quickly while munching on a delicious pastry and then you’re off to class!
Classes typically are one day a week and last two and a half hours! Except for my 6 credit Italian class which is every day for an hour and fifteen minutes. Relationships with professors here are fairly similar to at home! Some are more open with students and others are more reserved, but overall I love all my professors and have had no problem with language barriers as they are all brilliant and I believe their English is most likely better than my own!
Afternoon: After my morning class, I typically go back to my apartment and cook up some lunch, be it a quick salad or something I picked up from my cooking club. This is the time of day that I typically get most of my work done as I usually practice my Italian and do class readings or projects for the week and go for a run! (I have to burn off the gelato somehow;) Then around 415 I head to my Italian class!
Anytime I walk to class I am amazed by the age and utter beauty of the buildings around me. I always take the way, even if is a little more crowded, that leads me to the Duomo as it is the most stunning building I have ever laid eyes on. And even though I see it every day, I am still amazed by its beauty. I also always pass this older gentlemen who plays an accordion near one of my class buildings and listen to him play for a few minutes. After dropping some coins in his case, and exchange a few words in Italian, I head up to class!
Now the language classes here are quite different from back in the states. For example, every Italian class, no matter the level, is taught in all Italian and the teacher is not allowed to speak any English at all. Not going to lie, this was quite a struggle at first, but my Italian listening skills have increased exponentially since being here, and the class is so small that I feel like I have a special bond with my classmates and professor in this class.
Evening: Once I get out of this class, my roommates are typically all done with class for the day, so I am typically warmly greeted by my seven other flatmates! At this time we usually plan a little adventure to do! One of my favorite things to do is hike up to the Piazzale Michelangelo with a few great friends and a bottle of local wine and watch the sunset! From this point, you really get the best view of the city. The oranges and pinks from the setting sun reflects brilliantly on the century old buildings and really makes you ponder exactly how man could create such beauty using only stones, and basic hand tools.
After heading back down from the Piazza, we are typically famished from all the walking around and go to Aperitivo or grab a panini from the 2nd most top rated sandwich shop in the world.
Aperitivo is a little Italian tradition that Italians usually go to before dinner. The only thing I can kind of compare it to back home is like a happy hour, but even that comparison does not do the Aperitivo justice. Usually you get all dressed up (though in Italy you typically are always dressed in your best) and you order a small drink and then are brought out chips and olives or are even brought to a little buffet-like counter full of mini sandwhiches, cheeses, meats and veggies! it is very very delicious! Usually aperitivos tart around 630 and last until dinner time which is after 9pm! my friends and I usually stay at the Aperitivo place for a few hours to chat about our day, more cultural differences we have noticed, and make friends with the waiters, waitresses, and owners. There is nothing like becoming friends with people in the food business here as they will continue to bring out different dishes and wine for you to try!
If we do not do an Aperitivo, my friends and I usually go to grab panini’s at All’Antico Vinaio. I am not kidding when I say that they have the best sandwiches I have ever tasted. All food in Italy is amazing, but this place prepares food that is to die for. Also a plus, it is not very touristy so it is a perfect place to meet locals!! There is usually quite a line, but it is a perfect time to chat with others in line and make friends with the young and spunky workers! As you order you see them making your panini with the freshest ingredients: every five minutes, the workers take new batches of Focaccia bread out of the oven, you see them chopping up fresh tomatoes, spinach, eggplant, Zucchini and mozzarella, and finally topping the sandwich off with homemade olive oil and balsamic. It is an amazing experience.
After we get our sandwiches, we typically head to my favorite place in all of Florence to eat. And that is the Piazza della Signoria where the Uffizi museum is located as well as these brilliant stone carved statues of Michelangelo’s David, Neptune, Gladiators, and religious figure heads. This square is particularly lovely at night, as the statues glow underneath the city lights and appear almost life like and full of movement.
Night: Because I am writing about a typical class day, my friends and I typically head back home early (though early for Italian is around 1am) because we have class the next day. But before we head back to the apartment, we typically explore the city, get gelato at the world’s best gelato place, or go to a local Italian Bar! There are a lot of American Bars and clubs study abroad students typically go too, but me and my roommates enjoy the local atmosphere and branching out much more that being surrounded by other Americans. If you are ever in Florence, definitely check out the bar Rex. Many locals hang there and there is typically great live music playing! After a few hours out on the town, the friends and I head back to the apartment to get some sleep, to be prepared for the next day of classes and well rested for a weekend of travel and adventure!