Fun, Food, and Friends in Florence

Today was a real good day! We woke up and got breakfast and then went straight to a mini bus to get to Pisa. (Usually we have had big buses which is great because then each person gets their own seat and you can spread out. The mini bus was nice and cozy though!)

Once we got to Pisa and I saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person I realized how much it really is leaning! It’s crazy! We of course got lots of typical tourist pics where you make it seem like you’re holding up the tower, or that you are pushing it over. (I got all of them on my camera, but I got one good one of my Chaco pushing it over so I’ll post it at the end).

After Pisa, the mini bus drove us to Lucca, a town about 45 minutes away from Pisa. Lucca is a very small, cute town! We were given 3 hours of free time to go work on our assignment, eat lunch, and explore the city, and it was wonderful. The weather was good and exploring the town and walking around was very fun. Oh for lunch I got pizza and I ate the whole thing. Maybe not the best decision since I couldn’t enter into a usual post big meal food coma, but it was delicious and I didn’t want to leave any on my plate.

When we got back to the hotel after Lucca we all began finishing up our assignments. (They’re due tomorrow so it’s crunch time!) And I was still kind of full from lunch but pretty soon it was time for dinner. There was a group going back to Za Za’s but I thought 3 times at 1 restaurant may be a little excessive. So, me, Taylor, and Leah walked around a bit and found this adorable restaurant called Vecchio Mercato. The waiter was this typical old big Italian man and he was so friendly. For dinner I got some yummy spaghetti with a little bit of spice. Mmm! Basically this was one of my favorite meals, and a memory I will always love to look back on. We had such fun, great conversation, laughed a ton, and had delicious food. Yay for friends and food in Florence!

Tomorrow we get an entire day off and I am so excited to sleep in a bit. I am still going to set an alarm because I do not want to sleep the day away, but it will be nice to catch up on rest before going going going again!

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Day Due in Firenze

Today has been a relaxed, but also busy day. We started off the day with breakfast at the hotel and then headed to the Galleria dell’ Accademia.

At the Accademia we got to see one of my favorite things yet, the David. Dr. Piperato & Professor Raynor told us we weren’t prepared to see it and I didn’t fully know why they said this until I saw him for the first time. He is HUGE! And so detailed, and so realistic, and SO incredible. I tried to imagine Michelangelo sculpting him and I couldn’t even wrap my head around it. Our assignment for the day was to sketch part of the David, and I got frustrated just trying to draw his hands! So I cannot imagine working on an entire body with so much intricacy. Michelangelo rocks!
(I’ve been pretty rebellious on this trip– they told us we could not take pictures, but I managed to snap a few pics).

After the Accademia we went to the Cappelle Medici (the Medici Chapel). This is an entire chapel dedicated to the Medici family, an extremely wealthy and historically prominent family back in the day. It is crazy how much detail went into this building! I feel like I have said this many times, but I basically just walked around in awe.

Then, we had the rest of the day to ourselves to explore Florence. First we went to this AWESOME marketplace filled with fresh cheeses and wines and meats and pastas, etc. Fresh everything! Walking around food made us all very hungry so we found this DELICIOUS place to eat called Za Za’s. It was reasonably priced and sooo good. I got gnocchi with a Gorgonzola cream sauce! Yum!

After lunch we walked around shops for a few hours. There were so many places, that we wanted to compare prices and find out which one was the best. And that was worth it because I got a few good deals! (At one point I was walking next to my friend Brian and a salesperson yelled “Oh honeymoon special for you two!” at us. They will say anything to try to make a sale! We just walked quickly away, nodding our heads no and laughing at the situation).

After shopping we went back to the hotel and hung out until dinner time. I worked on getting pictures onto my computer which was just oh so exciting. Then, for dinner, we went back to Za Za’s! We knew the food was great there so thought “why not?!” I got seafood risotto and once again Za Za’s hit the spot. So good.

I am glad that we had so much free time today. It was a cool opportunity to see what a Saturday in Florence is like; tomorrow we are going to Pisa and Lucca!

Ciao!

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Florence Y’all!

This morning we got to sleep in! Well, not really, we got to go to breakfast at 7:45, but for how early we have been waking up this felt like sleeping in. AND I got to have a delicious Nutella croissant to start the day off, so no complaints from me! We had to have all of our bags packed by 8:30 so we could get a good start on the day.

First thing we did was go to the Saint Maria Della Vittoria Church. It was BEAUTIFUL! It is amazing how much detail there was. I felt like I could sit in there for hours and gawk at all of the intricacy.

Next we split up into a few groups. The group I chose to go in was led by Professor Raynor and our first stop was the Il Convento Dei Cappuccini. What we really wanted to see was what is in the basement of the museum. There is an exhibit of bone art! They used to take the bones of monks that died and create these creepy exhibits made of vertebrates and skulls and hip bones, and every other bone in the body. Wow was it creepy! Professor Raynor asked if we would be willing to sleep in that room if someone paid us and I honestly don’t know if I would be able to. (They told us we were not allowed to take pictures and were very strict about it, but I was sneaky and got a few, so they will be at the bottom of this post).

After seeing the bones we had a very relaxing day. We went to this fun Japanese store called Mitsukoshi. They had a lot of Hello Kitty items and goofy things like headbands with sponge cupcakes on them. It was a cool store to go in!

After Mitsukoshi we went to a little caffe and I had some coffee and some people had lunch (I ate the whole Nutella croissant so I wasn’t hungry yet). After lunch it was time to meet back at the hotel and head to Florence!

I had heard from a few people that the bus ride was going to be 2 hours long. So, I planned to stay awake and read for the 1st hour and maybe rest the 2nd. One hour went by and I was starting to feel tired so I laid down across my seat and was out within a few minutes. THREE HOURS LATER I woke up as we were about to pull in to Florence! Apparently the drive was actually about 4 hours and I was misinformed. I am a champ at sleeping on buses. It’s a gift.

It was raining in Florence tonight but I can already tell I am going to love it here. It seems less crowded than Rome was, and it is not as big so I’ll be able to get more acquainted with the city faster.

For dinner we went to Osteria Pepo. The appetizers were definitely my favorite part! We got bruschetta, pâté (a liver spread), bread ball things, salami, and prosciutto. It was all SO good. For our first course we had some awesome soups, and for the next course they brought out tripe. If you didn’t know what tripe is, it is SHEEP STOMACH. Oh my goodness y’all I thought it was calamari from the look of it! I tried it, but let’s just say I will not ever be having it again. They also brought out some beef and chicken and it was very good. Even though I did not enjoy the tripe, it was quite the dinner experience and I’m glad I tried it!

After dinner, Professor Raynor led us around the city so we could start to get our bearings. He took us to his #1 favorite gelato place but it was closed so we went to his #3 favorite instead. I placed my whole order in Italian! Pretty proud of myself for that one. And after that we headed back to the hotel!

I am very excited to see more of Florence tomorrow!

Arrivederci!

(The title of my blog is in reference to a water tower located in Florence, KY that says Florence Y’all. It used to say Florence Mall, but they got in trouble for advertising the mall on the water tower so they changed it to Florence Y’all). 20130511-010012.jpg

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Oh Hey, Day in Pompei

The day started off even earlier than yesterday because we had to leave our hotel by 7:00 and did not get breakfast to-go bags. But, with a 3ish hour bus ride ahead, my motivation for the morning was getting to go back to sleep. And go back to sleep I did! I fell asleep when we pulled out of Rome and woke up as we pulled into Pompei. It was glorious.

We got off the bus and took a restroom break and it was so crazy because you had to pay .50 euro just to go potty! There was a woman standing inside who would take your money and as we were leaving I said “Grazie, buona giornata! (Thank you, have a good day!)” and (in Italian) she said my Italian was beautiful and I was pretty as a flower! So that definitely gave me a little confidence boost for the day.

It was incredible seeing the ruins of Pompei and hearing about what the town was once like. Apparently there were 130 bars and 30 brothels in the city of Pompei alone, so this town was hoppin! Side note- as we were sitting doing a drawing assignment a guy came up to me and said “Go Hoosiers!” (I was wearing the Indiana Univeristy shirt Matt gave me for my birthday). So that was pretty righteous, finding a connection halfway across the world! The rest of the time in Pompei was great…we walked around and explored the ruins, and worked on drawings, and before I knew it it was time to go back to Rome! And once again as we pulled out of Pompei I fell asleep, and didn’t wake up till we pulled back into Rome…apparently I was a little tired.

When we got back I took a quick shower and we all got ready for dinner. We split up into a few groups and my group went out for pizza! It was of course very yummy. There was unfortunately a little mix up with ordering because the waitress was new, so we had to wait a long time for our food to come, but the wait was well worth it! After dinner we took the metro to the Colosseum to see it lit up at night and it was beautiful! We also wanted to see the Forum at night but got a little lost an didn’t end up seeing it. It seems like getting lost in Rome would have made me panic, but it was such a gorgeous night out and there was a group of 12 of us and we had a map, so I wasn’t too worried. We found our way and ended up getting to see the “Birthday Cake” and Trajan Column we had seen during the day a couple days ago.

Throughout the whole time of going to the Colosseum and looking for the Forum we were on a mission for gelato. It doesn’t seem like it would be too difficult, but since it was so late many of the places were closed. I was really craving it and PTL (Praise the Lord) that the gelato shop across the street was still open. I finished the night off with some lemon gelato and sat on the porch of our hotel with all my new friends here with me on this Grand Tour, and was very content.

Tomorrow we pack our bags and move to Florence! I am excited to see all that a new city has to offer!

Ciao!

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Vatican, Trevi, and Pantheon, OH MY!

Today we started off the day nice and early so we could get to the Vatican by 8. The hotel gave us little breakfast bags to-go, so we all ate while walking on our way over to the metro.

We got to the Vatican and I felt like a celebrity because we had an appointment and got to bypass all the lines other people were waiting in. When we arrived Dr. Pip and Professor Raynor introduced us to our assignment for the day: a scavenger hunt! Not a crazy scavenger hunt where you run around asking people to take ridiculous photos with you, but we were to take 5 creative photos of sculpture/architecture, and find and take pictures of 5 saints we discussed throughout the semester. (Our assignment is also to post them on this blog, so they will be in another blog post). Then we got some coffee at a caffe and were on our way!

The Vatican was incredible. I walked around in awe of all of the sculptures and paintings. Especially the Sistine Chapel! Wow. Y’all. Michelangelo knows what’s up! Everything looked SO realistic; it looked like there were literally tapestries hanging on the walls and people about to fall from the ceiling. You are not allowed to take pictures, but I snuck a few! (I know, I’m a rebel. Shhh don’t tell on me).

After going through the Vatican we grabbed lunch at a small pizza place in the city, and it was very good! After lunch a group of us went to St. Peter’s Basilica and it was incredible. I have decided that incredible is just my word for this trip. It doesn’t come close to accurately describing how awesome everything is, but it’s as close as I feel I can get.

After getting up early and all the walking from the day, everyone was exhausted. We literally all came back and crashed on our beds. It was a wonderful nap, I think because of how tired I was. I slept for about an hour and then we were back at it again!

The next stop for the day was the Trevi Fountain. This was a sight I was excited to see 1) because of how beautiful it is and 2) because of The Lizzie McGuire Movie. I have always wanted to throw a coin in just like Hillary Duff did in the movie. Seeing it in person exceeded my expectations! I threw 3 coins in because we of course had to take “throwing coin in Trevi Fountain” pictures and I didn’t want to pretend. Throwing a coin in “ensures your return to Rome” so that’s cool, and I made wishes as well. We’ll see if they come true!

After the Trevi Fountain we saw the Pantheon and that was incredible (gotta use my word). It is so crazy standing in these major historical places throughout Rome and thinking about how many people have been there, and how many huge historical figures stood in the same place as well, just many many years ago.

It is no surprise that dinner tonight was awesome. We had a 3 course meal: pasta, then veil and potatoes, and then tiramisu. It was molto bene!

It has just been 3 days in Italy but it has felt like way longer. I am sooo exhausted but loving every minute of being here. My feet are not too happy with me, but they’ll get over it; plus I am getting to work on my Chaco tan, so that’s always great.

Tomorrow we are going to Pompeii! Wahoo!!

PS- yesterday I had a conversation in Italian with a legit Italian! It went a little something like this:
Me: Ciao
Man: Ciao Bella! Come stai?
Me: Oh bene, e tu?
Man: Molto bene, grazie!
…and that was it. You gotta start somewhere!

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Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day: Roma Giorno Due

You know the day is going to be a great day when it starts out with a chocolate croissant oozing with Nutella. And that’s how my day began!

After eating breakfast at the hotel we Metro-ed our way on over to the Colosseum, and if it would have been socially acceptable to walk around with my jaw gaping open the entire time I would have. It was incredible. Touching the walls, and seeing this monument in person that I have only seen in pictures was unreal. It is so crazy to think about how much history took place there. The Colosseum has been around for THOUSANDS OF YEARS. I feel like words cannot accurately describe my experience; being at the Colosseum was something I will definitely never forget.

After the Colosseum we met up with an artist Kelly Medford. She is from the United States but moved to Rome and makes her living selling paintings. She gave us a brief lesson and then we worked on sketches. While working on sketches it started raining! So, we had to sketch in the rain…never thought I would be doing that. At one point I was resting my sketchbook on my bag, drawing with my right hand, and holding my umbrella with my left. Talk about multi tasking! After drawing outside for a bit we ended up going to San Pietro in Vincoli, a beautiful church, and drawing for about an hour.

Next for lunch I went to my first Piadineria! It had these yummy “piades” which are basically a combination of a sandwich and a quesadilla. If you really knew me you would know that I LOVE salami, so I got a salame, squacquerone (wanted to be adventurous: this is a very good, gooey cheese), and rucola piade and it was awesome.

After lunch we went back to the hotel and sat for 30 minutes before going out again. (I guess I should note here that before going back to the hotel I had gelato again. Gelato a day keeps the doctor away, right?) We went to a few shops close by the hotel and then decided to venture down Via Firenze (Florence St.). Little did we know that if you walk all the way down Firenze you will come upon the Trojan Column, the Forum, and the “Wedding Cake” (an INCREDIBLE building made in memory of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of unified Italy). We were blown away by so many amazing buildings around us and so excited that our stroll led us to such sights. What an awesome adventure it turned out to be! We walked around in awe and explored for hours.

After about an hour back at the hotel, next up on the list was dinner at Da Danillo. We had a 4 course meal. An appetizer consisting of many items that will be pictured below, but I cannot recall all of the names, TWO pasta dishes, and dessert. I AM SO FULL! Me and some girls had to conspicuously unbutton our pants halfway through the meal. Dr. Pip called eating “necessary fuel” for the Vatican tomorrow. So excited for another great day in Rome!

PS- Something I learned today: not only do you have to watch out for speeding cars and mopeds, you also need to avoid horses! (From personal experience: I had a close encounter where a horse almost ran me over).

Also, I have gone a little camera crazy… I’m basically that typical tourist taking pictures of everything (I’ve taken 500 photos in the past 2 days)! So, after sorting through them I will post them on my Facebook page.

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Ciao! Roma: Giorno Uno (Rome: Day 1)

I cannot believe that I am actually on a bus IN ROME, ITALY right now! We have been here for a mere hour or so and I can already tell that the memories from this trip are going to last a lifetime.

The flight- not as bad as I was expecting. After our first 1 hour flight, I was told that the next flight, to Rome, was going to be 11 HOURS. That’s right, 11 HOURS. To my pleasant surprise, it actually was only 9.5 hours. As I sat down I looked in front of me and there was a screen on each seat! Livin it up! We could choose movies, TV shows, or even watch an animation of our plane slowly cross over the ocean. I watched Perks of Being a Wallflower and slept for the first few hours, I finished an entire book- Back to the Basics of Young Life (SO GOOD, and it was the perfect thing for me to read before this trip), and ate, and slept, and ate, and that’s about it. Notice all the eating: they fed us FOUR meals! I felt like every time I woke up from a shnap (short nap) they were walking down the aisle with another meal. I was definitely okay with being fed so much, and airplane food was actually better than I was expecting– no complaints from me.

I hate the landing, it is definitely the worst part. But, we survived, despite the horrifying noise and shaking typically attributed to a ginormous airplane landing on the ground. We picked up our baggage and within 5 minutes of being in Rome I accomplished my goal of seeing someone in a Young Life shirt! She was on my flight I think, but still, righteous! I didn’t get a chance to talk to her and regretted it immediately, but I didn’t exactly want to get left behind by my group.

…..

So, now I am in my wifi hotel room (PTL FOR WIFI)!

The rest of the day in Rome was awesome! It rained, but that did not bring down my excited spirits. Before venturing out into the city we got to nap in order to help adjust to the 6 hour time difference. So I of course napped a bit, and then woke up rejuvenated and ready for a day of exploration! Basically the day consisted of walking, and eating, and taking pictures. We walked and then I ate a pizza panini thing for a snack, and then we walked and I had some gelato, and then we walked and then went to dinner. Let me tell y’all, the food here is DELISH. I am very thankful for the loose skirts I brought, because I have a feeling my pants won’t be fitting the same by the end of the trip. But you know what they say– “WHEN IN ROME!”

I am very excited to go see the Colosseum tomorrow! Arrivederci!

Here are some pics from the day:

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Who? What? When? Where? Why?

Who? Me, and 18ish (I don’t know the exact number) HPU students, and 2 professors!

What? A 3 week study abroad extravaganza to Italy. Something we are calling the “Grand Tour.” Also, what do I hope to gain from this experience? I hope to gain memories that will last a lifetime, a broader view of the world (I have never travelled to Europe), and I hope to not gain weight! (Italian food is my fave).

When? May 5th-25th! (81 days from today).

Where? Rome, Pompeii, Florence, Pisa/Lucca, Tuscany, Siena, Venice, Padua, Verona, and Milan.

Why? I love art! I have an art minor mainly because I love ceramics, but I am also really enjoying the drawing assignments we have been receiving while here at HPU. I also LOVE Italy! I am Italian, so that’s one reason I love Italy…because I grew up eating lots of delicious Italian food. And also, I took 3 semesters of Italian simply because I love the language. It is beautiful.

I AM SO EXCITED Y’ALL.