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Although Florence is a relatively small and compact city, by the end of the day your feet will be throbbing and sore. Unless you are courageous (or crazy) enough to cruise the streets on a Vespa, getting from point A to B means walking.

The past 3 days our group has been given practical and historical tours to familiarize ourselves with the city and its vibrant past. I would highly recommend skimming the Wikipedia page of Florence and its humble beginning by the Romans, some 2000 years ago. There is such a daunting amount of history here– every building, brick, and stone contains a story worthy of a Dan Brown novel.

The Medici Family reigned supreme here for centuries, leaving their mark by building a massive palace, military fortress, and by laying the foundations of the local economy through the creation and partnership of banks (another Wikipedia article worth looking at). We hiked up to one of the higher points in the city where the Medici military fortress is strategically located. From this vantage point the entire city and surrounding mountains are visible in a beautiful 360 degree view. It really is breathtaking to look down on the city and to know that I am living in the heart of it.

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During our descent from the fortress, we stopped at a local Gelato Festival that overlooked the city and River Arno. There we sampled small servings of the best flavors that local gelateria’s offered!

The past 3 days have been full of exploration and familiarization. However, the more we explore and the more we learn, the more I realize we have yet to even scratch the surface of what this city has to offer.