Churches, Palazzi, and Gelato

This first week in Florence has been quite a busy and exciting one. Aside from starting up classes again, I have been busy learning to navigate the city and locate all the places of interest.

In Florence every turn and detour appears to have new things to discover. Every couple of blocks you can find plazas, each with its own church; the churches range from grand and imposing to simple and easy-to-miss. There are also ancient palaces or palazzi scattered throughout the city which remind visitors of the powerful rulers Florence once boasted. Traditional restaurants or trattorie and gelato stops can also be found on almost every block. The gelato here is creamier than the ice cream in the US, and it’s a perfect dessert to enjoy in the hot Tuscan weather.

Over the weekend I had the chance to take a day trip to explore the city of Lucca which is known for its walled historical center. After arriving at the train station I strolled from plaza to plaza, visiting the main churches in the town. Then I made my way up to the city walls. The walls of Lucca still stand intact and are a favorite place for runners, cyclists, and pedestrians. The tops of the walls, which can be walked on, are wide have tree-lined paths. The walls also harbor quiet grassy spots where people lounge around and have picnics. After walking for many hours, I relaxed and read a book in one of these spots. I also rented a bike and biked along the city walls enjoying the view of the nearby mountains and forests.

Even though Lucca is small, it is full of many picturesque streets and buildings that would take days to fully enjoy. I really enjoyed the quiet yet friendly atmosphere that Lucca offers. So far my experience in Italy has been great. I am enjoying my classes, as well as the food and all of the sights around.

— Samuel M.

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