The Idea of Exploring a New City is Exciting

Jun 21, 2018 1:30:00 PM / by Hannah Hardenbergh

Hannah Hardenbergh

Hannah Hardenbergh is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. An American History and Literature major at Harvard College, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.

In this week's post, Hannah writes about her reasons for studying abroad in Florence, why she loves exploring this city, and how this experience will increase her love of art.


Hello! Welcome to this summer’s study abroad adventure in Florence, Italy. I am excited to share with you all my time and the many things I will be doing! Here goes.

View of Florence from San Miniato al MonteA view of the city of Florence from San Miniato al Monte.

To start off, I decided to study abroad for a couple of reasons. First, I have not traveled that much on my own, and the idea of having my own space where I could explore a new city on my own was really exciting. I liked the sound of having a schedule for classes that was challenging but not overbearing, leaving room for personal time to draw, write, and travel on my own. Second, I wanted to continue exploring my excitement for the arts and culture, and what better place to do so than in the soul of centuries-old art and monumental history!

CAPAStudyAbroad_Florence_Summer2018_From Hannah Hardenbergh - Inside Santa CroceA view of inside the cloister of Santa Croce, a Franciscan-Order church built in 1294.

I have been in Florence for almost two-three weeks now, and it seems like I have been here for longer because I have done so much since arriving. I am taking two classes, Florentine Renaissance art history and composition drawing, and am loving both. I don’t always have the discipline to draw in my journal every week, and this class is teaching me that consistency is key in progressing towards a larger understanding of the space and objects in which we interact. The art history class is also unique as we have often held class inside churches that were built in the 12th and 13th centuries and in museums that house sculpture and paintings of the unprecedented and innovative styles from the late-Gothic and early-Renaissance periods. The class has become our own personal live tour of Florentine art history!

CAPAStudyAbroad_Florence_Summer2018_From Hannah Hardenbergh - Inside Basilica di Santa Maria NovellaInside the "Cloister of the Dead" at Basilica di Santa Maria Novella.

I am originally from Edwards, Colorado, and as a student-athlete on the varsity Nordic ski team at Harvard, I have found time to train among the other many activities I have listed in my journal as my own “to-do list.” I have so far biked into the neighboring town of Fiesole, traveled north to Val Gardena to go mountain biking with my brother in the Dolomites, hiked above and beyond San Moniato al Monte on the south side of Florence, and have made plenty of friends in the popular gym downtown.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Florence_Summer2018_From Hannah Hardenbergh - Rose Gardens at Piazzale MichelangeloThe Rose Gardens at Piazzale Michelangelo in the early morning.

Because my program in Florence is only six weeks long, I feel the pressure to do a lot in just a little bit of time. However, I value the slow pace of quiet streets and sips of coffee in the mornings, and the moments during the day that allow me to reflect and consider the fortunate position I am in to study and learn a new culture.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Florence_Summer2018_From Hannah Hardenbergh - With My Roommate at Cafe Near Arno RiverMy roommate (right) and I at a newly-discovered cafe near the Arno River.

Relishing the little moments, both mundane and exciting—such as the feeling I got today after the merchant from my favorite pizzicheria in town smiled and said, “A domani!” (“See you tomorrow!”) or the filling of excitement after having heard friars harmonize in Gregorian chant during an Italian mass in the crypt of a one-thousand-year-old church—is my favorite kind of way to enjoy daily experiences. This blog will serve as a way both for me to reflect on daily/weekly events as well as a place to share with you all the wonders of Florence!

Thanks Hannah!

Hannah's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Florence Program

Topics: Florence, Italy, Why Study Abroad