After leaving Florence and returning home (Memphis) for the summer, I have now had some time to reflect on my study abroad experience. When I first returned home, everyone was immediately asking me “what my favorite tourist site was” or “where my favorite city was” and I was unable to answer these questions. I realized these simple questions were difficult because I did not have one favorite place or one favorite sight, but instead I had aspects I enjoyed about everywhere I went. Although it might sound cliche, I am honest when I say that the entire trip was an an experience of a lifetime. It is hard to put into words everything that I learned while I was abroad, but it really was an enormous life lesson. From language barriers preventing me from a simple task such as reading an Italian menu to other more difficult tasks such as figuring out train stations and directions, everyday was filled with new adventures. Furthermore, it was a great experience going abroad with only one person I previously knew. I did not take the same class as my friend so this really made me have to branch out and meet people on my own. In my class we did a lot of hands on activities where we go outside the classroom and have to incorporate marketing lessons into the real world. This was not only a great learning opportunity, but it also allowed me to meet some of my classmates. Many of the classmates I met were from around the world, and it was neat to hear their insight on being abroad. This trip not only opened my eyes to a completely new culture, but now it has made me interested in seeing so many other cultures around the world. It is safe to say that this experience not only lived up to my expectations but greatly exceed them, and I could not be more thankful for this opportunity!
The Piazzale Michelangelo quickly became one of my favorite pastimes while I was in Florence. This sight is a famous square which was located about 15 minutes from our apartment; it has a spectacular panoramic view of Florence and overlooks the Arno River. We visited this sight multiple times of week just to see the magnificent views.
Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens
One sight that is a must see in Florence is the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens, which lie directly behind the Palace. This palace was home to the prominent Medici family for hundreds of years and now is the largest museum in Florence. After we toured this grand museum, we had lunch in the Boboli Gardens. These gardens are beautiful and are a popular park for both locals and visitors.
Cathedral of Santa Maria die Fiore (The Duomo)
The renowned Cathedral of Santa Maria die Fiore, more commonly referred to as the Duomo, is a popular attraction among tourists and locals in Florence. I would pass this cathedral at least a couple of times a day because it was located only about 5 minutes from our apartment. I was always amazed by the detailing on the exterior of this church and its size. On one of my last days in Florence, I toured the inside of the church and climbed 463 steps to the top. The views from the top of the Duomo were spectacular and overlooked all of Florence.
As I previously mentioned, our program required students to fly into Rome before heading to Florence. While in Rome, ISA had arranged for a guide to tour us around the Vatican. This tour was especially fascinating because I am Catholic and was able to see the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. Although I have learned some history about the Vatican in the past, it was definitely an eyeopening experience to see it in real-life and the architecture and art that lie within this city-state were unbelievable.
Over the weekend our program had a day trip to Cinque Terre, Italy. The Cinque Terre, a rugged portion of coastline on the Italian Riveria, is made up of 5 seaside villages. We arrived by train in the village of Riomaggiore and then took a ferry ride to the other villages. It was interesting to see the differences in culture and architecture in the villages, and the views were absolutely breathtaking.
Last week we had a class field trip to the Gucci Musuem in Florence. This Musuem charts Gucci’s remarkable 90-year history and explains how founder Guccio Gucci made his name as a purveyor of finest quality leather accessories. This musuem spreads across 3 floors and shows how Gucci has achieved its present day status as one of the world’s leading luxury goods brands.
I have now completed my first full week of classes! After attending my first class, I learned that my teacher, Sandra Nannini, was not only an expert about marketing in the fashion industry but actually has her own company. She explained to us that her family had started Nannini, a fashion company specialized in handbags and accessories of high quality made in Italy. After class I researched this company and learned that it started in Florence in 1945 by Virgilio Nannini, who was Ms. Nannini’s grandfather. Ms. Nannini explained to us that her company was acquired by a corporate group a few years ago, but that she was still heavily involved with the business decisions at Nannini. I think having Mrs. Nannini as a teacher is such an incredible opportunity and am excited to learn marketing techniques from her perspective.
After traveling for so long and immediately touring Rome upon my arrival to Europe, I was very ready to reach Florence and get settled in my apartment. Upon arrival in Florence, I could instantly tell I was going to love this city. On the first day, I met my roommates (one who I already knew) for the program, and ISA gave us a walking tour of the city. We were able to see where we would be taking classes at FUA (Florence University of the Arts), and many of the famous attractions. I was happy to find out that my apartment is conveniently located; it’s about a 10 minute walk from FUA and the famous Ponte Vecchio. I start class this week and could not be more excited to meet my teacher and classmates and hear first-hand about my course!
Ciao! I have officially arrived in Italy and already LOVE it. Although my study abroad program is located in Florence, we were required to fly into Rome. We stayed here for the first couple of days, and ISA had many activities set up for us. We had local tour guides at many of the main attractions which made the experience even better. Although just seeing many of the famous statues and buildings in person was amazing, it was super neat that our tour guides were able to give us some background history on the momuments as we were viewing them. Although I was only in Rome for a short time, the history and architecture of this city was truly spectacular.