By Andrea Arredondo

Florence is wonderful and the accommodations arranged could not have been any closer to the classroom we met in, but July is a hot time of the year in Florence. As a Southern California native, I also am not used to humidity, so when a heat wave struck, I needed to swim in some water.

Beach, river, inflatable pool—I didn’t care. It was so hot and humid that I decided I needed to find a way to cool down. Unfortunately, the room I was staying in had so much natural sunlight, that it was very challenging not to sweat just sitting inside. I usually loved the natural lighting, but one weekend, I decided to find a place to swim—a shower just wasn’t going to cut it with that heat. Can you guess where I went?

Unlike other rivers, the Arno is not the cleanest. So, I did not swim there. With no beach within walking distance, I also did not go to the beach. Desperate to swim, a few girls and I decided that our only solution was to stay in a hotel. Now it might sound funny. Paying to stay in a hotel when you had an apartment in the same city? While this certainly isn’t for everyone, I was lucky to find some like-minded people in my program.

In agreement that we would be renting a hotel, we got to work looking for a place to stay. But, trying to book anything at the last moment in Florence is a challenge, if not impossible. Everything is either booked solid, or very expensive. But we persevered and we eventually found a hotel with an incredible rooftop pool and air conditioning inside.

Within minutes, we booked a room for the weekend. Upon arrival, we immediately went to the roof. While I was sure the view was going to be nice, what I saw was beyond what I expected. We basically bad a 360-degree panoramic view of Florence. As soon as I saw the pool, my focus changed toward jumping in. But as the composed college student I am, I applied more sunscreen and let it set before gracefully sliding in.

Wow. That swim was incredible and very much worth the wait. In the words of one of the other girls, it was “everything I wanted and more.” Relaxed and cooled down, we eventually went to the room where a massive bed, blow dryers, and the balcony of dreams welcomed us.

Hungry, I ordered a pizza which arrived in minutes. (Don’t forget to read my blog to learn how to make pizza like an Italian!). With the sun setting, a delicious pizza, and book in hand, I was truly living my best life that day. Not only did I get to swim on a rooftop, but I ate some pizza and was able to relax in an air-conditioned room.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, some might think it is silly to stay in a hotel. But, if you should find yourself without air conditioner during a heat wave, I recommend you look for some other friends to see if any of them would be interested in stay at a hotel for a night. Trust me when I say it was worth every second.

Andrea Arredondo studied abroad in Florence in Summer 2019.