All the Little Things
Ciao again everyone!
It’s been a while since I actually looked at the date and I just have to say… WHAT?! I can’t believe that in 3 short weeks, my time here in Florence will be over. I say it every time, but time really is flying. I’ve been taking it pretty easy since fall break – no big trips or grand adventures, but I have done a lot of little things (and had a lazy day… ok week)!
First (I think? Time is really warping in my mind), I finally got to pay a visit to the renowned Boboli Gardens here in Florence. I’ve been hearing about this place since before I even left home, so it was definitely on my list of things to do! Upon arriving, we were faced with a beautiful landscape of greenery, statues, and a massive fountain right in the center. We quickly learned that there was no set way to tour the gardens, so every time we were faced with new trails, we simply picked one and carried on. Though it might not have been your traditional garden with flowers and produce, the walk through the ever continuing green walkway was absolutely stunning, and the entire rolling landscape was spotted with statues from artists old and new. It was a day I could truly call relaxing and serene.
Next, we had the long anticipated Stony Brook FUA conference where professors and academics from both the US and Italy attended and lectured on the theme of exploration and cultural exchange, both asking and answering the question of what has been brought from the US to Italy throughout the years. I can tell you one thing – the crazy weather back home definitely carried its effects here, delaying several flights! Nevertheless, the conference went on and I was finally able to meet the men behind it all and the reason I am able to bring this blog post to you today – Dr. Ahrens, the Dean of International Academic Affairs and Dr. Mignone, the Director of the Center for Italian Studies and the reason for the scholarship I was able to come here with! After speaking with them, I realized just what a privilege it was to be able to attend such a conference, and how little undergrads have this opportunity. Aside from attending the conference, I had the opportunity to be in the Stony Brook student panel and present to the attendees on the cultural aspects that students and tourists bring to Florence. After much nerves and two days of hard work, the conference was finally over, but being able to meet and speak with so many academic figures was an opportunity that I am very glad I was able to have.
After the craziness of the conference, I definitely needed a big rest, hence my lack of things to write about, but after fighting off a lovely cold and ear infection, I was up and ready to go for what would become my favorite day here in Florence to date. When my friend suggested a day trip to go horseback riding through the vineyards of Chianti, an area famous for its wine right outside of Florence, I didn’t have to think twice before saying yes. Next thing I knew, I was being strapped into a helmet and swinging me leg over a horse as tall as I am named Bangi! Never having ridden a horse, the first few minutes, though beautiful, were filled with apprehension that at some point in the day, I would be on the ground with a broken arm. To my relief, me nerves calmed as I took in the breathtaking views of the Tuscan landscape with its changing leaves and vineyards as far as the eye can see. As we walked through the rolling hills of the vineyard, followed by 3 adorable little barn puppies, I felt all of my worries fade away; in those few hours, I was here, enjoying Italy in a way that I never could have done locked inside the walls of the historic city center. Getting off of my horse at the end of our ride was slightly sad, but the memories I created that day will last me for as long as I live. For the second part of our trip, we were driven up to a small castle where we had a traditional Italian lunch accompanied with a delicious wine tasting. I could not have asked for a better experience in the Tuscan countryside – the day was beautiful, the leaves were changing, and it was the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and school troubles.
Now back in Florence, all of us students are gearing up for an American tradition that we are sorely missing – Thanksgiving! Though the Florentines seem to be skipping straight ahead to Christmas, this is one American tradition that we can’t let go of! Though I can say my cooking skills have improved immensely, I can’t speak for the rest of my classmates – let’s see how this goes! To everyone back home, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving, and eat some turkey for me!
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