Rachel spent July studying the ACU Core Curriculum unit UNCC302 Human Dignity in an International Context in Florence, Italy.
During the 2013 Winter semester, I had the privilege of travelling to Florence through the CORE/ACU Exchange and Study Abroad program. I highly recommend studying abroad to any student; through this opportunity I explored a different part of the world, met some wonderful people and was able to immerse myself in another culture, which was a truly enriching experience. I’d like to share a few facts about my host city, which will hopefully inspire other students to get involved in this program.
Florence is situated in Tuscany, which is a region in the centre of Italy.
Its locals know Florence as “Firenze”, which in my opinion is more fun to pronounce. Both of these names are derived from a Latin word that translates into “flower” or “flourishing”, which is so fitting since this city is so beautiful and is the home to many works of art.
Florence is the art capital of Italy. It is the home to many well-known renaissance artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and Donatello (you may also know them as three of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!). Their works, along with an abundance of many other paintings and sculptures may be found in the famous Uffizi Gallery, or even the Accademia, which is home to the Statue of David. If you are to see any sculpture in Florence, David is the one worth visiting. He displays details so intricate that it is absolutely incredible that Michelangelo could have created such a masterpiece out of a flawed piece of marble. Vasari, a prominent Italian painter once said “…anyone who has seen Michelangelo’s David has no need to see anything else by any other sculptor, living or dead”. Take it from me, he is a must see.
Outdoors, Florence itself is a gallery, with exquisite architecture and life-like sculptures scattered throughout the city. The hustle and bustle of the people adds to the lively atmosphere, and you are spoilt for choice regarding cafes, restaurants and my personal favourite, gelati shops. Florence is also famous for its leather goods; exquisite pieces of finely crafted jackets and accessories may be found down numerous charming Florentine streets.
One of the main tourist attractions is Florence’s Duomo, which was built in the 15th century and is one of the largest cathedrals in the world. I climbed the dome of this cathedral, and it was quite the view:
Another Florentine landmark is the Ponte Vecchio, which translates to “Old Bridge” in English. It is the only bridge in Florence that was not destroyed during World War II (it is thought that Hitler was quite taken by it). It is now lined with jewelry stores, which only sell the finest gold. During summer nights, a live band may typically be found on the bridge entertaining crowds and passers by. This city is alive even when the sun goes down.
Florence is quite close to many other beautiful towns and attractions, such as San Gimignano, Siena, Cinque Terre and Pisa. I was able to visit these beautiful places through day trips organized by the program and during weekend leisure time. I encourage anyone who enjoys a good hike and breath-taking scenery to spend a few well-spent days in Cinque Terre.
The time I spent in Florence was magical. Through the program at ACU, I was given the opportunity to further flourish: to see the world, to learn more about myself, to discover another culture, to appreciate life and the Earth for all of the people and wonders that exist within it. So go on, take that chance and see where it takes you… You may end up having the time of your life.
Are YOU interested in The Core/Florence 2014 program? Be sure to check our website to find out more!