About a week ago I returned from what was arguably the best graduation present a gal could ask for. Spending a full two weeks in Italy, primarily Firenze, ended up providing me with an emotional and psychological hiatus I didn’t know I needed. After making a dramatic entrance by busting an ear drum on my connecting flight from Frankfurt to Florence and getting, quite literally, rescued by a hunky pair of Tuscan first responders (I’ll never forget you Andrea!), I spent some time on my own in the city before my parents arrived to join me. My first few nights were spent bouncing around two different Airbnb’s. One was located up an adorable, albeit steep, alleyway by the Ponte Vecchio in the Oltrarno, the other “coincidentally” situated directly above the Gucci store on Via Roma by the Duomo. Each one provided a much needed reprieve from the bustling Florentine atmosphere during tourist season, though there was something gut wrenchingly beautiful about waking up to the bells of the Campanelle that I’ve yet to shake. During my time to myself, I wandered the Convent of San Marco, which boasts the renowned Annunciation fresco by Fra Angelico, climbed all 452 steps of the Cupola, and bonded with fellow travelers over copious amounts of gelato.

Following my parents arrival and my transfer over to the Hotel Spadai on Via Dei Martelli, we spent a day venturing to Cinque Terre, a set of 5 seaside towns along the coastline of the Liguria region of Italy. The day was spent hopping ferry boats from town to town, sampling homemade limoncello granita, and enjoying the rocky beachfronts of Vernazza. Later in the week, we joined a small group for a tour of the Chianti region. We visited two vineyards in Chianti as well as the cute medieval village, Greve in Chianti. This was by far one of my favorite days of the trip, as a wine tour had been on my bucket list since I missed the opportunity during my time studying in Firenze.

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There’s truly something about Italy, and Florence in particular, that makes you fundamentally question the lifestyle of the average American. Perhaps I drank a few too many glasses of Chianti Classico and spent an excessive amount of time roaming the halls of the Uffizi to nourish my inner art history nerd, but this trip made me reconsider my current “trajectory”. Why settle for a life revolving around one’s perceived success and monetary stability when a city as charmingly antiquated as Firenze exists? I realize it’s easy to romanticize the Italian lifestyle and picture myself hopping on the back of an Italian Stallion’s Vespa (which I did…but that’s for another post), but something truly snapped within me during this trip. As I continue my search for a stable post-grad job in DC and other major cities in the US, I want to keep in mind the potential opportunities of spending more time abroad. Perhaps a year teaching English or pursuing a graduate program in Firenze wouldn’t be the worst idea; it would certainly provide me with more clarity regarding my passions and career goals.

Though the future is unknown, my steadfast adoration of Italy will hold true no matter where in the world I end up. I am constantly inspired by the passion, commitment to artistic and cultural preservation, and simple lifestyle of the Italian people. America needs to up its gelato game, though…

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