The taxi cab from the airport dropped me off right at the door of my new home.
The first sights of Italy and Florence were....I don't really know how to describe it...not exactly mind-blowing or impressive but just existing. There it was and here I was looking through glass at it all. I immediately felt as if the city wasn't a reality but a lie meticulously constructed to fool and deceive; much like a film setting. And not a movie set in the romantic sense, but in the Disneyland sense....a fake. Maybe because I hadn't yet come into tangible contact with the place, but I still can not shake the feeling, even after two days.
I had a slight snafu right after this. I walked in the building where my apartment was supposed to be, but there was no light and the space was pitch black. A sensory light flicked on and I ascended the corridor-like staircase to the second floor. The problem was I didn't realize that what we consider to be the first floor is considered the ground floor in Italy. Likewise, what we consider the second floor is known as the first floor and so on. I called the landlord and quickly discovered the painful language barrier and had no other contacts yet in my phone. It took me about ten minutes to find the right door when the unnamed man found me frustrated, scared, and confused a floor down. Ultimately, no big deal.
However the apartment is incredible. I had wanted to hit the jackpot since we were randomly assigned housing and decided I would be disappointed with anything less. The whole apartment was recently remodeled as in, I can clearly smell the aromas of construction. These sensory clues suggest the job was completed hours before we got there...the smell is unfortunately very strong. The kitchen and dining is the entry space including a new flat-screen television with cable and brand new contemporary cabinets/appliances with stunning views of the Duomo. This leads to the “living” room (more like a passage way) with access to a single bedroom and full bath. This bedroom has a shocking view of the Duomo that puts the first glimpse to utter shame.
This is the view I required. . .(fulfilled in the dinning room)
. . . And this is the view we got. (or that my roommate Dan stole.)
Further on another full bath and two double beds. Since there is one extra bed in our apartment for four, I have one double to myself with views of the street below.
All rooms are decked out in Ikea furniture and fittings, also never before used. In the heart of the city with a five minute walk to school, a relatively inexpensive bar below with free wi-fi, and a few doors down a grocery, I couldn't have asked for a better space to spend the next 4 ½ months.
After settling in we went out to experience Florentine nightlife and for me, my first time being of age. A few observations...Since the streets here are so narrow, they are constantly shifting between roadway for vehicular traffic and walkway for pedestrians. Most people seem to disregard the small cars buzzing between the ancient buildings, stepping up to the small sidewalk only if they have to. I am finding that I tend to want to walk on the sidewalk (which is more like navigating a balance beam) out of habit. Jay-walking here does not exist which opens up incredible potential for public space in the city. Also, open containers in the streets are permitted. This new absence of laws renders Italy more like an anarchy in relation to the States so far, but something I don't see being difficult to get used to.
A group of us went out to an American bar (I don't understand the point of having a bar themed American) called Red Garter to meet up with a large portion of the other program participants. As my first bar experience, it was somewhat disappointing. Karaoke followed by a band of male Italians covering Van Morrison and Katy Perry. While standing in the street outside the bar before moving on something notable did happen though. A young dude, wiry with a curly overgrown head of hair, arranged his hand in the appearance of a gun and placed his two fingers literally on my face between the eyes while making shooting noises. I have no idea of his intentions or his nationality, but it was odd, unexpected and unnerving, since slight anti-American sentiment exists here.
Thus, I will reconsider my place in Italian nightlife.
Micah, 1. Italy, 1.