Our group is complete: 19 students, all present and accounted for in Florence! After a quick breakfast of pastries and fruit, we exited our ostello and walked directly to the historic center of Florence and the Duomo of Santa Maria delle Fiore. We’re not going to lie, it is pretty warm in Florence right now, but despite the heat, we began the 487 step climb to the top of the cupola and an amazing view of the city that is to be our home for the next three+ weeks.

Down the steps and time for lunch. We walked through the Mercato San Lorenzo (street market outside the church) to the Mercato Centrale (for those of you familiar with Seattle’s Pike Place Market, it is very similar, minus the flying fish.) We found various lunch “a portare” (take out) options and satisfied our hunger with panini, fruit and pasta.

A few housekeeping items next: the cell phone store for rentals and the store where you can buy an Italian Sim card. Then, everyone was on their own until our 4:00 orientation meeting at the Ospitale.

At orientation, we discussed a wide range of topics from health and safety to tipping.

Speaking of tipping, we launched our program with our first group dinner at Trattoria Cancelli where Mario, the host, provides a wonderful assortment of primi and secondi. Our walk back home would not be complete without a stop at Gelateria Carraia, home of the one euro “piccolo cono.”

A great start to what will be a great time in Tuscany.

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