We started our exploration of Piedmont in the town of Barolo. This small but mighty town is celebrated for its production of one of Italy’s most esteemed wines, the Barolo.
From Barolo, we ventured to the nearby town of La Mora, where the Agricolo Brandini Vineyard awaited. Known for its exceptional wines, the vineyard offered a unique opportunity to immerse ourselves in the art and flavors of winemaking.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by picturesque vineyards stretching as far as the eye can see. The serene beauty of the landscape set the perfect backdrop for a memorable wine tasting experience. We learned about the vine-to-bottle process, cultivation to harvest and aging. We also explored the cellars and barrels, gaining insights into the winemaking techniques that make Agricolo Brandini wines truly special.
Our wine degustation continued through a very sophisticated lunch made with regional products. It was a very valuable learning experience.
The Piedmont weather got the best of me. I decided to stay in Genoa to rest, it allow me to meet a very nice pharmacist that recommended typical Genovese restaurant in the city.
After an early train ride we arrived in Torino. Our day begins at the heart of coffee culture – Lavazza. Founded in 1895, Lavazza has become synonymous with Italian espresso excellence.
We had the great opportunity to visit the production center and learn about the Lavazza brand all that while enjoying delicious coffee. We then departed to the Lavazza Museum. The Lavazza Museum takes you on an immersive journey through the history of coffee, showcasing the company’s evolution and the art of coffee-making. From vintage coffee machines to interactive exhibits, you’ll gain insight into the intricacies of coffee cultivation, processing, and brewing.
After immersing ourselves in the world of coffee, we venture out to explore the captivating city of Torino. We began our city exploration at Piazza Castello, the beating heart of Torino. Admire the grandeur of Palazzo Madama and the Royal Palace, two magnificent landmarks that showcase the city’s past.
During this free day I explored Genoa a bit more and allow myself a small shopping spree. A relaxing day to recharge my batteries.
Our day began in the charming town of Santa Margherita Ligure, a vibrant coastal gem known for its pastel-colored buildings and picturesque harbor. We wandered through its narrow streets, soaking in the lively atmosphere and admiring the elegant villas that dotted the landscape.
Next on our itinerary was the world-famous Portofino, a place that truly embodies the essence of the Italian Riviera. As we approached the harbor, we were greeted by a panorama of pastel-colored houses, luxurious yachts, and a backdrop of lush green hills. We hiked up to Chiesa di San Giorgio, a small yellow church on top of the hill, to enjoy breathtaking views of the Mediterranean and the charming village below. We then wandered through the picturesque streets, discovering hidden boutiques, stylish cafes, and elegant piazzas that exuded an undeniable sense of glamour.
Leaving Portofino behind, we set sail for the secluded and enchanting village of San Fruttuoso. Nestled in a small bay, accessible only by boat, this ancient fishing village welcomed us with its pristine pebble beach. We enjoyed a leisurely swim, and took a nap on the big rocks, basking in the serenity of this hidden paradise which almost made us miss the boat to our fourth location.
As the day drew to a close, we made our way to the charming village of Camogli, known for its colorful houses and vibrant maritime culture. The town’s pebbly beach and picturesque harbor were lined with fishing boats and tempting seafood restaurants.
Our day exploring Santa Margherita, Portofino, San Fruttuoso, and Camogli was a whirlwind of coastal beauty, historical treasures, and unforgettable experiences. From the glamorous streets of Portofino to the hidden coves of San Fruttuoso and the colorful charm of Camogli, each destination offered its own unique allure. This was the best day of this program.
After a beautiful night in Rome, the eternal city that effortlessly merges ancient ruins with a modern cosmopolitan vibe, Malwina and I got on our way to the airport to start the Hospitality in Genoa Program. After a smooth flight, we stepped off in Genoa, excited to begin our Genoese adventure. It was now time for Malwina and I to separate to discover our apartments. My apartment nestled in the heart of the old town, welcomed me with its cozy ambiance and true Genovese architecture. To get to it we had to walk through Genoa’s vibrant squares and narrow alleyways, which at first looked spooky, to unveil a beautiful little “piazza” and the huge green door of the building.
It was now time to meet with others from the group around a nice plate of pasta. We all got to know each other and laugh about our struggle to get to Genoa. Later that day we all had to meet Piazza di Ferrari for a brief orientation and gather over dinner. We savored traditional Ligurian dishes such as pesto Genovese, focaccia bread, and fresh seafood delicacies. Our taste buds danced with joy as we explored trattorias tucked away in the city’s charming corners, discovering new flavors and indulging in the simple pleasures of Italian cuisine.
We all met again for a tour of the city. We embarked on a walking tour of Genoa’s captivating nooks and crannies. The city surprised us at every corner with its maze-like streets, picturesque harbor, and splendid medieval architecture. We then took the train to Nervi a close by city on the water. The weather was beautiful and the city reminded me of my hometown. As we strolled along the picturesque promenade, we couldn’t help but marvel at the crystal-clear waters and the breathtaking cliffs that hugged the coastline. We all agreed we would come back during our free day to enjoy it a bit longer.
Later, we took the train back to Genoa to learn about Genovese cuisine and cook a delicious meal. I enjoyed it so much, learning about the products and getting a taste of what slow food represents was truly eye opening. We all left the stomach filled and new recipes in hand.
The next day, we gathered early in the morning for a guided tour of Rome with Professor Rice. We visited iconic landmarks like the fountain and the Colosseum. At the fountain, we took numerous photos and made wishes while tossing coins into the water. In a heartwarming turn of events, we witnessed two couples getting engaged within just 15 minutes. We cheered and celebrated their joyous moments. Afterwards, we entered a breathtaking building that had stood for over 2,000 years.
Following the tour, we had some free time, and my friends and I decided to make the most of it by indulging in a delicious meal. We found a restaurant that served incredible food: pizzas, pastas, delectable tiramisus, and mouthwatering fondants. Of course, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to savor some authentic Italian coffee.
With renewed energy, we embarked on further exploration of the city. Our next stop was the Vatican, where we wandered around, giving each other impromptu tours while looking up information online. We also made a stop at a shop to buy souvenirs for our families. Many of us chose shiny rosaries as special keepsakes. As we headed back to the hotel, we made a quick detour to grab snacks and drinks for the train journey that awaited us. Gathering our belongings, we made our way to the train station and boarded the train, spreading out the food we had purchased on the table. The five-hour train ride turned into a joyful and entertaining experience for all of us.
The day in Florence began with a rainy start, dampening the spirits of many. However, I couldn’t contain my excitement and donned my flashy rain jacket, ready to explore the city. Professor Rice led us on a tour, showcasing the city’s magnificent buildings, the resilient bridge that survived the war, and a golden-nosed pig known for bringing luck when rubbed. As soon as the professor mentioned it, I sprinted towards the pig, enthusiastically rubbing its nose. Energized and determined, I was fully engaged in the tour.
Afterward, we had some free time, and my friends and I were eager to visit a vintage jewelry shop we had heard about. Although the line was long, with only six people allowed inside at a time, we patiently waited for nearly two hours. Finally, it was our turn, and Jerm bought a necklace, while Pauline treated herself to a ring and a pair of exquisite earrings. The wait may have taken up a significant portion of our free time, but it was worth every minute.
After our long wait at the vintage jewelry shop, we were ready for a satisfying meal. We found a cozy Italian restaurant where we indulged in delicious pasta dishes. The comforting atmosphere and laughter-filled conversations added to the dining experience. We paired our meals with glasses of fine Italian wine, making it a memorable and enjoyable meal in Florence.
Later, we indulged in some shopping, with some of us finding stylish clothes and myself purchasing an adorable tote bag featuring a baby angel and a little cat reading “Puss in Boots.” We had fun exploring the city before heading back to the hotel. As we gathered for our group meeting, exhaustion caught up with us, and we unintentionally dozed off in the lobby. Once we regrouped, we collected our belongings and made our way to the train station, ready to embark on the next leg of our journey to Rome.
Our day trip to Pisa began with a train ride that provided a much-needed break from our busy schedules. We were all exhausted from the previous days, filled with non-stop activities, and I, in particular, was still recovering from being sick. As we boarded the train, weariness took over, and we all dozed off, quickly succumbing to the gentle rocking motion of the train. The journey felt like a blink of an eye, and before we knew it, we had arrived in Pisa.
Once we stepped off the train, Professor Rice took us on a captivating tour of the city, sharing intriguing facts and recommendations for local cuisine. As we leisurely strolled through the charming streets, an amusing incident unfolded. It was only when we were walking towards the Pisa tower that the pieces finally fell into place for me. In that moment, I blurted out, “Wieża w Pizie!” (which means Pisa tower in Polish), exclaiming my sudden realization. Dawn, who happened to be right behind me, burst into laughter at my delayed connection. Afterwards, we were given free time to explore, and Jerm and I took the opportunity to venture into the bustling market. Jerm had become infatuated with a pair of sunglasses Elia had worn, so we scoured the stalls in search of a similar pair. With our hunger growing, we stumbled upon a cozy café nearby, where we indulged in mouthwatering Italian focaccias. Fueled by delicious food, we embarked on a playful photo spree, capturing hilarious moments with the leaning tower as our backdrop.
After a tiring but exciting day in Pisa, we boarded a train and made our way to Lucca. This city turned out to be a lot of fun! In a lively plaza, we stumbled upon a talented musician who had everyone dancing to his music. Professor Rice guided us through the city, sharing interesting facts. We had free time to explore, and my friends and I enjoyed a delicious lunch in the square, savoring pasta and white wine. We then decided to rent bikes and race around Lucca, interacting with locals along the way. It was an absolute blast! Later, we took another train to our final destination, Florence, where we checked into our hotel and had a fantastic group dinner. The food was amazing, and we had a lot of fun trying different wines. After a day filled with laughter and enjoyment, we finally went to sleep, ready for more adventures ahead.
In our free day, I decided to have a relaxed slow day in Genoa, in which I caught up on laundry, cleaning to prepare to leave, packing, and finishing up assignments. I had a small breakfast, which was a very tasty sandwich right across from our apartment, and started cleaning and packing. I enjoyed my moments of rest and got ready to go out for our final group dinner. I had a delicious lasagna and great veal, as well as great conversation with good company. It was nice talking to everyone before we all departed our separate ways. We got in a couple of nice group photos for the memories.
On my day of departure, I left early to spend three more nights in Rome. I wanted to explore more than what we did during our day trip, such as a tour at the Vatican, Castel Sant’Angelo, and the inside of the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum. I left early from the apartment to the train station, and said goodbye to Genoa. It felt very bittersweet, as I had an amazing trip and met great friends, but it was soon time to head out. I arrived in Rome and head to my accommodations to start my last couple of days in Italy.
We were all pretty tired from the entire trip, so this free day was very much needed! We slept til the 11:00am and then we decided to go souvenir shopping. We went to the the stores that are down by the port area as well as the classical Via XX Settembre stores. Around 3pm, we went to a restaurant that is close to the port to have our last lunch together! Throughout the day, I was kind of sad the the program was coming to an end. After that, we decided to head back to our apartments to finish packing and get ready for dinner!
We got all dressed up and went to our last group dinner to the Michelin star restaurant Rosmarino. The food was absolutely delicious! Also, after dinner, we decided to hang out a few more hours in Piazza della erbe. This was the last time I saw all the students that participated in the program. I was sad that the program was coming to an end, but so happy to have made all those wonederful friends that I’ve never would’ve met if it weren’t for Hospitality in Genoa.
Moreover, that night the local soccer team had won an important match, so people were out celebrating on the streets. It was pretty cool to see this celebration! What a coincidence that it happened in our last day!
Day 14 – Departure
All my roommates had early flights, around 3- 5 am. Therefore, we said goodbye to each other the night before.
When I woke up, the apartment was empty. I had to take out the trash and clean the apartment a little to leave it ready for the housing agency. Since I am staying one more day in Genoa, I packed my bags quickly and decided to chill in the apartment til it was time to leave.
I am honestly going to miss that apartment and my roommates so much! The connections we made in this trip are forever and I really hope we stay in touch!
Throughout the day, I kept thinking about how much I enjoyed this trip. I had a great time with all the students and the professors! It was my first study abroad, and I can say it was unforgettable.
I hope I get the opportunity to do this again in the future.
We started the day off by going to the Spanish steps located in the city of Rome. Professor Rice explained the history behind them, and he went on to give us a quick tour of the major sites of the city, including the Trevi Fountain, and the Panthenon, the oldest Roman temple. It was impressive!
After that we had some free time to wonder around Rome. After eating at the famous sandwich shop, All’antico vinaio, we rode the city bus with the tickets Professor Rice gave us. This was a unique experience, since we felt like locals taking public transportation to the city. We finally reached the colosseum and wondered around the area. We did took a lot of pictures from different angles of the colosseum and even ate a restaurant that is just in front of it! Honestly, this day felt like a dream, since I’ve been watching TV shows and moves about this wonderful city for so long!
In the afternoon, we found the rest of the students around the area too and we decided to take the metro back to the hotel. From there, we took a 5-hour train ride back to Genova Brignole, which the train station we recurred to during the program.
Day 12- Milan
This was the last day we had a “day trip” from Genoa. We were all very tired from the day before, but at the same time excited for Milan! We dressed nice and went to the train station were I got a delicious focaccia to enjoy on the train ride over there.When we got there, we went on a quick tour of the city, including the Duomo di Milano, galleria Vittorio Emanuele and the Quadrilatero fashion area. After that, we went shopping to the shops closer to the duomo, which were the ones we could afford. After, we decided to go to an Asian restaurant, where they sold bowls, to take a break from pastas.
From there, we went to the Fernet Branca Distillery. I was very excited for this experience, since I am from Cordoba, Argentina, where the famous drink of “fernet with coca-cola” was invented. The tour and our tour guide were awesome, very interesting and it honestly taught me a lot I did it know about fernet. Additionally, it was also fun to see how excited Professor Dodge was, he was so happy during the tour, clearly he loves fernet!
Since I had already done the cooking class, I had a day off. While others rested, I decided to explore the city center of Genoa by walking around for about 8 miles. I met up with my friend Malwina and we searched for a tattoo shop. Along the way, we stumbled upon Christopher Columbus’ house and visited a few beautiful churches. Later in the evening, I met with Pauline and we enjoyed some tasty street food near the lively port. It was a day of wandering, unexpected discoveries, and delicious bites in the bustling city of Genoa.
The next day started by boarding an early charter bus to Piedmont, a region renowned for its vineyards. Our first stop was a charming hilltop city, where we paused to admire the picturesque views of the vineyards below. Despite the rain, we were fortunate to receive a tour of a vineyard’s cellars and a brief glimpse of the vineyard itself. The highlight of our visit was undoubtedly the four-course meal we enjoyed at the vineyard, perfectly complemented by a tasting of four exquisite wines. Our exploration continued in another city in Piedmont, but unfortunately, it was cut short due to unfavorable weather conditions, as the group was not particularly fond of the rain. Nonetheless, the day offered a delightful immersion into the world of Piedmont’s vineyards, tantalizing our taste buds with fine wines and treating us to captivating vistas.
We arrived in Santa Margarita early to beat the crowds and had a pleasant breakfast in a lively piazza. From there, we took a boat to Portofino and did a short hike to visit the church and cemetery, where we got a glimpse of the area’s history. After that, we hopped on another boat to San Fruttuoso, where we enjoyed a refreshing swim and ended up dozing off while sunbathing, almost missing our boat to Camogli. Once in Camogli, we treated ourselves to some delicious prosciutto focaccia. It was a day filled with beautiful sights, relaxation, and tasty food, giving us a taste of what our study abroad adventure has in store. The next day we hopped on a train and headed to Torino, where our first stop was the Lavazza coffee factory. It was impressive to see the massive amount of coffee they produce for export, and they even have special training programs for baristas. Next, we visited the Lavazza museum, where we learned all about the intricacies of their coffee and how they’ve marketed it over the years. They even treated us to some coffee caviar on coffee-flavored whipped cream, and I couldn’t resist having three helpings! Afterward, we had some time to explore Torino on foot, making our way down to the train station. It was a day filled with fascinating coffee insights, cultural experiences, and the charm of Torino.
On our free day we slept in and prepared our luggage for the next day. Then Madisen and I went out for lunch and did some shopping and roamed the streets of Genova where we got to see a little band performing! We then went back to our apartment and got dressed and headed for the last dinner. 🙁 We had an amazing time and ate at Rosmarino where I had the Green Lasagna and Pansotti followed by Tiramisu for Dessert!! We then said our goodbyes. Then some of us went out to a club near by to end the night !
Departure day ! We left our apartments by 11. Madisen and I had breakfast downstairs near our apartment. We then ordered a taxi and headed to the train station . We arrived in Milan and went our separate ways. 🙁 Madisen headed to her hotel and I headed to my flight to Barcelona! It was an amazing trip and will forever be in my memories !! 🙏🏻
We started off our morning in Rome and walked around the city and visited the Spanish steps, The Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. They were all so amazing and interesting to visit !! Then we split up and our group headed for lunch at a beautiful local spot near the Pantheon and had some yummy pasta and dessert. We then headed to Vatican city which was super cool and then towards the Roman Forum and Colosseum!! I fell in love with the Roman Forum it was so beautiful to see all the architecture from years ago !
The next day we headed towards Milan ! We woke up early took the train and headed toward the Duomo! It was such a beautiful Cathedral and area! Then we roamed around by ourselves and had lunch at a good Pizzeria! Then later that day we headed toward the Fernet Branca distillery! It was amazing to see the history behind Fernet and to see all the 27 components that are used to make Fernet especially since im Argentinian !
This is when we started our mini trip, where we left Genoa for 3 days. We started the day off by taking a train ride to Pisa, which is further south in Italy. Professor Rice gave us a quick tour around the city and then we went to the leaning tower of Pisa. Surprisingly, I expected the tower to be more inclined, but still, when I saw it for the first time I was shocked. After taking a million pictures of us and the tower , me and my roommates bought tickets to the church and baptistery that surround the tower. Everything was really beautiful!
After that, we took the trenitalia to the city of Lucca. This is a smaller and less touristy city compared to Pisa, you can find wonderful views of the mountains and the Tuscany landscapes. After a quick tour, me and my roommates went on a city bike around the city wall that surrounds Lucca. This was a very fun and beautiful experience! After getting gelato and walking around the city, we headed back to the train station to go to Florence.
In Florence, we had a group dinner. We enjoyed Tuscany cuisine, including what Professor Rice recommended, the florentine steak. Honestly, it was too raw for us, but it was still delicious!
Day 10 – Florence & Rome
This was a rainy and cold day, but it didn’t stop us from enjoying the wonderful city of Florence. I had watched a TV show about the Medici family before coming here, therefore, I was very excited to visit this city. I LOVED IT! This was my favorite city that we visited so far! The duomo, the ponte vecchio, the palazzo medici, and all the incredible sculptures and artworks that the city has! I am definitely coming back here. Although this was a very touristy city, compared to the other places we’ve been going to, the city layout, the river, and all the sculptures and history that Florence offers make it my favorite city!
After spending most of our day there, we took a train to Rome, where we had a group dinner. I got the carbonara pasta, since it was created in Rome.
In this blog, I will only cover one day – our day in Rome. I’ve been to Rome before, but it has been over 20 years ago! What has changed? The ancient sites remain the same, but there are a LOT more tourists visiting now. Locals will tell you that during Covid lockdowns things were quiet, but since re-opening, there is never really an off-season.
After a quick breakfast, I took off on my own again. Many of the other students were there for the first time, and wanted to do certain main sites. I really wanted to have a different experience, and to have the freedom to explore.
On my way to St. Peter’s Basilica, I:
Stopped by the Trevi Fountain, enjoyed this magnificent carving, and took some photos
Toured the Pantheon, this time, particularly looking for the resting place of the painter Raphael.
Wandered small cobbled paths with antique stores, and small piazzas
Grabbed my morning macchiato at a coffee bar, next to Italian businessmen on their way to work
Upon arriving at the river, I was happy to see the Castel Sant’Angelo. The last time I was here I didn’t even see it. I would tour this later.
St. Peter’s Basilica:
I had enjoyed this magnificent site years ago, including climbing up the dome to the top viewpoint. This time, I planned to go inside and spend more time looking at the Pieta and other works. When I arrived, however, it was a made house. There were police and military guards everywhere, and i couldn’t figure out why. Maybe this is just the new way things are, post covid? I was turned away from one entry point, and tried another. Then I went through a metal detector security stop. Weird.
Well, the mystery was solved when I saw, through the crowds, that the Pope was there! Each week he gives a blessing and greeting to all in attendance in the courtyard in front of St. Peter’s. I knew this was a thing, but didn’t realize that it was every Wednesday. So I joined the crowd to watch, and wave and take videos of the Pope as he waved goodbye and drove away.
After St. Peter’s, I walked back to Castel Sant’Angelo and toured this massive fortress. Originally built as a tomb from the Emperor Hadrian in the first century, it was made a fort in later years, then papal rooms were added on top. If you can imagine, it is like the levels of a three-tiered wedding cake. Anyway, it was incredible! I spent over two hours there.
Then I joined the massive crowed crossing the bridge, going towards the Colosseum. I took a detour to the Jewish Ghetto, visited a church, found a different Roman amphitheater, saw the Mouth of Truth, the Circus Maximus site, and walked all the way around Palestine Hill. My last and final stop was the Arch of Titus, the Forum, and the Colosseum. It was crazy busy there, so I just took new photos and got out of there.
On the walk back to the hotel, I tried to take in the experience of my last moments in Rome, noticing the people, the shops – life, as I walked through normal, residential areas. I treated myself to a gelato, and heard a choral performance emanating from the open doors of a beautiful cathedral.
Rome is a mix of dirt and grime, but also amazing Roman-era ruins tucked in practically at every turn, stunning palaces, many religious sites, and street after cobbled street of restaurants, cafes, shops, and piazzas. It is a crumbling, but vibrant city – a true joy for the lover of history.
Today was the beginning of a three day trip to several major Italian tourist sites. Our plans: train travel to Pisa, Lucca, Florence, and Rome. We would spend two nights away from our apartments in Genoa, and stay at hotels.
I was so incredibly excited, that I had a hard time sleeping the night before. I’ve previously visited Rome, but had never gone to the other cities.
In Pisa, we took the obligatory photos with the tower, but the most incredible part were the other buildings nearby – the church, baptistery, and cemetery. I highly recommend spending the majority of your time there, and enjoying these lesser appreciated sites.
Our second stop of the day was Lucca, a town with medieval walls that can be walked or biked. The students split up into various groups, each with their own agenda, or lack thereof. Another girl and I decided to stick together, and had a leisurely great meal of risotto and pizza in the main town square, a circle-shaped former Roman-era amphitheater. It was wonderful to get off of our feet and to relax a bit. Later we climbed a tower and enjoyed an incredible view of not only the city and the walls, but also the green hills surrounding Lucca, and beyond that – stunning mountains.
Back onto the train, we packed into seats and made our way to Florence. This was the city I was most excited about! After quickly checking into our hotel, and getting ready for dinner, we would go onto have a traditional Florentine meal. I had an asparagus cream soup, and the beef steak, which I was told should be ordered rare. It was charred on the outside, and soft on the inside. Very good. Our meal lasted for 3 1/2 hours! Finally, tired and full, we made our way back to the hotel for a great night’s sleep.
Day 10: Florence
The weather was not cooperating with my plans. I’d envisioned a sunny day in Florence, perfect for looking up and appreciating the famous cathedral and other buildings. Yet, it started to rain, and was quite cold.
After a nice hotel breakfast, we did an orientation tour of the city’s main buildings and piazzas. During free time, I took off on my own. I visited the Santa Croce church, which was an impressive structure, with a chapel and outdoor cloisters and garden space. The church housed the remains of the poet/philosopher Dante, the scientist Galileo, and Niccolo Machiavelli – the infamous political influencer of the Renaissance. The tomb of Michelangelo is there, but is supposedly not where his bones actually lie. I enjoyed a side chapel painted by Giotto, and paintings by Donatello. It was magnificent!
Then I visited a leather school, which actually created their own leather products by hand in a small school behind a beautiful church. I was able to watch some adjustments being made for clients, and purchased a nice leather wallet as a gift, with initials embossed with gold foil. One of the leather workers told me he had worked there for 21 years, and was trained by the original owner, who is now passed away. It is nice to support a local business like his, and to know that this is not a fake product from China.
I wanted past the Galileo museum, the river Argo and the famous bridge, past the Ufizzi (I didn’t pre-buy tickets) and to Palazzo Vecchio. I didn’t pay to tour the entire building, but did enjoy the open access courtyard and atrium, which stunning architecture and paintings from the reign of the Hapsburg, who deposed the reign of the Medici. This city is an outdoor museum, really. Thankfully, the rain had dissipated and it was easier to appreciate what I was seeing. I did a lot of wandering, appreciated the Duomo and Baptistry from outside, and toured a beautiful perfumery that dates back to the 1200s (Franciscan monks, who practiced apothecary).
Finally, after grabbing some food and drinks at a shop, and eating in a piazza, I went to go see David. Tickets are incredibly hard to get, so I paid extra for a guided tour. It was worth it! So may people crowded into the Academia, but turning the corner and catching my first glimpse of David practically took my breath away. I won’t spoil it for the readers here by explaining too much…but I would say, if you appreciate art – go see it in person!
I practically ran to meet the group, grab my bag, and take the brisk walk back to the train state – destination: Rome.
This was our full day in Rome. Which again I have been here before and enjoyed it a lot. This time I was able to spend more time where David is and at the colosseum. We did a 2 hour tour of Rome then we were on our own for four hours. We got something to eat at a local restaurant that had hand made glasses and someone making fish pasta in the dining room. The food again was delicious. By now you should know that majority of Italian food is amazing. We then took a bus to the colosseum and took many pictures there. After the major landmark viewing we took a cab back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and take the train back to Genoa.
We again got up early for another 2 plus hour long train ride to Milan. when we got there the first thing you see in the Duomo Cathedral. Which is a spectacular sight to see if you haven’t already. Once we viewed that we walked down the center where there’s multiple shopping outlets. But this was not the Main Street that you hear of when you look for high end shopping in Milan. Professor Rice did take us down the affordable street first then he took us towards the high end stuff but not all the way. We then broke off and went our own separate ways. We had about 3 hours in the shopping center to do our own thing before going to Fernet Branca distillery. I did not like the alcohol however it was a nice experience to have. After this we took the train back home to Genoa and got back around 9:30pm.
We again started off the day super early and took a train to Pisa, took some pictures and got back on the train to Lucca. In this city we had our own time to explore the town and enjoy a nice lunch in the piazza. I got bruschetta and porcini mushroom risotto that was to die for. I then climbed a tower that had the most beautiful garden and the top along with the most spectacular views. After that we walked the wall and again even better views of the green mountains and very vibrant nature that surrounded us. I even found a store that sold Murano Glass where I got my moms necklace as a gift. After we met back up at the train station and took the next train to Florence where we got into our hotel and went to dinner. There I tried Chianti for the first time and absolutely enjoyed it. The wine was smooth and didn’t hit as hard as a Cabernet or Merlot would.
It was a rainy day in Florence and we did a short tour of the city and had the rest of the day to ourselves to wonder around and see the amazing architecture and sites. I had been to Florence before and it was my favorite city and still is. I did majority of my shopping there and must have spent well over 400. But it was definitely worth it. The sun eventually came out and we were able to enjoy it more. We then met back up and took the next train out to Rome and had nice dinner there. I had bucatini pasta with a red sauce that has bacon in it that was absolutely delectable and fair my second entree I had the veal saltimbocca that was also phenomenal.
We started our day off early and got on a train to Monterosso we then had the choice of choosing what we wanted to do. Take the train to all five towns or hike the two trails that go through Vernazza and Corniglia. I decided to take the train to the five towns mainly because my hip was bothering me that day and I didn’t think hiking would make it better. three other guys stayed back too and we decided to group together to see the beautiful towns. We took the train from Monterosso to Vernazza. There we got to see the town that was based in the Disney movie Luca. That was cool to see in person! We sat on some large rocks and enjoyed the sun and beauty for a bit befogging moving along to the next town which was Corniglia. This town was a lot of hills and so we didn’t stay for long and hopped onto the next train over to Manarola which is where we had a appetizer and drinks enjoying the view on the hill. We then finally skipped over to the last two Riomaggiore which is where the best town was. Although it looks like a fisherman town it was beautiful because from there you were able to see all five towns. This is also where I placed the first duck. In middle school I went to school with the librarians daughter. Just recently I found out she had passed away in a car accident. Her mom (The Librarian) was also my brothers teacher at his high school. she reached out to my mom to ask if I was able to place three ducks in places I was traveling to. Cinque Terre is only the placement of one. The ducks represent her daughter because she had always wanted to travel the world and now there with be a piece of her placed in special spots around the world.
We got another free day and were able to relax and enjoy Genoa. I didn’t do much other than roam round and buy some clothes. The next day started our 3 day trip to Pisa, Lucca, Florence, and Rome. So I wanted ti get some rest in before going to 4 cities in 3 days.