View of Florence from the loggia at the Villa le Balze.
I remember the day I first arrived to the Villa le Balze. Even though I walked into a room of thirty then strangers and acquaintances, the setting made it hard to feel uncomfortable. The thick wood furniture, comfortable couches, book-lined walls and arched hallways create a homey atmosphere that immediately put me at ease. Despite the effects of these features, I could have never predicted how much the villa would actually feel like home.
Halfway though our semester, we got to experience a luxury that most Georgetown students go without: Fall Break. This break provides a much-needed respite after midterms and allows for time to travel throughout Europe. I spent my ten days in three Eastern European Countries stopping in Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, and Prague. I traveled with a group of new friends—all of whom I fostered relationships with while relaxing in the villa’s music room, conversing in the library, and playing Ping-Pong on the loggia overlooking Florence. It was an exhausting, exciting, and unforgettable ten days, but admittedly, I could not be happier to be back in Florence. Midway thorough our journey, after countless meals of schnitzel and spaetzle in Budapest and Vienna, we all came to the mutual realization that we missed pasta. Embarrassingly, by the time we arrived in Salzburg, we caved and ended up having dinner in an Italian restaurant.
After ten days of living out of a suitcase and taking multiple planes, trains, and buses, I found myself at a point where I was excited to return home. Not return home to my house in Virginia or to Georgetown, but return home to the Villa le Balze. Our journey made me realize how much the villa has become my home over these past two months. After de-boarding the train in Florence’s Santa Maria Novella station and getting a cab to the villa, I opened the door and was immediately comforted by the dim lights and arched hallway that comforted me when I first arrived in August. Although this time, I wasn’t walking into an unfamiliar place, I was returning home.