Le Mie Avventure Italiane

 

December 29, 2015

Hello, family and friends! In just 9 short days I will be sitting on a plane all by myself, on my way to Firenze, Italia! 

Here, I will be posting pictures (hopefully cool, fancy, photography class pictures) and I will be posting about the things I do and the places that I go and all the food I eat. You can message me through the blog by clicking on “Message me!” in the middle, but if not, it’s cool that any of you are actually interested enough to read about what I am doing at all! 

I named this blog “Le Mie Avventure Italiane” which just means “My Italian Adventures.” Hopefully, there will be many and I am overwhelmed with excitement thinking about it. I’m also terrified, which I didn’t entirely expect. 

I know how extremely lucky I am to love so many people - not everyone gets to experience the feeling of missing someone as deeply as I do. And for this, I am grateful. 

Love you all, and I can’t wait to tell you all everything!

 

January 7, 2015

Welp, today I fly out to Italy. I’m not sure if I am going to throw up or cry or start running in circles frantically all out of nervousness and excitement. My parents were driving me to the airport and I was reminded of when I got my license at 16. I didn’t know how to get to Lake Mary Blvd - the most central road in all of Lake Mary - even though my parents had been driving me there for years. I sort of feel like that now. I’ve flown multiple times before, but my mom always took care of boarding passes and led the way. So I’m hoping that I remember more about flying than I did about getting to Lake Mary Blvd. I guess it doesn’t really matter if I can or can’t figure this out on my own because it is much too late to back out now! 

 

January 12, 2015

Wow, so Florence is the most beautiful place I have ever been to. I haven’t had consistent access to Wi-fi, but I should soon so that I can post more frequently. Pretty soon, I will also upload my pictures from my camera. We took a day trip to a Tuscan city named Fiesole that overlooks Firenze and it was absolutely amazing. There were some ruins and a small monastery that we toured as well. But here is an explanation of these pictures: 
1. This is a picture of Florence, taken from a high point in the city - the Church of San Miniato al Monte. That’s the Duomo on the right and you can even see the Ponte Vecchio on the left. I live maybe about 15-20 minutes from both. 
2. This is the the Church of San Miniato al Monte. Inside, everything is marble. The apse was my favorite part because in the center was Jesus and his robes were gilded with lines of gold, so when it was lit up, it would reflect out. (You should google it.)
3. Some of Florence still has Christmas decorations up and at night, all these hanging snowflakes light up. I took this picture the very first night when a group of us took a walk. 
4. This is a view from the top of a building that serves as a department store/restaurant. The first 4 floors are all part of the department store. The top 2 are a bar/restaurant that has coffee, alcohol and gelato. We all ordered coffee the second night and sat out to see the view and the sunset.

 

January 13, 2015

I got a job!

Today, I got a job as a library assistant at FSU’s small library here. I’ll be working 4-10 hours a week in the cutest little library and getting paid for it!

 

January 14, 2015

This past Saturday, the whole FSU group took a day trip to a town in north Tuscany called Fiesole. It overlooks Firenze and has a small, old monastery and Etruscan ruins. One of the FSU professors gave us a tour of the ruins, describing what the buildings used to look like and showing us where the Etruscan people worked out, went to the bathroom and sat in the sauna! It was sort of cloudy and gross that day but the view of Florence is beautiful. A bunch of houses cover the hills and some friends and I looked out and picked which one we would buy someday. 

 

January 15, 2015

Last night, a group of us went to an Irish pub - they speak English really well and it’s very American, which is sort of comforting. When absolutely everything we do is new and foreign and in another language and out of our comfort zones, something familiar helped to reorient us a little. This is me and one of my roommates, Sarah, sharing a drink called “Sex in the Duomo”!

 

January 19, 2015

Some pictures from the FSU day trip to Siena!

 

January 19, 2015

For my first photography assignment, I had to take some pictures of my neighborhood. 

1. This is a picture taken of Florence from the Piazzale di Michelangelo.

2. I am standing on the Ponte Vecchio in this picture, looking over the Arno River.

3. This is also of the Arno River, but at nighttime (obviously).

4. This is the Piazza della Reppublica. One of my roommates turned 20 last Friday and we rode the carousel as part of her birthday celebration. 

5. This man plays his guitar every weekend on the Ponte Vecchio and he has a beautiful voice which sounds even better in Italian. 

 

January 19, 2015

Me and my friends on the Ponte Vecchio - from left to right: Dasher, me, Hadley, Sarah, Katherine, Brendle, Nicole, Nattalia. I guess the names don’t really matter since you can’t see our faces. Oh well!

 

January 20, 2015

My new favorite place in Firenze is the Palazzo Vecchio. It was built over seven centuries ago - housing the famous Medici family and now it functions as a town hall (there were rooms that we couldn’t go in because it was the mayor’s office!). One of our FSU program assistants was an intern at the palace last semester, so she gave us a tour that included many of the palace’s secret passageways. 

Everything about the Palazzo Vecchio was extravagant and expensive. I want to know everything there is to know about it and the Medici family - maybe before the end of the semester. 

Cosimo de Medici - the first of the Medici political dynasty - was full of himself, overly confident, over the top. A symbol associated with him is the turtle with a sail, because he thought himself to be both quick to strike, but thoughtful in his decision-making.

I’m pretty sure that my museum pass will get me into the Palazzo Vecchio so I will have lots of opportunities to cram my brain with information. 

 

January 24, 2015

Update!

  • Wow, so Rome was absolutely gorgeous - the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Vatican, the Catacombs, and a delicious drink called caffé granita con panna. It’s going to take me some time to sort through all of the pictures I took and it will probably require multiple posts to get them all up here. Pictures really won’t do it justice (I cried in the Pantheon). But I wanted to let you all know that I have made it back to Firenze safely from Roma. I’m exhausted from all the walking, but by the end of the semester, I will have some impressive leg muscles. 

    Other than that, classes are going well. Most of the subjects blend together, which makes it easier. I’ve decided to go to Paris and southern France with my roommate, Sarah, for spring break. This upcoming weekend, a small group of 4 of us are going to Napoli and Pompeii. The weekend after, I am hoping to go to Vienna and Budapest with my friends Chase and Dasher. There is talk of a trip to Istanbul later on, although I don’t know if that is a possibility for me yet. 

    Anyway, I will be posting many many pictures in the next couple of days!

 

January 25, 2015

Roma - parte 1

Here are some pictures of the Coliseum! It was the first thing we did after our 4 hour bus ride from Florence. Surprisingly, it didn’t rain and it was a good 50 degrees and sunny - some of the most beautiful weather we have had here! I will never complain about Florida being cold ever again. 

I know I have said this before, but the experience of seeing such ancient culture and its art and monuments is just so overwhelming. If you have only seen pictures of the Coliseum, you haven’t really seen it. The sheer size and mass of the structure is insane. Over the years, it has lost some of its decorative sculpture, some of the stone was taken from it in the Medieval Ages, a lot of the stone has worn down since 70 CE. But it is STILL STANDING AND THAT IS AMAZING.

At the bottom is a picture of a group of girls on the trip that I have been spending a lot of time with here. We tried to get some of the Coliseum in the background. What is shown here is what would have been under the floor - a series of tunnels that allowed workers to open trap doors during gladiator fights or use elevators to put lions and animals up into the arena. 

 

January 25, 2015

Roma - parte 2

Here are just a couple pictures of the Roman forum and the Pantheon. The Pantheon was one of my favorite parts of Rome. I will admit that I teared up when I looked up at the ceiling. I knew quite a bit about the Pantheon already from AP Art History in high school and to see such a perfect building in person was overwhelming. The Romans invented concrete and then used it to create this church. A perfect sphere could fit in the dome and then perfectly reach and fit into the bottom half of the church. The oculus at the top is 35 feet across at the top. My roommate, Sarah, and I sat in one of the pews and stared up for a while. 

One of the things I am really loving about being here is that the simplest moments of appreciation can be the most memorable. The perfection of the Pantheon was so beautiful that we just stared up at it and there’s a very specific, intense emotion that I keep feeling of being so small, but so linked to other people. It’s a sort of closeness to the person sharing the moment with me and a closeness to history, that the person who made this building isn’t so different from the person who may have worshipped in it who isn’t so different from me, a college student and tourist sitting in the same spot as they did. 

 

January 25, 1015

Roma - parte 3

The amount of time I could spend in the Vatican Museums is absolutely insane. It’s confusing to navigate because there is just so so much to see. Most of these pictures are from what is called the Rooms of Raphael (thus, the School of Athens painting at the end). He painted these rooms for Pope Julius II and they are just so extravagant. I want to decorate my house like that. The four circular ceiling sections were done in the same room as the School of Athens, where the Pope kept his library and studied. The Romans considered the four academic disciplines to be poetry, justice, theology and philosophy and each woman represents one of the disciplines. 

Please look at the picture of the marble-looking figures. Those aren’t statues, they are painted on the lower wall to LOOK LIKE FREESTANDING SCULPTURE - HOW CRAZY IS THAT. 

I apologize, I am sort of explaining the pictures in reverse order, but I got excited. The very first picture is of the dome of the Basilica of St. Peter. Next, is a painted map of Italy. There is an entire hallway of maps detailing each individual part of Italy that is absolutely beautiful. Before the maps came a bunch of tapestries. In front of this tapestry of The Last Supper are my good friends Sarah and Dasher. Lastly, or in the middle rather, this is an Annunciation painting that I liked. The sheer number of paintings depicting the Annunciation is over the top, so I like to take pictures of the ones that stand out to me or that I like more. I don’t remember the name of the artist for this one, but I like that Mary looks sort of young and feminine. She looks more real and unique to me than the stoic or reserved Mary that painters of the time would use. 

 

January 25, 2015

Roma - parte 4

Okay, this is the last part of the Rome trip - St. Peter’s Basilica. Holy cow, it is huge. Huge and covered in gold and decoration. There was no possible way for my eyes to take in every sculpture, painting and adornment, especially since this was right after the Vatican Museums. 

There were lots of Pope statues in the basilica and I sort of realized that Popes are sort of scary - as a random side note!

 

Napoli - a preface

  • From Friday to Sunday, a group of seven of us went to Napoli and Pompei! Napoli was really interesting for a few reasons:

    1. Everyone we talked to warned us about Napoli. There isn’t a lot of violent crime in Italia, but there is a lot of petty thief – pick pockets and people who will grab things out of your hands. It was comforting to be with a group of seven girls, instead of a smaller group. We were careful about our stuff and didn’t carry too many valuables.

    2. Napoli had some nice parts, some touristy areas but also some very gross areas. There was a lot of trash on the streets – like, a lot of trash. We saw some syringes on the ground at some point and even a dead rat. Eww. But it’s interesting how the trip put things into perspective. I appreciate Firenze even more for how beautiful it is and how clean it is in comparison. Especially since I had never lived in a really urban area before, it’s new for me to see the different types of environments that people live in.

    3. I should also preface this by saying that we chose to go to Napoli primarily based on a pizza recommendation. Our librarian raved about how the best pizza in Italia was in Napoli, so of course we made Napoli a priority of what was originally just going to be a trip to Pompei. We all really really really wanted to see Pompei. 


    I’ll post some pictures and events from each day. 

 

February 3, 2015

Napoli - venerdì

First, this is a picture of the best pizza that I have ever eaten. Ironically, the restaurant was called “from 1926”. I know, not very Italian. But this pizza had provolone cheese, those little fried potatoes and thinly sliced ham. OH. MY. GOODNESS. The crust was so soft. I may never again eat a pizza that delicious in my lifetime.

Pizza was essentially our first goal after checking into our bed & breakfast, called “Terra Mia” after a song by the famous Italian cantatore Pino Daniele. The entire b & b was decorated with pictures of him and cluttered with his CD’s.

Anyway, afterwards, we took a trip to Il Museo Archeologico Nazionale. Along with some classical sculpture, the museum had a great deal of art taken from Pompei which was really awesome to think about in comparison to all the Renaissance art I have been seeing mostly.

This third picture is just of a building in Napoli. In Italia, most cities have codes regarding what colors the buildings can be painted. In Firenze, all the buildings are various shades of yellows and similar neutrals. In Napoli, there were pink buildings and yellow buildings and lots of evergreen-colored balconies. Those parts of the city were my favorites, especially since the prettiest buildings were all located near the sea.

Friday night, we met up with the cousin of one of the girls in our group. Her cousin is actually Italian and going to college in Napoli. She took us to a bar with about five or six of her friends, which was an entirely different experience to spend time and communicate with native Italians in one of their favorite places. Those are the moments when I really feel like I am seeing another culture.

 

February 3, 2015

Napoli – sabato

We dedicated Saturday to Pompei. After a cab driver tried to take advantage of us on Friday, we chose to take the subway on Saturday. Figuring it out was a slow but cheap experience. And when a sign showed a picture of Mount Vesuvius, we spontaneously got off the train to go explore!

I have climbed to the top of Mount Vesuvius. I think that is the coolest thing I have ever done.

We met a couple of guys from Kent, England who climbed alongside us. One thing I find myself thinking about often here is what it means to be an American. It sounds cheesy, I know, but Americans stand out very obviously. Sure, some of it is clothes and appearance (no one here wears combat boots, carries backpacks or dresses so casually). Yet, there’s such a behavior difference (we travel in groups, we are louder, we aren’t bilingual). I’m trying to be less overtly American and I can sometimes see why other nations see us as ignorant, dumb Americans. So I try to travel in smaller groups now, keep the noise level of my voice down and walk confidently. Maybe it is working a little bit, because I am less often bombarded by men on the street trying to sell my selfie sticks. So I enjoyed observing our group in comparison to these two British men, to see how Europeans outside of Italia view us, as well. I hope to maybe change some people’s minds about us.

Sorry, that was a random side note. Anyway, we climbed up Mount Vesuvius, the most dangerous volcano in the world, that wiped out Pompei and preserved a culture for thousands of years, and WOW. It overlooked the city and the ocean, which was equally as awe-inspiring as looking down into the crater of the volcano. If any of you ever have the chance to go, take it.

We stuffed ourselves with more pizza immediately after, to prep for Pompei. It had been sort of overcast and on-and-off rainy up to that point and Pompei proved to be the rainiest part of the day. Thankfully, I packed my rain boots. Pompei is just the craziest thing ever. That’s the only way I know how to describe it. A volcano erupted and killed everyone living there, but the magma hardened and preserved the buildings, dead bodies, structures and even frescoes. THAT IS CRAZY. I wish that we had more time to spend there, but I am so glad that we went. We also met some Americans there (from some small college in Washington) who study in Firenze, as well, and we may meet up with them in the future.

Saturday night, we were all exhausted and I think that I passed out at around 9 pm. My roommates and I like to cuddle, one of my favorite parts of traveling with them!

 

February 3, 2015

Napoli – domenica

Sunday was a bit of a slow day. We ate breakfast in our b & b, then ventured around the historic district. We found the water, taking some pictures and enjoying how warm it was (almost 60 degrees!!). The group wanted seafood and I got “linguine agli scampi”. My shrimp still had eyes and legs and a body, which really really freaks me out. But my roommates take good care of me, and they noticed my hesitation and got the meat out for me. Afterwards, we bought some Italian beer and drank it while looking out at the ocean and Mount Vesuvius.

It rained and hailed for quite a while later in the day. My roommate, Sarah, kept screaming: “WHAT THE HAIL”. Really, it was just a casual day of picture-taking and spending time together. Pino Daniele, that singer who inspired the name and decoration of our b & b, had actually passed away recently so we took an obligatory sad picture next to a sign that mourned his death.

As we neared the end of the trip, the group came to a consensus that although we are not too fond of Napoli overall, it was a great trip. I would absolutely visit Pompeii again, but I absolutely agree with Brendle from our group:

“Tips for visiting Naples:

1. Don’t.”

 

February 5, 2015

Art history class in front of the David!

 

February 9, 2015

Vienna and Budapest

The thing that I am learning about travel is that it requires flexibility and patience. There won’t always be enough time to do and see everything that I want to, the people I am traveling with may want to do different things, there isn’t usually a lot of sleep involved. That’s especially what I learned this weekend in Vienna and Budapest. 

My friends Chase and Dasher accompanied me through a travel group. So on Thursday evening, we hopped on a bus that drove to Budapest, Hungary. We should have arrived at our hostel around 3 am; however, the glass emergency door on the top of the window broke as we were driving through the snow, leaving us stuck in a Slovenian gas station in the middle of the night for more than an hour. We arrived in Budapest between 11 and 12. Therefore, I do not have many pictures of Budapest. There is so much that I didn’t get to see and I’m sorry that I don’t have any evidence to show that I was actually there. But the architecture was so diverse and so beautiful. We had to exchange out some euros for the huf - 4 euros is about 1000 huf, and that was super confusing. But the biggest thing we did in Budapest was go to the baths at night (I have no pictures of it.). Basically, it is a huge hot springs bath that is very popular for tourists.

We left the next morning for Vienna, about a 3 hour bus ride. In Vienna, the biggest highlight for me was the Belvedere Palace. I split off from Chase and Dasher, who went to the home of Mozart instead. The palace used to be the home of an Austrian prince and general, who owned this huge complex of various buildings, stables and gardens. It now is used as an art gallery, as well. So I got to see a really cool Monet exhibit and the largest collection of art by one of my favorite artists, Gustav Klimt. I sat in front of “The Kiss” for a good 30 minutes. 

I had this moment (or maybe series of moments while at the palace) where I felt so overwhelmed, but in the best way. I navigated myself through the streets of Vienna to get there and navigated back without getting lost. I was so engrossed in the art and history of the palace, that I spent a few hours there without even realizing it. People always say that international travel changes you, and I am coming to understand that more and more as I am here. And it is hard to put into words how standing in front of a painting can make me emotional, or how scary but extremely satisfying it is to venture out on my own, or how missing my loved ones so intensely can be so good and bad at the same time. As I was walking back from Belvedere, I really wanted to call someone. I tried to get wi-fi to see if I could call my dad and I couldn’t. It was frustrating because I really wanted to share how I was feeling at that exact moment, like it mattered if someone else knew and understood. Yet, even when I couldn’t call him, it sort of hit me that it’s enough for me to have that sense of completeness and contentedness all on my own. 

Well anyway….I’m sorry that I don’t have a ton of pictures from this weekend. I will post some pictures from my most recent photography assignment soon to make up for it. 

 

February 9, 2015

I tracked down a couple more pictures! There is a selfie of me in the snow; me and Chase and Dasher on the bus ride to Budapest; Dasher in front of our bus during the broken window incident; and lastly, some delicious Austrian schnitzel that I ate!

 

February 10, 2015

This is just my recent photography assignment. My teacher asked us to photograph urban landscapes, so these are pictures from Florence, Naples, and the Boboli Gardens. 

February 14, 2015

Valentine’s Day Weekend

Well, I don’t have many pictures to post at the moment, but I figured I could give you all a play by play of what my weekend has looked like! 

Friday: On Friday, I slept in a bit and then I had work from 12-5. No one came in really, so I had the time to myself to do homework and relax. My roommates came to pick me up from work at 5. We then bought some bread, cheese, salami and chips to eat, to go along with our homemade sangria! After next watching “Silence of the Lambs”, we went to bed. 

Saturday: Around 10, we woke up, got ready and headed over to the Santa Maria Novella train station, where we picked a random place to spend the day. We ended up in Bologna - they have the best ragú sauce, oh my goodness! I ate “tagliatelle con ragú” for lunch before we ended up dancing and painting our faces at a pro-feminism rally. We meandered around il Museo Archeologico for a bit before heading back to the train station. But we may have missed our train… Yes, we were those people sprinting through the train station around crowds of people with suitcases. It could have been a movie scene: the three of us standing and looking forlornly out at our train as it pulled out of the station. A kind Italian man at the ticket office exchanged our tickets for a later train, though, and we didn’t have to buy new ones. I think he liked us because we couldn’t stop giggling. Back in Firenze, we got gelato (because do we even need to eat anything else?) and headed to the cinema to see “50 Shades of Grey” in Italian. “Not in English,” the ticket lady kept telling us. “Va bene, va bene,” we told her. I’m pretty proud of myself that I understood most of the movie (not that you need the words to understand what is going on in that movie - and I do not recommend the movie to anyone, it’s terrible!). Anyway, we ate some cookies with Nutella back at our apartment before falling asleep.

Sunday: So today, I’m doing laundry and trying to write some papers. Clearly, I am struggling because I am writing this post instead of my 2 papers due this week. Oh well, it will get done. Tonight, my roommates and I will go out to aperitivo after they work. But today should be full of procrastination and maybe a little bit of work, maybe. 

 

February 15, 2015

Red painted faces from the pro-feminist rally in Bologna!

 

February 16, 2015

Okay, I rounded up some more pictures from Bologna! Our meal in Bologna; the parade; and Hadley with a Neptune statue at the museum!

 

February 18, 2015

A couple pictures from Carnevale night! 

 

February 19, 2015

Okay, so this is a little late, but I took a cooking class last Wednesday and figured it’s not too late to post about it! (This one is for you, Aunt Amy!) We made caprese as our appetizer, linguine with a spicy tomato sauce, ravioli with spinach filling and tiramisu. Making pasta from scratch was my favorite part, I really want to start doing that for myself at home. A lot of the class was already pre-prepared so we mostly were mixing things together and doing the easy stuff, but it was a lot of fun. We left with a book of recipes, so I will absolutely try to make these again.

 

February 21, 2015

On Saturday, my roommates and I went to Chianti, a town in the region of Toscana. We hiked/walked around these huge vineyards and fields of olive trees. It was absolutely gorgeous - now imagine it with green vines blooming everywhere. I must go back when things are growing. We were with a group that scheduled a wine tasting with Lorenzo Sassolini, a 7th generation wine producer! Chianti is known for a type of wine called Chianti Classico that we tried multiple types of, while learning about how wine is produced. We were fed lunch, which took about 4 and a half hours - how Italian! It was a beautiful day trip.

 

February 27, 2015

Hello everybody! Tomorrow, I will be leaving Firenze for spring break! Me, my roommate Sarah will be meeting up with Renata, who studies with FSU in Valencia, Spain. First, Sarah and I take a train to Bologna, Italia. Then, a flight to Nice, France. We spend a few days there (hopefully taking some day trips while there also) and end with 3-4 days in Paris! I’m extremely excited, because our small group should be pretty relaxed. I also feel that I’ve been getting comfortable here, so this will be a good chance to get myself out of my comfort zone again - I know absolutely no French! I won’t be able to post much while I’m gone, but I will try to post the occasional paragraph or picture. I promise to bombard you all with pictures and words when I get back on March 7th. (And since my birthday is during that time, I’ll be a little older and wiser too.) 

Ciao, Firenze! Mi mancherai!

 

February 28, 2015

We slept for 3 hours, woke up at 3:30 am to go catch a train to Bologna at 4:30. Took a bus from the train station to the airport. And now we are sitting in the airport at 7:47 waiting to get our boarding passes printed. Just a little bit delusional.

 

February 28, 2015

An account of day 1. It was a long journey to Nice! Sarah and I took an early morning train from Firenze to Bologna, then a bus from the train station to the Bologna airport. Once there, we discovered that our flight had been canceled. We waited around for quite at a while at the airport, but were put on a new flight in the afternoon that took us to Nice. (You have seen most of these pictures that I posted while we were in the airport!)

We met up with a friend named Renata, who studies with FSU in Spain. That night we checked into the cutest hostel that held only about 20-25 people and found an adorable French restaurant in some of the city’s old town. Mostly, we were just exhausted from traveling so we went to bed early in anticipation to discover Nice!

 

March 1, 2015

We spent this day walking around, eating and enjoying the warm weather. Nice sits right on the Mediterranean Sea – such a beautiful clear blue! – and we spent a good part of the day sitting on the rocky coastline, walking around the French markets and people watching in a local park. The simple beauty of Nice is just so overwhelming. Sarah and I had talked about feeling comfortable in Firenze, starting to feel complacent or less in-awe, but the moment we arrived in France just dispelled all of those fears.

It makes me want to stay here so badly. How do I stay here?

On this day, I ate a delicious ham and cheese crepe, FaceTimed my best friend from a French park, and had a dinner picnic overlooking the sea. How great is that. Val, our hostel manager, took all of us from the hostel to fireworks that night (also over the sea). They were by far the best fireworks I have ever seen – they lasted for so long, and they were so beautiful and I am sure that the setting played a part.

 

March 2, 2015

We slept in a little bit on this day before taking a train to Cannes, France. We found it to be a lot like Nice, in its simplicity and beauty. The beach there was sandy instead of rocky, and the streets were covered in cafes, pretty architecture and little places to shop. We ate burgers there (not French at all, I know!). But the day was spent mostly exploring, walking up to the highest point in the city, exploring the streets and finding little trinkets at the markets. It was relaxing though, to do things that weren’t just touristy and to not have plan. It makes me feel as though we really got a feel for the towns we were in and we really experienced them.

 

March 3, 2015

MY BIRTHDAY! This was my favorite day of the entire trip. I woke up in the hostel and my friends were gone. They returned with flowers for me, and led me to the park where we had a little brunch picnic of pastries and fruit. I did not expect it all and I was so pleasantly surprised that they went out of their way to do that for me. I have wonderful friends here. We originally planned to take another day trip to Monaco, but ended up taking a 3 hour nap in the hostel. It was one of the highlights of my day! When we finally woke up, we found some food and gelato. If you can’t tell, eating is our favorite thing to do. Val recommended a lookout spot called Platforme du Chateau to see the sunset over the city so we headed there next. NICE IS BEAUTIFUL. I posted here some of my pictures of the city where you can see the Mediterranean, and the divide between old town and new town.

Afterwards, Sarah, Renata and I went to happy hour at Wayne’s Bar and an Italian restaurant for dinner. Upon our return to the hostel, Val and some other guests in the hostel sang happy birthday to me and they had made me birthday crepes! It was the sweetest thing ever, especially from these people who I had just met. It was a perfect moment. That’s how I feel about my birthday overall, that I have this compilation of perfect moments from the day that all add up and just made it the best birthday that I have ever had. Val, Sarah, Renata and I went out to Wayne’s for a little bit, where the live band and the whole bar sang me happy birthday and where it is normal for everyone to dance on tables. The four of us headed back to the hostel to talk and hang out for a couple hours, which was another favorite moment of the day. I am never going to forget my 21st birthday.  

 

March 4, 2015

On this day, we finally made it to Paris! It was about a 5 hour train ride from Nice to Paris and we were running on maybe 3 hours of sleep! But on this day, I ate Chipotle and it was marvelous. I teared up a little and I would easily pay that 11 euros again. We walked around the city some and watched the sunset from Sacre-Coure. 

Paris is a huge place though. I’m definitely not used to big cities, so it’s a new experience to ride the metro and get pushed around by people and be in that environment. 

 

March 6, 2015

We did so many touristy things in one day. First, we spent about 5 hours in Musee d’Orsay which was absolutely beautiful and amazing, but it can get so mentally exhausting to try to inhale so much information and so many pieces of artwork in such a condensed amount of time. We found out that it’s called museum fatigue - it’s a real thing, look it up! So that last picture is what we call our museum fatigue picture.

Next, we visited the church of Saint Chapelle which has this extremely colorful, detailed stained glass all throughout. Sarah calls it a jewelry box and that’s really the best way to describe it.

Right after, we hopped on the metro out to see the Eiffel Tower. I’m going to say it…the Eiffel Tower was underwhelming. I found myself wanting so badly to be overwhelmed or emotional or to care more…but I didn’t. We didn’t even bother to climb it, which is probably terrible of us. But hey, I have seen it and now I don’t ever have to see it again. 

I don’t quite know how to describe my feelings about Paris other than to tell you that I didn’t fall in love with it. 

 

Spring Break - A Summary

March 13, 2015

I wrote in my journal while I was in France what I learned:

“1. There is so much beauty in existence and the simple things. If I just pay attention to the sunset or an old building or a good friend - there is so much to be seen there and so much value in it. 

2. I meet so many strong, hardcore women who do all these unique things to travel or live here, even alone. I am learning from them that you don’t have to fit a specific mold to make your life happen the way that you want it to. Everyone has their own fears and part of the reason that these women seem more outgoing or confident in their travel is because chose at one point to face those fears. I aspire to be that! How Hannah - born in Australia and raised in England - dropped out of university because it wasn’t her passion or what made her happy. Or Michelin - a Mexican woman - has spent her young life living in 8 different countries and working while learning different languages and gaining life experiences.

3. There is no such thing as a perfect life. There is no correct person or exact set of circumstances or perfect decision making. There are lots of ways to be happy, no matter what life throws at you.”

So it’s okay that I fell in love with Nice and didn’t fall in love with Paris. Both places made me love Florence even more and appreciate how deeply passionate I am about this place. How do I stay here forever?? 

 

March 15, 2015

Yesterday, Sarah and I went to the small town of Vinci where Leonardo da Vinci was born and lived out his childhood! It is this super adorable area, with vineyards and olive trees and nature paths. Leonardo’s house is situated in a little valley where he could see mountains and the sunset everyday. No wonder he worshipped nature. I’m so constantly amazed by the world and by the wonderful friendships I have developed here.

 

March 31, 2015

Il compleanno di Sarah!

 

April 7, 2015

Venezia! I apologize for how late these pictures are. We went to Venice a couple weeks ago and I have been a slacker about posting. Venice is beautiful. It’s a city unlike anything I had ever seen, with it’s beautiful canals and tiny streets. I wish I had more pictures to show, but it’s a place that everyone should go in their lifetime. I was less impressed by San Marco and the Accademia museum there. It’s a place that I could easily spend my time wandering around and getting lost in the streets, sitting around in the Guggenheim museum and eating pasta by the water. I can’t wait to bring my family here!

 

April 7, 2015

Wing night with friends 💖

 

April 10, 2015

And off we go to Barcelona!

 

Barcellona

April 16, 2015

Barcelona comes close to Nice as being my favorite city outside of Florence, maybe they are tied. We went on a bike tour where our guide told us that Barcelona is a handmade compilation of cultures and beautiful things from all different places. And it is beautiful. I could see myself living there one day and becoming fluent in Spanish. People in Barcelona have this sort of lisp that makes “Barcelona” sound like “Barthelona” and it’s weirdly soothing sounding to hear them speak! In the city, there are just so many different neighborhoods and areas, things to do and delicious food to eat. I will be back. I’ll split up my posts for Barcelona by day, so that I can fit all the pictures! 

 

April 16, 2015

Hadley and I arrived in Barcelona late Friday night to Jam Hostel, in a neighborhood called Gracia. We went to sleep early that night and started exploring Barcelona on Saturday. Things seemed to just fall naturally into place all weekend, from the first moment we stepped out of the hostel. Our very first mission was to find a large market called La Boqueria that has stands of all kinds – fruits, juices, cheeses, meats, seafood. For just a euro, I drank this crazy fresh papaya juice (and of course, I had Hadley take a picture of me drinking it while I wore, for the first time in months, a summery outfit!). Barcelona reminds me a lot of Florida, maybe that is part of the reason that I loved it so much. The weather was exceptionally gorgeous and as we wandered to the beach, I felt comforted by the familiarity of it all.

We tanned out on the sandy beach for hours, feeling the warmth of the sun and napping. I love that Hadley and I can enjoy each other’s company even without always having to speak. We shared feelings of contentedness, relaxation and just appreciation of those moments. That is such a beautiful part of my relationships and experiences here, is the intense appreciation and love that you feel at people, places and life. Afterward, we ate some paella and drank some sangria while looking out at the ocean. My tummy was happy.

Sort of by accident, Hadley found out that an old friend of hers was living in Barcelona, in the Gracia neighborhood, as well! Thus, we ended up meeting up for tapas. Tapas are basically just small appetizers. You order as many small finger foods as you want for cheap and share it with your friends. I am in love with tapas. I wish you could get Spanish food tapas in America. We ended up getting crepes, too, before heading back to our hostel for the night, because food is our favorite thing! (Really, this is a justification for the fact that all these pictures are of me eating.)

 

April 16, 2015

On Sunday, Hadley and I went on a bike tour around all of Barcelona for about 3 hours. Yes, 3 hours! We didn’t even fall down or embarrass ourselves once, and I am proud of this. A Hungarian named Kristian, who speaks English, Hungarian, German and Spanish, owns a business called Bounce Around Barcelona and does personalized bike tours for super cheap! We saw almost every area of the city and he showed us all of the Gaudi architecture that we were interested in. Plus, the weather was perfect - 70 with a slight breeze and sunny! Kristian was just such an interesting person, too. I am so taken with people who travel all over, speak so many languages and experience life totally different from me. 

Anyway, we saw so many gorgeous buildings with colorful mosaics, twisting iron and wavy lines. It is unlike anything I have ever seen before and so different from the architecture of Italy! I couldn’t even tell you now all the names of what we saw, I will have to look it up later! But our guide took us to a small restaurant at the end where we drank vermouth and ate a small appetizer plate. Kristian highlighted on the map all the places that we had biked, which actually ended up being super far (just look at the picture!). 

The rest of the day mostly consisted of eating…again. We ate some Spanish churros and chocolate. That night, we went to a restaurant called Sol Soler and ate more tapas. I fell in love with patatas bravas, those little potatoes in one of the pictures. 

At the end of the semester, I’m going back to Spain - Valencia, Ibiza, and Madrid - with some different friends and I am mostly just excited to be reunited with patatas bravas. 

Hadley and I left early the next morning and I was a bit sad, because there is so much more I wish I could have done while we were there. But I will be back for you, Barcelona!

 

April 20, 2015

Some pictures from our last week in Florence! Art History class visiting one of the Medici villas and an exhibition of the works of our drawing and photography class.

 
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April 21, 2015

Last group meal with my favorites - Dasher on the left and Chase on the right. I love them so much it hurts to be saying goodbye.

 

End of the semester update

April 22, 2015

Ciao! The semester is officially over. It’s super sad, but I still have some time here. Tomorrow, I fly out to Spain with my friends Katherine and Natalia. We will be going to Madrid, Valencia and Ibiza. Then I will fly to Amsterdam for a small solo trip before meeting up with my family in Firenze on May 4. All this to say that I will be unable to post (other than the occasional picture) until I get back to Italy! Then I will bombard you all with photos, I promise. Ciao for now!

 

From Madrid to Valencia to Ibiza

May 1, 2015

From Madrid to Valencia to Ibiza! I fly out today to Amsterdam per un solo viaggio and then I meet my family back in the city that I love in a few short days!

 

Post-semester travels

 May 11, 2015

I have been to many many places since the semester ended on April 23! I’ve been to 3 cities in Spain, Amsterdam and now I’m traveling around Italy with my family! I will try to remember all the details and everything I have done in all this time, while trying not to cry because I only have 4 days left in this wonderful place.