I can't believe I'm in Italy! I have never been out of the States, except for the Bahamas. When I heard one leg of the flight to Florence, Italy, was going to be nine hours, I was not so sure how I felt about that! And for good reason too: flying to Italy was certainly an ordeal. At the first airport Penny Cronk got stopped by security because she had a knife in her backpack from her last trip. See Abby Kellett's blog for the complete story on that situation. In the second airport, our plane landed about 20 minutes late. However, we walked by about five men that were wearing 2010 Olympic jackets! It was so exciting. But we were late, so we couldn't stop and stare like the touristy Americans we are. We had to go through passport control which led us outside security, which is where everyone got split up. Apparently going to the left out of passport control was the wrong choice, because out of 22 of us, six went downstairs while the rest got stopped by TSA and were told to go another way. The separated six had to stand in line to go back through security downstairs, and with no phone to contact anyone and a plane that was supposed to leave in five minutes, we just headed on to the gate in hopes of not having to wait for the next plane into florence. Luckily, all of us ended up meeting up at the gate, Lufthansa had the airplane wait for us and we took off only 45 minutes after scheduled departure time. Soon enough, we touched down in Italy, where it was freezing cold, gray and lightly raining.
Right away we got to work. We had a quick tour of where we were staying and left within ten minutes to head up to the villa where we saw all the HUF students who we haven't seen all semester, and that was wonderful. It was really good to see friends there, and get to talking with some new students. It's kind of surreal for me to be at the villa with the students because I had signed up to be there this semester, but switched to go to Australia in the fall. If I hadn't switched, I would be living at that villa right now, laughing and having inside jokes with those people we're featuring in stories. It's interesting, to say the least.
Later we took about a 30-45 minute bus into Florence to explore. We saw the Duomo and all its glory. It is so beautiful- it's literally breathtaking. I had to just stop when I saw it. Others who had seen it previously kept walking, and I just had to stop and stare. The architecture and art here is something completely unamerican. Pictures certainly do not do anything justice whatsoever. It's definitely something you have to see first hand!
Anyway, last night we went to Gallos pizzeria. The pizza here has super thin crust- almost as thin as a sheet of paper. See the restaurant review to learn about Gallos and its specialty pizzas!
After that, we all came back to the Bible college where we are staying and just crashed. I had only got two hours of sleep the night previous to the day we started our crazy adventure and started (yes, STARTED) packing at 3 am that morning. The professors wouldn't let us sleep at all yesterday in hopes that if we stayed up we would beat jet lag and just sleep through the night and not be tired. And I was surprised to say that it worked! The time difference is 7 hours- so although it is only 1:30 pm central time right now, we are about to eat dinner and write a few stories before we go to bed. That still blows my mind, and it still blows my mind we're in Italy!
More to come about various adventures later!