By Maddie Rosa*
After attempting to prepare myself for the end of my amazing summer in Italy, I can’t believe I have already been back in the US for almost four days. My last week in Italy was filled with too many wonderful and extraordinary things to fit into one blog post, so I suppose I can focus on what we did in school since I haven’t done that in a while. My event planning class worked towards putting on one event at the end of the month to put into action some of the skills and practices we learned. We targeted other Lorenzo de’ Medici students and their friends studying for the summer and learned how to make focaccia while watching a documentary about how a small town in Italy worked to beat out McDonald’s by providing quality, delicious focaccia and other local favorites.
Focaccia is a type of bread traditionally topped with tomatoes, olives, oregano, salt, and of course lots and lots of olive oil. Since the event was in the middle of the day and many students had class, some of us got to participate (myself included) and there was a competition to see who made the most delicious focaccia, judged by our chef instructing the lesson.
We also toured the central market, il mercato centrale, and learned about the local and extremely fresh products that are sold every day. We even got to sample fresh bufala mozzarella, prosciutto, local wines, and my favorite, the pecorino (sheep’s) cheese. It was a great way to end the July session, and I cannot begin to express how blessed I feel to have had this amazing opportunity.
Now that I’m back in the US, there have been some things I knew I would miss, but didn’t realize how much I would miss them until they were half way across the world.
1. The food. Paninis, gelato, fresh pasta, even the fruits and vegetables at the grocery store. Anything food, I miss it. Nothing has been even remotely appetizing since I got home, not even Chipotle… Nothing will compare to the freshness and deliciousness of a panini freshly sliced and prepared just for you and walking down the streets of Florence with it.
2. Walking. I miss walking everywhere with nowhere to go. I once overheard someone saying “We’ve got nowhere to go, and all day to get there.” Such a saying is very true about Italy; the laidback lifestyle and nature of life in general couldn’t be described any better. I was excited to be out of the crowds of people and cars among pedestrians until I got back to the suburbs and realized how far apart everything actually is.
3. Wine. Anytime of day, anywhere you go, quality, local, inexpensive and delicious wine is always available. It’s also always acceptable to have a g1qzlass of wine. Thank God my mom has been feeling the same way since her trip to visit me and had some handy in the kitchen from the Chianti region.
4. The Duomo. Possibly my favorite monument in all of Italy, I miss walking past the grand scale and beautiful, enormous detail of the Duomo every day. The sound of its church bells can be heard all throughout Florence, and there is never a day that went by that I was not amazed by it. That being said, I just miss the beautiful sights of Florence. Its beauty and uniqueness is indescribable and is unlike anything or anywhere I have ever seen before. Walking through the uneven, cobblestone streets is like stepping foot in a time machine and living in a storybook fairytale. I mean… I lived across from a palace, how much more “fairytale” does it get?
5. Seeing something new every day. Discovering Florence was something my friends and I did every single day. We of course had our favorite spots, but on the way to those spots we would always discover something for the first time. There’s always a different way to take home and always a different bridge to cross. I miss the little hidden hole-in-the-wall spots that were filled with quality, one of a kind, hand crafted gifts and goods that aren’t made in bulk and can’t be found anywhere else.
6. Discovering myself. Looking back on my summer abroad, I cannot believe that I flew to Europe by myself, went there knowing nobody, and came back having the best experience of my entire life. I have always known that I am an independent person, but I’m proud that I was not only okay, but happy and content in Florence, my home away from home.
This trip, to say the least, has been the experience of a lifetime. I have met people and had experiences that I know will stick with me for as long as I live. All I can say to anyone considering, anyone afraid, or anyone in general, is DO IT! Study abroad, travel the world, do anything and everything you can while you have the chance because it is truly life changing. “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”
*Madeline Rosa is a UI junior majoring in communications and human relations. She is currently studying abroad on the Lorenzo de Medici program in Florence, Italy.