I never knew when I titled this blog La Bella Vita, the beautiful life, before I even left home just how incredibly appropriate it would be for my time over here. It set in more and more as time passed how everything in Italy is focused on seeing the beauty in life and the way you live it. I noticed it in so many different ways: The mother who enjoys a lunch outside at a table in front of the Arno, stopping every few minutes to play with her baby and take photos of her. The old woman who stops me in passing to point out how beautiful the walk along the river is that afternoon. The men in their business suits enjoying their lunch break on a bench in the park. This all in just one of many memorable afternoons I had.
I’m thankful to say I was able to live by these values myself, and I’ve had so many amazing memories in the past few weeks of even the simplest things like watching the sun go down over the Arno with friends after a day of classes. A group of us spent a day in Cinque Terre last weekend complete with breathtaking views while hiking, trying the pesto and white wine the area is known for, and a late afternoon nap on the beach – basically perfection. I also finally got up to Boboli Gardens this week, the place of choice for CAPA kids to get our finals studying done at. I’m not sure how I’m going to get through school without views like this next year. Lately I’ve been realizing that you go somewhere in Italy and think its the most beautiful place you will ever see, and then the next day you find a new place that is just as surreally amazing. Even the simple afternoons in Florence in the springtime spent barefoot by the river, haggling at the leather market, or picnicking with Gusta Pizza or fresh food from the market will be some of my favorite moments. I even love all the lizards that are running around outside now that it got hot.
The final days of my time here snuck up on me, and now sitting here in our hotel in the small coastal town of Menaggio with Chandlar I’m just trying to process everything that I’ve experienced. The two of us made our way to Lake Como for a quiet weekend before heading back to Indiana. Our program in Florence definitely went out with a bang and an epic few last days together. Thursday I walked into CAPA for one last day of school… I took my oral Italian exam and walked out a Senior. We had a celebration dinner with all our teachers and faculty Thursday night, and some of them even came to hang out with us afterwards. We finally rode the carousel in Piazza della Repubblica (something we’d been joking about all semester), hung out one last time at the Duomo, and of course had to make one last trip to our favorite bar Salamanca. The next day was just as wonderful spending time with my roommates. I dropped my sunglasses in the Arno while sitting on a concrete triangle above the river with Sarah, so I like to think a little part of me is staying in the city. I’m going to miss these girls so much and am so thankful to have had them to help me navigate my way around this unknown world and accept me for exactly who I am. I think the four of us really had a huge impact on each other. We made one more dinner together as a little family, and of course our salad had ceci in it (a staple in our apartment that you all may know as garbanzo beans but I will now forever refer to by their Italian name). That night was surreal saying goodbye at 4:30 AM to my roommates heading to the airport and then leaving the apartment myself later that morning for the final time around 9:30. I can’t explain what I was feeling, but I can say I got just about zero sleep. It took a long time, but Florence really felt like home and leaving it has had me feeling practically every emotion possible. I can’t find the right words to say, but words can’t do the past 3 1/2 months justice anyway. All I know is that I’m already looking forward to returning to Florence someday – this city will always have a special place in my heart. I learned this week that I am horrible at goodbyes, so I refuse to say goodbye to Florence but instead I’ll leave it at ciao for now. I can’t wait to take back to America all the lessons I’ve learned, always remembering to enjoy each and every moment of this beautiful life. I’ll see you in about 48 hours Indiana!