By Jordan Beatty, Marist Italy MA Museum Studies 2014-15
I stepped off the bus at Santa Maria Novella Train Station and immediately felt relieved. After sitting in the same position during a fifteen hour bus ride from Prague, I had never been more excited to arrive at my destination: bella Firenze. As I navigated through the platforms in search of a taxi, I struggled to keep my suitcases rolling as they seemed to weigh about as much as a baby elephant with all the shoes that I just had to bring. (You were right, dad.) My hands had fallen asleep, I had dark circles under my eyes, the strap on my purse had just broken, and not even a trace of the kielbasa from yesterday’s lunch was left in my stomach. In that moment it all became real: I had left my life along with everything comforting and familiar about 4,300 miles away in Buffalo, New York. What was I thinking?!
After settling into my apartment I decided to explore for a bit. Oftentimes I like to wander without a map, get wonderfully lost, and stumble upon something unexpectedly beautiful along the way. This romantic scenario usually comes to fruition, except when it’s your first day in Florence and it starts to rain and you’re without an umbrella. Okay, rain is actually an understatement – it began to downpour and storm as if all the gods in the heavens above were about to strike us down, one by one for no apparent reason. Within a matter of seconds the piazzas and streets were cleared and everyone was huddled under the tiny awnings of the shops that lined the streets. It is here where I met a charming little Italian fellow named Lorenzo.
Lorenzo was about seventy-five, spoke no English, but looked in my direction and gave me a chuckle as if to say, “Can you believe this weather?” He smiled patiently as I struggled to remember any Italian from my previous study abroad experience when asking him about his life. We had the most amazing, broken conversation about his family and his home, and I began to remember why I was here in the first place. Yes, the gelato is delicious, and yes, the history is fascinating, but it’s the people you meet that really make your experience that of a lifetime.
I arrived back and my apartment an hour later soaking wet, laughing, and above all, thankful for my first mini-adventure in Florence, Italy.