A Travellerspoint blog

Days 5 and 6: Florence to Tuscan Countryside to Rome

I didn't have wifi, or willpower, to write or upload anything last night which is why I'm putting both of these together!

We started off Friday by visiting the Uffizi Museum and we had different paintings that we had to find, which helped to have stuff to actually look for because otherwise I wouldn't really know what to see! My favorite painting was this one called "Judith slaying Holofernes". Apparently the painter painted herself as Judith and her mentor, who raped her, as Holofernes. So symbolically she was killing the man who hurt her. Pretty powerful stuff.

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After that we had free time, so we went to the Market Centrale again for lunch. I got my entire meal for under €4, a pretty big round loaf of bread, a nectarine, a huge red pepper, and strawberries. I barely ate half of it before getting full.

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Then the group I was with went to this delightful bakery place! The cannolis and apple pastries were to die for!! I can't wait for France and all the pastries I eat there!!

At that point we were on our way to the countryside! We stopped at these hot springs on the way to the farm house we stayed in that melted away all the pain in my feet from walking or standing most of the day. The farmhouse was so legit!! It overlooked this old medieval town on a hill that had a huge tower at one end of it. The hotel itself was kind of sketch! It wasn't terrible, but I've definitely stayed in nicer.. The lights flickered, we didn't know how to work the heat, and here's the kicker: NO WIFI. "Wifi is like a basic human right" as everyone in our group was saying jokingly, but not really.

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Day 6: to Rome!!

I woke up sick this morning... Which sucked because I not only missed breakfast, but I wasn't able to go to these gardens nearby the town that houses these weird statues. I ended up staying on the bus and sleeping for almost two hours. When I woke up I felt much better, but I got worse when we visited the catacombs outside of Rome. For a while I thought I would have to miss the cooking class tonight! Luckily the tour was short, and once I sat down I felt better, and I fell asleep when we got to our hotel (apartment style with a kitchen, dining area, and washer-dryer!) so I was good enough to go.

The cooking class was so much fun! We made bruschetta with different toppings, this special pasta with fresh tomato sauce and basil, chicken with peppers and potato wedges, and finally tiramisu. I'm stuffed. Chef Andrea said he would send us the recipes via email, so I'll be able to make everything when I get home!!

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A special shout out to my big bro whose birthday is today!! I was sad I couldn't call to talk to him, but I'm going to get him something special in Rome to make up for that, and missing his graduation from his masters program ;). I'm so proud that he made it through! He's seriously the best big brother. (And I'm not leaving out my twin, even though he's technically my big brother -by two minutes... And he never lets me live it down-, he's the best twin brother ever!)

I need sleep because tomorrow we're visiting the Vatican!

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Ciao!

Posted by cedevault 14:45 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Day 4: Florence- duomo, cooking class, and beyond!

SUCH a long day! I'm just starting to write today's entry now and it's like 10:15! We did a lot of walking today, going from place to place and oh yea... It rained even harder today!!! -_-

We first went to these two chapels that had painting in them by famous painters. Real specific, I know. I currently don't have a map out in front of me so I actually don't remember the names of them, or the artists. We talked about how the Renaissance shifted the style of painting from stylistic to realistic, using one-point perspective, adding in natural influences, and becoming simpler, instead of over decorated gothic style of the Middle Ages.

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^^^ example of the way overdoneness of the churches of the time

The painting that we first saw had an inscription on the tomb painted in it (translated from Italian) "As you are, I once was. As I am, you will become". Spooky way to remind people to repent so they won't have to suffer eternal damnation!

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We broke then for lunch break. The girls I usually go around with and I decided to go to the Market Centrale, where they sold tons of leather, and had a food market indoors. We got to pick out our cheese, bread, and meat to make a sandwich, then we went to a fruit stand and each bought a euros worth of fresh fruit.

After the break, we climbed the dome of the Duomo (a huge church that has an even bigger dome on top... I'm really killing it with the descriptions today, aren't I?). 24 flights of stairs! It was so cool though, definitely worth it when we got to the top. Especially since there was a break in the rain while we were outside. Fantastic view of the city and the hills surrounding it. Being down on the streets, it doesn't feel like the city is as big as it seems from up top!

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Then we walked to see this old orphanage to talk about and admire Brunelleschi's work on the orphanage and the Duomo. We heard all about how it took 50 years for Florence to get a roof on the church because they made it so large that scaffolding wouldn't work! Brunelleschi thought of the idea that ended up working- building a dome within a dome, and scaffolding along the way.

Then we got to the Accademia that houses David, so we of course had to see him! Although we could only stay for like 20 minutes because we had to catch a bus to the cooking class!

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It was fun, but it wasn't so much a cooking class as a place to make a pizza with a group. Luckily we will have an actual cooking class in Rome!! We had to split up into groups and make the best, and most creative pizza. Other groups made pictures with their toppings, or shaped it differently, my group stuffed the crust with red peppers wrapped in salami. We weren't sure how it would turn out, (especially when the people were saying how "bold" having a thick crust was, which is not exactly a compliment to Europeans- which I learned in Project Runway and Next Top Model) but when the chef and his assistant, who spoke English and translated for the chef, cut into the crust and saw the salami and pepper they started speaking in rapid-fire Italian and apparently the chef thought it was REALLY good and gave it 6 out of 5 stars! Probably my best achievement so far... Haha just kidding!

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The chef gave us the name of his favorite gelato place (Carapina I believe) that we had to try. We knew it was either by the Duomo or the Uffizi, so we began our search. I think we spent an hour just trying to find it, And after walking 2 or so miles and teaming up with some of the other people from our study group- Tashia, Maddie (who was in my hotel room that night), JJ, and Zach, we found it in some little street a few streets south of the Uffizi. Worth it!!! I got caffe and a dark chocolate chili one called Inferno something. Probably the best combo of gelato ever!!

Now we're back at the hotel and my feet kill!! Let me just stress how awesome insoles are because not having them today showed me the difference! Spend a little money on them to save your feet a lot of pain! Luckily tomorrow is our hot spring/bath, which will hopefully soothe them! :)

Ciao!

Posted by cedevault 14:01 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Day 3: Venice- Murano, train to Florence

Pretty uneventful day so far. We ate breakfast, packed up, and then traveled by boat-bus to the island of Murano- where they famously make glass.
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^^^From the boat ride! These girls are so fun!

We got to see three guys make a lamp!

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The island itself was cool, but after about 30 min walking around it got boring because all it was was glass shops, selling practically the same thing. In all honesty I'm glad to be leaving Venice tonight. Beautiful city, but there isn't a big native population so it's practically all tourists and tourist-geared places.

After we took another water bus to an island called torcello that had the oldest church in Venice. Before Venice was, this island was the center of the western world. Today, 10 people live there. The church looked abandoned and in disrepair on the outside, but on the inside it was restored. Beautiful mosaics were at both ends of the basilica. I felt so close to the people that had gone to this church 1000 years ago, it was like their presence was there with me. Spooky, but also a pretty cool feeling.

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It was then that it started POURING! So we had to take the two boats back to our hotel, and then gather our bags and RUN to the train station to stop from getting so wet! My shoes are soaked, my bag probably is (hopefully my clothes aren't too wet inside it!)

The train ride was pleasant. Just sitting (finally!! You have no idea how lovely sitting is when you have to stand all day!) makes me happy. The Italian countryside reminds me of the Midwest and specifically St Charles... Except with Italian-style houses instead of farmhouses that dot the area. It's comforting to me to feel at home here.

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Ok now that I've gotten to Florence I can really say that it's SO much better than Venice! I love it!! A group of us went to an Italian restaurant, and since I already ate a sandwich at the train station, I just had some tiramisu. Which was the best tiramisu I've ever eaten... For reals. Italy sure knows how to do food!

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Another pro-tip: invest in in-soles!! They have been a life saver for me! We walk and stand so much that having the extra support helps your feet not ache and burn after a long day. Of course because it was pouring rain, mine are currently wet... -_- hurrah.

Tomorrows the cooking class!!!!! Making real Italian food in the Tuscan country side!! IM SO EXCITED!!!!!! Literally a dream come true for me. Plus we have another cooking class in Rome! *swoons onto bed*. Anyway, exciting things ahead!

Ciao!

Posted by cedevault 14:17 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Day 2: Venice- San Marco and the Ghetto

Let me just first say that when I call it the "ghetto" I'm not trying to sound BA, we're actually visiting what is called the Jewish ghetto, so don't judge me!

My first breakfast here was SO good! Europeans really do know how to make a spread of food. I ate some sort of dark bread with apricot jam and Brie, berry yogurt, fresh fruit, and fruit juice. Can't you tell I like fruit?

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After breakfast we traveled as a group to San Marcos Basilica and the Doges palace (a Doge is the leader of Venice, but it's more of a figurehead than any real power, like the queen of England. The palace was where all the leading takes place). Both of which were insanely ornate. The decorations on the outside of the basilica were gorgeous. It looked like it had paintings, but they were really mosaics with gold leafing.

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The palace was also very beautiful, but a little over the top for me. After about an hour the rooms started to look the same. However after going through the palace we crossed what was called the Bridge of Sighs into the prison (which was nice for being jail cells!).

After that was a grand adventure to find a little cafe for lunch. It took us like 2 hours to get back to this "campo", or plaza, our Director, had showed us yesterday that was not a touristy area. When we finally got there, I ordered a panino at a bistro place where the servers spoke very little English. Here's where it got a tad awkward for me. I had a 5 euro bill and some change from buying gelato the day before, but when I went to pay (the panino and Stillwater were €5.20) I couldn't find the change! The next largest bill was a €50, and so after a few minutes of rustling around they let me just pay with the large bill and gave me a lot of change. So here's another travel tip: GET SMALL BILLS! Most of the things you will buy (foodwise) won't be that expensive, so it's important to have the change so the people won't hate you! After lunch we headed to the Durstler's favorite gelato place, Grom, and I got un coni piccolo Kaffe gelato (a small scoop of coffee gelato in a cone). Simply fabulous.

Then we went to the Jewish Ghetto. They showed us the synagogues and explained the origin of the word "ghetto" actually came from the German speaking Jews who came to Venice 500 years ago. They couldn't say the word (pronounced jetto) that was a manufacturing area since they used the hard "G". This word then spread to mean the area of town that Jews lived in. Hearing about the history of Jews in Venice, Italy, and Europe as a whole.

Then we had the opportunity to eat at a kosher Jewish restaurant in the Jewish ghetto. The food was tasty! Except I didn't know that there were multiple courses so I filled up on the appetizer... But that didn't mean I didn't eat the rest! The food was fish based for the appetizers, then we had meatless lasagna, little cookies, and then some sort of frozen yogurt thing with a raspberry syrup on top. Like if you partially froze a Fage and then drizzled the fruit stuff it gives you on top.

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After dinner some of us girls took off and we ended up finding a gondolier. Of course we had to go! It was our last night in Venice!! I'm pretty sure we reinforced the gondolier's perception of americans because we were loud and laughing constantly.

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We ended up at the exact opposite side of the city as our hotel so we had to take a water bus back, though first we stopped into a church and joined in their "Pentecoste" mass. So neat to listen to the priest preaching in Italian. The church itself emanated beauty, it had multiple domed parts of the roof and the worshipping part conveyed the majesty of the church in Venice. I got to sing along to a few of the hymns, including the Kyrie- which I learned about it my history of music class last year! I love it when I actually get to apply stuff I learn!

Video here

Today felt like it went on for forever, but in a good way. I feel like I have a really good idea of Venice culture and life, plus (because of my excellent sense of direction I inherited from my dad) I knew exactly where we were the whole time and lead the group I was with around! I am known as the GPS now!

Tomorrow is going to be even longer because we'll be traveling by train to Florence, so I need sleep!

Ciao!

Posted by cedevault 14:22 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Day 2: Venice- San Marco and the Ghetto

Let me just first say that when I call it the "ghetto" I'm not trying to sound BA, we're actually visiting what is called the Jewish ghetto, so don't judge me!

My first breakfast here was SO good! Europeans really do know how to make a spread of food. I ate some sort of dark bread with apricot jam and Brie, berry yogurt, fresh fruit, and fruit juice. Can't you tell I like fruit?

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After breakfast we traveled as a group to San Marcos Basilica and the Doges palace (a Doge is the leader of Venice, but it's more of a figurehead than any real power, like the queen of England. The palace was where all the leading takes place). Both of which were insanely ornate. The decorations on the outside of the basilica were gorgeous. It looked like it had paintings, but they were really mosaics with gold leafing.

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The palace was also very beautiful, but a little over the top for me. After about an hour the rooms started to look the same. However after going through the palace we crossed what was called the Bridge of Sighs into the prison (which was nice for being jail cells!).

After that was a grand adventure to find a little cafe for lunch. It took us like 2 hours to get back to this "campo", or plaza, our Director, had showed us yesterday that was not a touristy area. When we finally got there, I ordered a panino at a bistro place where the servers spoke very little English. Here's where it got a tad awkward for me. I had a 5 euro bill and some change from buying gelato the day before, but when I went to pay (the panino and Stillwater were €5.20) I couldn't find the change! The next largest bill was a €50, and so after a few minutes of rustling around they let me just pay with the large bill and gave me a lot of change. So here's another travel tip: GET SMALL BILLS! Most of the things you will buy (foodwise) won't be that expensive, so it's important to have the change so the people won't hate you! After lunch we headed to the Durstler's favorite gelato place, Grom, and I got un coni piccolo Kaffe gelato (a small scoop of coffee gelato in a cone). Simply fabulous.

Then we went to the Jewish Ghetto. They showed us the synagogues and explained the origin of the word "ghetto" actually came from the German speaking Jews who came to Venice 500 years ago. They couldn't say the word (pronounced jetto) that was a manufacturing area since they used the hard "G". This word then spread to mean the area of town that Jews lived in. Hearing about the history of Jews in Venice, Italy, and Europe as a whole.

Then we had the opportunity to eat at a kosher Jewish restaurant in the Jewish ghetto. The food was tasty! Except I didn't know that there were multiple courses so I filled up on the appetizer... But that didn't mean I didn't eat the rest! The food was fish based for the appetizers, then we had meatless lasagna, little cookies, and then some sort of frozen yogurt thing with a raspberry syrup on top. Like if you partially froze a Fage and then drizzled the fruit stuff it gives you on top.

large_IMG_3989.jpg

After dinner some of us girls took off and we ended up finding a gondolier. Of course we had to go! It was our last night in Venice!! I'm pretty sure we reinforced the gondolier's perception of americans because we were loud and laughing constantly.

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We ended up at the exact opposite side of the city as our hotel so we had to take a water bus back, though first we stopped into a church and joined in their "Pentecoste" mass. So neat to listen to the priest preaching in Italian. The church itself emanated beauty, it had multiple domed parts of the roof and the worshipping part conveyed the majesty of the church in Venice. I got to sing along to a few of the hymns, including the Kyrie- which I learned about it my history of music class last year! I love it when I actually get to apply stuff I learn!

Today felt like it went on for forever, but in a good way. I feel like I have a really good idea of Venice culture and life, plus (because of my excellent sense of direction I inherited from my dad) I knew exactly where we were the whole time and lead the group I was with around! I am known as the GPS now!

Tomorrow is going to be even longer because we'll be traveling by train to Florence, so I need sleep!

Ciao!

Posted by cedevault 14:22 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

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