Adventures in Florence and Pisa
Since this is my first blog I believe it warrants an introduction. My name is Cecilia Velazquez and I am a sophomore business student studying abroad through the Honors Program at the UW Rome Center. This is my first study abroad experience and it has definitely given me a thirst for more. Right now my classes consist of taking History, Art and Italian all of which come to life more so because I am living in it. What could be more powerful than learning about the Trevi fountain, the Vatican and the Pantheon than getting the opportunity to see them for myself?
My class went on a field trip to Florence the third weekend into the quarter to have a change of scenery and experience another city outside of Rome. Florence, like Rome is also located by the river, but the fact that it is smaller made it more manageable. On our first day there we went to lunch as a group and were able to try some of the famous Tuscan soups. Ribollita, which is a vegetable soup, was by far my favorite. I never knew that a vegetable soup could have such flavor and taste so good. One of my favorite activities that we did in Florence was climb to the top of a hill on which there was a church. The church was linked to a monastery with monks who chanted at the evening mass. While we did not arrive in time to hear them chant we were treated to an almost bird’s eye view of the city below, taking in not only the historic center and the river but also the landscape that surrounds Florence.
The one thing that surprised me most about Florence was that when we went in the markets the street vendors all spoke various languages. Depending on what language they thought we spoke they would address us differently. At one belt shop the woman running it spoke to us in English and Italian but also knew Spanish and Portuguese in addition to knowing phrases in other languages to help her in her trade.
After our stay in Florence a couple of the girls and I went to visit the Leaning tower of Pisa. We took the train and oriented ourselves with the use of a city map to locate where the Tower stood and headed off in that direction. The streets were almost entirely deserted because it was during the time of “siesta” when many shops closed so it made getting a bite to eat a little bit trying but very satisfactory when we found a sandwich shop that was still open. We were lucky to have a nice day with the temperatures in the 60s and a clear blue sky up above. When we finally reached the Tower it was such a contrast that so many people were there when we had not seen many on the streets at all. We could tell that there were many tourists because they all had their cameras and were waiting in line for their tour of the Tower. Though we did not go up the Tower we took a look around and took the typical funny pictures with the Tower of pushing it over and holding it up. We had a good time and then decided to take our leave back to the train station. After a long weekend of traveling and getting away from Rome for a while I was pleased to be able to be going back “home” and having “home” mean Rome.
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