My first real adventure here in Florence was locating my apartment. This may seem simple to you, but it really was quite the adventure. A shuttle from the airport took my roommate and I to our street with the brief instruction of “straight ahead and it should be on your right at some point.” The two of us, along with all of our luggage, walked across the cobblestone roads (rolling suitcases on cobblestone is not easy, so I learned that day), looking for number 7 on the walls of the buildings. We found a red 7 which appeared to be a restaurant, so we figured we would be living upstairs. We ventured inside only to be given extremely weird glances. One man walked in so we asked him if he spoke english and he replied no. Thus, the first minutes of my semester here in Italy were underway and I was already using my Italian! I spoke briefly with him in Italian and explained our situation, to which he responded that there are black and red numbers on each street, black are residential and red are commercial. With this newfound knowledge, my roommate and I located our apartment at the black number 7 just down the street.
Living here in Florence has interesting parallels to living in Pittsburgh while obviously many differences as well. I share an apartment here with one other student, also from Pitt. Apartments in Florence are interesting because they are intermixed with store fronts. From what I have noticed in Pittsburgh, apartments tend to be on the floors above stores and restaurants. For example, there are apartments along Forbes Ave. in Oakland above stores like Chipotle and Dunkin Donuts. Here in Florence, our apartments are next to stores so there could be someone living right next door to a grocery store or restaurant. Another difference is that apartments do not start on the entry level floor here. On street level there is a corridor leading to staircases and apartments begin on what in the United States we would denote as the second floor.
One challenge that my roommate and I, as well as many other CAPA students I have spoken with, regarding our new home is the difference in the standard indoor temperature. Italians generally do not use too much heat in their buildings, which us American students are not used to. My apartment is locked at 18 degrees celsius which has been an interesting adjustment. Though it is winter here, I still find it more comfortable to be walking around outside rather than sitting inside in the colder temperatures.
My favorite thing about our apartment is its location. We are approximately fifteen minutes from the CAPA center where all of our classes take place, but we are in such close vicinity to the Duomo, Il Mercato Centrale, il Mercato di San Lorenzo, and la stazione (the train station). This location makes our walks everyday incredibly enjoyable as there is so much to see every time we leave our door.