It took me two weeks, but I finally made a small group of friends here in Italy!
You wouldn’t know it from these photos, since they’re not like…present in any of them but this selfie. I mean, I’m not so vain as to force the people I’m with to take a bunch of pictures with me just so that I can prove that I have friends. I’m only vain enough to force the people I’m with to take pictures of me so that I can prove that I’m out and enjoying my life.
To absolutely no one’s surprise at all, the friends I ended up making in Rome were also Notre Dame students. To my genuine surprise though, the people who wound up as my friends were not the study abroad students who lived so close to me near the Colosseum; they were actually the other interns who lived and worked in other places in the city. There was one girl who was a study abroad student, but otherwise, we were all doing independent internships.
I’d met them all very briefly back on campus at Notre Dame, but I hadn’t expected that we’d actually bond, given how on our own we were in the city. But maybe that’s why we did bond — because we were relatively on our own, with no means of making social connections. What, you didn’t seriously expect us to go out on our own and meet people, did you?
Rome’s a great city, and I miss it now that I’m gone, but after being there for two weeks, I was craving an opportunity to get out. Frascati, which I visited had visited earlier for a winery tour, hardly counted, as I was barely there half a day. I wanted a real day trip. Turns out, my five newfound friends wanted a day trip too.
Florence (also known in Italian as Firenze) is perhaps the closest major city to Rome, just an hour by the fast train or three hours by the slow train. We chose the slow train because we’re cheap. If you’re richer than me, though, I recommend taking the fast train — I’ve hard it’s quite nice.
Despite its relatively short geographic distance from Rome, Florence feels worlds about from Rome. As I understand from the very little bit of Italian culture and history that I know, Northern Italy and Southern Italy are economically, culturally, and politically separate entities, almost to the point of being separate countries in effect. They’re united by the Italian language, and not much else. Northern Italy is much more like its European neighbors, while Southern Italy is its own separate world.
What’s the point of me mentioning this? Rome and Florence are both considered Central Italy; the North/South divide shouldn’t play into the dynamic between the cities. But it does. At least, to my unknowledgeable and uncultured opinion, it does.
Florence felt different from Rome. It felt richer and cleaner and quieter and more stereotypically European. Rome is insane — hot, dirty, ancient, and quite possibly falling to pieces. At times, I’ve felt that it’s almost more like Kathmandu, Nepal than other European cities that I’ve visited, such as Munich. Florence seemed to be more put-together. For one, the sidewalks weren’t constantly trying to kill me, like they were in Rome.
I wish I could have stayed in Florence for longer than I did. I feel like there was so much more to explore than I got a chance to see. Sometimes, at the end of a trip, I feel like I’ve exhausted the things to do in a city; Florence was quite the opposite. It’s a place I’d like to go back to one day, if I have the opportunity. One day was not enough.
That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Bloglovin, Twitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!