Here at FIT in Florence, we are offered the option to join the Community Service Club and give a bit back to the city that has welcomed us in. Through this program, we are able to partake in activities such as gardening, food drives, and helping out at various kinds of events, and these are all wonderful experiences that not only impact the community but enable us to meet people from outside of our group at Polimoda. Sometimes it can feel like we only talk to each other and don’t always get to branch out and meet new friends in Italy so it is always great to mingle with other people through doing community service. Here are some photos from Orti Dipinti, a garden right in the middle of downtown Florence that has been created to send the message that, even in the midst of the city, vegetables, herbs, and other plants can be grown and a sustainable garden can thrive. Here, we made tea infusions for them to sell from their fresh herbs using interesting varieties of common plants such as strawberry mint and peach sage and, as someone who loves to garden, I had a wonderful time working there and I definitely want to return sometime soon!
Even though meeting people outside of Polimoda is wonderful, the bonds that we have created within the program have grown incredibly strong as this semester has progressed and we are all becoming very close friends. We recently returned from our weekend trip to Venice and, although the visit was short, we had so much fun and made the most out of everything we did there.
On the first day, we visited the Jewish Ghetto and learned about the history of this area from our art history teachers, who had accompanied us along this trip. We then went to Atelier Nicolao, a tailor’s shop that creates historically accurate replications of garments and costumes for plays, ballets, and movies (if you want to learn more about Atelier Nicolao, you can visit them at their website: http://www.nicolao.com/en). The last trip of the day was to an old shop where they make masks by hand as they used to centuries ago, Ca’ Macana, where we learned all about the history of masks and the Carnevale in Venice, and some students stayed there to paint their own masks while others went off to explore the city.
On both days, we had ample free time to eat delicious food, wander around the canals, and get lost many times in a beautiful, albeit hard to get around, city. The second day began with a trip to Biennale, which was similar to EXPO Milano but was focused more on modern art rather than promoting wellness and feeding the planet. After meeting briefly in Piazza San Marco, my group headed over to the museum at Palazzo Fortuny, where we saw more art installations and a museum with such modern art made me realize that we had only really seen Renaissance art before while in Italy. Although the paintings of artists such as Fra Angelico and Botticelli are beautiful, it was nice to view art from a completely different perspective while in Venice.
Our trip to Venice was truly amazing and it made us all realize what great friendships we are creating through this study abroad program. As we continue on through the year and experience more spectacular things in Europe, I know that these bonds will only grow stronger and will never break even when we are no longer in this program together.