My first day in Florence was full of surprises. After having completed hours upon hours of research on the city and dreaming about coming here for the past several years, I would’ve thought it impossible that anything in Florence would still be a surprise to me; yet, there I stood in the middle of the Santa Maria Novella train station this afternoon, shocked by the amount of people there. One minute in Florence and I was already surprised. All of the research and daydreaming in the world couldn’t do much to prepare me for the crowds of people swarming to visit this beautiful, historic city. I tried my best not to be bothered by their overwhelming presence—I, too, was just like them after all—as I pulled my bags down the bumpy streets of the city.
Surprise number two made its appearance about a few minutes into the walk. It was hot! As a girl who has lived in Florida her whole life, I’m fairly prepared to deal with a little heat, but nothing had quite prepared me for how warm I would get pulling luggage down cobblestone streets for two miles. By the time I was able to deposit my suitcase, backpack, and purse into my new room, my yellow blouse was drenched in sweat—my entire back soaked. After changing into a dry shirt, I headed out to see Florence. While exploring, I began to feel raindrops landing on my arms. I wasn’t concerned, as I remembered the various articles I’d read about weather in Florence—“expect sunny days until November and December when the rain comes.” Surprise number three, it began pouring roughly 45 seconds later.
After the rain had stopped, I took a trip to a nearby laundromat, bringing along a stack of coins. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough because (surprise number four) it was far more expensive than expected—eight euro for wash and dry. I ended up having to break a 20 euro bill at a shop down the road. I wasn’t sure if the man at the counter would be willing to break it, but he agreed to do so with great enthusiasm. This is something that didn’t come as a surprise to me, as I had read that Italians are very friendly people.
After finishing the laundry, I headed back out into the city to check out some of the sites. I was really surprised (number 5) to see just how nice Florence is on the other side of the river. Because the main sites that tourist typically flock to are on the northern side, the southern area is far less crowded.
Surprise number six came in the form of pistachio gelato. I expected it to be delicious, but I wasn’t prepared for it to be as good as it was! Surprise number seven came simultaneously—the price which was steep—but it was well worth it.
After settling down and reflecting, I’m realizing just how full of surprises my first day here in Florence has been—some good and some bad. I’m really looking forward to spending more time here though and experiencing all of the new surprises that will come my way this semester.