Veni, Vedi, Vici

Spending Fall Break eating, praying, and loving in Florence.

Last year, my three best friends introduced me to “Eat Pray Love.” Essentially, it is a movie (based on a best-selling book) that is about self-discovery, and how traveling around the world can serve as an outlet to find one's way to true happiness. Julia Roberts feasted in Italy, meditated in India, and found love in Bali. What could be better? Safe to say, it became one of my favorite movies, and I made a promise to myself to travel the world in order to find myself similar to the way Julia Roberts' character did.  Although one short week of fall break wasn’t nearly enough time to accomplish my “soul searching” mission, traveling to Italy was still a great escape after weeks of stressing over midterms and getting somewhat stir-crazy in England. 

To make the most out of my 10-day break, I emulated Julia Roberts as best as I could in a relatively short amount of time. Firstly, I prayed on the steps of Santa Maria Novella and inside of Florence’s most famous cathedral, the Duomo. Besides being raised as a Catholic by two devout parents, seeing these landmarks was especially impactful after having spent my sophomore fall semester learning about them in Laurinda Dixon’s class, History of Art 105. Nothing compares to seeing these architectural masterpieces up close rather than in a slideshow.

Secondly, I found love with beautiful and suave Italian men every five minutes. Well, if you define “finding love” as having Italian men blow kisses and refer to me as “bella.” But as tall, dark, and handsome as Italian men are, I have to admit, they are very grabby and very forward. They’re also fascinated with American girls, so beware ladies.

More than any of Julia Roberts’ three stages, however, I ate my way to a state of total nirvana. Let me tell you nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to authentic Italian cuisine. Throughout my week in Florence, I ate everything I could get my hands on: mozzarella and tomato paninis, cannolis, every variety pasta, you name it. I even found the best pizza and gelato offered in Florence, and trust me, based on the waiting times to get into both cafes, and the awards hanging on their walls, they were the real deal. For those of you studying in Florence next semester, or who plan on just visiting Florence on future trips, you simply cannot miss Pizzeria Spera and Gelateria Dondoli. They are truly magical eating experiences (and that is saying something coming from a foodie like myself.)

To accompany my many good eats in Italy, I also tried all kinds of Italian wines. I actually went on a relatively inexpensive day-long trip hosted by a small company called “Italy on a Budget” that allowed me and seven other people to travel to the Tuscan countryside to go to two different farms to try different varieties of white, red, and dessert wines as well as truffle oils, olive oils, and balsamic vinegars.

I may have come back five pounds heavier, but after two months of studying in London, I can’t imagine a better way to have celebrated my halfway point of fall semester than eating, praying and loving in Florence.

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