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The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

Florence astounds and also teaches

The Florence Catherdral, or Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, is one of the many landmarks students visited during the Spring 2011 study abroad program. (Courtesy of Samantha Fannin)

Studying abroad in Tuscany is more than the historic cobblestone streets, pistachio gelato and fashionable Italians.

Instead, I would describe it as life changing. As a part of DVC’s student abroad program, living in Italy truly opened my eyes to other ways of life and culture. 

Here, I learned in the “outside classroom,” the historic city of Florence, Italy.

For my “history course,” I would simply step outside of my Piazza Salvemini Florentine apartment to see the Florence Cathedral, which is over seven centuries old.

This cathedral, Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, includes the iconic dome engineered by Brunelleschi and is known as a one-of-a-kind World Heritage Site.

All I could feel was amazement with the cathedral and dome towering over me which such intricate detail and pattern of the exterior marble.

I walk five minutes away and get my next lesson in the form of the Ponte Vecchio, which means old bridge. While capturing breathtaking views on the Arno River which runs though Florence, I literally walk through history on the bridge which survived German retreat during WWII.

Just a few minutes from the old bridge is the Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall of Florence where the original statue of Michelagelo’s “David” once stood.

Any street or bridge I turned down, I was walking through the past to the birthplace of the Renaissance. 

For my “art history course,” I visited world-renowned art galleries in this Renaissance city.

Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Botticelli are all Florentine art masters who have been influenced by the city of Florence. They were my teachers.

The Uffizi Art Gallery holds Botticelli’s iconic “Birth of Venus” and “Primavera.” The Accademia Gallery is home to Michelangelo’s seventeen-foot statue of David.

Art history paints Florence with its outdoor sculptures. Original sculptures by Cellini and Giambologna are present in the Loggia Della Signoria.

For my “fashion course,”  I learned from legendary and notable Florentine Italian designer, Salvatore Ferragamo, by walking into his museum.

Other well-known Italian names such as Prada, Gucci, Ferarri, and Cavalli are all exemplified on Via de’ Tornabuoni, the high end shopping street in this important fashion city. 

The displays in each widow store change weekly and have completely different items displayed because in Florence, fashion is always moving forward.

My most enjoyable “course” of all was the beautiful “Italian language and culture course.”

I can hear and practice my Italian while ordering my morning cappuccino or asking a stranger for directions.

The food culture is by far “bunonissima.” The way Italians enjoy in the moment, not just eaten as some leftover. In Italy, eating isn’t a chore that needs to be rushed; it’s more about enjoying yourself with your family and friends. The local Florentines sit in the public piazzas with each other as they talk and laugh.

Even my stories do not give Italy justice; I would describe the feeling if I could. Let life surprise you and study abroad. All I can tell you is that I learned a lot.


For more information about the study abroad program, there is an informational meeting from 2 – 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21 in LA-107.

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Florence astounds and also teaches