As part of the research for my master’s thesis, I was offered the opportunity to visit the European University Institute in Florence for the month of March. I had previously visited Florence once before, for a few days in 2015, where I was instantly taken aback by the architectural beauty, and most importantly, the incredible food. Furthermore, the numerous resources available at the University related to my area of study were highly relevant, providing a greater depth of research to my final paper. Therefore, as I am sure you can imagine, this was an easy decision to make.
The European University Institute is a graduate and postdoctoral teaching and research institution, founded in 1972. In a sharp contrast to CEU, the University is situated far away from the bustling Florence city centre, around five kilometres from the major tourist attractions. Surrounded by the Tuscan hills, whilst its location meant that I needed to take a bus to get there each morning, the views from the library more than made up for it. The University itself is a re-purposed 15th- century church, with modern facilities built into the inside. Although my day-to-day activities took place for the most part within the confines of the research library, I found a constant intrigue in exploring different parts of the building, and the surrounding area.
“Unfortunately,” the University was closed during the weekends, so I had the chance to properly explore the city of Florence. In between my nonstop consumption of coffee and cannoli, I spent this time getting lost in the windy cobbled streets of the city centre, hiding in centuries-old doorways from the perpetual bursts of torrential rain. I have to admit that the weather during my stay was a bit on the damp side, however, in addition to acting as a reminder of home, it made me fully appreciate and utilise any free time in the sun. I spent one of these occasions at Piazzale Michelangelo (pictured above); a piazza offering one of the most stunning views of the Florence skyline available. To anyone planning a trip in the future, it truly is a must see.
I am immensely grateful to have been given the opportunity to complete this research at the European University Institute during my degree. In addition to returning home with a significant mozzarella-fuelled weight gain, I have accumulated a substantial amount of information on my thesis topic from the resources available at the University. The change in scenery gave me the chance to recuperate from the hectic winter semester, and come back to Budapest energised and ready to immerse myself in my last three months of courses and research. Therefore, I truly believe that this field trip was invaluable not only for my thesis, but for my CEU experience as a whole.