Study Abroad: Students discover heritage, cuisine in Florence, Italy

Senior Rebecca Simeone spent the fall 2012 semester immersed in Italian culture as part of a study abroad program centered in Florence, Italy.

Simeone went on the trip with a group of students from other SUNY schools, and a few from universities in Delaware.

“I am Italian, my ancestors are from Italy and I’d never been to Europe so I figured, why not start where my ancestors are from,” she said.

The group studied at Florence University of the Arts where Simeone, a business administration major, took Italian language, Italian contemporary literature, art history and a Human resources management class.

“It was a great way to do my fine arts, taking art history in Florence. I got to just walk around and explore churches, tapestries, everything,” Simeone said.

She also went to Sicily, Italy as part of the program and traveled to three other Italian cities, Cinque Terre, Rome and Venice. Traveling outside the country, Simeone took a trip to Vienna, Austria.

“I went to see one soccer game while I was there and it was great, and there were just mountains everywhere surrounding the stadium and I just said to myself ‘is this real life?’ I probably said that to myself every day,” Simeone said.

She and her roommate also went to Edinburgh, Scotland and Dublin, Ireland, then to Liverpool, England and finally to Amsterdam, Netherlands over the program’s 10-day break.

“We booked five flights in a day which was kind of crazy. Just planning a trip and taking on Europe with my roommate was definitely the most adventurous thing I’d ever done,” Simeone said.

According to Simeone, the Italian cities are less commercialized than their American counterparts.

“It just felt like there was a lot of history there. You’re not going to find a Starbucks in Florence,” she said. “The architecture was also amazing. Walking to class and being able to walk by this beautiful architecture was amazing.”

Simeone also had a chance to try Italian cuisine, including pizza and gelato.

“The food was amazing … especially the pizza ... It was such great gelato, something with chocolate wine and honey vanilla - and Sicily is most famous for their cannolis,” Simeone said.

Simeone said she is looking forward to going back to Europe again.

“I plan to go back to Europe and explore other countries I didn’t get to see, like Spain,” she said. “The friends you make and the places you get to see … I would strongly recommend anyone, everyone, study abroad somewhere - take the opportunity.”