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Buon Giorno Firenze!

Everyone knows what the David looks like from its countless depictions in books, drawings, and movies, but witnessing it in person is an entirely different experience. It is arguably the most famous statue in the world, which is why it serves as the perfect introduction to the city of Florence. Shortly after hopping off the bus, we collected our things and made our way to the Accademia Gallery where the David resides.

The Accademia has an impressive collection of art, but it certainly does not try and hide the fact that it knows what everyone has really come to see. As you walk in and take the first corner, you immediately find yourself looking down a long hallway and at the end of it stands a 17 foot tall, flawless figure. Everything seems to melt away as you get closer and you find yourself captivated by a sense of wonder only a true masterpiece can deliver. One created at the hands of a 26-year-old Michelangelo no less. We slowly walked around the figure, admiring the detail and magnitude of the statue, letting it all soak in and debating whether it depicted the moment before or after that fateful throw (I fall in the latter camp).

The biblical hero David was a popular concept for many Renaissance artists, but for Florence especially it held great significance. Just as David was the underdog against Goliath, so too was the small Florentine city-state against its more powerful rivals. When it was first placed in the Piazza della Signoria, the eyes of the statue were directed directly at Rome as a passive warning.

Abbey Road is meant to be a learning experience and not just of history and culture, but of life skills. To this end, we decided to teach the students a little bit about cooking their very own Tuscan cuisine. For the first home cooked meal, we decided on the always-dependable Gnocchi alla Sorrentina recipe with a side of Panzanella. The students did a fabulous job and it was a delicious supper. We will have to wait and see how they do with some of the more challenging recipes, but our hope is for the students to return back home with newfound culinary confidence.

After laboring in the kitchen and cleaning up, we did not force the students to craft their own desserts, but did reward them with a gelato tasting tour of the city. We hit up three different gelato stands and eagerly sampled over a dozen flavors from simple vanilla to exotic zabaione. All were equally delicious.


The tasting also served as an introduction to some of the city’s landmarks, as we passed by the Duomo, the Ponte Veccio, and the Piazza Veccio. We returned to our residences full on gelato, and Florence for that matter, and said Buona Notte to a pretty successful day in the birthplace of the Renaissance.

 –Jamie Lansdowne