Athena Study Abroad students share their experiences with amazing blogs.
Saturday morning, Hannah, Marci and I woke up at 5:30 am to go catch the sunrise! We ran through the dark, empty streets of Florence and followed the scents of fresh bread preparing for morning shoppers. We found one bakery that had its doors cracked open slightly, but the sky was slowly getting lighter, so we decided that our bread could wait! We danced through our piazzas, skipped through the "lines" of the Uffizi and dashed across the Arno just fast enough catch the sun's glow reflecting on the still water. The sun was almost coming! We passed the large fortress on the right and then went up the never-ending staircase to the Piazza Michelangelo. The view was breathtaking and the monuments were still glowing from their evening lights. We spent the next hour reveling in our beautiful city and realizing how lucky we are to be living in FLORENCE! As we got our fill of picture taking and bird chasing, we decided to continue our adventure into the hills behind the piazza. And guess what we found....trees!!! We were very excited. Some were green, but some were changing into gorgeous shades of orange and yellow. I love fall!!
That night we went to the Florence vs. Genoa soccer game! The school had purchased tickets for us on the lower level of the stadium (so not in the sea of purple section, but still fun none-the-less). We were close enough that we could get up close and personal with our favorite players. In the very last 3 minutes of the game, Florence scored, beating Genoa 1-0. The crowd went crazy, people were jumping up and down and the stands were shaking. After the game, everyone rushed out of the stadium. We weaved in and out of people and racing vespas. It was mayhem, but I guess that is Italian soccer matches for you!
Sunday morning, we woke up bright and early once again, and went on a day trip with a tour to Cinque Terre! We hiked through the first 4 towns and then took a ferry to the last town. Cinque Terre is gorgeous! Each building and house in the towns are all painted different, vibrant colors. The sparkling blues of the water and the sky combined with the bright oranges, blues and pinks provide a gorgeous living rainbow that would drive any artist into a frenzy!
One of our tour guides closely resembled a cross between Harry Potter and Clark Kent while the other's name was Filippo and he provided us with his philosophy on life and italy. Filippo was such a strong influence on this trip, that I actually centered my first photography project for my Expanding Creativity class around some of the messages that he has left with me. He talked about the importance of family and how after his father died, he and his brother made a pact to stop surviving and start living. He also has a tattoo on his arm that is written in latin and encompasses many of the thoughts that he lives by. He believes that we are not warriors of shields and swords, but rather we are warriors everyday of our own inner fears. Fear is one of the greatest things that can keep us from truly jumping into life.
On the train ride home, Filippo left us with something that shocked us all, actually. He came over and sat with us for a while, and just as he was about to leave, he turned and said that he could tell we were different. He said our souls radiate. That we aren't stupid or weird, but that we are Perfect. It's amazing how much you can learn about someone by just spending a few hours with them. I was flattered that he said we were perfect, but even more in awe that he had seen a little bit of our hearts that day. He was looking for something more than an outward appearance, he was looking to discover a real person.
On Thursday after we had all finished our classes, we went on another adventure throughout the town! We had heard of a bakery called Sugar and Spice that has both American and Italian desserts, and feeling a little homesick, we decided to give in to our sweet tooth! I ordered a slice of carrot cake that was divine! We then walked over to the piazza in front of Santa Croce where they were having an international food festival! I love how Florence has so many small festivals and parades. If you are ever bored, you can just walk the streets and you are sure to find something interesting!
Ciao for now!Kristen
Kristen Thies is from Upland, California. She attends Chapman University in Orange, California and is blogging about her study abroad experience in Florence, Italy.