It is funny that a place that seemed so foreign about a week ago has begun to feel so homey. Walking around the streets of Florence without using google and knowing how to get from place to place while still adventuring off the paths you are used to is a really empowering feeling. I like that I can see the Duomo and know exactly where I am, or seeing the Arno river and knowing which bridges will get me where I want to go.
I have now been in Florence for almost three weeks and have also gone to Venice, Siena, and San Gimignano. Having been in four cities in Italy, it is really easy to see the general Italian city style. There is a city center area from where everything spreads out from. The farther you get from the city center, the closer you are to more residential areas. The main areas in these cities house their big buildings that at a time served different purposes than the current tourist attractions that they are. And the residential areas all have similar Italian housing architecture. Buildings that are not too tall, that are very boxy, and have a very warm and bright color palette. It is a nice change from living in Philadelphia with many tall modern looking buildings.
This week our Saturday day trip was to Siena and San Gimignano, which the school organized for us. Going on a school trip was so different from the Venice trip that me and my roommates endeavored on our own. There is less planning that needs to happen because you know that you are taken care of. But I feel like I enjoyed not having a set plan of things to do more. With these day trips you are in a city for such a short time, and personally rather than going to all the big sites, I like to wander and see where the day will take me. That said, it was nice to have someone plan a trip and take us to these places, places that I probably would not have thought to go on my own.
It was a fun day full of walking and trying to appreciate the differences and histories that each city in Italy has to offer. But I think one of my favorite parts of the day was when our bus arrived back at the station in Florence and a feeling of confidence that I knew where to go in order to get home. Again, it’s a similar feeling to freshman year of college. When you finally feel like you are starting to get into a rhythm and mesh with the environment you are now living in. I love exploring different places in Italy and venturing around the cities to see things that are not necessarily tourist attractions. I also love that I get to call Florence my home and mean it.