Coming to Florence from the Midwest I knew there would be obvious differences between my experience abroad and my home back in the states, but something I had not anticipated being so homesick for in the weeks following my arrival was the abundance of greenery I had taken for granted back home. As an artist, nature is something that I often seek inspiration from and where I turn when I need to get away from the chaos of life and school. It’s been easy to get caught up in the busy and sometimes chaotic city of Florence, especially when most time is spent near the city center. Because of this, it’s not difficult to convince yourself of the absence of nature’s touch. SRISA’s first field trip to the beautiful Chianti region was the first point in which I realized how much I missed being surrounded by nature. The countryside filled me with longing for fields, trees, and pastures.
Luckily, as I near my second month here in Florence I realize that nature has not been lost in this beautiful city. The Giardino dei Semplici, or “Garden of the Simples”, is a botanical garden filled with various medicinal flowerbeds lined by greenhouses. You can find sculptures placed throughout the garden and in the center sits a fountain with water lilies floating on the water’s surface. The Giardino dei Semplici is the perfect place to sit and sketch or to pass through for a serene afternoon walk. Although known for simplicity, it is a truly beautiful treasure in Florence!
Next, across the Ponte Vecchio exists the Giardino di Boboli. Connected to the Palazzo Pitti, Giardino di Boboli is a huge garden which holds views overlooking the city and sculptures from the Roman antiquity through the 20th century. The Giardino di Boboli is truly huge and one would have to spend an entire day just to take in all its beauty! Again, another one of many sites that are perfect to sit and sketch, or to climb to the top of the terrace and have a picnic.
The first weekend of October we had the chance to stop by Giardino dell’Orticultura during their annual flower expo. The rain didn’t stop us from enjoying all the booths of flowers and autumn –themed garden décor. It made me wish I had a permanent home here to build a garden of my own. Although I couldn’t justify any of the larger house plants, I left with a lavender plant and succulent to bring some comfort to my room back at our apartment.
These are just few of many treasures throughout Florence you can visit to admire nature. Several other gardens exist throughout Florence, luckily all within easy reach. As we delve deeper into Autumn I know I will continue to feel nostalgia for the Midwest seasons, but I am excited to experience the beauty of Florence and discover even more hidden elements throughout the city. Florence has truly started to feel like home, and I know so much more is to come.
Michelle Wright is studying Art Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a study abroad student with SRISA for the Fall 2018 semester.