Many students abroad were fearful of going to Greece because of all the riots and governmental problems the country was facing, but when your friend has a house on the beach in Greece…you suddenly become more willing to go to Greece. The best decision I ever made regarding study abroad was stepping outside of my comfort zone and only going abroad with one of my friends from college. It forced me to make new friends and some of the friends I made abroad are some of the most amazing people I’ve met in my life. It also just so happens that making new friends also leads to an impromtu trip to Greece!
My friend Christian’s grandfather was from Greece and left his condo on the beach of Loutraki, Greece to his family. He invited a couple of us to go their for the weekend. It was obviously a no brainer! When we got off the plane in Greece it was an interesting experience. If you’ve never seen Greek writing before, it looks pretty strage. Very different than any country I had traveled to before. His house was an hour outside of Athens, which meant we somehow had to figure out the train system when everything was written in Greek. We had to wait 45 minutes for the train to come and I’m not going to lie, it was kind of a scary train. Thank god there was a big group of us traveling.
Once we got of the train the situation went something like this:
We approach 3 cabs to take to his house
“Hey Christian, what’s the address to your house?”
“Uhhh…I forgot to ask my parents.”
“WHAT. how are we supposed to get there?!”
“Uhh.. just like it’s by downtown Loutraki…just say that”
I quickly meandered my way to Christians cab, in fear that the other cabs would get lost. Eventually we actually, somehow, made it. His place was awesome! It was a cute condo with the most amazing view of an all rock beach with the mountains of Greece in the distance. There was an old Greek couple that owned the restaurant at the bottom and a boardwalk filled with more restaurants. It reminded me of the strand in Manhattan Beach. Feeling a little homesick, this was a welcoming site.
View from the Condo
The next morning we woke up and hung out on the beach, listened to music. It was a peaceful day and nice from the busy abroad lifestyle. That night we went a traditional greek restaurant and our friend made us try crazy greek food like friend kalamarakia, favakeftedes and a bunch of other crazy greek sounding foods. After, we went to a bar/club which wasn’t the most exciting thing but we made a great night out of it.
The next day we woke up relaxed and ready for gyros. I think we all had about 4 gyros in the duration of our stay in Greece. They were from this small little place by shore and absolutely amazing. And of course we also ate lots of Tzatziki.
Christian knew of this secret cliff that was about a half hour cab ride away where we could go cliff jumping. It turned out to be cooler than I even imagined. When we got there, we told the cabs to come back in 2 hours because there was no civilization within walking distance and we didn’t have phones (thank god they came back). It was absolutely breathtaking. It was quiet and peaceful with ancient ruins right next to the cliff. We spent a half hour exploring and stumbled upon a cool cave with the most amazing view of the ocean. Then we decided to get to the excitement and go cliff jumping! We had to jump with our sandals on because there were sea urchins on the shore where you get out. Christian jumped of the little cliff first and it looked FREEZING. However, Alec, Blase, Bates and myself (the only girl willing to take the risk) decided to jump off the big cliff. It didn’t look THAT high up, but when I approached the top… I got pretty scared. I almost didn’t jump but after everyone else went off the cliff, I knew there was no going back. It was a great rush. It was a truly great day. How often do you get to jump off a secret cliff spot in gorgeous Greece next to thousands of year old ruins?
Me jumping off the cliff!
Since there really wasn’t that great of nightlife in Loutraki we ran to the grocery store, grabbed some cases of beer, and decided to spend the night at the apartment. My friend Blase had the idea that we should split into two teams and play a game. We all put folded pieces of paper of movie titles in a hat and split in two teams. You couldn’t speak but had to act out the movie titles with body language. While it sounds like some G-rated game you play at a Christmas party when your 8 years old, it was one of the most fun nights abroad I had. All that it takes to have a good night is surrounding yourself by good people!
We woke up super early Saturday morning to go into Greece. I was pretty excited to go see Acropolis and the Parthenon!!! As soon as we get into town…bad luck hit us. Apparently Saturday is the only day of the week that Acropolis closes early. Here is my view of Acropolis from afar:
…At least I got to see it at all? Anyways, we spent the rest of the day just walking around Athens. It was basically a bunch of tourist shops with ancient ruins in the mix. I did, however, get to stop at a GREEK YOGURT BAR. I love Greek yogurt and being in Greece getting Greek yogurt with honey and strawberries was pretty damn cool.
Greek yogurt in Greece! Mmmm
On our way back to Loutraki we saw a man try to run away without paying for a cab and getting tackled by the cops. We pretended we saw true, Greek rioting.
Also, one pretty strange thing about Greece is that there are stray dogs EVERYWHERE. It’s so sad and really weird to see dogs wondering about like squirrels.
After a long, fun weekend it was time to go back to home and the greatest place in the world: Florence.
Barcelona was definitely a weekend I will always remember. Wisconsin’s spring break started this week and 3 of my friends were coming to Europe for it. In Europe, they have transportation strikes all the time to protest whatever it is the government is doing that they don’t like. So of course the day I booked my flight to Barcelona, there was plane, taxi and bus strike in Spain. This was just the beginning of my stressful day. Leah and I had decided to fly out of Rome together and kept checking to see if our flight was cancelled the days preceeding our depature. Many flights were canceled but luckily ours wasn’t canceled! I was so happy with this news but then I had the most stressful 5 hours of my life! I barely made it to Barcelona…
From Florence to Rome they have 2 trains you can take. One is a fast train that takes 1 1/2 hours or a cheaper train that takes 3 hours and 15 minutes. I had homework and a few things to do in the morning so I decided I’d take the fast train. I go to the train station around 1 and figure I’ll take an earlier train than necessary just in case. I get on the 1:15pm bus to Rome. About 45 minutes go by… I’m thinking I only have 45 minutes left when the guy comes to check my ticket and tells me I’m on the wrong train. I got on the 3 hour 15 minute train. I begin freaking out and call Leah almost in tears. I have no idea how I’m going to make the flight in time. A nice man from Jamaica who overheard me freaking out started speaking English to me and was telling me my best options. The train station is about 20 minutes from the airport in a cab. I sit there listening to my music because there is nothing else I can do! When the train finally arrives, I sprint down the station outside to the cabs. I get in a cab around 4:50pm. I calm down a little thinking I’m fine because the gate closes at 5:40 and I actually have plenty of time. Thank god I left early! However, as we pull away from the station we start sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. Car is not moving. I’m sitting in the cab with a driver that only speaks Italian and freaking out to him. Time goes by at its 5:40, the time the gate closes, and I’m still sitting in the cab. I’m calling Leah freaking out and in my head I’ve missed the flight. I get to the airport at 6pm. My flight is at 6:10pm. I run past everyone waiting in line at security and show the guy my ticket. He stares at me straight in the eyes and with a very serious face says “RUN.” Luckily, the airport was small and only had 2 gates. I run to the gate and see Leah standing there at the very end of the boarding line just about to board. I run up to her shaking and crying. I can’t believe I made it!!! It was the most insane traveling that has ever happened to me. On Ryan Air, the discount plane company, they sell a bunch of shit down the aisles like perfume and lottery tickets. As a joke we decided I should buy a 2 euro lottery ticket since I had such great luck the whole day. I obviously lost….
Anyways, after FINALLY making it safe and sound to Barcelona, I met up with my friend Kirsten studying there and we got all settled in. We went out to dinner with a bunch of my friends from Wisconsin and then got ready to see this DJ Steve Aoki at one of the clubs in Barcelona. Barcelona is known for their nightlife, and let me tell ya- their reputation precedes them! The club was on the beach and Steve Aoki was amazing, such a fun night.
Friends at Steve Aoki!
The next day we headed down to the beach and met up with a bunch of our friends who came all the way from Wisconsin for spring break. The water was freezing, but being a beach bum my whole life I feel it is a requirement for me to jump in the ocean, regardless! The fact that Barcelona is on a beach definitely brings it up in my books.
Kirsten, Me and Leah at the beach
The next day we had more of a tourist day. We got lunch at the infamous Bo de B and then headed to Parc Guell. Parc Guell is this huge park designed by the artist Gaudi. Gaudi is to Barcelona as Michelangelo is to Florence. He runs Barcelona. The park was cooly designed and had an amazing view of Barcelona. That night we got paella, the dish of spain. I liked it, but definitely wasn’t my favorite cultural dish I’ve had since traveling in Europe.
Maddie, Leah, me, Jess, Kirsten, Carly and Tay all reunited!
Top of Parc Guell
I had to get the fan.
The next day we went to the Sagrada Familia, which is an unfinished cathedral in Barcelona. It was worked on by Gaudi, but is still being worked on to this day. It looks like the drip castles my dad used to make on the beach when I was little, no joke.
We also went to Casa Batllo, which was a house that Gaudi built. It was the craziest piece of architecture I’ve ever seen. Everything had some connection to nature and nothing was symmetric. It was so unique. Barcelona was a very modern city and had artwork very different than anything I’d ever seen. I loved Barcelona, but the city is huge and I was happy, as always, to return to Florence! My friends from Wisconsin spring break also came back to Florence with me so it was a great week!
Front of Casa Batllo
Ceiling in living room of Casa Batllo
View from the roof
I use the term “spring break” lightly, considering I’m living in Florence, Italy and traveling Europe. However, spring break was amazing. My friend Leah who studies in Rome had the same break as me and we planned the same trip together. There was this huge concert in Belgium that everyone from University of Wisconsin that studies abroad in Europe was going to, so that was our first stop! It was the first time I’ve seen a lot of Wisconsin people since school got out in December. Since there are close to zero people from Wisconsin in my abroad program it felt amazing to see 50+ Wisconsin people. And what better place than a huge arena with amazing DJs that lasted till 6 in the morning? It was an amazing concert with amazing people. A night I will never forget. We also were in Brussels for a day and I got my Belgian waffle fix! Yummy.
Moving stage that the DJs played on!
Maddie, Me and Jess before the concert
After Belgium we flew to the Canary Islands, Spain. It is off the coast of Africa and was a beautiful place. We rented out a villa for the week and there were 20 of us staying in it. We got an AMAZING deal. It was about 11 euro each for us each night and each day we all through in 10 euro and that covered breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks. It was really the cheapest trip I have ever been on. The villa was such a steal and living with 20 people for a weekend was madness and so fun. We went to the beach but we also had a pool at our villa. It was nice to just settle in a place for a week and do nothing but lay out. A lot of people took spring break as an opportunity to go to 4 different cities in Europe and do a lot of traveling. Since we do so much traveling on the weekend I thought it would be so nice to just relax and kick back. Tenerife was the name of the island we were on in the Canary Islands and every person we met there were so surprised that we were American. Apparently Americans never go there, its solely a European vacation spot. The trip was actually amazing and I got really close with everyone that went with it. It has made being in Florence that much better because I’ve become very close with the people on my program. I never want this experience to end!
Cliffs in Tenerife
The Canary Crew!
It feel like forever ago that I went to Prague when in reality it was only 3 weeks ago. That’s the thing about being abroad though- everything goes so fast and you are consistently busy that things seem father away then they actually are. Prague was an amazing trip though. My friend Dana and I took a 12 hour bus ride with some other friends and stayed at my friend from school Steph’s place. Lets just say we may have saved money… but 12 hours is WAY to long for a bus ride.
Prague was definitely a different feel than the other places I’ve been in Europe. It’s very somber and the people never really seem to be smiling. Also, I must say it had the worst fashion out of any place I’ve been too. However, I did love Prague. It was a very artistic city, similar to Amsterdam, and it had many cool attractions in it. We set foot the first day to take on the city (with Steph as our personal tour guide) and got to see many sites. The first place we stopped was the John Lennon wall. It used to be a normal wall but every since 1980 it has been covered in words inspired by John Lennon by people all over the world. We borrowed a pen from this group of Italians to write what we wanted on the wall and then spend a good half hour just reading what was written on the walls and taking cool pictures. It was pretty cool to see tourist come and go and really realize the power that The Beatles and John Lennon had, and the legend that it continues to be today.
Me, Dana and Steph by the big peace sign on the John Lennon Wall
It really is.
After that we stopped and got STARBUCKS. Don’t get me wrong, I love, I mean LOVE my Italian cappuccinos but a starbucks addict like myself couldn’t help but become overjoyed with the site of starbucks. Anyways, we happily went on our way to the Prague Castle. The Prague Castle was one of the coolest pieces of architecture I have seen since I’ve been here. I guess living it Florence I’ve become so accustom to Renaissance architecture and art that I’m so amazed by all the other types of art that are a part of European history. In the United States, nothing is older than a few hundrads years old. The buildings in Europe and the history that Europe has fascinates me greatly because of how long ago it was. The Prague Castle started off with Roman style architecture in the 10th century than took more of a Gothic turn in the 14th century. I really, really loved this castle. Architecture has become something that really interests me.
The Prague Castle
Casual shaka infront of the guard
After we explored the castle we ran into this toy museum. A little strange, yes, but we felt like being adventurous. They had so many different Barbie dolls, including the first ever Barbie doll created (I went in primarily because I knew my mother would love it!)
First Barbie ever made
After having this amazing organic meal from some vegetarian restaurant, we continued to the main square in Prague and ran into some friends from AXO at Wisconsin. It’s funny how many people you run into abroad. We then stumbled across this museum called the Museum of Young Art. I thought it was one of the coolest museums I’ve been in since my stay in Europe. I love modern and contemporary art, and this museum was filled with crazy stuff. The kind of art that makes you wonder how crazy the artist is. It wasn’t a big museum, but it definitely had great artwork in it and is worth taking a look at if you like that type of art!
Painting inside Museum of Young Art
The entrance to the Museum of Young Art
After a full day of being a tourist, we got some thai food and got ready for the night. That night we went to a club that was pretty fun. The following day we walked around more of the town and then ended up going to the zoo. We got a little lost on the way…but we ended up there. Apparently it is the second largest zoo in the world. It was PACKED and had all the great animals that zoos should have. We walked into some den, not knowing what it was (because we don’t speak Czech…) and bats were flying everywhere, as in not enclosed in cages. Dana almost fainted on the spot.
Just chillin’ with polar bears in Prague
That night Steph insisted that we have a traditional Czech meal. She informed us that the Czech love their meat. I’m not a vegetarian but I’m definitely not a big meat eater, however, when in Prague one must eat goulash- their traditional meal. It wasn’t too bad! Probably never have it again… but I’m glad I experienced it! That’s all what being abroad is about!
Traditional Czech Meal- goulash
That Saturday night was one of my roommates 21st birthday, so we met up with them and ended up going on a pub crawl around Prague. It ended at this 5 story club where each floor is a different theme. Definitely a fun city with good nightlife! The next day we got up bright and early and set off on our 12 hour ride back to Florence…And as always, it felt amazing to be back in Firenze.
Our program took us on a day trip to San Gimignano. San Gimignano is a town in Tuscany known as the ‘Medieval Manhattan’ because back in medieval times people would try to show of their wealth by building a bigger tower than its neighbors. The best part about the town was that we got to climb this beautiful tower and see the most amazing view of Tuscany.
View from the tower
Some of the towers that the town is famous for
Some friends with a beautiful view of the tuscan hills in the background!
On Friday a group of around 10 of us went to our Italian advisor’s house 40 minutes outside of the city in the south of Florence and made pear ravioli from scratch. While being in Italy, I’ve ate the most amazing pasta I’ve ever had- but none of it even compares to this pear ravioli that we made. We made the pasta from scratch and put ricotta cheese inside of it. The pear sauce had a bunch of different ingredients that were picked fresh from their garden like the herb rosemary. The pear sauce was what made the pasta but the ravioli itself was so soft and fresh. I don’t think I’ll ever have pasta that good in my life again.
Mmmm I want it right now!!
Wisconsin crew by the I Amsterdam sign
Last weekend we traveled to Amsterdam, The Netherlands and it was absolutely amazing. Many people have this image in the their heads of what Amsterdam is (weed and prostitution) but I can assure you that the city was much more than that and not what you expect. It was big with canals running through the city surrounded by unique architecture and artwork. I thought it was gorgeous and in the summer time it must be even prettier. It has a great public transportation system, which I thought was very interesting especially coming from a city that has horrible public transportation. Living in Florence you are thrown back into the Renaissance and see statues and paintings that are from that time period, therefore, going to Amsterdam and seeing modern and contemporary art everywhere was amazing. The graffiti that covered the streets was what I think made the city so cool.
One of the many pieces of graffiti that covers the city
We arrived at 9am and checked in quick to our hotel room then made our way to Anne Frank’s house. They tell you everything about the families that lived their and those who helped hide them while you walk around the factory and the house. It was a crazy experience…we literally walked through the secret staircase that led up to where Anne Frank hid. We obviously learn about the Holocaust and read Anne Frank’s diary in school but to physically experience first hand is a weird feeling. I thought it was one of the coolest things we did in Amsterdam. The two other museums we went to while in Amsterdam was the Van Gogh museum and the Heineken Factory museum. It was pretty cool to see about 100 of Van Gogh’s work but it was pretty small and his most famous pieces are in other museums. I still am very happy I went but I think they charged a little too much (14 euro) for what it was. The Heineken Factory, very different type of museum, was very fun. They showed you how they make beer and told you a little history of the beer. At the end they give you two free beers and have all these interactive games. It smelt a little like a frat house basement but it was a really interactive, fun museum.
Wisconsin loves at home in the Heineken Factory Museum
In Florence, you really have Italian food and kababs. If you want any other type of food…you can’t have it. Amsterdam had everything… junk food everywhere, sushi places, healthy food places with avocado (I ordered anything on a menu if it had avocado, obviously). There is this one place called Pancake House that everyone says is a must when you visit Amsterdam. Ilana and I split a mexican pancake and nutella and banana pancake….lets just say it was even better than it sounds. I was also very surprised by the shopping in Amsterdam. We found a cool little street that had many boutiques and vintage shops on it. It also had a Brandy Melville, which I went into three times and didn’t buy anything. That’s self control at its finest.
Dana, Ilana, Steph, Kara and I on one of the canals by the street with good shopping
On one of the nights we stayed at this crazy hostel that had each room painted differently in the most insane ways. Our room was painted all green and had a light that said “stand by” and the words “any minute now” written on the wall. It was some artists work who was trying to use it as an analogy to media taking over the word…it was an experience. That night we went on a pub crawl through the Red Light district. We met people from all over Europe, which is the best part about being abroad. There are Americans everywhere but getting to know people from other countries is half the fun. We actually met three kids from Amsterdam that are studying in Florence and have been hanging out with them. The Red Light district was very interesting… there are actually Red Lights over the women who stand in the window and just wait for costumers to come in. I thought it was pretty sad and crazy that something like that is actually legal. But hey, as I said in the beginning, Amsterdam is much more than that.
Our crazy room
Just in a clog
Me, Steph and Dana in Dam Square
Until the next adventure…
This past weekend I experienced Italian Carnival in Venice and in the beach city of Viareggio. Both were amazing but very different.
The beginning of our day at Carnival in Venice
The city of Venice was exactly what I pictured it to be. The buildings were close together and canals covered that city making it a gorgeous place. We spent all day trying to find the Piazza di San Marco which is where the main festival for carnival was located. When we first got there we ate at this small, cute restaurant and I had a delicious brie cheese and prosciutto pizza. Jess and Leah (best friends from Wisconsin) came to visit Florence that weekend and also came to Venice with us. After lunch, we wandered around the city and stopped in various mask shops until we found ones to our liking.
Mask shop where we bought ours
Me, Leah, Jess, Dana and Shira on one of the canals
After we walked for hours stopping in various shops we finally made it to the Piazza di San Marco by nighttime. It was a huge piazza filled with people and a stage blasting music. It was very cold but people were still gathered drinking wine and dancing. There were many interesting characters we saw throughout the square. We obviously joined in on the fun until it was time for us to go back to the bus. It took us hours to get to the piazza but we took a 20 minute boat ride back to the bus at the end of the day. It was a great day and I’m so grateful that I go to experience Venice carnival!
Dancing in Piazza di San Marco
Carnival in Viareggio had much more of a party element to it. When we arrived the sun was shining and music was already blasting! Our leader from our program Luca (we refer to him as our Italian dad) came with us and informed us of all the activities going on. The parade and festivities started at 3 o’clock but we had 2 hours before to grab some food and walk around. It is custom to throw confetti everywhere, so obviously my first goal was to purchase a big bag of confetti. After we ate Ilana, Kara and I went on a carousel ride and go to view the whole city and get a great view of the beach.
Ilana and I on the carousel
View of the beach from the carousel
The parade started at 3 and it was way cooler than I expected. There were a bunch of floats that were themed differently with people in costume dancing on top of them. People were also dancing in the streets and there were different, smaller floats in-between the big floats. The floats were extremely impressive and you can tell that they spent a year of work on them. The parade was very different than one that would happen in America because you could walk right up next to the floats. People would walk all around them and throw confetti or silly string at you. I got into about 8 confetti fights and pretty sure I’m still finding confetti in some of my clothes. We got drinks and danced in the streets with people to the different music blasting from the various floats. In many places in Italy they played American music, but the floats were mainly playing italian music and it made the experience even better.
Ilana, Kara and I with some characters
Some cool floats!
Dancing in the streets
Being from Manhattan Beach, it is no surprise that I obviously loved the town of Viareggio. It reminded me a lot of Manhattan Beach because the boardwalk was right on the beach and all the people were so nice. I could see myself moving there….just sayin’
Confetti and Champagne on the coast of Italy in Viareggio!
First off, it’s going to be pretty hard to describe my snowboarding escapade in the Swiss Alps because the experience and feeling I got from when I stepped of the gondola to the second I left the mountain is something you can’t put down in words.
I went to Interlaken with a group of friends that I met since studying here in Florence. On the Saturday that we were there Dana and Jori went skydiving, Shira and Carly went parasailing and Kelsey went canyon jumping. They all had amazing experiences, but being an avid snowboarder I knew I couldn’t pass up the chance to go snowboarding in the Swiss Alps. My friend Amanda and I woke up at 7am to rent equipment and by our clothes and by 8:30 we were on a bus to the mountain. I could barely hold my excitement when looking out the window and seeing the mountains approach through the bus windows.
We got off the bus with little said to us from the bus driver of where we were or what to do. This was just the beginning of our foreign experience. Nobody spoke english anywhere we went and all the signs were written in German. We hoped on the gondola hoping it was the right one and after a half hour gondola ride up the mountain we reached the top. The view through the gondola was amazing. Trees covered in inches of snow, mountains in every direction you look and small cottages skattered throughout the mountain. We pretty much stood and stared at the view for a good 10 minutes because it was so unbelievable.
Solo shot of me before I took off down the mountain!
Snowboarding next to clouds
The best part about it was that the mountain was not crowded at all. At some points it was just be us two on the run. The fresh powder was absolutely amazing. At some of the chairlift points they had German music playing which consisted of lots of yodeling. One run we were going down a man dressed in yellow pants and a green jacket yelled “RICOLAAAA” while skiing down the mountain which pretty much made my trip. Since all the signs were in German and no one spoke English there, we ended up just going down the mountain not knowing exactly where we were headed. I even stopped at a place to get a napkin to blow my nose and ended up getting screamed at in German by some lady (stupid American). The mountain was so large that some runs took about an hour long to ride down. Needless to say, it was an amazing day for snowboarding. Not crowded. Clear skies. Fresh powder.
On the Friday that we were there we took a train to Bern, the capital of Switzerland. It was freezing but we walked around the city for a couple hours. It was a cute city with many stores and people out and about. Getting off the train we really had no idea what to do and ended up going to Albert Einsteins house were he discovered the Theory of Relativity. It was pretty cool to see and learn about Einsteins life. I bought and cute leaf bracelet at a boutique on the corner by the capital building. The city is absolutely gorgeous and looks just like a stereotypical Swiss town. It was a fun trip but it was freezing beyond belief so I was pretty happy to get in the train and go back to Interlaken.
City of Bern
Interlaken was a quaint town. One of the nights we went to an irish pub and got dinner and some leftover Christmas beer because it was the cheapest on the menu. Everything in Switzerland is expensive. You can’t get a meal for under 20 francs. So needless to say, the Christmas beer was good for us. The next night we did Swiss cheese fondu which sounds a lot better than it was. I guess when you leave in Florence, Italy you kind of become a food snob. It was one of the most amazing trips but I was so happy to go home. Home to Florence, of course.
City of Interlaken
Dana and I before we left Interlaken
View of the lake as we were leaving the bus to go home
View of the town as we left
Before we started classes we took a day trip to Pisa followed by a trip to Castello di Verrazzano. The inside of the cathedral in Pisa was really cool and it was fun to take a picture outside with the tower, but other than that there really isn’t much to Pisa. The following day we went to a winery and castle in Tuscany that included a tour, wine tasting, and a meal. The food was absolutely delicious and the view of Tuscany was breathtaking. The wine that we tasted was Chianti, which is the type of wine that Florence is famous for producing. It is also an olive farm and I don’t think I’ve ever had such amazing olive oil as I have in Italy. Since moving to Italy, I find myself putting either olive oil, vinegar, or nutella on everything I eat. The food is more spectacular than you can even imagine. We’re starting to get to know the streets of Florence better which has helped us in discovering small cafes that have the best food known to mankind.
Throwing up the AXO gang sign (definitely going in the slideshow)
Ceiling of the cathedral in Pisa (actually 3D even though it appears painted)
Inside the Castello di Verrazzano
Cellar of old bottles of wine
Dana, Ilana and I having a jolly old time
My roommates and I cooked a homemade pasta and sat in our living room eating and drinking wine under the bright moon and beautiful duomo (the view never gets old) while listening to Italian music. It’s going to be a great four months.
On our second day we took a bus to the city of Siena which was considered the rival town of Florence back in the day. The famous Duomo di Fiori in Florence was built in competition with the Cathedral of Siena, but the black plague happened and Siena ended up not being able to make it bigger than the Duomo in Florence, which was their goal. The inside was a lot more detailed than the Duomo in Florence but I personal enjoy the Duomo di Fiori that I wake up to every morning!
Inside of the Siena Cathedral
The ceiling of the dome…sooo cool
After we had some free time to explore Siena ourselves. We went to this small cafe that a married couple owned and had the most amazing sandwich in the world. The salami was from Siena and I’m not kidding when I saw I’ve never had a better sandwich. After we ate we climbed the Torre di Mangia which had the most amazing view to tuscany. The staircase was very narrow and a little scary, but the workout was worth the most amazing panoramic view I’ve ever seen!
Salami, cheese, oil and vinegar on the most crunchy amazing bread!
View from the top of the tower!
My friend Tyler and I at the top of the tower!
Cool writing on the wall
Ciao! The first couple of days has been pretty crazy! On our first full day here we took a walking tour of Florence. I pretty much was walking around with my jaw to the floor the whole time, in awe of everything surrounding me. The city is gorgeous. Every building is beautiful with a story attached to it and the people are very friendly. Our apartment is a block from the Duomo and you can see it from our window- such a steal. It’s so easy to get back to our apartment because all you have to do is look for the Duomo! It is a very quaint apartment with some creepy photos on the wall but still a pretty amazing place. I still haven’t unpacked because we’ve been so busy.
View from our apartment living room
The walking tour was pretty interesting. The tour guide was one of our professors from our school, Lorenzo de’ Medici, and he was very animated. Florence is a small town but packed with art, history, and bakeries. The streets are always packed with people at every hour of the day. Also, wine equals water here. I know people always say that but Italians have wine with EVERYTHING and there are wine bars every five yards you walk. We stopped by a panini place before our tour and it was an amazing panini. I feel like my diet is going to consist of paninis, nutella, and wine. Which I’m fine with!
eating paninis with some people before walking tour of Florence
the front of the Duomo
Me, Ilana, Kara and Dana in front of the Ponte de Vecchio (Wisco reppin’)
City Hall of Firenze. Replica of the David on the left and Hercules and Cacus to the right in the Piazza di Signoria.
Our week of traveling is almost over. We’ve gone to Siena, Pisa, and tomorrow we’re going wine tasting at a castle in Tuscany. Will write more soon!