Florence, Italy: birthplace of the Renaissance, the heart of culture and art, and my most recent travel destination.
I took a trip to Poggibonsi, Tuscany, Italy as part of an exchange program with a group of theatre students at my school. For weeks, we rehearsed a piece to perform in front of hundreds of eager Italian students and their families, as well as our own host families. We performed a short, funny piece that relied heavily on body language, due to the language barrier. The moment I stepped off stage after our performance, I realized that I’d just shared my art in what I’ve always viewed as the most artistic place in the world. Receiving praise, flowers, and cheers from my host family was a very humbling experience. I felt that I should be cheering for my host family for enabling me to participate in this amazing adventure. If they had not been so kind as to welcome me into their home, I would not have been able to go on the trip due to financial restraints.
We left Poggibonsi after one week, a lifetime too early. We stayed in Florence, Italy, where my small world in Las Vegas was immediately shattered. Florence is the most diverse, cultural, and outstanding city that I have ever had the privilege to visit. The streets are paved in uneven cobblestone, like something I had only seen in movies. Coming from Las Vegas, which is an extremely new city, I experienced a culture shock in the streets of Italy. The people are infinitely more friendly than they are in my home. There is art everywhere. Simply walking down a street is a pleasant, safe, and beautiful experience because of the surroundings.
During my time in Florence, I found myself bonding with my theatre peers much more than I had in Poggibonsi. Perhaps this was because our host families were no longer there to guide us and we had to rely more on each other, as well as our chaperones. The most amazing experience that I shared with my theatre group was climbing the Duomo di Firenze. The Duomo di Firenze is a magnificent Catholic church that was built between 1296 and 1436. Before departing on the trip, our theatre group watched an extensive documentary on how the Duomo was built, so as to be educated tourists. As a group, we climbed 463 strikingly steep steps to reach the top of the antique church. Many of the steps were between two walls, with windows spread scarcely. Once we reached the last step, we were standing on a circular patio atop the Duomo. Once we finished huffing and puffing, I looked around realized that we had a view of the entire city. I circled the patio very slowly several times, taking in and appreciating the shocking Italian city. Far in the distance, I could see the rolling green hills for which Italy is famous. Atop the hills were classic Italian villas. Low clouds cast a beautiful light over everything. Looking down, I could see hundreds of thousands of people packing the streets. I stood still in one place, gazing at the rooftops of one of the oldest places in the world.
It is there, atop the Duomo di Firenze, that I knew I had to see every beauty that this world has to offer. I am so grateful for my trip to Tuscany, Italy because it opened my eyes to the culture and beauty that lies all over the world. I am going to see it all.
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