After my finals ended, I had a few days to get everything together! On our last night, a few friends and I stayed up all night and roamed the streets of Florence, saying goodbye to our favorite spots and piazzas. We also found one of Florence’s secret bakeries; a collection of bakeries that supply Florentine cafes with baked goods and have fresh ones around 2 am. At sunrise, we made our way up to Piazzale Michelangelo to watch one last sunrise. During the last few days, I packed up all of my drawings and paintings, then started the long process of repacking all of my things from my apartment into my two suitcases. I had sent home some things with family when they visited but I still had way too much stuff to pack. I was even over my weight limit on both of the bags when I got to the airport, I ended up having to wear a few extra layers on the plane! Before that flight home though, I had one last European adventure destination: Portugal!
I traveled along the southern coast of Portugal for my last week in Europe, also known as the Algarve region. I have to say it was one of my favorite trips: it was warm, the scenery was beautiful, and it didn’t hurt that it was a pretty cheap country to travel in! I flew in to Faro, Portugal, and spent a few days there. I took a ferry to an island called Ihla Deserta, or deserted island, which definitely lived up to its name. The island was all beach with one snack bar, and it was perfect for a few days of rest and relaxation. Faro in general was a really neat town to walk around and explore, especially the “old town” which had a cool old wall surrounding it and a cathedral! Next on the coast was Albufeira, where I met my friend from SACI and we hung out there for a few days. After that, I took a bus to the town of Lagos, which was my favorite spot on the trip. I spent the rest of my time in Portugal there; I explored the city and took pictures and during the day I hiked along the coast! The coast of Lagos is made up of a combination of beaches and the cliffs and trails that connect them. It was the perfect mixture of adventure and relaxation, and of course I took a million pictures!
After Lagos, I took a train back to Faro and flew back to Florence, where I picked up my suitcases and got on my flight home! I connected in Amsterdam and then flew back to Chicago. It’s nice to be back home to my friends, my family, and my own bed, but I’m already missing Florence. This semester wasn’t always perfect- the cold and wet weather definitely put a damper on a chunk of my time there- but the second half of the semester in Italy felt like it should’ve the whole time. The weather was warm, I had time to explore the city and friends to do it with. We went out and saw live music, drank wine and ate yummy Italian snacks by the Arno, and we really enjoyed the city. Of course the rest of the semester really was the experience of a lifetime: I learned so much in my classes, not only about art and art history but about the art I want to make. As cheesy as it sounds, most of what I learned this semester was about myself. I ate, I wrote, I drew, I photographed, I walked, I experienced, and most of all, I traveled. I feel so lucky to have been able to study and live in Florence this semester, and this time in my life will certainly not be one that I forget!