Uncategorized17 Apr 2012 04:50 pm

I’m not going to lie I’ve been terrible at updating this blog 1) because I think I’m bad at writing blogs but 2) I’ve just been having such a great time and am constantly busy!

I’ve been traveling all throughout Italy, especially during Easter break. Took another day trip to Como Lago to visit the quaint little town of Dervio. It was the most beautiful site of the Alps you could possibly imagine.

Then began the best spring break trip ever! While many people from our program decided to travel to various cities in Europe, my friends, Kat and Linda, and I decided to take a tour of southern Italy!

It began with a very restless night in Bergamo airport to catch a 6:30 AM flight to Palermo. But it was all worth it. Palermo was a great city (minus all the trash that was just EVERYWHERE)! We saw the Teatro Massimo, where the famous final scenes from the Godfather Part III took place. We then sat seaside and admired the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea until dinner time. The Duomo of Palermo was all very beautiful! (Not as grand was Milan’s but they can’t all be that extravagant). It had a really nice gated piazza that we later had dinner in (which consisted of the first of many Kebabs of the trip). And of course, since we were in Sicily we had to partake in some wine drinking. We ventured out of our hostel and found a places that served really good euro wine!

Our next stop was Siracusa. We took a bus from Palermo to Siracusa and it was the most gorgeous scenery you could ever imagine. Rolling green hills with small farms and tiny villages. 3 hours later we landed in a Siracusa which was the best seaside city you can imagine! It was also Palm Sunday so everyone was out and about strolling the Piazza del Duomo and the Lungomare Ortigia. This small city was anything but boring! And our hostel was great! The next morning we went to the Archeological Park and saw all the great ruins that both the Romans and the Greeks left. The Ear Cave is by far the best place to get a great echo!

We then took a 90 minute bus ride to Catania, which was a surprise to all of us. We’d been told that it was such a great city with so much to do! Unless we did something wrong, those people are sorely mistaken. We made the best of our surroundings, however! There was a giant cheesy tour bus that cost 5 euro that took us all around the city. It killed most of the day and we got a break from the crazy amounts of walking we’d been doing. The also happened to stay at the hostel that was apparently quite famous in the city: Agora Hostel. They had a great dinner and drink deal that we couldn’t pass up…and 3 Long Beaches later we found ourselves fast asleep ready to wake up and go to Naples.

Now Naples is an…interesting city. It’s very crowded and not the prettiest of places. Our hostel was right next to the San Giovanni metro stop (luckily) and so we took that to the historical section of the city. The entire place is just covered in graffiti, which isn’t quite different from Milan other than the fact that it was just ugly scribbles and not works of art. However, we strolled the city and went to the various sights that we could manage to stumble upon (and weren’t closed). The next day we decided to sleep in and take it easy since our only plan was to take the ferry to Capri and relax on the beach. Alas, we missed the ferry that would take us to the island for 20 euros and decided to just relax by the port and have picnic by the castle. The next day, however, we went to Pompeii!! And wow was that a great trip! I couldn’t believe how HUGE the ruins were! It was essentially the entire city but with the top half chopped off. I couldn’t believe how well preserved everything was! But of course my camera died within 10 minutes of being inside. Oh well.

The next morning we took a train to Rome and I think I must have died when we arrived. It is the most beautiful city I have ever been to! I truly would love to live there! I couldn’t believe how well the city incorporated all the ancient ruins with the modern structures of today! With that said, I didn’t expect the Colosseum to be right next to a major road and a metro stop. But alas, it was a grand site to see! Unfortunately, the day we went it was closed because the Pope was passing through but we still got some great shots of the outside! The next day we literally went throughout ALL of Rome. We started at Vatican City and spent most of the day there getting the most amazing pictures of the vast collections of treasures that this holy city has. We even got to take snapshots of Michelangelo’s famous Sistine Chapel! It was absolutely stunning! We then made our way to Piazza del Popolo, the Spanish Steps, Villa de Medici, Piazza della Repubblica, Santa Maria Maggiore, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and of course, the Trevi Fountain! I can’t even begin to describe how breathtaking all these places were but I am definitely heading back there for another trip!!

This trip has definitely been the best I’ve ever taken!

Uncategorized18 Mar 2012 06:25 pm

These past couple of weeks have been pretty hectic! The weather has FINALLY gotten warmer which is the best gift I could have ever gotten. I’ve been able to explore Parco Sempione, the Castle, and a few other parts of Milan which are just beautiful. I’ve also had the chance to go to Genova, Torino, and Verona, all very beautiful cities, especially Verona! Each city has something different to offer. Genova reminded me a lot of California beaches, which was kind of comforting, and also had the most incredible pizza I’ve had (so far)!! Torino brought to me the greatest festival a girl could ever ask for: chocolate!!! Almost everything had some sort of hazelnut product in it, but I am certainly not complaining because it was all so delicious! (I may or may not have bought large amounts of chocolate at said festival). Verona was just the quaintest town I’ve been to! It was full of the Italian architecture and atmosphere that I’ve been craving. And since my friend from UMW was here to visit for spring break it was extra exciting because she was happy to see another city! Even the train ride there was beautiful (unlike some of the other times I traveled by train to northern cities). We managed to see the arena, some cute little piazzas, and Juliet’s “tomb.” It was all very beautiful and now I can see why Shakespeare chose that city for the setting of his most famous play! This upcoming weekend I’m heading to France (Aix-en-Provence) to visit my best friend and then it’s off to spring break!

So happy the weather has gotten warmer!

Uncategorized27 Feb 2012 07:09 pm

After a couple of weeks not posting I have much to say.

1) The weather here has been GORGEOUS!! So it gives me ample time to explore.

2) This means that I’ve started to travel…a trip to Como and Venice.

3) This also means that while on the way to these beautiful places I have driven through other places.

 

I start with these three things because my vision of Italy has been forever shattered. While on the four hour bus ride to Venice, I could not help that notice that it was all flat land…like Jersey. It was so much like Jersey!! I could not believe my eyes. And being the daughter of a New Yorker, it certainly put a look of disgust on my face. The Italy I imagined was all rolling countryside and beautiful towns with old architecture and amazing landscapes. Unfortunately, I was quite naive in my thinking. Even on the way to Como Lago (Lake Como, on the border between Switzerland and Italy) we passed through the “ghettos.” We even saw trailer parks! It just reminded me so much of the States.

Regardless of how astonished (and slightly saddened) by these views, they certainly did not put a damper on my day! Going to Venice for Carnavale is one of the best experiences! Other than the fact that it was incredibly crowded with tourists (mostly American), the city was so stunningly beautiful. I have seen pictures, but you truly have to see it to believe it. The canals are also not as prevalent as one would assume; we didn’t take one gondola ride when we were there (mainly because it was 80 euro for 15 minutes).   Along with the beautiful canals, we also happened to go to Venice during Carnavale which was the best treat of all! Everyone was dressed up in the craziest costumes. This party is definitely a lot better than Mardi Gras and Halloween combined! And there was just a huge party in the entire city it was fantastic! It amazed me how creative people got with their costumes. They really take this party seriously.

Then a week later, Maggie, one of my closest friends came to visit me in Milan! She is currently studying in Aix-en-Provence, France and this was her first time ever in Italy. We decided to go on a trip to Lake Como and it was such a great trip! The weather was incredibly gorgeous, around +22°C (or 72°F), and the mountains were just stunning. there is absolutely no way to describe how beautiful the sight was, so I’ll just post a picture.

We also took a funicular up to the top of the mountain to Brunate which is at an elevation of over 2000 feet. It was one of the coolest rides ever! We sat in the front so we got the full view while ascending and descending. It was really nice. I, unfortunately, left my passport at home and so we couldn’t go to Switzerland but that just means that I can go back again!

These past few weeks have made me really really love where I am and not want to leave!

Uncategorized05 Feb 2012 08:19 pm

So since I arrived in Italy I’ve noticed a lot of things: Italians really only like to eat pork (they literally put it on everything), you can park anywhere you want and not get ticketed, and literally everyone here smokes cigarettes. These examples, among many others, I can get used to, honestly. But the one thing that I just don’t think I will ever adjust to is all of the waiting the Italians have to do!!

If they say patience is a virtue then the Italians are certainly the most virtuous people I’ve ever met. They have to wait in line for EVERYTHING. In the last week I’ve had to wait 30 minutes for a bus that didn’t take me anywhere; 90 minutes at the post office only to be turned away because they didn’t tell us it was the wrong one when we walked in; another 60 minutes to get a metro card that you can get instantly on the metros in America; and who knows how many minutes I had to wait at the disco to get in or, even worse, check in my coat. These are the times that stick out in my mind that I find unnecessary, but there are countless times for everything else. The train, the bathroom, getting something to eat. They literally wait for everything.

In these situations I truly admire the Italians for their patience and lack of frustration. However, I blame the bureaucracy and the “Italian way” of doing everything on their own time for how many hours I’ve wasted waiting in line when I could be sightseeing.

However, now I’ve gotten the paperwork done (mostly) and hopefully won’t have to do anymore waiting so I can sit back and enjoy my time in Europe. Classes start tomorrow so we’ll see how much time I’ll have to get things done. Hopefully I won’t have to wait in line just to go to class!

Ciao!

Uncategorized01 Feb 2012 01:13 am

Hello fellow readers. I’ve FINALLY started my blog about my adventures in Italy (after being here for 2 days). In the last two days alone, I’ve had some interesting experiences. Remember when everyone said “Oh, don’t worry, everyone speaks English in Milan”? Yeah, that’s definitely not the case. I’ve had to get by on my very broken Italian (which is a little embarrassing) since being here. No one at the airport, cafe, or metro speak English which resulted in me getting very lost and losing a lot of euros. But as my dad likes to say to me on a regular basis, “It’s a learning experience.”

While the first day was a disaster all in itself and just made me want to go home, the second day was really exciting. I met a lot of international students, from France, Australia, England, and, of course, all of the Americans. Everyone seemed to be in the same place as I was too; some didn’t even have places to live yet! So I figured, I’m just going to put the first day behind me and start again. And what do you know? I LOVE MILAN! I experienced aperitivo for the first time, which is where you pay for one drink and get a free tapas buffet. And let me just say, it was so simple but so delicious! The Italians definitely know how to take something simple and make it incredible. I’ve even noticed that my Italian has improved in just one day. I’ve learned to say “Nice to meet you,” and “Where is…(insert every place I needed to go to?”

All in all I can tell that this trip is going to turn out to be the most incredible experience of my life.

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