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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.