Ciao from Florence! I am now just over three weeks into my program and loving every second here! I think I am adjusting to the culture of the city of Florence, but still learning new things every day. Some things that stuck out to me living in an apartment here is that there is no air conditioning (in 90 degree weather!). My roommates and I have gotten used to opening the windows in the morning and the evening when it is not as hot out to help with the heat. We also have fans but need to be more cautious with our electricity consumption as it is much more expensive here (hence no A/C in homes). Along with this, we keep the shades shut when we are not home to keep the sunlight out. These were easy adjustments however because in this heat you are very aware of doing little things to keep the temperature down. Along with this, there are no clothes dryers in homes so we hang our clothes to dry which took some getting used to. The first time I washed my sheets I was nervous they were going to blow away because I had to hang them outside my window! Grocery shopping is another thing to get used to as there are no preservatives so I have to go much more frequently. This is not a bother however because all the fruits and vegetables are so fresh and delicious! Another adjustment living in Florence is walking everywhere. Throughout the city everything is within walking distance and only the Florentines are allowed to drive cars in the city center, so there is not much traffic here. The streets are always full of people and it seems to be difficult for cars to make their way through the people. I personally love all of the walking because everywhere I look here is so beautiful.
There really is so much to see, and one of my classes (Analyzing and Exploring the Global City of Florence) is helping me understand further how to learn more about the city itself and its inhabitants. Our professor emphasizes multiple different techniques to do so as well, such as really paying attention to all of your senses when exploring the city. Something we do while in class that is slightly different from classes at Pitt is that we have “walk and work” time. Our professor guides us through the city and teaches us about what we are seeing. One place he took us to was the market, where we had to try something new. I tried “Lampredotto”, which is a traditional Florentine food. It is the fourth stomach of the cow. While I personally would not choose to eat this regularly, I was pleasantly surprised by the flavors when I ate it as it was in a tomato sauce and it was not too bad! This class is lecture based, however it is slightly different from Pitt because he mainly simply talks to us the whole class and it is much more discussion based. There are no slideshows to take notes of, we simply write notes as he speaks. Classes are also around 2.5 hours which is an adjustment, however we get 10 minute breaks in the middle which is much appreciated!
I live across the Arno River, which is not directly connected to the city center but only about a 10 minute walk from most things. Being across the river in my opinion is very nice however because I have an amazing view every morning crossing the bridge and looking at the Ponte Vecchio. I also like being outside of the hustle and bustle of the city center. There are more locals around where I live, as well as artisan shops and incredible food that is not as expensive as it can be towards the more touristy areas. I also have 7 roommates total in my apartment, but it is such a spacious apartment that it is not even noticeable. We also are connected to a church and through one of our windows you can see into it which is very pretty. In the mornings we can hear the singing and there are church bells throughout the day as well. There are also two floors in our apartment which goes to show we have a lot of space. It is a very old building but it has a lot of character. Overall, I really am enjoying my time living here thus far and I can’t wait to continue to share my experiences!