Study Abroad: My Last Week in Italy

FRI. JULY 17 – SUN. JULY 19: Day 39-41

This weekend, I took my only trip outside of Italy to Albania to visit my friend Ashique who is stationed there for the Peace Corp. I will not be blogging about this period, but wanted to mention that this is why three days of my trip are missing.

MON. JULY 20: Day 42

As I sat with Molly at Trattoria Antellesi (which I recommend to everyone!!!), surrounded by new friends made that night, she says to me, “It’s our last week in Italy, so you know it’s going to be the most incredible one.”

Study Abroad Florence
Wild boar tastes like roast beef!
 

Our night started out as a quest to finally try wild boar, and took an unexpected but exciting turn. We ended up sitting next to Teresa and Johannes, a couple from Austria, who were the sweetest, most loving, genuine, down-to-earth people we met.

 

Study Abroad Florence

Study Abroad Florence

Study Abroad Florence
Johannes bought me and Molly limoncello! The generosity in Europe astounds me.
 
Study Abroad Florence
There’s a plastic, severed arm at the restaurant. Why? I don’t know.

 
Study Abroad Florence
Johannes

Study Abroad Florence

Study Abroad Florence

Study Abroad Florence
Teresa loves to document memories through writing and photography.

Study Abroad Florence

She took a polaroid of all of us, wrote her address on it, and said, “If you ever visit Austria, you must stay with us.”

Study Abroad Florence

Study Abroad Florence

Study Abroad Florence

Study Abroad Florence

After dinner, we hung out with the teens (Nicolo, Francesco, Davide, Lorenzo, and Margherita) at the panini place next door and ended up hanging out late into the night and having an absolute blast!
 
“Il mio nome Margherita come la pizza, non Margarita come la bevanda.”
“My name is Margherita like the pizza, not Margarita like the drink.”

Study Abroad Florence

Study Abroad Florence

Study Abroad Florence

 

TUES. JULY 21 – WED. JULY 22: Day 43-44

I’m feeling a bit sad right now. I feel like a fleeting passerby. What makes me think any of these people will remember me when I’m gone? This week is my last week, so I go out every night and talk to people and every person I meet, all I can think is, “Great. Another person I have to say goodbye to.”
 
It takes a lot to befriend those who are doomed to leave you.
 
I don’t know what will happen when I go back to the U.S. This trip will show up on my resume as one line, but it’s so much more. It was an internal transformation.

And external. I never stop sweating. Profusely. Drenched. This heat makes me miss the cold, which is saying a lot because I despise the cold. Today, it rained and went from 97 to 77 and it feels like Christmas morning! It was the first time under 97 in three weeks.

 

Study Abroad Florence

 
I ate panini’s from my favorite panini places today. The photo above is wild boar salami, pecorino cheese, and blueberry jam. 
 

Study Abroad Florence

I always tell the chefs at All’antico Vinaio to surprise me. This panini place always has a line out the door. This is, hands down, the best place to buy a panini in the entire city of Florence!
 
 

THURS. JULY 23: Day 45

My plans with Sofia didn’t pan out, so I sat at my usual restaurant and chatted with my friends. Guglielmo could tell I looked defeated. “How come you never ask me to go out?” My eyes widened a bit in shock. Have I really never asked him to hang out? “Oh.. I just thought you were always tired after working until midnight every day.” He shrugged, “If you never ask, you’ll never know.”
 
Wow. What a life lesson. How did that completely slip past my mind? I’ve known him since my second week here and never considered asking him to hang out outside of work.
 

So, what did we do? We did everything that could qualify to be in an Italian romance novel. I tried my first caffe corretto, which was hard to swallow. I decided quickly that I prefer my coffee and my liqueur separate.

 
 
He poured me a free glass of $150 wine to sip on as he closed the restaurant. And then? I rode on the back of his motorbike to his favorite overlook of the city. Sorry mom! 😉
 
It was so quiet in the town of Settignano that you could hear a pin drop. We talked about life and aliens and fears and dreams. Our shadow was cast behind us on a large rock, mirroring the perfect silhouette of two people sharing in each other’s world in the early morning under the stars.
 
 

 

We exhausted every topic of discussion to such deep lengths that before we knew it, it was 4:30 a.m. We spent six entire hours together and it was glorious. 

I would say this whole situation was a jerk move on time’s part, as it is my last day and I have just started to truly get to know someone, but I think things play out how they should sometimes.
 
 

 

I decided there was no use in going to bed because I accidentally pulled an all-nighter, and took photographs around the city instead, starting with my street—finally, photos of Florence without three million tourists.

 





























 
I can’t tell you how beautiful Florence is at five in the morning. Cities, man! Cities are for lovers.
 
The shopkeepers were setting up for the day, there wasn’t a tourist in site, everyone was smiling and whistling, and I said “buongiorno!” to every person I passed. I love the morning. I like to think the reason people are so happy in the morning is because nothing bad has happened yet.
 

FRI. JULY 24: Day 46

It’s my last day in Florence. What did I do?
 
– I experienced pure luck when I stood in a line to buy a ticket to the Uffizi, but was handed a free ticket by someone who had an extra.
 
– I went to the office of a Florentine newspaper and applied for an internship.

– I had dinner with a stranger.

 













 
It’s my last day in Florence and I’m having a freakin’ amazing day. I know I should be devastated, but I can’t help but be joyous! I did not want my last day to be filled with sadness; I wanted exactly the opposite.

So when the bartender this morning asked me, “Come stai?” my response was a beaming, “Felicissima!” followed by a hearty sip of my cappuccino. He also refused to let me pay, and handed me a cookie on a plate that he drew a stick figure carrying a balloon on in chocolate. I would ask, “Why are Italian people so lovely?” but I’ve been told not to question the good things in life.

 

Florence Study Abroad
 
I’ve been planning for a while that on my last day in Italy, I wanted to have an long, blissfully lazy, exuberant, multi-course meal. I dolled myself up in a dress and Italian heels (I’ve finally mastered the art of walking on cobblestone) and headed towards Osteria Santo Spirito, where my dinner reservations awaited me.
 
Study Abroad Florence
 
Along the way, I stopped by my friend’s restaurant to say hello. A boy who looked about my age approached us and asked abruptly, “Which way should I go? Left or right?”
 
“For what?” I asked.

“To see Florence.”

Without missing a beat, I replied, “Ponte Vecchio. I’m heading in that direction now. Follow me!”
 
Study Abroad Florence
 
On our walk across the river, I learned that he is a Norwegian visiting Italy on holiday, but is only staying in Florence for one day. I asked without hesitation, “Are you hungry?” I mentioned that I made dinner reservations for two in case I found someone to eat with me and invited him to join me if he wished.
 
Florence Study Abroad
 
He accepted with an eager, “Absolutely!”
 
We shared an entire bottle of Prosecco (what I like to call “a bottle of stars”) and each had our own personal five-course meal.

I asked a complete stranger out to dinner and it was entirely grand and fantastic in every aspect. I now have a Norwegian friend named Olav.

 

Florence Study Abroad
 
“I’m on cloud 9.”
“Is that better than cloud 7?”
– What happens when your Norwegian friend doesn’t understand American idioms.
 
Florence Study Abroad

After dinner, we walked towards the Piazza and met a young Swedish couple along the way, who asked me for bar suggestions.

 
Florence Study Abroad

We escorted them to my favorite hipster bar, Volume, and then made our way to the steps of the church where all the Italians hang out at night. They showed up a few minutes later and generously surprised me and Olav with drinks. Europeans are so nice.

 
Florence Study Abroad
 

When I took my first step back into the corridor of my apartment at the end of the night, I couldn’t even make it up the steps. I curled into myself and began to cry. I called my friend Ashique in Albania and garbled a bunch of words and sobs and muffled sentences all together. He listened and comforted me at 2 a.m. until I composed myself.

 

Florence Study Abroad

Knowing that I had to leave for the airport at 6:00 am, I decided to pull my second all-nighter and spent my time packing. I really could have used an instruction manual on how to pack for my return home without bawling my eyes out every ten minutes.

 

SAT. JULY 25: Day 47 

Let’s talk about efficiency in Italy–there is none. My taxi to the airport didn’t show up and I didn’t have a phone to call a new one. Thank heavens a man walked by who let me borrow his phone to contact the advisor of my program who woke up and took me. 
 

I slept the entire way home, waking up only to eat and switch flights. 

When I arrived at the airport, I texted my mom, “Can you bring chocolate to the airport, please?” She brought brownies. What a gem!

 

 

 

 

So, how do I feel now that I am back? I will be writing more about this in a separate post, but at this moment, this is how I feel:

I feel like someone took me out of a storybook and stuck me in another. Or maybe like Alice from Alice in Wonderland. She spends the whole book trying to get back home, but what she doesn’t realize is that everything around her becomes her home too.

Maybe you can have more than one home, but right now, I feel like half of my body is here and the other half has her nails dug into the Florence cobblestone begging not to go. 

 

It’ll just take time. Ohio feels like I’m a temporary guest, just like I felt in Italy during my first week. The more I’m here, the more I’ll be adjusted, but I don’t know how I feel about that. 

I want to believe that all my experiences there were valid and that the emotion was real, but there’s a part deep inside me that worries, “What if you were in the honeymoon phase the entire trip?”

I want to go back. I want to spend more time there so I can prove to myself that it is actually possible to have had an experience so incredible in such a short time.

Also, I fell asleep at 5 p.m. and just woke up thinking it was 7 p.m., but it’s 7 a.m. HAHA.

Allora, I will write more soon. Thank you so much for reading my journey thus far; I hope you have enjoyed reading about it as much I enjoyed writing it.

Laurie Hamame

Ball of sunshine. Chronic giggler. A lover of all things sweet potato. An overly friendly, world traveling, body positive warrior. Avid bookworm. Self-proclaimed chef and spiritually Italian. Promotor of daily walks, coffee dates and 30-second dance parties.

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Laurie Hamame

Ball of sunshine. Chronic giggler. A lover of all things sweet potato. An overly friendly, world traveling, body positive warrior. Avid bookworm. Self-proclaimed chef and spiritually Italian. Promotor of daily walks, coffee dates and 30-second dance parties.

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