Center for Global Engagement Offers Trip of a Lifetime
By: Dominick Wojtas
The College of Staten Island offers wonderful opportunities year round, waiting to be taken advantage of.
Unfortunately not all of them reach the attention, or even field of view, of the students on campus. Luckily, walking into the right building (1P) at the right time, helped me net a spectacular trip- all the way to Italy.
At CSI, the Center for Global Engagement organizes the colleges study abroad efforts. There are a handful of options to choose from in terms of location, and the offered classes tend to pair well with the environment, helping you immerse into the surrounding culture.
Programs are offered semester round including the summer and winter; one of which is, the Arts and Sciences program at the Lorenzo de Medici Institute in Florence, Italy.
Arguably the most convenient thing about living in Florence is transportation. The primary mode is located right below your hips, and the secondary modes may either be dangerous to your well being or just plain expensive. Let me explain.
The sites are all condensed into a small area that constitutes the original old city.
Anywhere that you will need or want to go is within a 20 minute walking distance. But if you’d like to switch it up, other popular transportation options include riding a bike or taking a taxi.
The notion of “sidewalks” cease to exist in Florence, and individuals are sprawled across the streets at any given hour. This makes biking quite stressful as you need to skillfully swerve in-between pedestrians, not to mention the unforgiving cobblestone roads that will have you icing your rump at the end of the day.
Taking a taxi is expensive due to the layout of the city. The streets are so narrow that most are one way, leaving the driver with no choice but to pick a route that would seem supremely inefficient by American standards.
Fortunately, there is a way to propel yourself without the need for these inventions; and ironically, you can easily walk between prominent locations defined by the very men who were arguably the forefathers of these inventions!
The Uffizi Gallery includes pieces from the individual who had coined the term “Renaissance Man”, the father of invention himself, Leonardo da Vinci. He happened to be a Florentine himself.
Another prominent fifteenth century Florentine, most commonly known by his first name, Michelangelo, has his works on display in both the Uffizi Gallery and the Academia.
The reigning theme in these artists’ works is Christianity, and it is easy to understand this link by simply being present in the environment they came up in.
Italy, being the epicenter of Roman-Catholicism, naturally has cathedrals littered throughout the country.
The most notable one in Florence is referred to as the Duomo, and if Florence was a living organism, this cathedral would certainly be its magnificent heart due to its central location and hypnotic allure.
Just a walk down the street from the Duomo, past the Uffizi Gallery, you will encounter the Arno, a river with a landmark, picturesque bridge built across it named the Ponte Vecchio.
Once you cross the river, the Piazza de Michelangelo is a short hike uphill and is defined by a sweeping vista of the entire city. This view has a dynamic essence, altered by the time of day, making it worth the hike during both day and night.
Right after you soak in the entirety of Florence, it is recommended to try some of the first-class cuisine spread throughout the city.
There are various restaurants in Florence and although it is possible to find more international cuisine, authentic Italian and American are the most common options.
There are three P’s that one should certainly indulge on whilst in this city: pizza, panini, and pasta.
After you chow down on one of these P’s, it is highly recommended to top it off with a toothsome gelato at one of the many gelaterias throughout Florence. The night is filled with finely dressed individuals graciously promenading through the well lit streets.
On your nightly stroll, it is not uncommon to find the youth on line waiting to be permitted entry to one Florence’s bars/nightclubs.
Many of these establishments are tailored for study abroad students coming from the states – so much so, that a bar featured a ceiling lined in T-shirts from various U.S universities.
These establishments provide social benefits to students as you are grouped in a room with individuals in the same boat as you. Reflection on life back home in the states and the many quirks of Italian society are great topics for conversation.
One may talk about their longing for home, yet feel a sense of buyers remorse after catching glimpse of the final destination on their plane ticket.
Within Florence’s maze-like alleys there is something for everyone.
The doors are open as long as you get the hours right.
With your senses in-check, the city openly welcomes you to consume, spectate, learn, and get lost in its ambiance.