Today’s blog post comes to us from Texas A&M student & #APIabroad blogger Kate Hale! She’s studying abroad with us in Florence, Italy. Applications for our Spring 2020 semester program here are now open! You have until October 15th to apply!
For me, life in Florence is VERY different from life back in the United States, a good different. Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
In Florence, my morning begins with the ringing of the bells at the Basilica di San Lorenzo, a church that seems to quite literally in my backyard. As opposed to the aggressive blaring of my phone alarm, these bells are a peaceful reminder that the day is starting. While breakfast in the United States is notoriously large and comes complete with eggs, bacon, pancakes, and hash browns, breakfast in Italy is quite small; simply comprised of a cappuccino, a glass of orange juice and a sweet croissant of your choosing. Before coming to Italy, I had no idea how many kinds of “cornetti” there are: cream-filled, chocolate-filled, marmalade-filled, jam-filled, even almond butter-filled! This small breakfast is the perfect to-go scenario, and I usually grab mine on my way to class in the mornings!
My class is a little longer than most (three hours and forty-five minutes to be exact), as I am taking an advanced Italian language course through the Lorenzo de’Medici Institute. While this may sound completely outrageous to most, it actually zips by in a timely manner. We not only continue our Italian language skills, but we learn a LOT about Italian culture, art, film, and history. The best part is, we are learning about most things that surround us in our daily life here in Florence!
My class ends around one in the afternoon, and each afternoon and night provides me with time for different experiences.
Last week, my roommate and I took a tour of the Palazzo Vecchio here in Florence. This special tour, called “The Secrets of Inferno”, took us behind the scenes of the Palazzo Vecchio, through the eyes of Dan Brown and his characters in the novel AND film Inferno (starring the legendary Tom Hanks!!!). We were able to go through hidden passageways, walk above the famous “Sale cinquecento” (“Hall of the Five-Hundred”), and sneak into a secret door behind the Hall of Maps. If you are ever in Florence, I highly recommend doing this tour!!
Dinner in Florence, and all around Italy, is a whole new ballgame.
Dinner doesn’t usually begin until around 8 pm every night. There is, however, a quick solution to the starving people who can’t make it until 8 pm (which includes me). APERITIVO! It’s wonderful! You can go to any bar serving aperitivo, buy a drink (wine, cocktails, non-alcoholic beverages), and the bar usually serves a variety of hors d’oeuvres. Similar to Spanish tapas or an American happy hour, aperitivo is a perfect way for all Italians to wind down to before dinner!
When dinner time finally arrives, there’s a method to the madness. The food culture is HUGE here in Italy, and sharing is the key to success in most Italian restaurants. It usually consists of an appetizer (antipasto), a pasta dish (primi piatti), a meat / seafood dish (secondi piatti), side dishes (contorni), and a dessert (dolce). Dinner is not meant to be rushed, as it sometimes can be in the United States. Dinner is meant to be savored, slow and full of conversations. The check is never brought to the table until it is asked for, and the waiters are never pushing people out to reuse the tables!