My name is Rebekah Balick and welcome to #WednesdaysWithaView! I cannot wait to share all these amazing Florence experiences with you through this blog. In the two weeks since landing and moving into our lovely apartment, each moment has had a different adventure to offer. I have seen and done so many things, and we are just beginning!
This trip is the fulfillment of a lifelong wish—to study abroad in a foreign country. As an international studies and history double major, I have always been fascinated by other countries and craved the opportunity to live in a place with an entirely different language and culture. Florence, as the heart of the Renaissance and a true jewel of Italian life and history, was the perfect choice. I can hardly believe that I am finally here, living in a European city and experiencing Italian life every day.
In this blog, I would like to take you through both the highs and lows of this journey—literally! Each weekly “view” of this blog will have two perspectives: a “sky view” and a “street view.” Florence is full of beautiful mountains, towers, and cathedral heights that offer spectacular sights. I absolutely love being up high and I’d love to share the history and majesty of these “sky views” with everyone. In addition, to show the more personal side of things, the “street view” will include more ground-level happenings, such as cafes, museums, and individual encounters. I hope that the combination will give you multiple perspectives of Florence and help you see the full beauty of this experience with me.
For the first post, I have a special treat for today’s sky view: the most famous height in Florence!
This is the view from top of Florence’s famous Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as the Duomo. Early last Wednesday, we climbed the 469 steps (yes, I counted) to the top of Brunelleschi’s famous dome to see the city spread out before us. From the top, we could see the river Arno, the Piazzale Michelangelo, the train station, and the mountains all around. We even watched a plane land at the nearby airport! The weather, though cold, was perfectly clear, and the golden city and green mountains glowed under the blue sky and morning sun. We took our time at the top, resting our sore legs and drinking in the crisp air before climbing back down.
For the first “street view” of this blog, I’m actually going to take you outside of Florence—to the streets of the seaside town of Viareggio for Carnevale!
Carnevale—which traditionally celebrates the days before the start of Lent—is a major cultural event for Italians, even non-religious ones. Viareggio’s celebration, though less known than Venice’s, is certainly not to be missed. We wore masks to fit into the festivities, and most locals were decked out in costumes ranging from Renaissance getups to superheroes to playing cards.
The most jaw-dropping part, however, were the floats:
Famous around the world, these animatronic floats towered above us in full color, blasting music and spraying confetti. Each had a different theme, and many revolved around political and cultural satire. The themed dancers on the floats mingled in with the crowd, singing and spreading their excitement with everyone.
What I really loved about this Carnevale was that despite the flashy floats and incredible atmosphere, it had a personal, local feel to it. We saw entire families dressed up together, pushing strollers as children threw confetti at everyone in sight. This celebration is the pride of Viareggio and its local families, and being on the streets with them was very special experience!
With that, I’d like to wrap up this first post! Thank you for stopping by #WednesdaysWithaView and I certainly hope you come again. After all, two perspectives for one blog? I think that’s a win.
Be sure to check the rest of the blogs this week and stay up to date with MSMU Travels! Wishing you a happy #WednesdayWithaView!