We’re Here!


After almost a year of planning, we are finally here! We met up in Detroit after flying out of Saint Louis and Louisville and then headed to the Paris airport. After a grueling 6 hour flight, we landed with an hour layover in one of the largest/ most confusing airports in the world. It felt like a maze going up and down escalators, on and off trains, and going through security and customs. We arrived to our gate dripping with sweat but just in the knick of time! We boarded a small charter plane that took us into Florence.  For those of you who have never flown through Florence, it is one of the smallest airports. You land straight on the tarmac which makes it feel as though you rode in a private plane.


After landing, we grabbed our bags (all of which followed us here thankfully) and then met up with other API students at Hotel Astoria. That night we had a brief orientation followed by a delicious dinner on the top floor. Every meal we’ve had here is filled with the freshest ingredients.

First night

The next day we moved into our beautiful apartment (pictures to come), got settled, then spent the rest of our day exploring the city. One of the first places we stumbled across was the top floor of the market. In days later to come, we learned that the ground floor is the mercato centrale or the central market where the locals shop for fresh produce, meats, and fruits. While upstairs, we experienced the importance of humor within the Italian culture. Below is a copy of the statue of David (one of many) but this one is coved with tattoos.


Also upstairs we ordered some delicious gelato. Rebecca ordered a raspberry and Rachel got a mixed berry. IMG_1205

Later on in the week, we gathered up the courage to go to a market. The experience was a little overwhelming, but with teamwork we managed to get most of what we needed (aside from breadcrumbs). While abroad, we are trying to adopt the Italian way of shopping. This means that grocery runs happen more often than at home. The first night cooking, we put together a plate of apertivos and ate it on the terrace of our apartment. Rachel then made a delicious plate of spaghetti and her own version of a chicken parmesan. We both could tell that fresh ingredients makes a huge difference.

One of our favorite parts about orientation was the free cooking class we got to attend. IMG_1232

We made a few different dishes including eggplant caprese

IMG_1233Gnocchi with tomatoes and mozzarella

Gnocchi with meat sauce

For dessert, we made tiramisu.


The basement where we ate was beautiful, resembling a wine cellar.


You can tell by our smiling faces how delicious the food was!


After lunch, we went on a historical tour of the city. Although our guide had extreme smokers voice and a thick Italian accent, we managed to understand a majority of the tour. We both enjoyed hearing about the history and architecture. Below is a picture of the main entrance to the Duomo in the city center of Florence. It is considered to be a church of the people because during its construction those living in the city had to pay taxes so that it could be built. There are no smaller chapels within this cathedral which makes it unique. One thing we learned is that Arabic culture inspired the Duomo architecture and color pallet. If you look closely you’ll see the green and orange colors, not normally seen in Italian architecture.


Here is a different view of the Duomo. During the tour, we learned the dome is an architectural masterpiece. It is made from terra cotta bricks which can withstand the coldest and hottest temperatures. To this day, the dome is viewed as an architectural mystery.

After reaching our goal of 10,000 steps in just a few hours, we were rewarded with pizza provided by our API family. Notice the fork and knife at the ready!

We want to apologize for being a little slow to post. We are now settled and will be much better of keeping you in the loop on our adventures.


-Reb and Rach


2 thoughts on “We’re Here!

  1. Girls I have really enjoyed your blog thus far. I truly envy you. Although I have been to Florence and visited Rome and other spots it brought back many happy memories. Take in as much as you can and enjo y yourselves. Good Luck in school and I pray for each of you everyday. Love, Grandma xo


  2. You girls are going to have the time of your lives. Remember to be patient and kind to each other. Eat a lot. Drink a little and most of all enjoy!!!! Love you both so much. Thank you for the pics. It makes me feel like I’m there. Only 46 more days!!!!!


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