I am finally back in Roma! The last five days have been a whirlwind of excitement, exhaustion, and fun!
The first day of the trip we went to Bomarzo for about half the day. This is where my inner child came out. Our theme this week in class was Dante’s Inferno; so we went to the Park of Monsters. It was so much fun! In this park there are larger than life statues of Monsters, Turtles, Elephants, Pegasus, etc. Of course I had to climb and sit all over everything. The main reason we went to this park specifically was because there was a statue of “The Mouth of Hell”. I went inside. It was very nice and warm. Ha Ha Ha. No but it was actually really fun and I wish I could have spent more time there. I love being able to climb all over rocks and just frolic all around. We only spent a few hours and then had a picnic before we left to our next stop.
Hello San Gimignano! This was by far one of the cutest hilltop towns I have ever seen! It was really tiny and there was only one main street going through the town so it was extremely easy to navigate. And they had the cutest stores! I found the best sunhat ever but I didn’t buy it. I didn’t realize until after we left the town how in love I was with that hat. I am on a mission to find another one similar to it. One of the things I liked about this town is no one was really trying to sell you anything. No selfie sticks or random toys, so it was really easy to just look around and not try to avoid those annoying people.
When we got to San Gimignano, we checked into our hotel and then went and walked about the town. So a little background on this town. San Gimignano is famous for at one time having 14 towers. The highest I believe was over 70 meters tall and it was really just a competition of who could build the highest one. Now the highest one is a little over 50 meters tall; but we climbed it! It gave me a 360 degree view of the entire town and everything beyond. The weather was perfect and it was heading towards evening so it wasn’t too hot out but the sun hit everything beautifully. The hills of Tuscany are gorgeous. I just want to move there one day when I’m old and have all my grandbabies running outside in the grass. I could have stayed in that tower all day.
From the tower, we had a bit of free time to walk around so we went and explored. We went into all the little shops. Some were selling pottery, soap, lots of stores were selling leather goods, and it was just fun to see everything. Then we started going down random alley’s and at one point we went down a super dark alley, but it lead us to a great viewpoint of the rolling hills. Definitely picture worthy. When we got to dinner, we had a table that overlooked the valley and we were able to watch the sunset while we ate.
Excuse me while I digress, but I love the way Italians eat. Most people get full of the antipasti (appetizer) but I was made for these 3, 4, and 5 course meals. Just keep it coming. Nobody understands how I can eat so much but I always do. I’ve told people to stop asking me if I’m hungry and ask me if I’m full. Now when we’re deciding when we should eat, they always ask “on a scale of 1-10, how full are you?” I’m usually at about a 2 or 3. At least they know they can always give me their leftovers. And I am always down for some Gelato.
Okay, back to San Gimignano! We had an amazing dinner! I tried chicken liver! It was a spread on bruschetta, and even though it had a weird texture to it, it wasn’t terrible. That was part of the antipasti, and we also had meats and bruschetta with tomatoes on it. Then we had the pasta dish which was actually two types of pasta. One had a red meat sauce and the other was a pesto sauce with mushrooms. Both were extremely delicious. I ate a lot. For dessert, we had a tiny portion of Panacotta and a bread pudding. Both were okay but not my favorite. We of course got Gelato after.
Once dinner was over, the main group of people that hang out with; Cierra, Mayank, Dzenita, Ebru, Caitlin, and Emily, (yes it has expanded), we all just ate gelato and hung out in the main square. It was actually a really fun night and I could not stop laughing half the time. Everyone just has their unique talents and it was fun to sit there and listen and laugh.
In the morning, we had a breakfast buffet in our hotel and it was not what I expected. Our professors had basically scared us all into thinking we were only getting a piece of toast and maybe a croissant. Apparently hotel breakfasts in Europe are not like hotel breakfasts in America. THEY ARE BETTER. They had meat, cheese, fruit, cereal, rolls, croissants, Nutella, juice, etc. I feasted like a Queen that morning.
From there we went to the church in San Gimignano and it was beautiful. The paintings on the walls inside were very interesting. We weren’t allowed to take pictures, but the top section of the paintings were of Jesus when he was a baby, then the second set was him as a man, going about and doing God’s work, and then the lower paintings were of him being betrayed and getting killed. I liked how stark a contrast it was. In one painting you would have a woman sleeping in bed, and then right below you would have people getting stabbed. It was gruesome, but it grabbed your attention.
After the church, we had some more free time until lunch, so we just walked around and did some shopping. I picked up a few souvenirs to take back 🙂 This was also where I made the worst decision and did not buy that sunhat. I’ll never forgive myself for that! Then it was lunch time! This post is clearly going to have a lot of talk of food in it. For lunch we had a lot of pizza! They brought whole pizzas for the table to share but about four or five different kinds for us to try. I think there was Margherita, Pepperoni, Arugula, one with Hotdogs, and Artichokes and Mushrooms. They were all yummy but I think Margherita is my favorite! After lunch, we got back on the bus to head to Siena!
Siena is another hilltop town in Tuscany and is a bit bigger than San Gimignano. When we got there, we went into the Duomo, which just means Italian Cathedral. I remember walking around a corner and taking a step back. This cathedral was so stunning. There was so much detail to the front facade that I couldn’t even imagine what the inside looked like. When we did go inside, I couldn’t stop staring. It almost overwhelmed all the senses because there is so much detail. Trying to take it all in at once, it’s near impossible. So I found a seat to sit in and just started looking up and staring. My favorite thing that I noticed in this cathedral was off to the side of one of the side alters. On the wall, there were all of these framed heart pendants. The light was hitting them just right that they were all sparkling. A lady noticed me looking at them and she told me that they were sent to the church around Thanksgiving as a thank you to the church by people who had come to pray for healing. I thought that was so beautiful and it stuck with me.
Once done at the church, we had free time until dinner. This dinner was even better than the last! For our antipasti we had one of the restaurants traditional dishes which was basically tomato sauce and tiny pieces of breadcrumbs. It was so good! It was a tad thick and had wonderful flavoring. Most people got full of that…not me. Our first course was another pasta dish! I don’t know what it was exactly, but I would compare it the Hamburger Helper Beef Stroganoff, but a million times better. Then we had the meat dish which was pork with potatoes. It was really yummy! Dessert was some type of Biscotti I think. It was like a lemon poppy seed flavor and it was to die for. I may or may not have had a few of them..they were tiny!
I was exhausted, so after dinner I went back to the hotel and crashed. And then had the best breakfast ever. This hotel’s breakfast was even tastier than the previous one. They had the best chocolate croissants I had ever had in my life. I got multiples of them and would have eaten more if other people hadn’t liked them as much as I did. Seriously, they were just the right amount of flakiness to chocolatey goodness. Mmm Mmm Mmm.
After breakfast, guess what we did? Went to another tower! I’m pretty sure it was even taller than the one in San Gimignano, but we did it! I was getting my butt workout in this week that’s for sure. The trek up the tower was scary at times. Sometimes the staircase was dark, sometimes it was a very tight fit. But reaching the top, I was left with another breathtaking view. You just feel on top of the world when you’re at the top of the tower. Everything is below you and you can see for miles. We stayed up there for about 30 minutes taking way too many pictures.
Once we checked out of our hotel, we headed to the train station! I was about to take my first train ride! It was pretty exciting. There were a lot of attractive men on that train. Yum.
Florence is probably one of my favorite places I’ve been to on this trip. Right across from where we were staying, was basically the Italian version of a food court, the Mercato Centrale. They had so many good looking things and over the course of the weekend, I ate way too many pastries. But oh well right? After we got some food in us, we decided to take the 45 minute walk to the Piazzale Michelangelo, which is said to give the best view of the city. On our way there, we passed over the Ponte Vecchio bridge and I saw one of the most vibrant sunsets I had ever seen. The sun was so huge on the horizon and I couldn’t get over the beauty of it. Walking the rest of the way to the Piazza, there were a crap ton of stairs. But the view was so worth it. My pictures won’t do it justice, but at night, Florence just lit up. On our way back from the Piazza, we passed by a different square and we found a Carousel! Of course we had to go on it! How many times are you going to be able to say you went on a Carousel in Florence? Not a lot that’s for sure.
Saturday, I basically did the exact same thing but with a different group of people. Seeing everything in the day was just as beautiful, but I definitely prefer the view at night. We passed by the replica of the David statue. That was good enough for me. I’m a little sick of all the statues. I was with Dzenita, Mayank, and Ebru, and on our way back, we passed by the Magnum Ice Cream store. You got to create you own!!! I did classic vanilla ice cream with milk chocolate. Then you could pick 3 toppings so I chose brownie bits, chocolate covered orange pieces, and almond pieces. Then it was drizzled in white chocolate. OMG it was heaven in my mouth! I recommend everyone go there. You won’t regret it.
Over the course of this night, I was definitely approached by multiple men. Thank the lord I was not by myself. At one point I had a guy trying to sell fake Rolex watches ask me if I had a boyfriend and if I wanted one. I walked away very quickly. I then had two random guys tell me they love me. I’d be flattered if they were actually my age. That’s the last time I try to dress up and look decent. Back to sweats and t-shirts it is. In spite of that though, it was really fun. Today we didn’t do much, just packed and took the fast train to Rome. Florence was such a beautiful city and I wish I had more time to explore it.
And now I have caught you up with my life. Less than a week until Greece!!