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A Tarantino back to Florence. August 2, 2010

Posted by Matthew Crane in Travel Log.
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Entering the Tarantino zone, I wanted to return to one of my favorite cities I visited over my European travels:  Florence.

Along the epic journey that I will forever, and inadequately, summarize as the Oxford Study Abroad the first stop was Florence.  Perhaps the best analogy that I can find for the magnificent cities also applies to the beginning of college.

When you first reach college, you may know a few people.  Perhaps a few distant friends from high school; perhaps, you’re very close with a couple soon-to-be classmates.  However, everyone that you meet will have no idea about you.  No preconceive notions of your personality.  Nothing.  A much wiser person than me once described this as the “Blank Slate” of college.  You can completely redefine yourself, and I highly recommend using this.  Conveniently, this also applies in the first city abroad.

A fantastic group dinner in the basement of an Italian restaurant in Florence. Three delicious courses.

Analogy fulfilled, Florence was a time of huge group dinners, traveling to random piazzas, seeing amazing art, and simply meeting new people.  The first night we were in Florence, we walked 15 minutes to the famous Piazza della Signoria (I hadn’t heard of it either until I got there), where a local musician performed his most recent work for piano.

Light show at Piazza della Signoria during a concert. Look for the Michelangelo reproduction in the bottom right.

The picture below shows the huge light show projected onto the office of the Medici family—also known as the Uffizi, one of the most famous museums in the world—and a full reproduction of Michelangelo’s David that synched with the music.  I’ll confess, myself, and I like to think most of the group, fully thought this was the actual David.  Having seen another more highly guarded one elsewhere, it became fairly clear that this one was probably the reproduction.  Regardless, it was a fantastic first night filled with new friends relaxing in a piazza and talking with locals that set the tone for not only the remainder of Italy, but the entire trip.

The next day was speckled with museum trips and fantastic food.  Being a bit of a food junkie, I must briefly describe how different Americanized Italian food is!  Before traveling to Italy, I would have described a quintessential Italian meal as lasagna, bread, and wine; having traveled there, I would describe it as freshly cooked ciabatta bread and slices of wet, succulent mozzarella, with olive oil and basil.  Mouth watering yet?

463 steps up Il Duomo. Completely worth it.

Amongst our trips was Il Duomo, a huge, vaulted gothic building that aside from an impressive feat of art was also an engineering revolution.  As I learned, Il Duomo was one of the first Western buildings to use a double-walled dome to save money on the huge scaffolding structures needed to build a single-walled dome.  Having climbed the 463 steps to the top, the view of Florence was just stunning.  Since you could easily walk across the city of Florence in a couple hours, you could easily see the entire range of buildings and countryside.  Oh yeah, the best part?  This was class.

The view from our roadside perch over Florence on our last day.

After a few more days of going out with friends, visiting clubs, and enjoying piazzas, we had our last night in Florence.  To celebrate, we made the trek up a huge hillside to the Piazza Michelangiolo, which I have shamelessly posted to the right of this picture to make you jealous.  Making the hike alongside us was the aforementioned classic, Italian meal.  I don’t know that I’ve seen many more beautiful sunsets than that night.

Till next time, Cheers!

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