After our long journey from Florida to Italy (22 hours by bus to New York, eight hours by plane, followed by four hours by bus from Milan to Prato), we are settling into our home for the next three months.
We spent a day getting familiar with our home base, Prato — where the shops and restaurants are — learning some valuable Italian phrases and tips for staying safe. We spent the next day in Florence becoming acquainted with some of the must-see places and things and a few obscure items that are not included in the mainstream attractions. Luckily we were guided by Kevin Murphy, who directs the University of New Haven program in Prato and is an art historian, his wife Sylvia Risaliti, who is a native Tuscan and a professional tour guide, and our Beacon program coordinator, Costanza Meoni, a native of Prato. They have been so wonderful to us.
We had some free time to wander on our own and check out the shops and the sights. I suspect we will make many trips to Florence, especially when the number of tourists diminishes and it is easier to navigate.
The students have settled in nicely and have begun to familiarize themselves with the local shops, restaurants and other attractions (laundromat!). We have already sampled an amazing variety of pasta and pizza. Wednesday is the first day of classes so our semester has begun in earnest. We will make every attempt to keep our Beacon community up to speed on our adventures.
We followed the saga of Irma as well as we could while traveling and we are so thankful that all emerged safely.
Ciao for now — but much more to come!