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Insight from Italy

Journalists need to be able to adapt to any situation. Thats why Oracle reporter Krystal Modigell decided to get outside her comfort zone bytraveling abroad to Italy.In a reoccurring column,she details her experience studying photography and the wines of Italy.
FLORENCE After walking through a tunnel of cracked stones, I stood upon a pebbled hill and turned to my left to see haze swirling around 500-year-old buildings. Staring out at the city filled with confused tourists and bustling locals, I realized there was a true tranquility to Florence, Italy that can only be seen from the Boboli Gardens.

As I stood there in a trance, I closed my eyes and tried to recreate the view. I became an artist tracing the famous monuments and hills into my memory. When I opened my eyes, it was unfortunate how poor of a job I had done.

After five minutes of gazing and snapping photos, I decided it was time to catch up to the group before I was left behind.

A group of eight students and I had decided to visit one of the 70 museums in the city. With free passes to some of the museums provided to us by our host institute, Florence University of the Arts, we figured it would be a nice way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon.

We walked for about 30 minutes and arrived at the Palazzo Pitti, a palace containing seven different museums. Its garden was created before 1550 and was one of the first in Italy. Since that time, the size has expanded to 11 acres of land. I had no idea a garden could be so massive.

Before entering, I imagine a leveled, rectangular labyrinth of flowers, bushes and trees. I would wander between the multicolored flower patches and watch the butterflies. All I really heard about a trip to the gardens was that it produced great photos. But the hike changed my perspective.

Not far from the entrance to the gardens, we passed a giant bathtub, stone statues and algae-covered fountains. The stone structure in the gardens that really surprised me was the tub. I searched for a description plaque near the object, hoping to find a purpose for the massive scrubbing cauldron. I didnt understand why someone would build such a monument. But the tub was not what stuck out most it was the enormous amphitheatre surrounding it.

As we continued climbing,we began to sink into the greenery, losing sight of the city. Engulfed in vines and bushes, we walked down a single path where I heard birds chirping and an owl hoot. I realized the city of roughly 370,000 is not all about scooters accelerating down narrow streets.

We wandered into an open area full of thin grass. In the city center, it is hard to find vegetation among the old stone buildings that run together with minimum breaks for cobblestone roads. The sidewalks are about 3 feet wide, forcing pedestrians to step into the street when passing one another.

Throughout the gardens,lush paths led in different directions. Because they were so long, the ends could not be seen.

I stared down a path shaped by tall, light-green bushes, wanting to know what lied at the end. Suddenly, I had the urge to investigate. Not just to ask everyone and leisurely walk down the green walls. No, I wanted to run through it as fast as I could. I felt like this was a childish instinct, but I wanted the adrenaline rush and to know how deep that path went. I have never sprinted through anything except a sprinkler and the rain.

But instead we walked down the hill, viewed some more statues and eventually found an exit sign. After two hours, we were hungry and ready to grab some delicious, authentic pizza.

Since I only saw about one-third of the gardens, I plan to return and explore more of the greenery. One of the things I enjoyed most was the space for curiosity and imagination. I hope to learn more history and enhance my understanding of Florence by getting lost in the historic gardens.

And who knows, I may actually sprint down that pathway after all.