Don’t forget to make a wish at the Trevi Fountain

I just got back from Rome and have never been so exhausted! I’m trying not to fall asleep right away though, because it’s only 7:30 and I don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night. WOW ROME WAS AMAZING! Maybe just because it was the first place I’ve traveled to outside of Florence, but I am obsessed! It is just so old and beautiful and everywhere you turn there are huge statues and churches and omg it was just incredible.

Friday morning the bus left at 7am which was an early wake-up call for us. Thankfully, I slept basically the entire 4 hour drive and woke up excited to see Rome out my window! The bus dropped us off in the middle of town and we immediately started our first tour at the Column of the Immaculate Conception. It was my first glimpse of the ancient statues and I was in awe. Just a short distance from that was the Spanish Steps, which I thought for some reason was going to have a lot more steps. There were so many people on them its hard to capture a good picture, but I loved the church (I think it was a church) at the top of them! After taking too many pictures with every combination of people, we ventured to the Trevi Fountain. THIS WAS MY FAVORITE PLACE!! I wasn’t expecting it to be so big and my mouth just dropped when we turned the corner and I saw it for the first time. There is no possible way to describe how beautiful and grand this fountain is. Of course I threw a coin in, but forgot to make a wish because I was focusing so hard on getting a good picture. My bad. And I didn’t even get a good picture either. Legend has it that if you throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain you will find your way back to Rome again someday. LET’S HOPE! Our tour guide told us that every year all the coins are collected from the fountain and given to the poor people of Rome, and last year 40,000 euros were collected!! We got a break to get lunch at the fountain so we grabbed the first paninis we saw. Mine was turkey and was delicious, but I realized later that I’m not supposed to eat meat on Friday’s during Lent, oops! After the Trevi we found our way to the Pantheon, stopping to see many columns, statues and fountains along the way. The Pantheon was HUGE! And inside was really cool with Raphael’s tomb and a bunch of others. I took a video of us walking into it but can’t post it here – just the pictures! The tour ended a little later at the hotel and we obviously all napped. Once we were all awake we took a walk to see our neighborhood and sat down for dinner in a cute little piazza that had a ton of restaurants outside with big heating lamps. I got the gnocchi in pesto sauce and it was like I was eating little clouds. They were perfect! I’m still always so surprised at how small the portions are here, which is a good thing definitely, but I am continuing to expect a massive plate of pasta like I would get back at home.

Saturday we didn’t have anything scheduled so we just walked around and went to Vatican City. I was sure to bring my passport because I know it is technically its own “state”, but they didn’t check passports and I was upset because I wanted mine stamped again! We didn’t go inside the St. Peter’s Basilica or the Sistine Chapel because the lines were sooo long and we were hungry and tired after a long day. I regret that after talking to my other friends who went inside and “their lives were changed”, but mine was changed at the Trevi so too much life-changing in one weekend might be weird. That night we ate dinner at a place called Classy in the Front Sloppy in the Back HAHA and it was so good as well! We ended up back there that night too!

Today, Sunday, we woke up and had breakfast at the hotel. I finally got to have one of the chocolate croissants I’ve been craving and so I had 2. We checked out of the hotel and got in the bus to go to the Colusseum! On the way we got to see the whole side of Rome that we hadn’t seen yet and I was continuously amazed by all the insane architecture and how old everything was. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that basically everything there was made B.C. as in Before Christ. The Colusseum was enormous, as expected, and just so crazy to be in. I need to see the movie Gladiator now. We walked all around it and went on the ground floor as well. After our tour we got back on the buses to come home and it was weird for the first time my mental image of “home” was my apartment in Florence, and I couldn’t be happier. After this weekend it really hit me how lucky I am that I have the opportunity to study here and really experience so much of the world! Thanks Mom & Dad ❤

I’ll post an album either later tonight or tomorrow!

Beyond Italy

I AM TOO EXCITED TO SLEEP!!!! I just finished planning and booking trips for the majority of the semester! I know people who study abroad in Europe tend to travel a ton on the weekends because everything is so close and cheap, and I knew I wanted to, but the past two weeks me and my friends have kept saying, “oh we’ll do it tomorrow…” and then, “let’s plan trips this weekend…” and I was nervous I was never going to leave Italy (which wouldn’t be a bad thing, don’t get me wrong).

I have been constantly changing my mind for where I want to go on spring break and me and my friend Hannah finally decided we wanted to go EAST! We booked a trip with a program (they say that’s best to do for spring break so the planning is taken care of and you can just relax) to Budapest, Krakow, Prague and Ljubljana (I can’t even pronounce the last place is that bad?). All I know is that Budapest is the “Paris of the East” and Prague is somewhere everyone says you must see. The other two look amazing and I feel like my experience is going to be so unique! Activities during the trip include going to Auschwitz, the thermal baths in Budapest, pub crawls, cave diving and apparently the exchange rate is like 0.1 to the US dollar, or something insanely cheap like that. Ok I actually just googled it and got this:

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I’m sold. IS THAT EVEN REAL? All my other friends are going island hopping in Greece to Athens, Santorini (sisterhood of the traveling pants AH!) and Corfu which all look absolutely amazing. That is where I would have gone if I didn’t go east, but I figured I’d mine as well get in as much as I can! OH and did I mention we booked our trips for 50% off because there was some valentine’s day special WOOHOO!! So it was sooo cheap! I am like giddy writing this!

Then, because we were in such a good mood after getting amazing deals and finally making decisions on spring break, we decided to find the cheapest flights anywhere in Europe for the few free weekends we have. At first we were all set to do Paris but then we realized we’d have to miss class and since we’re such good students (cough) we decided on Barcelona since the flight  is leaving on Friday (no classes!). So in two weekends from now we’ll be getting our tan on in BARCA! We all have friends that are studying abroad there too so it should be an unreal time.

Oh and did I mention I’m going to ROME this weekend?! I’ll be sure to post TONS of pictures and try to chill with the Pope before he retires.

My semester timeline of traveling:

Feb 15-17: Rome, Italy*

Feb 21-24: Interlaken, Switzerland (tentatively, but so necessary)

March 1-3: Barcelona, Spain

March 9-10: Venice, Italy*

March 16: Bologna, Italy

March 21-31: SPRING BREAK > Budapest, Krakow, Prague, Ljubljana

April 4-14: Jill & Justin are here!

April 6: Lucca, Italy*

April 13-14: Cinque Terre

April 20-21: “Under the Tuscan Sun” Trip*

April 26-28: Amalfi Coast

*= with my abroad program

Classes Started

Two days of classes have already passed! I am obsessed with all my teachers and I can already have a conversation in Italian (an easy one!). Yesterday was Monday and I only had one class – Italian. I was kind of nervous going to it because I heard the professors speak only Italian, but my roommates reassured me that wasn’t true because how else would you know the simple words they were saying. Well they were wrong.

My professor walked into the room the first day and handed out the syllabus, asked “has anyone taken Italian before” and 10 heads shook “no”. Those were the last English words I’ve heard from her. I was absolutely mortified that first class when she just kept speaking Italian and I was so confused it like hurt my brain. I’m not used to being confused in class! But somehow, I got it. And now, two days later I can tell you my name, my age, where I’m from, the months, days of the week, seasons and tell time. WOW. I guess this really is an accelerated class! On Tuesday we had to stand up and talk about ourselves and that was only the second day! I’m so excited to learn so much more. I have this class every day and I’m really glad. Side note – my professor is the trendiest, coolest lady ever! She has the best shoes and makes a funny noise when someone slips and speaks in English and I laugh every time.

I found out today that Tuesdays are my busy busy day. I have class 9-11:30, 3-4:15 then 6-8:30. It’s not too bad because they’re all spaced out, but that many hours of classes in one day, even in Italy, is a loooonggg day. I started the day with Travel Writing, another class I was really looking forward to. It was really early in the morning for me (because I’ve been sleeping in so late…maybe I’m still jet lagged?) and the teacher had a British accent, which I obviously wasn’t expected so I was really thrown off from the start. We didn’t do much in class today, but overall it seems like a class I’ll enjoy and we get to walk around the city a lot and journal. It does have a bit of an “english class” vibe to it and by that I mean we were talking about narratives and themes (dislike) but whatever, I’ll live.

After that class I came back and napped and it was amazing.

Then I went to my Italian class again where we did our little speeches about ourselves and proceeded to not say anything in English. Rough life! Before my final class of the day I finally made it to the grocery store. I picked up eggs, oranges, bananas, grape jelly, turkey, bread and green tea all for 13 euros, which I would consider to be a deal but I’m not really sure.

My food & wine pairing class aka THE BEST CLASS EVER I CAN ALREADY TELL, was at 6. I made a lot of friends in that class right from the start! YAY! One girl was from Newton, MA – small world. The professor was wearing a purple shirt, purple eyeshadow, eyeliner and glitter so I knew I’d like her right from the start. She told us we’d be cooking every class and then eating and pairing wines. Amazing. This first class she prepared for us the poor man’s meal of pasta with onions and chile powder and I don’t like 2 out of those 3 ingredients but surprise, surprise, it was delicioso. She paired it with a rosé which was great too. Then we went on a walking tour around the city, stopping at all the best chocolate, gelato, wine etc places. We also went to the top of a department store (I forget the name but I’m definitely going back since I didn’t have my camera because who woulda thought that is where I’d end up on my first day of the class) where you get a whole view of the city and it looks like you can touch the Duomo it’s so close! We finished the tour early because it was raining but nothing could put a damper on that class (pun intended).

So Tuesdays may be my busiest days, but they’ll certainly be the best! Tomorrow I have Italian Culture & Society to look forward to, along with more Italian. Oh, and it’s the same teacher for both classes who I’m obsessed with so that’s a plus.

CIAO!

The Apartment & more

I love our apartment! It’s right in a cute piazza about a 2 minute walk to the Duomo, which is the exact center of the city. We were all nervous to see what our apartment was like because we’d heard things like “no hot water” and “tiny”, but my roommates and I were all pleasantly surprised when we moved in on Wednesday. It’s on the fourth floor, which means a lot of stairs but that can only be a good thing since it’s a required workout. We have two bedrooms, a bathroom, living room, dining room, kitchen and rooftop deck! Today was the first time I spent any time up on the roof and it was just so refreshing and relaxing. I’m hoping to layout up there come April/May! Our beds are cots but we all agree they’re actually pretty comfy. Maybe I just forget how nice my bed was at home, but I really like my cute little mattress. We have a lot of huge windows that open up right to outside – no screens or anything. They’re pretty old and don’t close all the way so it is pretty loud at night, but I haven’t had any trouble sleeping. Everything is really old, but our kitchen looks brand new. We haven’t used it yet because we never made it to the market today (oops!) but we are definitely going tomorrow. I can’t eat out anymore!

Today I had a lot of “firsts”. It was the first time I stayed in the apartment alone because my roommates all had to take an Italian placement test and I’m starting off as a beginner. I woke up to an empty place, took a nice hot long shower and finally finished unpacking. Then I went up to the roof to check out the weather and I spent some time writing in my journal. When they all came back around 1 they crashed and I was hungry so I ventured to find a sandwich shop for lunch. This was my first time leaving the apartment alone! My plan was to find a recommended place that’s a few streets away but when I turned down the street it was on the market was in full swing and it was a shady area where guys literally gawk at you so I didn’t want to go alone. So I turned and went towards home and decided I would go in a shop that looked good and if they spoke English I’d order, Italian I would leave (I can’t communicate much without my roommates! Hopefully this will change come next week). It took two tries until I found an awesome salad/sandwich place right outside my apartment. I ordered a panini that I didn’t know some of the ingredients but it had pesto and mozzarella so that just sounded delicious. I took it back to the apartment and ate it on the roof. OK now let me explain, I do not like tomatoes, like at all, but I do now. There were huge slices of fresh juicy tomato in the sandwich and I just closed my eyes and ate it anyway (my mother would be so proud!) and I actually said out loud to myself, “wow everything does taste better in Italy”. It was amazing. So delicious. I will probably go to that shop daily, and I want to try everything! So that was my first time eating something without picking out the tomatoes.

Then my friend Hannah came over and we started freaking out because other people have already started booking weekend trips to other countries and spring break! There are so many places I want to go but only so much $$. All I know is that next weekend we’re supposedly going to Venice for the “Carnivale”, which is like a huge masquerade party and basically the mardi gras of Europe.

We went to a Mexican place called Tijuana’s and got ginormous frozen margaritas. I had never had a margarita before so I got strawberry and oh.my.goodness it was HUGE! Like the size of my face. So unnecessary, yet so delicious. The food was good too, and we’ll definitely go again when we need a break from Italian food.

When we came home we decided to stay in and play cards and paint our nails, something I’m always down for. My boyfriend called all the way from Australia! It’s hard to talk with the time difference and long distance calling so it was so nice to hear from him! He’s on a trip to Port Stephens and I’m jealous he’s getting tan and I’m getting fat. Oh well, you win some you lose some.

Pics from the first few days!

Journal

Although I do not travel much, as I Journalism major I do know one thing – keep a journal (and of course a blog too)! It does seem like a lot to keep a blog and a journal but I will reserve all emotions for my journal, and my exciting adventures, pictures, food etc. with my blog followers 🙂

I’m obsessed with the journal I got at Barnes & Noble. They have a huge selection and I really spent a lot of time looking for the right one. I’m always picky when it comes to school planners, notebooks and those types of things. I thought at first to go with a small leather European looking notebook, then maybe one with inspirational quotes, but when I saw this one I fell in love with it!

My journal made by Galison

My journal made by Galison

It has a ton of world maps inside, along with both monthly and weekly planners, a space to write and then tons of blank pages for drawings. There’s also a little pocket in the back to keep some scraps of things found! It’s small and cute and will fit right in my satchel.

I bought this journal at B&N for $14.99 but you can also order it online from the Galison website here.

1 Week Away!

I will be leaving for Florence, Italy in a week! I take off Sunday night from Logan Airport in Boston, MA, make a couple quick stops in London and Barcelona, and then will finally be under the Tuscan sun. Speaking of which, I watched that movie for the first time last night – so inspiring!

This week I’ll be preparing to leave by packing, practicing Italian on my iPhone app, and searching the web to keep up to speed with the latest European fashions. I’m not particularly trendy here in the U.S., but I’m only abroad for 4 months so why not look cute?!

I’ve never been to Europe before so it is going to be a completely new and surprisingly experience for me. The past few weeks leading up to it I’ve been nervous, excited, scared, anxious, thrilled and everywhere inbetween. I think all of this uncertainty is coming from the fact that I have absolutely no idea what to expect, but that’s also making it so much more exciting! Most of my friends are studying abroad this semester have already left and I have been so jealous following their lives through facebook, so I really just need to leave now!

If you’ve read any of my blogs before you might know I love baking! I’m not sure how much baking there is in Italy, but I do know one thing – gelato! However, when it comes to real food (as in not sweets) I’m probably the pickiest 20-year-old eater on the planet, but will obviously have to keep an open mind while away.

My plan is to update this blog at least once a week with exciting food and adventures, but am not sure of the Internet connection I’ll have. Hopefully I’ll get free wifi in my apartment but I can’t be certain until I show up! There are definitely Internet cafes, so that could be where I end up doing all my blogging.

I’m looking forward to my adventure abroad!