Photos by Emilee Zhang, (Brandeis University) Student Correspondent Brandeis Midyear at CET Florence, Fall 2018 Having already traveled the weekend before, I decided that on this weekend, I would remain in Florence and explore more of the city. While strolling around, I happened to find myself in the Piazzale Michelangelo. To say I was anything short of amazed would be false because here you have (arguably) the most beautiful view overlooking Florence. You have a clear view of both the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio. If you turn towards the middle of the piazza, in the center stands a large replica of Michelangelo’s famous David statue. I couldn’t help but stop to get a picture of the sculpture with the beautiful sunset in the back. Fortunately for us, there are always many activities going on during the weekends in Florence, and the All Stars Gelato Festival competition took place in the same square on that day, hence the various tents in the back. My roommate and I took a weekend trip to Pompeii and it was fascinating! We saw the plaster castings of the human remains covered in ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted back in 79 AD, and to our surprise, we found out that it’s still an active volcano! One of my favorite classes has been Medici: The History and Legend of an Italian Dynasty. Even though we already learned a lot about the Medici family in class, going to the San Lorenzo Church (the family’s private chapel) really made it so much more real. We were able to see the magnificent interiors and even saw Cosimo de’ Medici’s crypt downstairs! Although all of the CET activities are fun, our cooking class have thus far been my favorite! About 20 of the CET students joined and we went together to a restaurant, learning how to make both pizza and chocolate soufflés from scratch! And to top it all off, we got to eat what we made! Even though I’ve already been in Florence for so long, I never cease to be amazed at all of the talented artists in this city. Whether it’s by the Ponte Vecchio or the Duomo, whether the artists are painting with watercolor or drawing with pencils, art is absolutely everywhere. I happened to walk by this amazing chalk drawing of Botticelli’s “Primavera” in the street! Another one of my favorite places in Florence has been the Piazza de’ Pitti and the Pitti Palace, which houses the beautiful Boboli Gardens. Often, people just sit on the ground and relax or go inside the palace to visit its museums. This is one of my favorite locations to sit down and draw. This photo was taken inside the Santa Maria Novella church, which houses the famous “Holy Trinity”. I was there with my sketchbook class to hone our skills on perspective drawings, focusing mainly on architecture. The inside is absolutely beautiful. This is another one of my favorite CET activities; however, I can’t really say this is an activity since it’s more of a large trip. We all went to Rome for the weekend and of course, we had to visit the famous Colosseum. While it looks as magnificent as it does in photographs, it’s so much larger in person and feels very surreal to be standing right in front of it. Another beautiful sight in Rome is the beautiful Piazza Navona, where we met our tour guide for a walking tour of Campo dei Fiori, Ghetto Ebraico (the Jewish ghetto of Rome), and Trastavere. While these activities were optional, I found that walking around Rome with a tour guide made the experience so much more interesting, as I got to learn about the places we went to in more depth than if I were to venture through Rome by myself.