Home Italy Week One: FLORENCE!


by Mary Matthews

Last Updated on June 12, 2013 by

Wow! It has already been a GREAT time abroad. We are approaching our first week in Florence and I could not love it more! Luckily, my roommates and I live in an apartment right off the Ponte Vecchio bridge. It has been such a great location which is central to everything, including school!

I thoroughly enjoy walking over the Ponte Vecchio daily, which is lined with gold jewlery shops. I find a new piece of jewlery daily that I fall in love with- a girl’s worst nightmare! Besides, the awesome shopping in Florence which includes many leather markets and chic boutiques filled with authentic treasures, the food is what is BLOWING MY MIND! I cannot seem to have one bad meal in Florence. Everything I have tried has been simply delicious! Restaurants here really make eating a meal an experience:  ordering one course is almost unheard of and coffee is a must!

Last night my roommates and I were starving and we decided to eat at Gustapizza, which is on our meal plan. It was incredible. I took a little picture so you can see what I mean…

As far as class goes, I have really enjoyed it! I am taking History of the Italian Mafia. I have had two days of class so far and have already learned a lot. Yesterday, we watched a clip on the initiation into the Mafia or what the Mafia calls, Baptism By Fire. Needless to say it was SCARY! A little background: One of the main themes of the Mafia is extortion. The Mafiosi use many tools to scare, internally and externally. Essentially, a member might ask an owner of a pizzeria to give him the pizzeria for $50,000 euro and if the owner complies he gets protection from the Mafia. If the owner does not comply then the Mafia member may kill him. Now that is some scary business! What we saw in the Baptism By Birth clip were young members of society that were being “initiated” into the Mafia. The Mafia member would put a bulletproof vest on the young teen, harass the teen verbally and then shoot the teen. This form of initiation would make the teen not as scared and in the Mafioso’s mind more prepared for threats. Yikes, no thank you!

This weekend several of us are taking trips to places around or nearby Florence. Friday we will see Pisa and Lucca. In Pisa we will see the leaning tower and I am excited as well to see the architecture in Lucca. Saturday we will go to Cinque Terre, which is on the rocky coast of eastern Liguria. We do not have any scheduled tours which means I am hitting the beach! Sunday all day we will visit Verona (famous for the setting of Romeo and Juliet’s love story) and Lake Garda where it is said to be the pearl of all islands and peninsulas.

Until next time, Ciao!
Mary Houston

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