Venicia and Last Week in Florence
Last Saturday, we went to Venice, which was absolutely incredible. Everyone told me it would be full of tourists, which is mostly true, but that didn’t really detract from the beauty of the city. Really, tourists were only an issue in the city’s center, Piazza San Marco, where crowdedness made it hard to walk. Elsewhere, it was fine. And, even the Piazza San Marco was stunning. Getting there from the train station was definitely a challenge. There were many signs to Piazza San Marco, but we would follow the series of signs, and then not see any for a while, as if we had lost the trail. Then, we might see another sign, but they all seemed to be pointing different ways. I guess we definitely took the “scenic route” to the city’s center. I have no problem with this, as the journey was just as remarkable as the destination. But one touristy t-shirt summed up our thoughts perfectly: it had the words “Piazza San Marco,” and below them, two arrows pointing in opposite directions.
Once in the city’s center, we had lunch, and then, went to Piazza San Marco’s bell tower, which overlooked the city. In the tower, I was surprised to be showed into an elevator; in Florence’s bell tower, we had to climb every step to the very top. Speaking in Italian, I asked the elevator worker if it was possible to take the stairs to the top, to which he replied “no.” I asked why not, and he said, “because an elevator is more practical.” I joked, “but that’s too easy.” The view from the top definitely did feel like an undeserved treat. As soon as I stepped out of the elevator, I was breathless; the whole city lay before me. I took a lot of pictures. The city as a whole was just as picturesque as the view from every little bridge traversing a canal.
I’ve been to Venice once before, when I went to Italy for the first time. I was only 5 years old, and I don’t really remember any of it. But I do have one picture of me sitting in a gondola, looking a little bored, but nevertheless content. Now, back on the bridges of Venice, I would watch gondolas go by, and think of me as a kid. Now, I was more than content; I loved everything about Venice, even though I didn’t take an expensive gondola ride. I guess I can appreciate the experience more now that I’m older. I think Venice is pretty much a perfect city. There’s no noise, since there are no cars. The entire city smells amazing, from all the restaurants and bakeries. Every scene of Venice is perfect, from the pastel-colored houses, the blue of the canals and sky, the bridges and architecture, the view from the bell tower. I hope to one day return, and look back not only on my childhood picture, but also on my memories of last Saturday, and be able to assess my growth since both experiences.
Also notable this week was our trips on Wednesday to the Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens, and on Thursday, to the Villa Sesto. The Villa Sesto and Palazzo Pitti were both once homes of the extremely wealthy Medici family, which ruled Florence several hundred years ago. While the Palazzo Pitti has been turned into a museum, the Villa Sesto has simply remained a home, so its deluxe bedrooms and dining rooms are still intact. In either case, it’s amazing to see the conditions in which they lived. The ceilings of each room are covered in complex frescoes and intricate wood carvings, and the walls are covered with silk. Perhaps more amazing than each palace, however, was their respective “backyards”. The Giardino di Boboli is a vast garden full of trees, hedges, flowers, and one lake, behind the Pitti Palace. We went more or less straight through the garden, all the way to the top. This hike probably took about 20 minutes, and I would guess we saw about one fifth of the whole garden. From the top, we could see downtown Florence in the distance on one side, and the hilltop town of Fiesole on the other. The garden of the Villa Sesto was a lot smaller, but probably more beautiful. The hedges formed intricate patterns where they lined
pathways, flower gardens, and the central fountain. There was a huge view of downtown Florence, and the mansion itself was beautiful. It was a great way to spend our last afternoon in Florence, but it makes me really sad to leave. This month has gone by extremely fast, but it’s had quite an effect on me. I’ve gotten much better at Italian; my host mom even told me so at dinner a few nights ago. I really can think in Italian, instead of having to first translate to English to reach a meaning. I even dreamed in Italian last night; I don’t really remember exactly what happened, but I remember explaining something in Italian. Sometimes, someone will speak to me in Italian, and I won’t even realize it’s Italian. I’ll only know the meaning, and not distinguish the language with which this meaning was delivered. Also, I’ve gotten to know this city a lot better, in addition to the other people in my group. Nik and I are already talking about a Euro-trip next summer. This has been a great month. I love this city, my group members, and Italy in general. I’m going back as soon as I can. And, I have some big expectations for this weekend in Rome.