I was billeted to a lovely older Italian couple along with several other students, close to the centre of town, so it was great to get that insight into real Italian life (and food!). Each day we would start with several hours at the language school, before an afternoon of various coachings, lessons, masterclasses, lectures, tours and rehearsals. There were no days off. It was a very busy month!
My very first morning in class my German-addled brain, desperately casting into the depths of my unreliable memory for some basic Italian, came within a hair’s breadth of having me announce to the class earnestly, “Please, I have a strawberry”. Fortunately I not only avoided that, but managed to find a toilet in the language school from whence one could theoretically throw back the wooden shutters and contemplate Brunelleschi’s dome (the Duomo) whilst sitting upon the throne. Ladies and Gentlemen, is that not living?! Still, it is very easy to feel spoiled in a town where you can sneak in reverential lunch-time visits to Dante, Galileo and Rossini, and I soaked it all up with liberal lashings of gelato.
My final morning in Florence I watched the sun rise over the orange roofs from a hilltop just outside the city, having danced and ridden around in an Italian open-top sports car all night with friends (we went to see Galileo’s house, and bellowed Italian songs from the Piazzale Michelangelo), and as the haze above the Duomo turned to pink I breathed deeply and contemplated the Florentine belief that genius is carried down the Arno to Florence like silt. And then, all smudged mascara and aching limbs, I contemplated how I was too old to be facing such a massive hangover on no sleep and with a 37 degree day forecast. And smiled despite myself.