Home Customized Faculty-Led From London to Italy: First Impressions of Florence

From London to Italy: First Impressions of Florence

by AIFS Customized Faculty-Led
[From London to Italy: First Impressions of Florence] | AIFS Study Abroad, Customized Faculty - Led Programs]

Towards the end of March AIFS offered an optional trip to Florence. Jo Ellen talks about her impressions of the place known for its beauty, pizza and pasta.

“My first impressions of Florence I had no idea what to expect before arriving to Italy. I had never been before and was so excited to explore the ancient cobblestone streets of Florence. If you love history and romancing around the oldest museums in the world, Florence is the place you need to have on your bucket list”.

The Uffizi

The Uffizi is the oldest museum in the world and home to some of the most magnificent paintings to date.

Rooftop views

The views from any rooftop building are breathtaking. A few of us went to this rooftop café on top of a department store and had a beautiful view of one of the plaza’s, the Duomo, surrounding city and cathedrals.


The one thing I was looking forward to was obviously trying some authentic Italian cuisine. I found that the best type of pizza is just plain margarita. In my opinion, too many toppings can ruin the taste of the pizza.  I was also determined to find the best gelato. Although it took a few tries – and lots of taste tests – I succeeded. Venchi has the best gelato! My top tip for finding the best gelato is to make sure the gelatos in the tubs are not too high above the rim. If they are, it means that there are preservatives in it and therefore not true authentic gelato. Honestly, it’s worth the searching for the authentic kind!

Cooking class

Participating in the cooking class was one of the things I was most excited about. We made spinach and cheese ravioli, a potato quiche, and a chocolate pudding/jello dessert. This part was one of the best experiences of the trip because I felt immersed in the food aspect of Italian culture. They take their food seriously and it is treated as an art.

Exploring outside Florence

Prior to leaving Italy we made pit stops in Lucca and Pisa. Lucca was such a cute, quaint town. It did not have many tourists, which made it even more enticing. I loved wondering through the streets and consuming even more pizza and gelato. Being immersed in the culture was really special to me. I loved going into church’s, cathedrals, museums, bakeries, and boutiques.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa was much smaller than I imagined but still amazing nonetheless. It was in a very small, rural area with not much to do. If the Leaning Tower of Pisa is on your to-do-list, make sure you have more planned for the day in another area because it will not consume a large portion of your day.

Italy was such an amazing place and I will definitely be going back. The experiences I had were not only unforgettable, they were absolutely wonderful!”

This content was contributed by JoEllen Laun one of our student bloggers. She is studying abroad this Spring on an AIFS Customized Faculty-Led program in London, England through the London Consortium.

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