Upon arriving in Florence, we students were flooded with new instructions and information coming from all directions: it was as if we were being pulled around the city by our professors forcibly to soak everything in. The architecture, culture, history, and food were a little overbearing at first. Culture shock, I suppose. It had taken some time for many of us to find our bearings in this new environment. The Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, Pino’s, Gusta Pizza; these are all landmarks that we use to explore Florence. You learn pretty quickly, though. Random tidbits of city history and language start to imprint on your memory. So three weeks later, when a friend on vacation in Italy had come to visit me in Florence, the role was reversed; I had become the teacher, the tour guide.
My friend Victoria had caught an early morning train from Bologna that had arrived in Santa Maria Novella around 10:45 AM. We had agreed to meet in front of the Duomo at 11 AM. Needless to say, I waited around for a while. Victoria had gotten lost on her way to the piazza, but we eventually found each other. It was my task to show her around the city and provide a fun time, but I was a bit nervous in the fact that I barely knew the city myself. However, things went better than planned; we hit a few museums, crushed some All’Antico Vinaio (the most famous shop for express sandwiches), and had espresso at Piazzale Michelangelo. Frequently, I had found myself dropping casual facts and lore of the city and sights that I had picked up from my various classes at ISI. It turns out that I didn’t have too much reason for worry, and we didn’t get lost once! A full course dinner at Buca Mario with Victoria’s family concluded the day, and then she was off. It was very interesting to experience that role reversal so early into my stay here in Florence, but it just goes to show how much you can pick up when you’re having a great time.
James Agati Jr, Leslie Lambert, Lucy Hazan, Taylor Raleigh (University of Connecticut)