Once again, we’re back with #WednesdayswithaView! As you all know, we are back from Italy and have returned to life at home. From here on out, this blog will be taking a bit of a different direction. I’ll be giving you some insight on what it was like to leave Florence right in the middle of the semester, and then later I’ll be sharing some ruminations on how life at home has been as well as tips and tricks for your own future travels! I’ll do my best to make it exciting and hopefully give you something to look forward to in these weeks.
We found out close to midnight on February 28th that the Italy travel advisory had been raised to a Level 3 and that we were going to be sent home. My roommate Anne and I immediately ran to get gelato before the gelato places closed at midnight (priorities). We sat out in the square in the dark with our tasty treats and tried to let it sink in that our trip was being cancelled. It was sad, to say the least; we weren’t sure what to feel, torn between understanding the concern and also being incredibly upset to have to be leaving Italy. We spent a long time late into that night walking through the streets and wondering how we were ever going to say goodbye to our beautiful city.
Once it was announced for sure that we would be leaving Florence, one of the first things we did was take an inventory of all of the things we had not yet seen that we couldn’t leave without doing. For me, this included the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli gardens (for which I already had tickets), the Palazzo Vecchio, and Michelangelo’s David (see last week’s post for more on these last two!). The day after the advisory was raised, we rushed to the Palazzo Pitti (which was once largest palace in Europe) and the Boboli gardens—both of which were breathtakingly gorgeous, enormous, full of history, and slightly bittersweet to visit given the news we had just received.
Other things on our “bucket list” included visiting all the churches and the Duomo one last time, going out for wine and a Florentine steak (the best meal I have ever had in my life), and eating all the gelato we could get our hands on.
The logistics of leaving were rather difficult to handle. In addition to our personal sadness and confusion over what was happening, we also had concerned parents and peers asking about when we needed to leave, how to get flights, and whether or not we were getting refunded. Two of my roommates were not even in Florence at the time, having departed to Greece and Ireland for spring break, and those of us who remained undertook the task of packing up their luggage to be shipped back to the US since they could not fly back to Italy. We also had to suddenly figure out logistics like cleaning out our whole apartment, what to do with our currency, and how to get to the airport. AIFS was incredibly helpful throughout this whole process, as was Dr. Cañadas—I can’t thank them enough for everything they both did to help us.
I was the last one to leave our apartment, almost a week after we had been cancelled, and I won’t lie—it was very sad to go. Though we had only lived there for five weeks, I had become attached to our little space and the neighborhood we lived in. I took lots of pictures for the memories, and even now as I’m comfortable in my home, I miss the sound of people in the street outside my window, the clothes line, the espresso maker, and all the other little things that made it home for that time.
Shout-out to all Mount professors for being incredibly understanding and accommodating during this switch. Even though we were recalled from Italy almost two weeks before the Mount officially closed, the professors were so great about giving us extensions on our work or forgiving assignments entirely. It was a relief to be able to figure out all of our logistical problems and spend our last few days admiring Florence without having to worry about schoolwork.
Overall, those last six days in Florence were the busiest and most bittersweet days of my adult life so far. I was constantly going back and forth between rushing to sights I wanted to see and trying to pack up my life on short notice, all while dealing with my personal anger and confusion about the situation and how it had turned out. Now, after three and a half weeks to reflect and think back on it, I’m just very happy that everyone from the program was able to come home safely. After all, everyone on earth is having to give up something in this time and can relate to the frustration of having entire lives turned upside down. However, human beings are nothing if not resilient; we will get through this and come out stronger, I’m convinced.
As always, stay safe and stay smart, everyone. I hope you find some way to make your Wednesday special!