Getting Around Florence (and Italy)

Every weekday, with the exception of Friday, I awake in our flat in Borgo San Frediano at 08:00 and leave for CAPA at 08:30.  I walk 1 mile to school, which takes me around 20 minutes.  Although, I mainly walk to get places at Pitt, I will sometimes take the city bus or the Pitt Shuttles.  In particular, in Pittsburgh, I frequent the Port Authority buses to get to various neighborhoods outside of Oakland, usually for work, shopping, or visiting friends.  CAPA did provide us with city bus passes, but I have not built up the courage to venture on to one, yet.  Besides, most Florentines I have spoken with said that walking is the main means of transportation here.

Getting exercise, listening to podcasts, stopping for a cappuccino, and absorbing the foreign landscape are the things I like most about my commute.  Although the thought of walking 1 mile to school makes getting out of bed harder some days (particularly when it is raining), this commute is a healthy way to start and end my day, and I enjoy the energy it brings me.  Also, I usually catch up on U.S. political, economic, and entertainment news by listening to podcasts on my commute; my favorites are What’s News, Your Money Briefing, The Daily, and Blank Check.  If I give myself enough time, I will stop in to a nearby coffee shop to sip a cappuccino, cafe Americano (expresso with hot water), or an expresso, all of which cost less than what they would be in the U.S.  Sometimes I will purchase a chocolate croissant to go along with this; they have Nutella in them over here and are delectable!  Finally, the most unique and lucky part about my commute is that I pass many famous Florence vistas.  I walk about a third of a mile along the Arno River, passed the Ponte Vecchio, then through the Ufizzi’s courtyard, passed the Piazza Vecchio and the Bargello Museum.

Granted I am still relatively new and inexperienced with living here, words of advice I have for students planning to study abroad in Florence include the following: do not feel pressured to book a trip to a far away destination every weekend (a lot of people will be talking about where they went or are going but do what you think is healthiest); be open to meeting new people (this is an important one); respect the locals and work to understand their culture and history.

In other news, I visited Palermo, Sicily this weekend with a fellow CBA student.  Highlights included the delicious southern-Italian style food, the warmer attitudes of locals, the Architectural Museum, the Palantine Chapel, and the mountainous landscapes.