So it has been two weeks since I arrived here in Florence and this past week was quite eventful! From traveling to San Gimanano to visiting Florence’s Botanical Gardens and Museum of Natural History, it has been an incredible journey filled with lots of walking!
Speaking of walking, I also finally found the perfect running path around Florence that loops around from the back of where I’m staying up to the Piazzale Michelangelo and then back down into the city square. This path is quite hilly but I am determined to improve my uphill running time by the end of this trip along with establishing the stamina to run a half-marathon again (ideally I would love to be able to run a marathon but I’m not sure I can manage that in just for weeks).
This path also offers incredible views of the city and on my next free day I will be sure to enjoy the scenery and take lots of pictures for you guys!
Last Saturday for the University’s first Field Learning Experience, our class visited the town of San Gimanano which is located approximately 25 miles south west of Florence. Here, we experienced a guided tour of the cathedral and scaled the tallest tower in town.
In my free time, I was able to grab a lovely lunch with a great view of the rolling hills and valleys in the distance.
I also experienced the best gelato of my life in this town and while I did not take a picture, if I ever manage to get my stamina up to run a marathon before I leave, I will run uphill to San Gimanano just to have another taste of that top gelato.
In my Historical Perspectives of Chemistry class, we discussed molecules of witchcraft, that is chemicals such as atropine and scopolamine which came from plants like the mandrake or Atropa belladonna and their hallucinogenic effects resulted in the persecution of witches (widowed poor old ladies who tended to live on the outskirts of a town due to low socio-economic status). To visualize our discussion we took a trip to the Botanical gardens where we got to see a large variety of plants in one of the oldest gardens in all of Europe.
Furthermore, in my Physician Observations class, I had the incredible opportunity to observe Doctor Gustone at the Piero Palagi hospital of Florence. He specializes in dermatology and in Italy, Dermatologists treat a wide array of skin conditions including STDs and STIs. During my observation, I saw a few patients with genital warts, the result of an HPV infection, along with a couple cases of chlamydia. The drugs and ointments prescribed to these patients are similar to the ones used in America. I further observed how the Doctor obtains cultures of the viruses and sends them to the lab to be tested for a variety of different conditions. Doctor Gustone was very courteous and while he spoke little English and I spoke little Italian, we were able to communicate via the common language of Medicine.
Next up in Historical Perspectives of Chemistry, we visited Florence’s Natural History Museum which housed incredible anatomical wax masterpieces displaying many layers and all vital components of the body. This was quite the sight to see as many of these life like structures provided such intricate detail and insight into the human body that captured the brilliance of the human body.
The museum also housed a large animal collection along with a mineral collection which was also quite extraordinary.
Towards the end of the week, I got to visit the Palazzo Vecchio which was the old Medici palace and this offered valuable insight into the lives of the aristocratic family who served as the leaders of Florence and oversaw its growth and development.
As you can see, it has been a very busy week, but that is why I chose this Science in Florence program! From the faculty to the administration at FUA, I am grateful to everyone who has helped organize these incredible experiences and allowed me to make the most of my study abroad experience!