(3)FIT in Florence | Page 3

FIT in Florence

November 4, 2016
by Alexandra
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So You Miss New York…

It happened. The impossible actually happened. It’s halfway through the semester, midterms are over and you can take a (slight) sigh of relief, and you realize…you might actually miss New York City.

Sure New York’s loud, fast-paced streets, sky-high buildings have nothing on the tranquility of Italy’s cultured architecture dating back centuries and laid back lifestyle, but it happened.

I would be lying to you if I said this doesn’t happen to everyone. A common misconception is that every moment abroad is perfect. Sure being abroad is a truly life changing experience, but every moment is not perfect. You must remember to take care of yourself, physically, but especially mentally.

Here’s my go to list when you’re missing the Big Apple or signs of the good, ole United States…

Health: A walk along the Arno River

Florence’s Arno reminds me of walking along the Hudson (and if you squint your eyes, it’s kind of the same…right?) Talking a walk clears your mind and it’s always good to get some fresh air in between long studying sessions. Plus, once you get one glimpse of the Ponte Vecchio, you can’t help but smile. Hint: for ample results, grab a pizza (or gelato) along the way.

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Food: Diner Style

I feel slightly guilty suggesting to go to an American-themed restaurant when you’re in Italy, BUT if you’re really missing some classics (bagels, french fries, hamburgers, the whole nine) Florence happens to have some really good alternatives! The Diner in Santa Croce and the 1950’s American Diner near Piazza Santa Maria Novella are some favorites amongst abroad students. Go for a milkshake and fries and never look back!

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Art/Culture: A Night at the Museum

Italy, especially Florence happens to be the home of some of the greatest museums in the world! If you’re a museum snob like myself, you’ll find some great ones right here. Get your fix of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli and so many others at the Uffizi Gallery. Plus, you get some amazing views of the Ponte Vecchio.

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Coffee: Cup of Joe

So I might be the only person in the history of ever that doesn’t like coffee, however, Arnold’s Coffee right next to Piazza Santa Maria Novella has authentic American coffee (in addition to tea and pastries!) If that isn’t enough to convince you, there is literally a giant poster of New York City as soon as you walk in. When you’re missing the big city, grab your coffee and chill while seeing the Empire State building!

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Stores: Shop ‘til you Drop

Europe has some authentic and unique boutiques, but they also have some familiar stores! What do Sephora, Victoria’s Secret, Disney, H&M, or Zara all have in common? Well, for one – they have all store locations right here in Florence! So if you want some familiarity of a home shopping experience, it can still happen here!

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While all of these tips might help your longing for New York (or home), I urge you all to enjoy all the more authentic experiences that this special country has to offer. Remember, what your feeling is totally normal. One of my favorite quotes reads, “Everyday might not be good, but there is something good in everyday.”

Remain positive and remember how lucky you are to be experiencing the ups and downs of studying abroad. It is a once in a lifetime experience and I’m sure once we go back, we’ll be longing to be in this exact moment!

Con amore,

Allie

October 28, 2016
by Maria
0 comments

A Gelato a day keeps the Doctor Away

I know the real saying has traditionally been “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but technically speaking-some gelato flavors do contain pieces of fruit… So, I think it’s safe to say that it is more than acceptable to have at least one gelato a day when you are in Florence. After all, it is not nearly as indulgent or overly rich as ice cream in the U.S. tends to be, so you won’t feel as guilty about treating yourself once in a while (or 7 times a week).

 

Just as you would see coffee shops on every corner of NYC streets, the same holds true for gelato shops in Italy. You really can’t go more than 50 feet without seeing one of these magical places.

 

But…you have to know the tips and hints for scoping out the gelato shops that are worthy of the locals’ tastes. I know that all gelato looks appealing to our eyes, but if you follow these rules, your taste buds will be very happy also:

  • Avoid the ceiling-high piles of gelato: Usually when the gelato is piled as high as the Swiss Alps, you can pretty much guarantee that it is not going to be the freshest. When you think about it, it is not very likely that that shop is going to be able to sell all of that in one day, especially when you constantly see that pile at the same height, at multiple times of the day. The really good places will be scraping the container to get the last licks for their customers who just cannot get enough of it.
  • Pay Attention to the Color: The color of your gelato should be a pretty close match to the flavor that it is representing. It just isn’t natural to be eating extremely brightly colored gelato, which means that there are probably artificial flavors in there.

Now that you are officially a gelato connoisseur, it is time to try some of my personal favorites, which I think are some of the best around Florence! :

  1. Gelateria la Carraia: This place will just never get old. I know I had already mentioned it in one of my earlier blog posts, but I just cannot say enough good things about it. If you want to treat yourself, but don’t want to overdo it, you can get a cone here for only 1 Euro! But, if you enjoy homemade cones, I recommend upgrading to the 2.50 Euro cone, or getting a 1.50 -2 Euro cup. This is definitely a fan-favorite among study-abroad students because you can’t beat the taste of this gelato, with the very reasonable price to go with it. Also, there are two locations within Florence; one is on the Oltrarno, and the other is in Santa Croce. So, no matter where in the city you are staying, you probably won’t have to walk very far to go there. I highly recommend the “torta della nonna” flavor which tastes like cake, as well as “Biscottini,” which has crushed up pieces of chocolate cookies. They have such a wide variety of flavors, including both fruity and savory, so you will be sure to enter into gelato heaven when you go here!

    Gelato from La Carraia!

    Gelato from La Carraia!

  1. Gelateria Edoardo: If you are a fan of ice cream cones, this is the place for you! I am not lying when I tell you that you will start to smell the heavenly scent of these freshly made cones wafted from the other side of the Duomo, and it will make you run right over to it. The freshly made cones are served to you while they are still warm and crispy, which adds the perfect complement to your cool and creamy gelato. They have such unique flavors here which I would be sure to try, including cinnamon, red wine, zabaione (fresh eggs and white wine,) and many more! And as if it could not get even better, the place prides themselves on serving biological/organic gelato, which is free of preservatives, GMO’s, additives, and any other substance that is probably not the best for your body. So, there is no excuse not to try it! It is located right within piazza del Duomo, so you can be sure to snap a picture of your gelato in front of the Duomo (it is worth it to feel like a tourist, when you are eating this gelato).
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Gelato from Edoardo!

  1. Gelateria della Passera: I heard about this place from a local Florentine, when I asked what her favorite gelato shop was. She said that Gelateria della Passera is by far the best she has ever had, because you can tell they use all fresh ingredients and make it right in the store that very day. So, I just had to try it out for myself! The owner of this place has gained her creative mindset from attending Gelato University, and has created her flavors from combining unique ingredients and creatively experimenting at any chance that she can get. I highly recommend trying “the Mona Lisa,” which is made with crème, apple sauce, orange blossom, cognac soaked raisins, and walnuts. It sounds like such a wide variety of ingredients all combined into one, but this combination of flavors creates such a great taste! This is a tiny place which really only has enough room for the counter, but the area surrounding it is so cute, so I definitely recommend bringing it to a bench right outside or even just walking around and taking in your surroundings.
The Outside of Gelateria della Passera!

Outside of Gelateria della Passera

  1. Vivoli: a hidden gem tucked away on a side street in Santa Croce. This place is almost easy to miss because it looks like a restaurant from the outside, and you do not see the word “gelato” plastered all over the window. But, it is definitely worth checking out! I have only been there once so far, and tried the nocciola and caffe’ flavors, which was a really great combination! The flavors mixed so well together, and the consistency and texture was perfect!

    Gelato from Vivoli!

    Gelato from Vivoli!

  1. Gelateria dei Neri: Right after you try one of my favorite panino shops (All’Antico Vinaio,) just walk a few more feet down the block, and you will reach another popular gelateria! They have a good mix of classic and unique flavors, so you will be sure to find a flavor of interest to you. If you want to add an extra crunch to your gelato, you can get a mini pizzelle cookie to put on top, for only .15 euros extra!

    Gelato from Gelateria dei Neri!

    gelato from Gelateria dei Neri

Other gelaterie that are next in line to try on my bucket list:

  1. Venchi (very well-known for their chocolate flavors; you can’t miss this place by the sight of their chocolate fountain wall through the window)
  2. Grom (They have a location in New York now, so you may have seen it! But, their original location is in Italy).
  3. La Strega Nocciola
  4. Gelateria Perche No!

I hope I have passed my sweet tooth onto you from reading this post! Now, go out there and enjoy all of the amazing gelato that Florence has to offer.

 

Until next time,

Maria

 

October 18, 2016
by Alexandra
0 comments

We’ll Always Have Paris

The city of lights brought so much joy, excitement, and memories over the course of our stay there, which was the perfect setting for us because it was Paris Fashion Week. Being in Paris was always a childhood dream of mine (and Audrey Hepburn escalated my obsession), so anything I saw or did absolutely astonished me.

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Our trip continued on Thursday, when we left Paris for half the day to visit the iconic Château de Versailles. Let’s just say after spending several hours there, we’re all ready to move in! The decor, architecture, gardens, and everything in between was mesmerizing. The history was even more fascinating, and I’m so glad we snapped the praised picture in everyone’s favorite room, “The Hall of Mirrors.”

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We then returned to Paris to visit to Montmatre, a famous retail location in the city. The view alone is worth the hike, where you get to see the entire city and the magnificent church, Sacré-Cœur. There were several vintage shops, handmade boutiques, and so many neat finds.

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Afterwards, FASA (Florence Abroad Student Activites) organized a boat tour on Paris’ Seine, which allowed us to see a city from a whole new perspective. Famous points included Notre Dame, Musée d’Orsay, The Louvre, and of course…the Eiffel Tower! As mentioned before, this city has always been a dream of mine to visit, so let’s just say when the tower started sparkling I may or may not have been able to control myself.

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Friday started off with a private store visit to Hermès, before the doors even opened (no big deal)! We learned the history of the French-based luxury brand, the origin of classic Birken and Kelly bag, and how they’ve kept the exclusivity of their brand dating back from 1837. A pinch me moment, that’s for sure!

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We then continued with what I like to call tradeshow hopping. We visited five trade shows in just one day and learned a great deal about the industry! We started off at Paris sur Modes, Premiere Classe, and Don’t Believe the Hype, where we were able to look around, speak with the different brands and learn their stories, as well as do research during our class projects!

Our final destination was Tranoi, which we visited at two locations, Carousel du Louvre and Palais de la Bourse. The energy was really vibrant and welcoming, and we were able to get some great research and learn about global businesses in such a realistic way.

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Unfortunately, Saturday brought us to our last day of our academic trip, but we ended on a high note with another concept store visit, as well as a visit to the Pompidou. We started off at the Pompidou, where we had a guided tour learning about modern art. We were able to learn more about abstract pieces of art, as well as in depth analyses of pieces, including a bunch by one of my favorites, Pablo Picasso! Plus, check out this view.

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Our last stop together was to visit Merci Concept store. It has such an electric energy, selling everything from clothing and accessories to stationery and home deco. It was such a neat way to send our amazing week together off on a high note.

After the conclusion of the academic trip, we had the opportunity to independent travel, so my friends and I decided to stay an extra couple of days to explore and see more of the city. On Sunday, a group of us decided to go to Disneyland Paris and spend our day at the Happiest Place on Earth. I think we can all agree that this will go down as one of our favorite study abroad days! It was a day of nonstop fun, no worries, and lots of laughter. Plus, the park had some of Disney’s best rides; including Tower of Tower, Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, Space Mountain, and Indiana Jones.

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So after a week of traveling and exploring two incredible cities, our trip came to a close on Monday. There is so much to do in such a limited amount of time, so my friends and I decided to squeeze in some of the things we missed. There is no way I could leave Paris without seeing the Notre Dame Cathedral. The medieval Catholic cathedral was just as spectacular on the inside as it was on the outside.

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Last up were Champs-Élysées (aka the Fifth Ave of Paris) and Arc de Triomphe, which were definite must sees. While we got our last glimpse of Paris and the luxury, glamour, and beauty of such a historic city, we were also extremely excited to return home to Firenze for some well deserved rest!

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Au revoir, Paris. I look forward to the day that we will meet again!

Con amore,

Allie