Finally Spring!!

I know it’s technically been spring now for almost a month, but just like everyone back home in the Northeast we haven’t had spring weather here either!! Ok, ok, I shouldn’t complain because we’ve had NO snow (thank goodness) but it rained every. single. day. From March 1 to about April 5. AND my spring break trip wasn’t too warm either…

Jill & Justin brought the sun! We spent a lot of time outside and yesterday I finally went to one of the parks I’ve been meaning to get to. It was kind of a let down because there was graffiti everywhere and it smelled pretty gross. We found a cute spot though in some clean grass and took a nap for a little bit. We walked along the river to get to Cascine Park, which took probably over 30 minutes but then when I walked back to my apartment I went inland and was shocked to realize it only took about 15 minutes. Now I can go for runs there!…maybe… So apparently this park we’re not allowed to go to after sunset, like they’ve reinforced this rule many times over the semester, because it’s where all the Italian prostitutes go! OMG!

Before the park we grabbed lunch at Gusta Pizza because I hadn’t been in a really long time and Jill was obsessed! We’re trying to steal the recipe and bring it over the the US! It was nice to finally have a sunny day. And then today was absolutely gorgeous!! 75 and not a single cloud in the sky! Unfortunately I only got to lay out for a couple hours then had to spend the rest of the day cooped up inside writing my 8-page paper for Italian Family and Society class. It was actually pretty easy because my topic was “change in family and tradition” and that is basically all we’ve talked about in class. Now that that’s over I’m so relieved! This is a busy week for me because I had that paper due, a 15 minute presentation (in the same class, same day as the paper’s due) and an Italian quiz and oral presentation in Italian. LUCKILY though my Food & Wine class is going out to dinner for class this week! We get a 4-course meal all paired with wines on Tuesday night! That’ll definitely get me through the week. Then next week my boyfriend, Jeff, visits!!! AND WE’RE GOING TO SARDINIA!! But before that this coming weekend I have a trip with my program to a bunch of little towns in Tuscany. It seems like it’ll be really fun and we have a visit to the spa during it!

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Cinque Terre

Today is the most beautiful day I have had in Florence! Just absolutely perfect weather! I feel so lucky to be here and glad I could share the start of spring with my sister.

A couple of days ago me, her and Justin went to Cinque Terre! It’s a place on the western coast of Italy that is made up of 5 small towns all close together – so close that you can hike from one town to the next in about an hour or two. We woke up early for a 8am train from Florence to Pisa then Pisa to La Spezia then La Spezia to the first town in Cinque: Riomaggiore. It was a lot of travelling but we made it there by 11:30ish. Of course it was a beautiful morning with sunshine and blue skies, which quickly changed as soon as we stepped off the train. Even though it was overcast all day, it actually made for some pretty pictures and we were lucky it never rained! There are a couple hiking trails that run through the towns, but the easy, scenic route by the coast was closed due to landslides. We were pretty bummed but decided we’d spend time in the towns then take the 2 minute train rides in between.

Riomaggiore was exactly what I pictured it to be! So many colorful boats lined up on the coast, huge cliffs and rocky shores. The water was a beautiful acqua color with random rocks and sandbars all around. Me and Jill had a little photoshoot before we got on the next train to the third city. We decided to skip the second because we knew there was a lot to do in the 3rd, 4th and 5th towns! The third town is called Corniglia and was less than a 5 minute train ride form Riomaggiore – I told you they were close!! There was a huge crowd getting off the train and we kind of got swept up with all the people walking up the hill on the road. It seemed like there was no where else to go so we just followed until people started dispersing to different restaurants for lunch. We didn’t want to stop yet so we continued to walk until we found the path that was closed off. There was man there who told us we could “go at our own risk” and we figured if they even said that then it couldn’t be too bad. So we went down the forbidden path! Such rebels.

The hike was amazzzingggg!!! Probably one of the best things I’ve done here. It was manmade, which was good because I was expecting to be like in the dirt on the side of a mountain, and pretty difficult. We were definitely sweating at times and was glad the weather wasn’t any warmer than 60s. There were cute bridges and lots of flowers and streams and it was just really nice to be in nature. Oh and there were of course awesome views!! It took us about 2 hours to get from Corniglia to Vernazza (4th town) where we stopped for lunch outside on the water. I got a sandwich, Jill had some gnocchi, and Justin a pizza. Then we took the train from there to Monterosso where we were staying for the night. We were in a really cute B&B right in the center of town! Once we got there and put all our things down it was around 4 and we figured we should spend the last few hours of daylight exploring this last town. We went on a few paths up cliffs and saw an old church and statues and little shops in town. Everything was very quaint and pretty and I would definitely go back there!

For dinner we went to a tiny restaurant right next to where we were staying. The town was really quiet at night and we figured it was beacuse it was a Thursday so not many people stay over on week nights, and it’s not really the season to visit there yet – the summer months are probably more popular. So there was basically just us and locals eating in this tiny restaurant. I have been on a seafood kick and wanting to try all these new foods so we ordered muscles to start. I’ve never had muscles before but I’ve served them and know they come in a garlicy buttery juice…these didn’t! They were just so fresh and still had barnacles on the shells! I thought they were delicious and Jill and Justin said they were the best and freshest they’ve ever had. So now I might be let down every where else I have them in the states but you can’t really go wrong with garlic and butter anyways. Then for dinner we all ordered seafood again. I got gnocchi with clams and a local white fish in a tomato cream sauce and it was no lie the best thing I’ve EVER eaten. Beats everything even in my food & wine class! (maybe) Jillian got some spaghetti scampi that she was a little scared of because the crawfish were fully intact with their heads on and she made Justin take the meat out for her…and Justin got grilled swordfish! We all agreed it was the best meal we’d had in a long time! And basically now I’m on a seafood binge but it’s hard because I can’t really make it here in my apartment 😦 So sad.

Some pics from the trip: