I am writing this (my final post) with approximately two weeks remaining in the semester. Being abroad for the past four months has warped my concept of time in the best way possible. Pictured here is the clock of Palazzo Vecchio’s Tower of Arnolfo, one of the city’s most visited columns.
Many people are already familiar with the phrases la dolce vita (the sweet life) or dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing), but I would like to share another: tutto fa brodo. Tutto fa brodo, which directly translates to everything makes soup, is the Italian idiom for anything goes. In relation to the social aspect of studying abroad, this is to say that it never hurts to push oneself into new cultural experiences and integrate into the local setting.
This is the view (left image) as I walk down my residential street. I feel incredibly grateful to live in such a central point that is native to the city center. Living next to Piazza Santa Croce is not something that my roommates and I take for granted. Throughout these past months, we often joined locals on the steps of the church and indirectly soaked in whispers of Italian. Fortunately, the church’s beauty is not something that we have become numb to, and we still stare in awe whenever it reflects the golden light.
Continuing with the theme of views I come across on my daily walks, this is the view (right image) on my way home from the CET Center. I typically cross the Ponte alle Grazie in order to get from San Niccolò to Santa Croce. (PSA: I mean this in the most humble way imaginable, but I have found that romanticizing one’s life is much easier when the city does it for you.)
For our final CET-sanctioned day trip, we ventured out to Modena in Emilia-Romagna. We were able to visit a site that produces balsamic vinegar before feasting on an extended aperitivo. After individually exploring the city grounds, we toured the Ferrari Museum as a collective.
When I told people that I would be studying in Italy, they always remarked with a statement about food. It usually fell along the lines of “Italy, you’re going to have some great food there.” It’s true. One of my favorite places to grab a panino is I’ Girone De’ Ghiotti. This is the only sandwich place that I will queue in a long line for, as their Schiacciata (Tuscan bread) and friendly staff are unmatched.
Upon our return to Florence post-Thanksgiving break, we were met by crowds for the Florence Marathon. Although Florence is categorized as a small city, one can often stumble across captivating city-wide events. This served as our daily dose of tutto fa brodo, as we randomly integrated into the community even though it occurred by pure chance.
During this final countdown, I have been trying to return to my favorite destinations throughout the city. One such place is Piazza Santo Spirito. Located in Oltrarno, literally meaning on the other side of the Arno River, you can escape the swarm of tourists to some extent. However, the reason I love this area is because of the flea market and lounging locals.
Due to our proximity to Santa Croce, my roommates and I frequently go to the Santa Croce Christmas Market. The market is bustling at all times of day and night. It boasts an array of artisanal products, from small trinket stands to food stalls. There are a variety of quick bites that appeal to anyone’s palate. These include but are in no way limited to pierogis, bombolone (filled Italian doughnuts), waffles, and cider!
Vivaldi, along with High Bar, is a popular café among Brandeis Midyears and other CET students (so expect to run into someone you know!) Vivaldi is directly across the street from the CET Center. The space is decorated with ambient lighting, with an enchanting seating area beyond the corridor.
The holiday season is a time that I usually look forward to. However, this year, it is marked by the looming shadow of returning to American soil. I will miss strolling around the city with no particular destination in mind. The imaginative light displays scattered throughout Florence create a warm, inviting atmosphere that adds to the encroaching bittersweet goodbye.
For me, the featured idiom, tutto fa brodo, alludes to the notion that no matter what you add, the end result will still be soup. That being said, we must see our endeavors through until the end to stand back and admire the bigger picture. My study abroad experience seemed to resemble the script of a reality show at times, given the roller coaster highs and tumultuous twists; however, there is not a single moment that I would sacrifice. After all is said and done, tutto fa brodo—everything makes soup.