The living conditions in Italy were completely different than what I’m used to. The building we stayed in in Cortona was made of stone several feet thick. The walls had a terrible echo, but the building was beautiful. The dorms were a comfortable size and the dining hall was sufficient for hanging out and eating. The main noticeable difference was the lack of air conditioning. I am so used to having air conditioned rooms in the US that it feels uncomfortable to not have a fan constantly on. The first week or so the heat really got me during the nights. Thankfully, my room was provided with a small plug-in fan and all was well. Something else I had to get used to were the bells. Just about every town has a bell which chimes on the hour. This can be a little jarring when you leave your window open and are woken by a loud bell, but after you get used to it it becomes charming. Each morning the walk down to town is beautiful. Cortona rests on the side of a mountainside in Tuscany and you can see everything in the valley. On the top of the hill rests a star fortress where you can see the whole town below. The beauty of the town is astounding.
One weekend we decided to visit Florence. While there we found a hostel to stay in for a night. The hostel had a wonderful view and clean facilities. It was also surprisingly cheap! I would assume that most of the places in Florence are the same way as long as you look in the right places. Getting around Florence was also easy with the tram system. Once you get to the main piazza its easy to travel around by foot.