These past few days, I am facing the realization my time in Florence and my study abroad experience is ending. I don’t see this as the “end” but the end of a new beginning. When one door closes, another one opens. I’ll miss waking up and getting ready for my Italian class. You’d think I didn’t attend school with all my traveling. I’m proud to say I only missed one class. I’ll be writing a separate blog about my experience solely on my Italian studies. But for now, I have to catch up on blog postings in the next few days.
It was predicted earlier in the week it was going to snow, snow it did. Florence hadn’t had this much snow since the 80’s. Before the first snowflakes had fallen, I had no idea of the true impact it would have on everyone. Who knew the weather would stop busses, taxis, trains and airplanes and leave many students stranded. It may have been pretty to witness, but it made traveling nearly impossible. As I write some of my friends are still stuck in the airports waiting and hoping to go home in time for Christmas. But this is what studying abroad teaches you, sometimes with the good there is bad, but then I suppose it’s all about perspective.
Anyways, back to the weather. Snow started to fall to the ground. It was extremely magical. I’ve seen snow back home and I’ve seen snow in Europe, but snow in Florence was more personal. It was beyond freezing and my roommates were all snug in their beds with mittens on to keep them warm. I wanted to do the same, but I knew if I didn’t go outside to take photos, I would regret it later. So I put on three pairs of socks, two pairs of mittens, a hat, ear warmers, two scarves, two sweaters, a jacket, and leggings and pants. I must have looked like the abominable snowman. In the end it was worth it because I got some great photos.
When I returned to my apartment, I had to put all my stuff in storage because for the following weeks I was traveling. I realized it would be too difficult to walk across town because of the weather and so I called for a taxi. Long story short, after an hour I came to the reality I wasn’t going to get one. Because of the snow taxis were not operating which left my roommate and me with the dilemma of how to get my bags to the storage. One option existed and it was to drag them all the way to the place. Normally this walk would have taken ten minutes, but because of the snow on the ground and having to pull literally 80 pounds of luggage through the snow, it took thirty minutes. I’ve never used the word, “permesso” (excuse me) so many times to navigate through the crowds. At first I was trying to be polite and not run over anyone’s toes. After a while it became too much work and I figured if I gave them the verbal warning and if they didn’t move… then so be it, their toes were going to be squashed. I look back at this moment and think how bizarre this probably looked. We were fully dressed for a snowstorm with backpacks and four roller suitcases trumping through the snow powder and plowing through anyone who got in our way. I thought I would have been cold but I was hot from my “workout.” It’s a good story to remember and tell later in life.
Lucky me my travel buddy Cat invited me to climb the Duomo. I had already climbed the Duomo with my roommate, how could I refuse this time—it was snowing! How many people can say they climbed the Duomo in the snow? Not too many and so the eight Euros seemed like a steal.
In the evening, my roommates (the ones who were left) and I went out to dinner. My friend’s mother had recommended Cammillo Trattoria. This restaurant is across from the Ponte Vechhio from where I live. I’m happy to say, I saved the very best for last. I am glad I made reservations because shortly upon arrival the place was packed—and now I understand why. This place is a little pricy for college students’ budgets, but if you want to experience the taste of quality food, it is worth saving for. For my antipasti I ordered fettunta con l’olio nuovo di nostra poduzione and for my prima the tagliatellle di pasta fresca sul castrato. I normally don’t drink, but for the last night it was necessary to order the house wine. I’m sure their desserts would have been amazing to taste, but one must prioritize what really matters the most when on a budget. The only thing I regret is not writing down the balsamic vinegar they used. All I know is it was from Modena—home of all the best balsamic vinaigrettes.
The next day I had to move out of my apartment. I was going to catch the afternoon train to Rome, but I had a feeling I should leave early. Let me tell the students studying abroad next semester, ALWAYS TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! I’m glad I left for the train station early. A ton of snow was everywhere and by the time I got to the train station it looked like the scene from the movie, Titanic—where everyone is trying to get on a rescue boat, and in this case it was the train. There was only ONE!…ONE!… ONE!... train that day leaving for Rome, the rest were cancelled. Almost everything in the station was cancelled. When I got to my train platform, already a hundred people were trying to get on. A lot of American students who originally had flights out of Florence were now trying to get to Rome in hopes of getting home. So there we were like horses at the starting gates of a race. Once the doors opened it was every man for them self. I made it on, but everyone was standing or sitting on someone. It was sad. As the doors were closing, a bunch of Americans and Italians were pounding on the door yelling to be let in. Nothing could be done.
The train went for three stops and then it ended; we had to transfer to another train. Once again I had prepare myself to push and shove to get on. This time I wanted a seat. It would be a long ride if I had to stand. Luckily I met two people from Israel and we became good friends in a matter of ten minutes because we teamed up in order to get seats. My job was to run and get seats and their job was to put our luggage in the storage unit. Our planned worked. The original train was supposed to be a slow one but instead there was a fast train, and so it only took an hour and a half to reach Rome. Again it’s all about perspective—I paid for the slow train and instead got to ride on the fast.
I’m now in Rome. I am back to being the Roamin’ Roman. Currently, I’m waiting for my sister to join me. Unfortunately she is stuck in London due to snow. My patience is wearing thin with the weather. I just have to remind myself it’s all about perspective and the angle I take on the situation. I guess I get what I wish for. More time exploring in a city. Now… I have a second chance of rediscovering Rome.