Arriving in Florence.

Ciao a tutti! Sto adesso a Firenze. Finalmente.

Leaving my house at 3:30pm on July 29th, I’m writing to you at 5:37 pm on July 30th from my desk, while I look at the city of Florence from above through the window that is shining slanted rays of the mid-afternoon sun on my desk.

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But before I get ahead of myself, my flights here were relatively painless. In JFK, I met up with another girl in my program who had the same travel agenda as I did. We made fast friends while waiting out the hour delay of the first leg of our journey. Once the plane tooke off, the 8-hour flight seemed much shorter than I thought it would: this is probably thanks to both the movie screening of Silver Linings Playbook, and the fact that I missed my afternoon coffee and was actually tired when the cabin lights went off.

Arriving in Rome at 8:20, Maya and I made the executive decision that an espresso stop was worth power walking to the gate of our connecting flight.

At 10:30, we were in a taxi on our way to Villa Natalia.

I’m not sure what I really expected this Villa to look like, but I can honestly say that even if I had imagined a beautiful image, that the Villa in real life would have surpassed it.

The estate is absolutely gorgeous:

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I hope to find the time later — or more realistically, tomorrow — to explore more of the grounds, because the estate really is too beautiful to not examine every nook and cranny… on our way back to the Villa Natalia, I found a pea (or lima bean?) garden!

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My room was equally perfect. With ample closet space, air conditioning, and an airy, spacious feel, I am thus far very satisfied. (Although I suppose anything that closely resembles/ contains a bed looks good to me after only a short 2 hours of sleep…)

After unpacking my (less than 50 lb!) suitcase, Maya and I headed into Florence via bus from the Villa to Piazza San Marco. It was surreal to walk around the city with the simple agenda of finding a place to eat. With 6 weeks ahead of me to hit all the must-see, touristy spots, I rather paid attention to the Italian people as I strolled: listening to the beautiful Italian language envelop me, I was surprised and excited to understand drips and drabs of conversation. Although I did accidentally misdirect a tourist who was looking for l’Accademia…

We finally chose a lunch spot an hour later and dined with margherita pizza in the back of a hand-painted ristorante off the Piazza San Giovanni. I managed to carry on conversation with the waitress in Italian, and successfully relate that we were two students studying abroad for six weeks etc. etc.. Although, I wasn’t able to understand what Za – Za (il nome della ristorante) meant — I feel as though it imitates the buzz of a bee in Italian, but you can let me know if you think otherwise!

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We decided to walk back to the Villa instead of taking the bus, as to further explore the side streets and get a better idea of the layout of the city. In reality we explored the shops and street markets…

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But all in all, it was a beautiful afternoon. Even more beautiful was returning to my room and realizing that when I woke up the next morning, I would still have oodles of time in Florence.

Arriverderci for now, I have to run to my first Orienation dinner.

But I’m looking forward to showering in this cute little contraption afterwords,

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and even more so, I’m excited to sleep soundly, and wake up in the morning refreshed and ready to start my studies.

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the sight of sunshine after another day of rain.

Q: What is the best way to spend a rainy Saturday morning?

A: The NY Times Crossword Puzzle.

Actually, I guess that would be my answer on any Saturday morning. I looveee me some crosswords. I’ll admit though, the Sunday Times puzzle is especially difficult — I usually start off with some educated guesses, wait for my parents to fill a large chunk in, and then re-attack it in the afternoon.

Keeping with the news trend, I also read some an Italian news article during my Saturday am hours of solace. I had plans to read a bunch, but the one I read took me long enough to get through that I called it quits after finishing. Oh Madonna mia! Guess I should start brushing up more on my Italian…

Q: What is the best way to celebrate much-missed rays of sunshine?

A: Sun salutations, of course!

Before Memorial Day company arrived on Sunday, I began my morning with some Yoga.

Later, I did laundry and put the finishing touches on a coconut-berry tart I had prepared the night before for dessert. Laundry definitely isn’t an activity that allowed me to enjoy the sun, but hey. I mean, it had to get done at some point.