I left Kansas City for Minneapolis around 11am Wednesday, May 23rd.
I had never flown over the ocean or even out of the country before, so I was very excited, despite the flight being almost nine hours long. Sadly, I didn’t get any sights of Paris or even England as we flew over it. The fog was so thick that I couldn’t see the ground until the plane was seconds away from landing on the runaway! The Paris airport was very large and very confusing…I accidentally went through customs security twice, but I did get my first stamp in my passport! I was 6am in America before my next flight left, che sfortuna! I landed safely in Florence 4pm (Italian time) Thursday, May 24th. Even though I had been awake for 24 hours straight without a sleeping on any of my three flights, I found a bus schedule (after exchanging my American dollars for Italian euros) and rode into Piazza della Stazione in Central City.
My first Italian exchange was with the driver over payment, quite nerve wracking! The traffic here is so unusual; the huge, crowded bus I was on stopped inches from the car in front of us every time. It was unnerving, especially with all the people on scooters weaving in and out of anything they could fit in, but none of the Italians seemed too concerned.
After checking in on campus at Lorenzo de’ Medici, I took my time exploring the city as I searched for my apartment. As I got deeper into downtown, the streets became much less vehicle friendly, eventually transitioning completely to cobblestone with pedestrian only areas. I felt very much like a tourist with my rolling suitcase bouncing around and often falling over as I pulled it behind me, doing my best to look nonchalant and cool as I repeatedly bent down to pick it up and check my map for the hundredth time. Because of the added security to all locks in Florence, I had a difficult time even getting into my building from the street. In Italy, the ground floor is separate from the first floor, so my “second” floor apartment is actually on the third.
As I was walking, I passed multiple ancient looking buildings, including the Palazzo Vecchio in the Piazza della Signoria, which also houses the Loggia dei Lanzi and the Fountain of Neptune. This is just down the street from my apartment to the West, and to the East is the Basilica of Santa Croce, even more beautiful! But I am ecstatic mostly because…the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, aka the Duomo is just a few minutes walk to the North. I couldn’t believe it! I can’t wait to see the interior of all of these fantastic and beautiful places, most of which are more than five centuries old!
I plan to buy an “Amici degli Uffizi” (friend of the Uffizi), a low cost pass that grants me access to all the museums in Florence. Sadly, however, this doesn’t cover the churches. 😦
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