My First Taste of Tuscany


Lisa Cochran

A view of NYU Florence campus from Villa Natalia. (WSN File Photo)

Lisa Cochran, Contributing Writer

Home to rolling hills of olive trees, citrus-colored villas and a sprinkling of statues from antiquity, the NYU Florence campus makes an impression from the first sight. In less than 12 hours of being on the campus, I was taken by how undeniably Italian it was. I had this preconception it’d be an American college campus contrasting its Italian surroundings, but that was quickly disproved.

Following an unsteady morning shuttle ride from the airport to campus, we were first met by a quintessentially Tuscan scenery and the murmurs of unintelligible conversations between the NYU Florence staff members. After driving through the campus, we arrived at the front steps of Villa Natalia, one of the dorms on the campus. Despite the masses of luggage in front of the building, a certain renaissance charm seeped through the facade, a building dating back to the 16th century. After lugging my luggage up to my room and throwing three pieces of clothing into the dresser in a feeble effort to unpack, I considered myself unpacked and head to explore the campus. My excursion took me down what is lovingly referred to as the “Valley of Death,” a steep path that leads from student housing to the remainder of campus. From a distance, it doesn’t appear threatening, but anyone who walks down the path soon learns the struggle of the climb.

Lisa Cochran
The Duomo Cathedral in downtown Florence.

After my tour through campus, I eventually unpacked and decided to venture into the city center with three girls I had just met. The journey is about 30 minutes by foot and around 10 minutes by bus from campus. Under the Italian summer sun, we tried our hand at the bus system and rode to Piazza San Marco.

In hindsight, we should have walked. We took the wrong bus and ended up lost. After struggling to communicate with local Florentines at a tabacchi (a small tobacco shop) and purchasing more bus tickets, we found our way. However, more embarrassment came when two separate people on the bus approached us and told us that we had to activate our bus tickets or else pay a 50 euro fine. We quickly disregarded this information, and we only remembered to activate our tickets on the bus ride back to campus. Luckily, we were spared the hefty fine — this time.

After a dinner of pesto pasta and potatoes, I joined a large group of students going back into the city, and this time we walked. We wound up at a bar called Brew Dog and ended the evening with a noisy never-have-I-ever game in the bar’s musty basement.

Even though most of my first day was spent in a jet-lag-induced stupor, my entire first day left me with the surreal feeling. I will be spending my entire first year in an astoundingly beautiful city and campus.

Email Lisa Cochran at [email protected].