A Letter to Florence

1851 Staff member Avery Stankus reflects on her time in Florence, Italy where she studied abroad during the Fall 2018 semester. 

Dear Florence,

You gave me the four most exhilarating, memorable and life-changing months of my life. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know I’d become an eat, pray, love cliche and “find myself,” but that’s exactly what happened. I found myself. I had never felt such a sense of utter happiness until roaming the Florentine streets, absorbing all that this city had to offer. Although I didn’t know the language and the culture was daunting at times, you pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone.

Florence, you were my welcome home after long weekends. I knew no matter where I traveled you were there to come back to with open arms. I miss your breathtaking sunsets on the Michelangelo, even if it was a hike to the top. I miss Friday nights sitting beside friends on the piazza steps of Santo Spirito, laughing so hard our stomachs hurt. I miss my morning stop for a cappuccino on my long walk to classes. I even miss the busy Ponte Vecchio full of tourists at the peak of the day.

I long for my next taste of Speculoos gelato, for my next Gusta pizza right out of the oven, and for the secret bakery pastries at 2 A.M. You gave me a genuine experience of Italian food and a full stomach after every meal.

You taught me that sometimes the best company is just yourself. You taught me the importance of trying new things. I have this never-ending urge to continue to travel, explore and immerse myself in new cultures all thanks to you.

Although just four months in your world, it’s four months I couldn’t imagine my life without. I will never be able to thank you enough for the people you led me to and experiences you gave me.

For all of that and so much more, thank you Florence. I’ll see you again one day.

Con Amore,


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