Last week I went with my program on a field trip to Venice and Florence. We were in Venice for a day and in Florence for two days. Venice was amazing! I loved the feeling of the area. There were canals going throughout the cobblestone streets, flowers hanging on the windowsills, and plenty of neat places to shop. It was more of what I expected Italy to be and I was happy to get away from Rome for a week. Although I like Rome a lot, I was not prepared for the fact that is it fairly dirty with graffiti and not kept up well and I have been a bit overwhelmed with city life. Venice provided the exact break I needed. We went to lunch at a cute pizza place along the main strip and then walked around all the stores after. I bought a lot of glass jewelry and a Murano glass watch. We went for a walk with the group and saw some interesting architecture. I learned that Venice’s symbol that dates back to ancient times is the lion of St. Mark. In the evening we went to dinner by the river and I got lasagna. It was very strange because it had ham and peas in it. That night we went on a gondola boat ride and it was a great experience. We got to see the town and the cobblestone streets from a different perspective. The people were very nice here as well. I would recommend Venice for a short trip, but there is not much to do after a couple of days. It would be perfect for a couple or a short getaway. It had a quaint and unique feeling about it.
Florence was also a very nice place to visit. It did have more of a city feel than Venice, but the city looked well kept for the most part. It was interesting to hear that most of the city was destroyed by a bomb in World War II, and much of the architecture and buildings are modeled off of what they were prior to the destruction. The only thing that was safe from the war was the famous bridge which used to make up the butcher shops but now is the street of goldsmiths and jewelry stores. I looked in at all the expensive gold and could not believe the intricacy and detail of the pieces. In Florence we had a tour through the Casa Di Davanzati which is an ancient Florentine home that was refurbished. It was interesting to see all the antiques and to think about how they lived in a time of competition between families for power and constant threat of attack. We also saw the Duomo which was amazing.
Shopping was a very fun part of visiting Florence. We went to the street where they have the leather market for about three hours. There was so much to see! The tents of leather and jewelry just went on and on. I bought some gifts here along with a blue leather jacket for myself and I learned how to get the prices lower. After going to the leather market, we went to a place nearby for dinner. It was so good that we went back for lunch the next day. For dinner I got homemade pesto and for lunch I got margarita (cheese) pizza. It was amazing. What made it even better was that the restaurant was family-owned and run. When I went up the stairs to use the restroom the walls were covered in family photos: weddings, family get togethers, births, and other events. All the waiters were in these pictures, and they were very nice. Another great thing about Florence was that there was a gelato festival the last day we were there. We could get five flavors at any time during the day for four euro! We definitely took advantage of this.
It is interesting to finally be adjusted to life in Italy and it is crazy to think that I do not have too much time left! I plan on making the most of every minute I have even though a lot of it is taken up by school work. The classwork is getting very interesting because we are talking about issues and topics within human development and having discussions on how it applies to Italian children and families. Anyway, soon I will be going to Pompeii and Barcelona and I cannot wait!