Written by: Faith Costa
For those who don’t know me, my name is Faith, I am POLISHED magazine Blog director and major in fashion merchandising, studying abroad in Florence, Italy. A month in Florence, Italy is like a lifetime. I would never have thought that such an unfamiliar and new city could feel so quickly at home. In one month I learned so much about Italian culture, I traveled to parts of Italy and other European countries that I have always dreamed of visiting, I ate the most delicious food and enjoyed I’ve already made enough memories to last a lifetime.
Florence is definitely in my top 5 most beautiful cities I have ever visited! It’s so accessible (you can walk anywhere in 30 minutes or less), and the Duomo is the focal point of the city, making it super easy to get familiar with the different parts of Florence and learn how to navigate in the city. The apartment I live in is located right next to the Duomo, which I personally think is in the perfect location as it is close to many amazing restaurants and cafes, campus buildings and many museums/ tourist attractions.
So what does a month in Italy look like?
After my roommates and I spent some time getting to know Florence, we decided we wanted to start seeing more of Italy. We booked a bus trip to two Chianti wineries in the Tuscan countryside (in Florence there are two excellent bus travel companies specifically for students abroad who offer a wide variety of trips). I had never been to a vineyard, so it only seemed fitting that my first wine experience was in the region where wine had been produced for centuries. Both vineyards were breathtaking and I got to taste several different types of wine, pair them with amazing meats and cheeses, and learn about the wine making process.
It was still very hot when I moved to Italy at the end of August, which meant it was the perfect time to explore some of the coasts. During the first weekend, my housemates and I took another guided bus trip to Cinque Terre, located on the northwest coast of Italy. On our trip we visited three of the five towns that make up Cinque Terre and each one was absolutely amazing and we truly felt like we were in a movie (Fun fact: the Disney movie Lucas was inspired by the captivating architecture of the Cinque Terre). We ended our Cinque Terre trip on one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen; the water was teal and the perfect temperature to dive in.
The weekend after visiting Cinque Terre, my housemates and I went on our first weekend (another bus trip), where we visited the Amalfi Coast. This was definitely the trip to Italy I was most excited for since the Amalfi Coast had been on my to-do list for the longest time. We left on a Thursday and took an overnight bus (8 hours) to Sorrento, Italy. On Friday, we visited the island of Capri where we were able to take a chairlift to the top of the island to admire stunning views, taste incredible seafood and take private boats to swim in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
That day was truly a dream and the most magical place I have ever visited. Saturday we took the ferry to Positano which is probably the best known place on the Amalfi Coast. There we walked, shopped, ate amazing food, swam in the ocean and took the most incredible photos. Finally, on Sunday, we left our hotel in Sorrento and took the bus to Pompeii where we were able to see the ruins and have lunch before returning to Florence.
The last place in Italy I visited this month was Milan. Our trip started off a little bumpy as it was our first time taking the train in Italy so we missed our train and had to buy new tickets and hop on the next one but we made it with enough time to spend the day exploring Milan. While we were there, we attended a Milan Fashion Week show which included the collections of several local designers.
The show was amazing and I had always dreamed of attending Milan Fashion Week, so I felt so grateful to have this experience. After the show, we headed to the Duomo to see the Moncler 70th anniversary show, featuring 1,952 performers dressed in Moncler clothing. It’s one of the few shows open to the public, so we knew we had to see it because it was such a monumental celebration.
The next day we returned to the Duomo, this time to see the beautiful interior, and climbed 250 steps to the top to see the breathtaking view of the city. Afterwards we went to the Starbucks Reserve, which is by far the biggest place I’ve ever been, and we had amazing drinks and breakfast. We ended our day with some shopping at Galleria Vittorio and a traditional Milanese dinner.
After 1 month of study abroad, I can just say that if you are wondering whether or not you want to study abroad, I would 1000%! I feel so lucky to have this experience and to be able to live to tell the stories of my studies abroad. If you have the opportunity to study abroad or are thinking about it, I can tell you that in such a short time, I know I made the best decision. I’ve met the most amazing people, eaten delicious food, learned so much history, and created enough memories to last a lifetime. Overall, I have enjoyed the challenges that studying abroad has already thrown at me, such as learning the streets of Florence, creating a new schedule, and adapting to a European lifestyle.
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