I have been abroad for one month, two weeks and five days...
and so far, every city that I have gotten the chance to visit has been beautiful. Florence excites me because it is as if I am taking a step into the Renaissance with its striking artistic triumphs lying around every corner. Similarly, Rome’s beauty lies in the profound history that is so well preserved throughout the city. Milan mixes its history with modern day elegance. Both Prague and Venice, although very different, are enchanting because stepping foot in these cities is like stepping into another universe that the traveler has always dreamed of going to. All of the cities and places I have visited within those cities have been inspiring and magical; however, there is one location that I visited recently that has topped any other that I have traveled to so far and to think I found it right in here in Florence!
One sunny day this past week, a friend and I decided to go to a museum. It was the first nice day we have experienced so far in Italy and furthermore, it was the first weekend that we spent devoted entirely to exploring Florence. After walking around for quite a while trying to find a suitable place to visit, we finally came to the conclusion that we would spend the day exploring the Boboli Gardens. At first I was not very keen about the idea. I love flowers but the thought of staring at trees and plants for a few hours really did not sound like how I wanted to spend my afternoon. Despite the thoughts I was having, I went to the gardens and I am glad that I did because so far, it has been one of the most relaxing, peaceful and inspiring visits I have made during my study abroad experience.
It sounds crazy to say that I got more of a thrill at the Boboli Gardens then I did walking around the city of Prague! I will admit both experiences were incredible, but walking around the Boboli Gardens gave me a different experience than I would have had in any of my travels so far and the experience is certainly one that I dreamt of having. While walking around the daisy-covered grass through mazes of shrubbery and the beating sun shining down onto us, I felt connected to Florence. Furthermore, I felt as if I was put inside a dream of mine as I climbed the green filled pathways to the top of hill and witnessed the magnificent view of Florence in the distance.
I still cannot decide what was better: looking down upon the city I live in with awe or lying among the flowers in serenity. It was the perfect combination, actually. Gazing at Florence from the top of the hill allowed me to see past the limits of the city and discover the rolling Tuscan hills that lie beyond the constraints of the city. This is something I cannot do while inside the city and therefore the fact that I am actually in one of the world’s most naturally beautiful regions escapes my mind often. Additionally, relaxing in the grass afterwards permitted me to let go of all the stress I had with trying to hop from one city to another. In that moment, I was able to soak up the Tuscan sun and feel the way I have wanted to feel since I have been here: like a true Italian.
The peace and serenity that I found that day was something that I will hopefully be returning to quite often. I also highly recommend that for those who live in Florence to visit the Boboli Gardens and share my experience. Like anything in life, it is hard to grasp the overwhelming entirety of a situation or place until you can see it in full perspective. Once you see it and what surrounds it, you can connect with it on a different level, a level that allows you to expand your appreciation and love for it even more.
Melissa Calato is a student at Wagner College and an official API Student Blogger. Melissa is studying abroad with API in Florence, Italy.