Life at GIF
Even though we’ve now been in Florence for almost a full three months, it has been such a whirlwind of a semester that it’s crazy to think it’s almost over. From classes to school trips to Florence life, I’ve learned more about myself and this country, and experienced more than I could have ever believed. But first, let’s start with daily life in Florence.
At least for me, my typical day begins at 7am in which I get dressed after looking out my window in Pensione Cordova which gives me a view of red bricked roofs and Tuscan hills in the distance. Next is a typical Italian breakfast (which for most of us Americans isn’t considered very substantial) which usually consists of some hard boiled eggs, rolls with nutella, butter, or jam, and a granola-like cereal that most people mix with yogurt to attempt a parfait. My favorite, though, is our machine which makes all kinds of coffee (most popularly cappuccinos) and hot chocolate, as well as the one in the basement of the school.
Arriving at school means you’ll be welcomed with many ‘good mornings’ by GIF’s lovely, caring staff in our little building. After many ‘ciaos’ and ‘buongiornos’ classes begin, and before you know it, it’s time for a two course meal of pasta and meat for lunch in the pensione. I have engineering, religion art, history, English, Philosophy, and of course Italian classes, but when people are done with afternoon classes, it’s time to explore the city in the afternoon. From museums, to gelaterias, to cafes, to Fiorentina games and calcetto practice, or simply taking a walk on the Ponte Vecchio up towards Piazzale Michelangelo, there is so much to do and see in the city. At dinner, there is more delicious pasta and a second course of meat, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Italians, it’s that no one ever goes away hungry.
While much of our time is spent in Florence, GIF offers a multitude of school trips that anyone can participate in. For example, early in the semester we took a day tour of the Tuscan countryside including the small fortress town of Monteriggiorni, the rolling hills of Siena, and the medieval ‘stuck-in-time’ San Gimignano (home to the world’s best gelato). Another great weekend consisted of the Assisi Pilgrimage, learning about St. Francis of Assisi, as well as exploring Venice and the islands of Murano and Burano the next weekend. We were given the opportunity to have a a tour of the city, ride in water taxis, and even blow glass after watching a demonstration. One of my most enjoyable trips so far though was the school’s Spring Break trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland in which we toured the country with the same tour guide for a week in our own little coach bus, called the ‘Paddywagon’. Just a few highlights, we saw the Book of Kells in Trinity College, visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, explored the small town of Killarney in which horse and carriage ride or horse-back rides were available, visited Galway where the Claddagh ring was created, visited the Cliffs of Moher, toured Belfast with some locals, visited ‘Giant’s Causeway’ and even took a peak into Parliament.
Even with all these adventures throughout Europe, I really love being back in Florence and spending time here. I’ve learned so much about it’s history and what it has to offer, and I feel like everyday I find a new road, or understand more and more why Florence is the way that it is. As a history major, I’ve learned more than I ever could have guessed I would about this wonderful city filled with wonder and adventure. Make sure you ask your kids how they’re enjoying their time, but I can say for sure that I couldn’t be more thankful to be here, and that Florence will always be a second home.