A Fantastic Journey to and Through Florence

In The Art of Travel, 1: Awakenings, Florence by Andrew Cohen1 Comment

Travel has always been a big part of my life. From the first time that my parents took me to Disney world at the age of 4, I’ve wanted to see as much of this world as I can. Living just outside Philadelphia, I always had access to the major cities of the east coast, in turn giving me access to the wide swaths of people and cultures that are contained within that area. After coming to NYU, I knew that I wanted to study abroad, it was just a matter of choosing where to go. Since transferring into Gallatin from Steinhardt, my concentration has been building to center around producing and management in relation to the theatre, so when I was looking for a site to study at, I was looking for something to help me build relevant experiences in that field.

For many, the logical site for theatre would be London. But to me, London felt like it wouldn’t be enough. While West End theatre is amazing, and I definitely will be visiting the city during my stay here, I wanted something more than just a slightly different variety of what I already knew. For the first half of the fall semester, I was genuinely at a loss for what site I should study at, until one day in the back of Producing for Off-Broadway, it hit me. I should study in Florence. My family is Italian, and I’ve been hearing stories of Italy for as long as I can remember. What’s more, Florence is the birthplace of opera, a forerunner of musical theatre. What better way to learn about theatre than to study the place where it’s direct ancestor was born?

When I looked at Albert to see what classes would be offered in the semester, I was saddened to see that courses in opera history and music had been removed from list. Additionally, due to some quirks in my plan of study, scheduling felt rather restricting, and I began to wonder whether or not going to Florence would even be worthwhile. Florence began to be a burden rather than something I was looking forward to. For a while, I was dealing with panic attacks every time I would think about having to get on a plane to come here. It was a pretty rough time and I can honestly say I’m surprised that I made it on the plane. So far, however, most of those fears have been quelled.

The city is truly as beautiful as it looks in pictures. Every corner could tell a story nearly half a millennium old. The schedule for the local opera house has a plethora of shows I’ve never heard of and am excited to begin investigating. What’s more, I found out that NYU Florence will be producing a renaissance-era play on the campus gardens later this semester, and there’s the option for student involvement. It hasn’t all been perfect. The relatively isolation of not knowing anyone and being placed in a room where all the roommates were close friends already has made for some lonely first few nights, but much as I look to the top of the Tuscan hills every morning, I’m looking forward to my time in Florence, not just for the culture and food (which is amazing), but also for the personal journey.

(Image: Il Duomo from above, and the hills from below.; Source: planetware.com)


  1. I’m also asked why I chose Florence due to my major! I’m a media studies and English literature major, so naturally, London seems the most relevant site to study in. I’ve decided that you shouldn’t choose an abroad site based on your major (unless it would prevent you from getting credits or graduating). I’m also in Florence and I came here mainly to learn Italian and due to the art history because I love art so much. The personal journey and exploration is also super important to me. The first few days here haven’t been easy for me (I lost my luggage, got locked out of my apartment and got sick). I truly feel that getting outside of my comfort zone will allow me to grow the most during this experience.

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