For anyone reading this, particularly freshers: welcome to Newcastle University. I’m sure you’re going to have an amazing experience in the city, enjoy a new lifestyle and indulge in the culture that the city has to offer. However, I want to make you think about another location, one a bit to the east and a lot warmer. Anyone lucky enough to have already visited Italy will relate to my experience, but for those of you who haven’t yet visited the country of religion, fine dining and art, I’m here to discuss my experience with you.
Something which was dominant on my holiday experience, but not a guarantee for yours, would be a fear of flying. This predetermined fear, accompanied with turbulence, and my dad doing the sign of the cross upon take off, meant that, quite literally, the only way my holiday could’ve gone was up.
"For the veteran holiday go-ers of Newcastle University, this won’t seem like a big deal, but for people like me who can’t fathom the idea of being in a metal box flying through the air at 35,000 feet, it’s a scary experience"
After doing a silent prayer when my feet touched the ground, and taking a swift taxi to our hotel, I did what any sane person would do after being awake for around 24 hours - sleep. However, rest assured that after waking up to an authentic Italian breakfast of pastries, and as many complementary mochas as I could stomach, I was very much wide awake for the rest of my holiday. For anyone wondering what other foods my holiday entailed, it was a variety of conventional Italian dishes; calzones, pasta, lasagne, and an Aloe-vera ice lolly which I mistook for Lime. Needless to say, I wasn’t a fan of the lolly, and it didn’t taste very nice, but in the 36 degrees Celsius heat I was happy to wolf it down.
The first two or three days of my holiday were quite similar to that of any holiday-goer: seeing the sights. The beauty of the Duomo, the sanctity of The Cathedral of Santa Croce, and the architectural beauty of the Uffizi art gallery and the Palazzo Vecchio palace, all with their outstanding cultural significance, were crucial landmarks to visit in the city. Furthermore, the wide array of museums, ranging from the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum to the Home of Dante (famous author of the Divine Comedy), all served to increase my knowledge of the city. And if one city wasn’t enough, the one-day excursion to Pisa was the cherry on the cake (perhaps tiramisu would be a more appropriate analogy). Seeing the notorious Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Piazza del Duomo, and also learning about the religious significance that these monuments have, were all outstanding experiences.
It’s hard for me to put these amazing locations into words, so I suppose the best way to express them would be a few photos we took on our holiday.
"Although it may be hard to believe, this wasn't the actual Mona Lisa."
I would keep in mind that if anyone is thinking about going on holiday to a cultural location, which includes various museums and landmarks, then setting some money aside for English-speaking tours will be crucial to your experience. Although the undeniable beauty of Florentine art needed no explanation, a little historical context didn’t go amiss.
I’m afraid to say that no amount of words nor pictures will truly be able to embody my experience of Italy. The only way to fully experience a city is by seeing it through your own eyes. I can, however, tell you that for anyone wanting a short city-break, a whole lot of history, and if you have some Student Finance left over at the end of the year, Florence is the place to be.