In The Art of Travel Fall 2017, 12. Strangers, Florence, Places by Isabel1 Comment

The first day I arrived in Florence I met my host family. On my way to their house, I had no clue what to expect. It could be a set of parents or a single parent. With or without children. Cat, dog, none, or both. I was excited to keep an open mind and go along with whatever I was given, but I was hoping for an animal of some sort. I was greeted by my host mom, Pierra. She welcomed my flatmate and I with a warm hug and ushered us into her home. Once inside, we met her husband Luca, who spoke English as opposed to her selective ability. It turned out that they had two daughters, one in high school and one in graduate school, as well as a cat named Trudy. I was very pleased.

The first time I grew to trust Pierra was when I was looking for a temporary yoga mat. They had a beautiful terrace that I wanted to take advantage of, but doing yoga without a mat was like drinking Sprite to hydrate; it just didn’t quite work. I noticed that she was in the kitchen, so I hid in my room and looked up “Where do I find a yoga mat” on google translate. With what I’m sure was a too literal translation, I walked into the kitchen and asked her in my best broken Italian (classes hadn’t started yet, so I was at level -1 in terms of Italian speaking.)

“Oh yoga!” she exclaimed. “Tiger! You go to Tiger!” What was Tiger? I had no clue.

“Grazie mille!” I said, and scurried back to my room where I could research what the heck Tiger was. Suddenly, she called to me.

“Isabel! I go outside, I can take you!” So I put on some real pants (I was wearing yoga shorts), put on my sunglasses and took a walk outside with my host mom. As we walked she pointed out different little spots for me to go to get groceries, a cup of coffee, and a decent bite to eat. We spoke in broken Italian and English and made our way to what turned out to be called “Flying Tiger” in full, a store from Copenhagen that is very popular in Europe. This was the first time that I knew Pierra had my back.

The second was perhaps my favorite, because it was when I realized that not only did I trust her, but she trusted me. I was doing homework on the couch when she walked into the living room.

“Isabel, tonight I not to be here,” she stumbled.

“Ok!” I said.

“How do you say, in English? Not to be here?” she asked. I smiled and ran to my room to get my notepad. On it, I wrote: “I am not here for dinner.”

“Now you!” she smiled. I wrote on the pad: “Io non sono a casa per cena.”

“Bene!” she said. We had helped each other, and I loved that. Pierra is simply the best host mom I could ask for, and I’m very grateful to the NYU gods for putting me in her household.



  1. Hi Isabel 🙂
    I enjoyed reading about your experience with your host family and host mom Pierra. Personally, I have never stayed with a host family before, but after reading your post I might consider it in the future! It is nice to know that she took you out to introduce you to Florence, even with the language barrier, and did her best to help make you comfortable and welcome. It is also great that you can help each other improve in your respective languages!! I hope that you continue to build more trust with Pierra during your study away experience.

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