Free time is definitely a privilege. It is very much desired by college students everywhere, especially during the week. When I came abroad, I expected to have the same amount of work that I would at Fairfield. So you can imagine the shock when I discovered that not as much work is given out to classes in Italy.

Before I met my friends that I made while abroad, I wasn’t sure what to do during the night after class since I had no work. I came here knowing very few people from my school. In class and at events I found new friendly faces and together we made each other feel more at home in Italy. It wasn’t long before I was going out to restaurants, bars and clubs with my new friends.

Florence has an excellent nightlife. I initially started bonding with my friends by going out with them on school nights. At first, it felt bizarre. For a while, I felt like I had something to complete when I never did. Studying abroad is incredibly different from studying at Fairfield. Most students at Fairfield have class three to four times a week, depending on their schedules. Most classes here, aside from our Italian classes, meet once a week. In our apartments we have kitchens, but cooking seems pointless at times when there are hundreds of places around to grab a bite to eat. Aside from how easily accessible a meal is, cooking for yourself can be not only tedious, but wasteful. In Italy, food expires quicker, so there is less time to finish leftovers. With so much free time, it’s impossible to resist going out and exploring the nightlife of the city, especially after a long day of class lectures.

When I first came to Italy, I heard about how certain clubs and bars were especially populated on certain weeknights. For example, Lions Fountain, an Italian-American pub, is always a good spot on a Monday night.
They have a special at this pub called “American Dollar Night” where one can use American currency. Many people enjoy going to the Lion’s Fountain to celebrate their birthdays while in Italy. If you tell the bartenders, they will make you a special birthday shot. The inside of the Lion’s Fountain is often packed with students who come to drink with their friends. They sign their school shirts which hang on the walls and the ceiling of the pub and, of course, they try out their university specialty shots. These university shots are created by the bartenders themselves. Most of them are unfamiliar to the schools. For example, a Fairfield shot is a dark turquoise color instead of red.

I first went to the Lion’s Fountain for a friend’s birthday. Walking in, I was puzzled by all the shirts hanging on the walls and the ceiling. There were so many that it took me forever to find Fairfield’s shirt. Since I go there so often now, I always know where to look to see the Stag shirt hanging from the ceiling. It’s really cool to look at all the signatures by graduated stags that had come to study abroad in Italy and had been at the same bar. When we told the bartender about my friend’s birthday, he offered to make her any mixture of a shot she wanted. Celebrating at Lion’s is always a good time, mainly because the bartenders are very attentive and pleasant.

Usually after leaving Lion’s, students will head to a karaoke bar called Red Garter. Being a member of Fairfield’s Glee Club, this bar is easily my favorite place to go. There is a stage inside the bar with a karaoke machine and a projector that makes the lyrics of the song show up on the wall for the crowd to read and sing along.
It takes a little persuasion to get my friends to sing with me, but in the end it’s all good fun. The trick is to sing a popular old song, because sometimes if the song is too slow-paced or not as well-known, it can get a bad reaction from the crowd. Depending on the song choice and the crowd, there is also a high probability of getting an applause if they know the song well enough. What I like about Red Garter the most is that it’s not a talent competition. Even if you can’t sing at all, it doesn’t matter as long as the song is recognizable. In the end, everyone just wants to sing along with each other.
Another one of my favorite places to go at night is called The Bamboo Lounge. Typically this club is popular on Tuesdays, and people can usually get bottle service in the VIP section. What I love most about these bars and clubs is that the drinks are reasonably priced and the music is all American.  

Aside from the clubs and bars, there are some great places for students to eat at night. Dante’s Pizzeria offers unlimited wine to students in the study abroad programs. This is an awesome place to go to before going out. If you aren’t a wine person, you will be after coming back from Florence. There are a lot of places that offer aperitivo (small appetizers) for a small sum of five euros, drinks included. Many places in Florence have aperitivi as a special for certain nights during the week. The places that offer it are also very popular at dinner time because it’s similar to a buffet.

If you don’t feel like going to a bar or a club after dinner, Florence offers some excellent gelato places. As a tourist traveling to Florence for a weekend, you couldn’t possibly know which places have the best gelato. It wasn’t until the second week of school that the abroad students themselves found out. According to the locals, the way to tell how good the gelato is by the look of it. Smooth and flat is the way to go. Never be fooled by the line outside a gelateria if the gelato looks lumpy.

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