Written by Hannah Katz (University of Wisconsin- Madison), Student Correspondent CET Florence, Summer 2019
Disclaimer: before I begin, I need to warn all potential readers: this article is essentially going to be a 500 word love letter to the city of Florence, and Italy in general. If you enjoy excessive gushing about food, sunsets, and the river Arno, enjoy.
Before studying abroad, you’re always told that the adjustment period may be rough, but it’ll be worth it. What no one told me was that leaving Florence would be harder than any acclimation ever could be. I currently have just under 10 hours left in Florence. I’ve already into my flight and to figure out how I’m going to cram my bags full of my new purchases without going over the airline weight limit. It’s official: I’m in denial about leaving. I don’t think I can fully process that today might have been my last time grabbing a panini and strolling around Piazza Santa Croce, or that I have eaten at my favorite trattoria and then watched the sun set over Ponte Vecchio.
Fitting into Florence was as natural as spending time in my hometown. Everything came easy to me here: there was no issues, no problems navigating, and no bad times. Each day in Italy seemed to be better than the last, each meal tastier, each sunset somehow more beautiful than the last. I don’t think there’s ever been a time in my life that I’ve been so incredibly happy than when I was strolling through the familiar streets chatting with friends while enjoying gelato, feeling completely at peace with my life. I’ve never been as stupefied and entranced with any work of art more than that within the Uffizi, and the thought of stepping out of my home back in the states and not being surrounded with hundreds of years of culture and art is one of the saddest things in the world to me.
It’s hard to sum up six whirlwind weeks of absolute amazement and wonder in just a few hundred words. How can you encapsulate how marvelous the colors of the Duomo look at dusk, or the absolute pleasure of enjoying prosciutto and mozzarella on a rooftop overlooking Santa Maria Novella? The humor you see looking at tourists making common mistakes you yourself most likely made only a few weeks prior is something that can only be shared by other students who feel local. Tragically, there’s no way a postcard can describe the warm sun hitting your face as you step out of your favorite lunch spot gorged but delighted.
All I can really say about my time in Florence is that it was nowhere near enough. There’s so much I never got to do or see- somehow I never made it to Boboli Gardens, or to a solid 60% of the restaurants I wanted to try. There’s still vast areas of Florence that are left for me to explore, much more than I could ever feasibly walk in a day and a half.
Having to say goodbye to my new friends and my familiar city is a giant task that I’ve been dreading, and now that the day has finally arrived, and as the sun sets over Ponte Vecchio and my last day in Florence comes to a close, I can’t help but smile through the sadness; because, despite study abroad being a once in a lifetime experience, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll return to Florence as soon as I possibly can and we’ll pick up right where we left off.