I was living in Charlottesville, VA, in my third year of college. My oldest sister had just had her first baby and I was a doting aunt completely in love with my niece (well, that part hasn't changed). My other sister was living in Kenya, engaged to be married in just a few months. I had just cleared out my things from my college room to store them at my parents' house and said goodbye to roommates Katie, Kathryn, and Katie.
I was 20. And I was terrified.
I was facing four months living in a new country, with new people, a new language, new customs, new experiences, and no idea what to expect.
And it was fantastic.
Ah Florence (and Siena as well). I studied the Italian language and the Italian mafia, and we took field trips to Leonardo da Vinci's home town. I lived in a piazza and learned to appreciate wine, coffee, spinach, and mushrooms. It's an experience that I am so thankful to have had.
By the end of four months I was homesick and ready to return, yes.
But oh the memories. Let's travel back to 2007 for a minute...
Six years later I finally returned. Travel buddy Liz endured (and endured well, I might add) a day full of
"Oh hey I went there!" and "Oh! I remember that!" and "Oh look! It's that place I went one time!"
We went to my old apartment above the Ristorante Celetino, where my roommates and I had made friends with Nick the waiter man.
As I was taking this picture a waiter came out of the restaurant (not Nick, unfortunately) and told me that his friend lived in the apartment I was pointing at and taking a picture of. I felt like a bit of a creeper after that.
We had lunch at Gusta Panino, now called Gusta Osteria and expanded to have a Gusta Pizza down the street. I used to go here for lunch a lot because they wouldn't serve me unless I ordered it in Italian. They knew I was learning.
They no longer serve paninis over the counter inside the door but their risotto is good. And they're in a fantastic spot for people-watching.
Finally, we attempted to have a drink at Friends' pub where, besides the apartment, I have the most memories from Florence. We spent countless hours drinking coffee and using their wifi (the only free internet besides the terrible computer lab at school), making new friends, and celebrating birthdays.
Sadly, it was closed.
I'm still bummed. The sign is still up, so maybe it's just temporarily closed?? I can only hope.
Ah Florence. Six years later, still fantastic.
We shopped, we ate, we people-watched, we ate. We had a great time!
Now we did have a slight mishap (or 2 or 3) with the train ride back.
We left Florence around 8 PM. It should have taken us about 2.5-3 hours to get back.
We arrived back at our hotel at 5:45 in the morning.
But that is another story.
Kelly is an American teacher living in Switzerland and enjoying everything the country has to offer.