As my two weeks of vacation wind down, I’m thinking about how great it was to have a change of pace and see some old friends in new places. I had the great fortune of experiencing Italy by bus, car, bike, foot, and my favorite… scooter!
Florence is an incredibly beautiful city with enormous amounts of history and culture. It didn’t feel quite as touristy and overwhelming as Rome, and it has no shortage of cappuccinos and pasta. I was captivated by the size of the David at the Accademia and amazed by the panoramic views overlooking the city. It also helped to have a local guide showing me around. Getting to stay with my friend Lorenzo’s family made this trip even more special! They were so hospitable and I certainly didn’t complain about getting to cuddle his lab puppy!
My friend Phil and I took a day trip to Pisa and Lucca and we just loved both of them! Pisa is home to the leaning tower, which is surprisingly impressive in real life. That thing really leans! We ate pizza (and Phil vowed to open a restaurant called The Leaning Tower of Pizza) and we wandered through the Pisa’s cathedral and baptistry. Lucca was our afternoon destination (and my personal favorite). We rode bikes around the walls of this beautiful walled city and got completely lost (our 4km loop became many more when we couldn’t remember where we started). We descended into the city and visited the local cathedral. Phil is an avid biker (and I’m a clumsy beginner) so I followed his lead weaving through the city’s narrow streets. We drank cappuccinos and enjoyed Lucca’s beauty.
I also took a crazy day trip to Rome to surprise a friend! Seeing Rome in a day is impossible, so I’ll have to make a return trip to give the city a fair shot. My quick impression is that it’s huge and touristy, but it brags some incredible history and impressive attractions. We’ll leave that for next time.
Lorenzo and I took a quick day trip to the medieval city of Sam Gimignano. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen! It was quaint and magnificent all at once. We ate good food and checked out cool things. Perhaps my favorite moment was when a Chinese man posed beside a suit of armor in front of a museum entrance. Lorenzo read the sign aloud that said “Torture Museum” in Italian. The man said “Torture? Oh no. I don’t go there.” Lorenzo replied, “I’ve haven’t been in it either.” The guy smirked and said, “We don’t go there. We good guys.” We laughed about that for far too long.
The week was the perfect combination of eventful and restful. I loved spending time with friends and learning about Italian culture. I had my cheat sheet of Italian words to use whenever I needed. Lorenzo’s favorite was that he taught me to say “Sei brutto!” (You’re ugly!) and he’d make me say it to his friends at random times.
Now I can see why so many Harding students come back from HUF with so many stories and fond memories of great experiences (and food!) in Florence.