It has been exactly one year (to the day!) since I left to study abroad and I miss Florence so much. Thanks to @emily_elizabeth for the request that let me be totally indulgent and talk incessantly about Italy!!!
  1. Let's start with the obvious: the food.
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    Restaurants were great, but living with an Italian family and getting home cooked meals was even better. Some of my fondest memories are in the kitchen - my host brother teaching me and my roommate how to properly filet fish, eating fresh Sicilian oranges every night for dessert, collectively dying from pasta that was accidentally overspiced to the point of physical pain.. Also I learned to make pasta from scratch (see photo)!
  2. My host family ❤️ (they are very private so here's a picture of the view from their cute lil' kitchen)
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    I didn't quite anticipate how awkward it would be to move into a family's home in the middle of them living their lives, but it was. Then somewhere along the way we all just clicked and suddenly I was helping my host sister pick out a dress for her friend's wedding and swapping Broadway soundtracks with her boyfriend and teasing my host brother about pretty much everything and having deep life chats with my host parents. And then I was sobbing in a taxi as I left their home.
  3. Living so close to this:
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    If heaven isn't a Chianti wine tasting trip that lasts forever then I don't even know anymore....
  4. My American friends
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    Especially my awesome roommate Caroline from whom I could not be separated for more than two hours. I really appreciated having a group of fellow Americans who wanted to immerse themselves in Italian culture but were still down to occasionally whine about cultural differences together.
  5. My Italian friends (I apparently have no photos with them so here's a lemon tree instead?)
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    My small crew of high school boys, which made no sense but was great. My language-practice-partner-turned-actual-friend who knew more about US politics than I did and made me explain our healthcare system to him many times because he found it so silly. And the actual love of my life, Tony, the owner of the best restaurant in town, who always gave my friends and me free wine and chocolate cake.
  6. The Boboli Gardens
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    So peaceful and beautiful, the perfect Sunday afternoon walk in the spring.
  7. Being able to do this:
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    (Sit in the park and drink wine with my professor and classmates)
  8. The Duomo
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    This is such a beautiful piece of architecture and an amazingly imposing marker of the city center. I walked by it every chance I had and felt awestruck every single time.
  9. Wandering through the city
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    I hardly traveled during my four months abroad, so I had lots of time to myself at home. To me this was ideal because walking around cities is one of my favorite activities and you get to people watch and find cool little alleyways.
  10. THIS.
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    A train station converted into an event hall where they held a giant festival of Italian food and my roommate and I ate EVERYTHING and drank EVERYTHING and by the time we got to the 18 tables of dessert we were drunk and taking chocolates like we were princesses and life was GOOD.
  11. Getting involved with local events
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    I was the security guard outside the women's locker room at the Florence Half Marathon. I was instructed to "not let any bad people in," which is so far beyond my area of expertise but apparently that didn't matter to anyone and I felt powerful and great.
  12. Being able to take TWO weekend trips to Rome and seeing the Pope BOTH times.
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    We're bros now.
  13. The Uffizi Gallery
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    Beautiful art + free admission for students = I went there 6 times 😏
  14. The library
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    Except no studying got done there because look at it.
  15. Speaking Italian all the time (because I was surrounded by Italians, like the people in this picture!)
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    I was so hesitant about speaking Italian and making mistakes when I first arrived (even though I'd taken Italian classes for 2 years and known some from being an Italian baby). By the end of my trip it was as comfortable to me as speaking English, which was an amazing feeling.
  16. I could go on forever but I will just choose this as a stopping point.
    If any of you ever visit Florence HMU PLEASE I WILL RECOMMEND SO MANY THINGS.
  17. Firenze, mi manchi ❤️
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    I definitely didn't cry while writing this! Haha!