As I now approach the latter half of my time in Florence, I have truly been trying to savor the remainder of these fleeting moments. This city is home to such a rich history with defining landmarks like the Duomo or Cupola del Brunelleschi. Walking past these sites is like being magically transported back in time.
Along with the towering Duomo, Florence’s landscape is dotted with distinct piazzas. One of the most notable is Piazza della Signoria, which hugs Fontana del Nettuno, Loggia dei Lanzi, and Palazzo Vecchio. For me, this piazza will forever be reminiscent of my first few Florentine nights when my friends and I were still getting acquainted with the city. We would often venture out to Piazza della Signoria in the hopes of retrieving water from the drinking fountain beside Palazzo Vecchio.
Our dynamic with the city has inevitably evolved since our first few nights. As study abroad students, we are long-term tourists who cannot completely flaunt the label of locals. The Uffizi Galleries are typically overrun with (short-term) tourists; however, the art within and the stunning exterior should not be missed.
The Uffizi’s array of corridors, statues, and paintings truly create a magical atmosphere. Even the museum’s ceilings are decorated with lavish stylings and details. Evidently so, the museum’s steady prominence has solidified its status as an essential staple of Florence.
During my free time, I have tried to go beyond the tourist bubble in search of more authentic Florentine neighborhoods. One such destination is Oltrarno, which is home to some of my favorite piazzas: Piazza Santo Spirito (pictured here) and Piazza della Passera. At Piazza Santo Spirito, you can often spot locals engaging in conversation, as well as outdoor flea markets with clothing items, jewelry, and trinkets of the sort.
I continued to venture out to new Florentine neighborhoods during Fall Break. Florence has a multitude of alleyways that are all eye-catching in their own regard. Some hold vines that add a splash of green to the bustling cityscape, while others boast artistic murals. The many winding roads all lead to the same conclusion: the city is incredibly intertwined in a way that encourages continuous exploration.
The rich history of the city truly permeates each corner. The background of Le Murate, for instance, makes the cafe’s compelling atmosphere even more distinct. Le Murate was once an old prison that was later reborn as a café. In the present day, it has evolved into a contemporary coffee and aperitivo spot.
As all roads lead to Rome, I visited the capital over fall break. Here, you can see the St. Peter’s Basilica dome peeking through tree branches at the Borghese Gardens. Though it is quite a trek, the Vatican City remains visible from Passeggiata del Pincio.
The Hospital of Innocents is another institution that is not quite as popular among tourists but is still telling of Florence’s Renaissance history. There is a solemn aura present along the corridor and its stretching arches.
Studying abroad is a fever dream in and of itself. Students must balance their studies and new lifestyle while feeling the need to make the most out of every day. For me, I have found it restorative to simply discover new places. Chiesa di San Frediano in Cestello is a concealed gem in which its ornate frescoes contrast the unassuming exterior. While I traced the perimeter of San Frediano, I fell into a state of reflection. Time seems to be quickly slipping out of my grasp, and notably, this temporary period of my life is one that I will always cherish immensely.