I grew up in San Luis Obispo, and I chose to stay here to study in Cal Poly SLO's Architecture Program. I've always dreamed of studying in Europe. Through CSU and Cal Poly I have been given the opportunity of a lifetime—to gain independence, culture, and confidence! Florence, Italy, is the birthplace of the Renaissance and showcases some of the best works of art, sculpture, and architecture.
I now get to study, in person, the buildings that my professors have told me about, and my architecture designs are being inspired by the beautiful, historical buildings that surround me. It was difficult, at first, to leave my home and family, but now I have fallen in love with the language and history. I don't think I can return home and leave la dolce vita!
After a week in housing provided by school, we were finally able to move into our own place. The apartments come in all sizes, and ours is perfectly placed just blocks from the Duomo and the Palazzo Vecchio.
Each room has a view. As I look out our window, over the terra-cotta tiles, I am amazed that I get to live in such a beautiful place. Our interior courtyard is great for people watching and for hanging laundry to dry in the Tuscan sun.
With six roommates, we are always learning new things about each other. Like in most Italian families, life takes place in the kitchen, always accompanied by fresh food. We all enjoy shopping at the central market and eating with the seasons.
The first eight weeks in Italy consist of the Preparatory Language Program (PLP). For many hours each day, we are immersed in Italian and encouraged to speak it everywhere we go. We are also given many opportunities to join Italian families and tutor students learning English, work in schools, or do language exchanges with Italian students from the local university.
CSU Florence provides many study trips around Italy. We get to travel around northern Italy—to Roma, Napoli, and many other beautiful and historical places. Using Italy as our classroom is the best way to learn about and experience buildings and culture. We architecture students get to visit the works of the legendary Italian architects like Filippo Brunelleschi, Carlo Scarpa, and Renzo Piano. After a long day of sightseeing and learning about the places we are visiting, we get to enjoy a group dinner and taste some of Italy's delicacies.
My favorite place in Florence is Piazalle Michelangelo. From a hill above Florence, this small plaza provides a breathtaking view of the city center and beautiful Toscana.
Handmade right before your eyes! You can't not eat the entire pizza!
Almost every weekend there are new activities taking place in Florence-new art exhibits open, holidays are celebrated, or festivals are held. In the fall, Florence celebrates the harvesting of their Chianti wine. The farmers, dressed in traditional outfits, bring the iconic bottles from the hills and present the wine to the church and to the mayor.
Corri La Vita takes place every year. This marathon for cancer brings together Florentines of all ages. Not only is it fun to walk your way through Florence's streets, but we are also led through many museums like Palazzo Pitti and the Bobli Gardens.
The train system in Italy is very easy to use and allows for weekend trips. Venice makes a great three-day expedition. It is fun to explore the canals, look at art, and wander through the narrow streets.
Cinque Terre is only two hours away by train. These five picturesque villages are built into the cliffs and offer amazing views of the sea. In the fall and spring, a trip to the sea is the perfect way to escape the heat of the city.
Learn more about the study abroad program in Italy.