So I had originally intended to do monthly updates with all of the special moments I experienced, but if you’ve been following along or read the title you’ll know that did not go as planned (oops). The semester ran away from me and now here we are three days before my departure for home. So tuck in because there’s a long post ahead, but if I’m honest, these little moments I’m about to share are my favorites.
If you walk up the main staircase in Palazzo Vettori you’ll find a room with high ceilings and a massive mirror. You’ll also find two deep brown leather couches that will be filled with my friend group, usually before and after our respective Italian classes. These moments have been some of my favorites because I will just simply see a familiar face in a comfortable place. Soon the couches became our meeting point and so many memories were made there, from unveiling of new tattoos to iced coffee spills. So to whoever sits there next, the KSU Florence Couch Sitters salute you and hope you enjoy your time there.
While visiting Collodi for our Italian class we had lunch within a lemon grove. My friends and I had had a long and rainy day, and after our meal we became somewhat slap happy you could say. We toured the groves and along the way picked snacks and caused mischief (like putting lemons into the purse of the girl in front of us and seeing if she would notice). One lemon the size of a watermelon broke from the vine into my friends hand, and the look of terror in her eyes under the weight of the fruit made us all cackle until we cried.
A somber moment was one within the Florence American Cemetery. We went for class and were each assigned a soldier to research and visit. People come to this place often to visit the American soldiers who never went home, but you have to wonder if anyone had ever come to visit that one grave in particular. My solder was a young man from New Jersey, and I wonder if any loved one had ever made it over to see his final resting place. A great-uncle of mine passed away in the Battle of the Bulge and is now buried in Europe in a cemetery like this one, and I simply have to wonder if anyone has visited him. I hope some kind soul has like I visited my assigned soldier.
When the sun finally broke through the storm clouds of Florence, the locals flocked to the river. Myself and three friends spent one Saturday afternoon laying along the barricade surrounded by water. We listened to music and drank cold beers (that we kept tied in the water to chill). One person near us had a small dog who would wander over to our blankets occasionally to say hello. The day was relaxing and refreshing.
A day that was not refreshing on the Arno was our rafting experience. The trip was fun and began normally, until some strangers above us jumped from the Ponte Vecchio. Apparently the one girl dropped her bag off the bridge and decided the best course of action was for all three of them to jump into the water to fetch it. The water was still ice cold from it being early April, and they could not swim to the side of the river. We brought them into our rafts and saw them safely to shore. Needless to say, but our raft of eight people is now bonded together from that experience.
When my roommate and I were in Salzburg, we met a guy from Finland that she connected with. Two months later, we see on social media that he is in Rome. I message him telling him to stop by Florence to say hello, and would you guess that he showed up the next day?! He stayed at a hostel with his friend from the Philippines and we showed him our city. The world just keeps getting smaller and smaller.
One day I was walking down the street and was handed a flyer about an Opera. The lady told me it began in twenty minutes and I said, sure why not. I walked in completely on a whim and had the most emotionally moving time. I laughed, I cried, and my heart fluttered. The way Italians preform an Opera is not one that can ever be compared.
While over here I happened to pick up a copy of Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’ for some light reading. I’ll tell you this, it was not light reading. It consumed me, and soon I had purchased two more of his novels. My favorite reading place is Piazza dell’Indipendenza. This place bustles with locals living their genuine lives. People lay in the grass while children swing on the playground and dogs circle their feet. This brings the feeling of Florence to me while I dive into another world entirely.
The last section here will follow suit with my post from month one; a bunch of memory flashes that I want to save. The kind Swedish man in Munich that gave my roommate and I his homemade salsa with our makeshift burritos. The ‘ruin bar’ in Budapest that I ate a full carrot in, because apparently that’s the thing to do. My first crepe in France where the owner laughed at me for reflexively speaking Italian. The restaurant ‘DimSum’ with spicy soups and freshly made noodles that you can watch the chef pull before your eyes. The wonderful ‘cultural activities’ that the school provides to learn about the city and also try the best gelato (I’ve never missed a single one). And finally, the family style dinner I had last night. My couch sitting friends and I talked loudly over bottomless pasta and the laughter between us flowed with the endless wine.
Truth be told, it’s the small moments and flashes in your mind that truly capture your heart. I’m sure there are many more that I’ve forgotten over the course of the months, but these are the ones I never want to lose. So here’s to the little things.