A (Sweet) New Beginning

Bumpy Beginnings

It’s been one week since I was supposed to leave the United States and start my adventure in Europe. Anyone who has flown standby out of DIA on a holiday, however, learns quickly that this money-saving mode of travel is an adventure in itself. It brings an array of potentially frustrating but, in our case, also surprisingly delightful experiences. After waking up at 2ish am two days in a row (thanks mom and dad for driving me) and waiting all day at the airport, on the second day we finally caught an afternoon flight to Atlanta Georgia. What a relief! Phase one: complete. Phase two: catching the next flight to Rome… which was not for another day.

Serendipitous Layover

Not to worry however, no last minute hotel reservation was needed; my wonderful friends Lori and Danny live just a hop-skip-and-a-jump away from the airport. This kind, passionate, and gracious duo hosted us last minute for the next 20 hours. (Fun fact: I serendipitously met this couple at a poetry slam in Fort Collins several months earlier. If you live in FoCo I highly recommend you have to check it out; it’s every first Friday of the month.) Lori and Danny are the type of people I wish I could introduce all of my friends to because their way of life is inspiring. Active, adventurous, passionate, and life-long-learners are the words that come to mind when I think of them.

Southern Hospitality

Overall, we had a surprisingly amazing experience in Atlanta due to my friends’ southern hospitality and Lori’s willingness to give us an insightful and historic walking tour of her town. Best layover I’ve ever had.

On our walking tour around town. From left to right: Mark (Gabrielle’s Dad), Gabrielle, me, and Lori.

Is this real life?

Next, we had a (thankfully) uneventful flight to Rome and smooth train ride to Florence. As I sat on the TrenItalia (in the same pair of clothes I had worn for four days mind you), I saw, through my droopy, jet-lagged eyes, the type of movie-set scenery I had only dreamed I might see. Yes, it’s just how you’re picturing it: the tall skinny Tuscan trees, green vineyards, and idyllic cottage-y looking houses. Ahh breathtaking and surreal. I was and still am incredibly thankful to be where I am.

Making Our House a Home

Since then we have gotten settled into the apartment Gabrielle’s cousin’s boyfriend’s family (try saying that 10 times fast) is letting us stay in for the semester. Here is a picture of our newest guest, the houseplant Simone.


The town we live in is called Sesto Fiorentino. The way it looks reminds me of an older (much older) Vail. There are lots of pizza shops, bakeries, coupled with both reasonable and ritzy stores. Gabrielle’s cousin’s boyfriend, Alessandro, has shown us all around the town so we know where the good bread is and also the restaurants we will never be able to afford.

My first Italian breakfast, lets just say it didn’t last long.

Mountaintop Moments

One night Alessandro drove us to the top Morella Mountain that is to our North and we got to see all of Florence, Sesto Fiorentino, and the several surrounding cities all lit up. I hope to never forget how Florence’s Il Duomo looked that night. I stood there on top of the mountain, looking at one of the most historic cities in the world, (meanwhile also shivering from the cold wind and feeling nauseous from the speedy, winding, Italian style drive up what should have been a one-way road)… and it suddenly, in that moment, it all became real. It finally hit me that I get to live in this idyllic and charming town right outside of Florence for the next 5 months… Nobody pinch me.

That's the Italian phrase for the sweetness of doing nothing. Also, known as my new personal motto.
Il Dolce Far Niente. That’s Italian for “the sweetness of doing nothing” and pretty much sums up our third day here.


And speaking of Florence… you’ll have to wait until next week’s post to see pictures of this magnificent city and to hear the rest of my adventures. They include Ponte Vecchio at sunset, Galileo’s fingers, and my experience of sharing a meal with Gabby’s Italian family.

First time making espresso. Actually this was attempt number two because the first time I burnt it. Like mother like daughter.


  1. What a fun read! You’re a natural blogger. (You’re too kind on the description of Danny and me; we loved having such adventurous folks as y’all!) Daisy will be glad to know she made the photo in front of the house. I’ll share your blog site with Cory and Danny; we three had such fun in Italy, I’m sure they’ll enjoy a virtual “re-visit.”

    I’m including a link here & in your email to other “must see Italian places” I saw today in Paste Magazine, and one is the town of Paestum which I’d mentioned to you for the Greek ruins, but I forgot about their fabulous local buffalo mozzarella cheese. Happy eating!

    Here’s to that sweetness of doing nothing!


  2. Belle,
    Thanks for sharing your BLOG with Grandma & me!
    You have a talent for writing, please keep us in your distribution but please don’t send it in Italian when you become linguistically proficient.


  3. If you eat the fruit gelatos (sorbetto) some of the time, then you can subscribe to our motto and “eat a gelato a day” without having to buy bigger clothes! Lemon was my favorite…. (surprisingly satisfying after a big meal.) Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

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