Ever since I saw the Eiffel Tower eight years ago for the first time, I deemed Paris my favorite place in the world as every cafe, bridge, flower and stone seemed to be the most romantic thing I had ever seen in my short twelve years of life. Paris was the one place in the world I had ever seen that was “love at first sight.” But in the back of my mind I always knew and longed to visit a country that has captivated its audience for so many centuries, Italy. I would say, “Paris is my favorite place in the world, but I haven’t been to Italy yet!” I had always been told about the wonders of Italy, specifically Florence. Having parents and multiple friends who had traveled to the city I had heard nothing but the best opinions about beautiful Firenze. I even have friends that plan to move to Florence after graduating college! I hoped, and almost expected, to have the same feelings of excitement, giddiness and wonder arriving in Florence as I did the first time I explored Paris.
Well.. I don’t know if it was the exhausting and long week beforehand in Paris, Strasbourg and Garmish, but while driving into Florence in our private coach I wondered, “This is it….?” Abnormally tiny streets crowded with impatient drivers and graffiti filled walls had me wondering if this was the city that so many raved about. I certainly did not have the feelings I hoped to. It has been four days since arriving here, and I feel myself slowly but surely opening up to the new city that will be my home for the next seven months. I have experienced wonderful food and wine, and welcoming people like Manola, the manager and owner of my pensione. I feel like many other students are jumping into the city head first, willing to explore so many different places all just in a matter of these four days. Juggling school work, a new language, a new home and a new city seems to make me more reserved about becoming acquainted with Florence. I’ve been trying to mentally assure myself that it’s okay to take my time becoming familiar with all the history and sights Florence, and Italy, has to offer. I am incredibly grateful to be in this position, and I am trying to make the most of each day. Seeing the Duomo for the first time at night was truly breathtaking, and exploring the Arno River and Ponte Vecchio today was beautiful. I hope to grow in like with Florence more and more everyday, and eventually, be in love with the Renaissance City.