Written by Allie, High School/Pre-College Student Correspondent for Italian Food, Art, and Society in Florence, Summer 2018
After spending a week in Florence I think I have some knowledge to spill. Before coming to Florence, some things you should be prepared for is how much walking you will be doing, for example today we walked 6 miles, the day before 5.6, and the day before 7.1 miles. Another thing you might want to be prepared for is how much gelato you’re going to eat, but it’s okay because of all of the walking you will be doing. A couple of my favorite gelato places that I’ve tried are Vivoli, Perche no!, and Amorino.
One of my favorite days that I’ve had here was the day we took a gelato making class, for starters we had an excuse to eat 3 cups of gelato, but we also got to learn the difference between American ice cream and gelato.
We learned how simple making gelato is and how few ingredients go into it. Something that I’ve noticed here in Florence is how passionate everybody has been about whatever they are teaching. Our gelato making instructor clearly loved gelato and the process of making it. Similarly, our tour guide at the Chianti farm was very into the process of making wine and olive oil.
Today, we went to a beach nearby called Viareggio. Viareggio is a small city in Tuscany about a hour train ride away from Florence. Our day started at the train station, now this is kind of stressful because you don’t know what platform your train is going to come to until a couple minutes before it comes, luckily we didn’t have any trouble with this. The beach in Viareggio is crazy, I don’t think I’ve seen a beach like this before. It was a huge beach, looked like it went on for a mile or so and every piece of the beach is covered with straight, uniform rows of umbrellas and chairs. There is many different companies that you can rent an umbrella and some chairs from, each has different colored umbrellas. This creates a beautiful view of the beach from the water. All of the beaches from where I am from are public beaches, so you can just show up and set up your stuff on a spot at the beach, free of charge. Apparently this is a luxury that I’ve never even thought about. This is one of the many differences you will notice between Italian and American culture.
Another one of my favorite nights here in Florence was when we went to Piazzale Michelangelo. This is an area on one of the hills that gives you a beautiful panoramic view of the city. We went while the sun was setting which was breathtaking, the sun reflected on the Arno river right below you and the Duomo, the Florence Cathedral, shining in front of you. This may sound amazing, which it is, but there are also tons people at the same place. When we went there must have been more than one hundred people in the small piazza. This may bother some people who don’t like having to squeeze your way through a crowd to get a good picture but we didn’t seem to mind.
So in conclusion, Florence is an amazing city that holds many opportunities and experiences, these are just a couple of mine. I can’t wait to see what new experiences are yet to come.