Snapshot of Summer – Italy 2017

Snapshot of Summer – Italy 2017

As a college student, I love Spring Break! It is a nice respite from all the midterms that pop up and the usual stresses of academic life. Plus it’s always fun to get away and leave the cold winter weather behind. I am currently away on a cruise, floating away in the sun and heat. I’m writing this post in advance because I will not have internet while on the ship, which will be a nice change. Of course I will be writing a blog post on my adventures in the Cayman Islands and Cozumel, but for now I thought I would take a look back on my favorite photos from this past summer when I was in Italy. I know it’s random, but I’ve been thinking about the heat and I just miss Italy a lot, plus I thought some of you might like to take a look at my pics. (If you like these, maybe check out my travel Instagram account!) Without further ado, I present to you: Italy summer 2017.

 

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Milan
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Milan
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Milan
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Milan
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Venice
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Venice
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Venice
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Venice
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Venice
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Venice
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Verona
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Ischia
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Ischia
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Ischia
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Ischia

Hope you enjoyed the photos, ciao for now!

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Ischia, Italy: An Island Like No Other

Ischia, Italy: An Island Like No Other

I love the island of Ischia because it holds so many memories for me. Situated next to Capri, this island of Ischia is a beautiful Italian haven filled with lots of color, beautiful sea views, and friendly people. I’ve stayed on the island maybe3 or 4 times and I love it more each time I go. This past summer, I was lucky enough to continue my Italian exploration after Venice by going to Ischia for another 2 weeks. The big occasion for this was that my grandparents, who live on the island for half of the year, were celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary! (I know, that is a LONG time.)

My mom, the clever woman she is, booked us an apartment right on the water. This meant that our large terrace looked out onto the beach and across the Mediterranean. We could see Mount Vesuvius, hear the crashing of the waves, and as soon as we arrived, we could see all our family down on the beach. So of course, my brother and I put our suitcases on our respective bunks (because our room had a bunk bed), changed into our bathing suits, and met everyone down on the beach.

That night all 15 or so of us met for dinner at a lovely restaurant and everyone ordered pizza. It was really nice to see all of my family and laugh with my younger cousins. And, that’s basically what we did for most of the week: went to the beach for the day then went for dinner at night. There’s nothing better than living in a bathing suit every day and swimming in the cool Mediterranean Sea looking at the beautiful views all around you. It’s convenient too, because the beach has a restaurant if ever I got hungry or thirsty.

Friday July 7 was the day of my grandparents’ 50th Wedding party. We went to the beach as normal in the morning, but we left earlier than usual so we could all get ready. We had to be at the church around 18:00. I wore a white sleeveless dress with a cinched waist that went down to just above my knees, silver dangling earrings, and black heeled sandals. Once we got to the church, we watched the renewal of vows and I got to participate in the ceremony along with some other members of my family. It was lovely.

After the church ceremony, we all walked to the restaurant where the reception was being held. It was right across from the beach and had an amazing view of the sea just as the sun was setting. There was a musician who played beautiful Italian songs, people gave speeches and toasts, we ate too much, we laughed too much. It was a fantastic night filled with lots of love and the best family I could ask for. Per Italian style, we didn’t leave until 1 or 2 in the morning, by which point I was exhausted.

For the next week, we did pretty much the same as the week before: beach and swim every day. Although night time varied; we explored the island. We got gelato every night of course, but not always from the same place; we ate at different restaurants, saw different musicians, walked different streets. For an island, there is so much to do. One night we walked to my grandparent’s house on the other side of the island and ate a fabulous meal prepared by my Nonna. One of our last days on the island, we changed up our routine and went to the spa beach. It’s pretty expensive which is why we only go one day, but it is worth it. It has various levels of outdoor lounging, along with heated pools with waterfalls, a restaurant with a view to die for, and stairs that walk right into the sea. And once in the sea, there are floating chairs to lay in and docks to jump off of. It’s one of my favorite places on the island.

Unfortunately, our time on Ischia couldn’t last forever. So after doing some last minute shopping at the island’s many stores, we finally arrived at our last day. Weirdly enough, there was a fire in Napoli which we could see from our terrace, but the smoke made it seem like Vesuvius was smoking. That was an exciting 5 minutes where we thought perhaps we’d be the next Pompeii. Luckily, our flight wasn’t until noon the next day though, so we stayed the night in Napoli and got to experience the joys of the city where my family is from. We ate delicious food at a restaurant right on the marina, so that I twirled my pasta with one hand and tried not to touch the boat next to me with the other. After dinner, we walked around the streets of the busy city simply people watching and getting gelato before heading back to get a good night’s rest.

The next day, we packed up and ate our last meal at a restaurant a few feet from our hotel. It was a great way to leave Italy, with a view of a castle on the water and pasta in my mouth.

Here are some of the photos from Ischia and Napoli:

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View from our terrace
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Just a casual walk down the street
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View as we walked to my grandparent’s house

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View from the street
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This was taken from my table at the restaurant reception
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At the spa beach
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When we thought the smoke was coming from Vesuvius (you can see it in the distance)
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This is the view of Naples from the boat to get there
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View from our hotel room in Naples (this is one of my favorite photos)
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Another view from our hotel room (and also another fave photo)
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Me and my bro taking a sibling pic
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The boat(s) right next to me at dinner- taken at the dinner table
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View of Naples at night from the sidewalk near the Castle

If you have any thoughts or comments, feel free to leave them below!

Ciao for now!

 

Venice Week 4: Torcello Tower, Murano Glass, & Padua Chapel

Venice Week 4: Torcello Tower, Murano Glass, & Padua Chapel

June 26, 2017 Monday

Today was a fun day because it was excursion day! I had class as usual from nine to twelve, and then had lunch on the island. But around 1:30, the whole class met up to go to Torcello. It was a bit hectic because we had to walk pretty fast in order to make the vaporetto stop we needed to be at, and one of the girls from my class had missed the first vaporetto. We were worried she wouldn’t make it, but at the last minute she came huffing and puffing towards us and got on just in time. It was a somewhat long vaporetto ride to the island of Torcello because we made a lot of stops in places like Murano and Burano. Once in Torcello, we walked towards the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Once close to it, we sat in the grass in the shade since it was incredibly hot and sunny outside. Rachel gave a presentation on the history of Torcello which is very interesting and I recommend looking up at least a summary of the history. After the presentation, we went inside the Cathedral, which is one of the oldest religious edifices in Veneto, and which houses some of the earliest mosaics in Venice. It isn’t too aesthetically amazing because it is falling apart and pretty plain in terms of the usual majesty of cathedrals. However, it is still amazing to be standing inside something clearly very old, and it does have some unique mosaic artwork. The mosaic on the west wall is a floor to ceiling mosaic of the Last Judgement. That was the main reason my class visited; this mosaic was referenced in one of our readings. It is mostly gold with a bunch of other colors put in, and it is breathtaking. After looking around for a bit at the other mosaics, paintings, and possible tombs of dead priests, we walked up the campanile. It was a long walk up slanted stairs and low ceilings, but the view from the top was so worth the climb. I could see essentially the whole island and even other parts of Venice. We stayed up there awhile, just changing positions and going around. As we were looking at everything, we saw a man jump off of his boat into the water to cool off, which was pretty funny. There wasn’t a lot to do in Torcello besides these two activities, and the island is pretty much devoid of people (at least in my experience), but it is still a beautiful place that I recommend visiting if you’re ever in Venice. It’s filled with history and natural beauty.

June 27, 2017 Tuesday

Today was an early day because instead of having class as usual, we travelled to the island of Murano. We had to be there for around 10:00 which meant I had to get up around 7:30. That was so hard! But I did it, and I met the class at the vaporetto stop in main Venice around 8:30. When we got to Murano, it was so quiet and empty because of the early hour. It was kind of eery but also really neat to be the only people walking around. It was peaceful. The reason for our early trip to Murano, the island famous for its glass works, was because we were going to be given a private tour of the Seguso glass factory. They don’t normally give tours, but for the past couple years the Seguso family and my college have set up tours for the students. When we arrived, we were introduced to Gianluca Seguso, the son of Giampaulo Seguso who our class had read about in John Berendt’s Glass Warfare. Gianluca was incredibly kind, asking each of our names about three people at a time so that he could address us directly. He showed us first the history of the Seguso family legacy which began in 1397. He then walked us outside to an area with various glass making objects and glass designs themselves that decorated the fenced in area. Through this area, we entered the workshop part of the building in which the glassblowers were crafting beautiful creations. We saw the drawn out initial designs for a project, were able to watch some of the pieces being made, and hanging from the ceiling we saw completed intricate chandeliers. Everything was amazing to behold. The amount of detail that went into everything was astounding. I’ve never thought about how the beautiful glass that I see in stores is made, but being in that work environment I now recognize how much time, effort, and skill goes into it all. We walked through the workshop, careful of the heat and the dangerous objects that were burning hot, and made our way into what I believe was the showroom. Once inside, we were given the opportunity to meet Giampaolo himself. He was a very funny man, who told us about his life and how he started glassmaking. He even went and got the book of poetry he had written (in Italian of course) and read some poems to us. He had one of the boys from my class who knew a little Italian translate the poems so that we could get the full message. When he was done reading, he offered us the chance to ask him any questions we had. After that, we were guided back downstairs and each person was given a beautiful piece of circular dark blue Seguso glass with the Seguso emblem on it. And we were handed it by name from Gianluca who remembered everyone’s name. Overall, it was an amazing experience, the Seguso family was incredibly kind and generous, and I am beyond glad that I was able to have this once in a lifetime experience.

After the tour, we were all hungry so our professor took us to a great restaurant where he knew the owner. We each had a salad, spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams), and a dessert. The food was delicious as was usually the case in Italy, but there were birds constantly surrounding us since we were sitting outside. At the end of the meal, we were offered coffee in the normal Italian way, and then we all headed off to do our own things. I went with a couple of my friends to look around and do some (window) shopping. I did buy one souvenir from Murano because I wanted something to remember it by (although I did have the gorgeous Seguso glass- which I think is a paperweight). I found a very pretty (and inexpensive) glass ring from one of the shops that said Master glassmaker on it, which I’m pretty sure means it is legitimate Murano glass. I put the ring on and then headed back with my friends.

June 28, Wednesday

Today was another no class day, because we were headed to Padua to the Scrovegni Chapel! It was also an early day again because we had to catch an early train. It was a fun journey, and I got to eat at the yummy train station cafe again. Once in Padua, we went to the museum where the chapel is located and got our tickets. We were then taken to the waiting area for the chapel, and we had to watch a video before going inside to learn about its history. We of course already knew some of its history because the main reason we were visiting the Chapel was because of its reference in one of Henry James’s writings . After watching the video along with all the other tourists, we were taken through an air sealed (I think) area because of the sensitivity of the Chapel and its art to the air. It was smaller than I thought it would be but stunning. The whole place was covered in artwork depicting various scenes from the Bible. The ceiling was a beautiful blue with yellow stars painted on. The back wall was amazing and depicted what would happen to the saved and the damned. Everything had so much detail and color and was so well preserved that it felt like the artist had just left. Because of the sensitivity of the art though, each session (aka group) was only allowed twenty minutes to look around. Because we were a school and some provision had been made, we were allowed to stay for two sessions.

After we left the Scrovegni Chapel, we gathered outside to meet with our tour guide. She walked us towards the center of the city and talked about the history of the city. We walked through the Università degli Studi di Padova and looked at the crests of all the people who had attended, and there were quite a few famous names from history included. We walked around the city as we made our way towards the Basilica of Saint Anthony. This was an incredibly elaborate and intricately decorated church, and probably one of my favorites from my visit to Italy. There were different sections of the Basilica that had various artworks, some in marble, some painted, others carved. There was one section, the Chapel of the Relics, where parts of St. Anthony’s body were on display, that was really neat to see. There were a set of small stairs that we could walk up to look up close at parts of his body, most notably his famous tongue. Everything about the Basilica was absolutely stunning and something I would love to go back and spend more time in because there is just so much to see.

By this point, we were all very hungry and tired, so we headed towards a restaurant to eat. We were seated at a bunch of tables placed together outside in the back garden area. It was a lovely area surrounded by trees and greenery, but by this point in the day it had become overcast and we knew the rain would fall any minute. But, I enjoyed the meal immensely because it was risotto, and I love risotto! We all talked and laughed and ate. It was a really nice afternoon… but then we heard the thunder. It was a surprise when the first sound struck our ears, but not totally unexpected. Luckily, we were all pretty much finished with our food. We decided to split up, and I went (in the rain) with some friends to go shopping because we had spotted some stores as we were walking around. It was a nice rainy afternoon activity and who can say no to shopping in Italy? By the time we were ready to head back on the train, it had stopped raining and the sun came out. The four of us went to the train station utterly exhausted from everything we had done today, and enjoyed a quiet ride back to Venice.

June 30, 2017 Friday

I didn’t do much Thursday except go to class and we visited the Academia. Friday, however, was our very last day of class and it was bittersweet. We watched a movie, Pane e Tulipani (2000), which was a beautiful film, and then talked about it in relation to our time in Venice. After this, we went to the Museo Fortuny, where I gave a presentation on the history of the museum and the man who lived there. Museo Fortuny was once the home of the man Fortuny who was a man of many talents but probably most notably as a dressmaker. His home was nicely decorated with art and clothing designs. There was one room that was showing a very strange film that was simply images and video of things like x-rays of people kissing or writing, etc. The upstairs had a diorama for one of his theaters. At the very top of the museum was an interactive art piece with balls of clay on a table that one could add to. Past this was the book shop, which I enjoyed looking at.

I decided to head back with a couple of the guys from my class, and in order to catch the vaporetto on time and not have to wait another hour, we had to run all the way from Fortuny to the vaporetto stop. While I was running, who should I literally bump into but my parents and brother. It was just like a scene from a movie: I’m running through Venice and I hear “Alexandra?” and I turn around to see my brother. I told the other guys to go on without me, and I chat with my family for a bit outside their apartment. I knew that they would be arriving today, I just didn’t know when. I offered to come and hang out with them for a little bit, but they said they were tired after the long flight and just wanted to rest. So, I hugged them goodbye and sprinted off again towards the vaporetto stop. I caught up with the boys and we made it to the vaporetto with about a minute to spare. I was red in the face and sweating, but man I had a fun time running through Venice.

That night was the farewell dinner for everyone studying in Venice from my college. We all got dressed up and went to a nice restaurant where we had amazing food buffet style. After we ate, and toasted, and reminisced, we were all brought to the gondola stops. There was enough money left over from the program that we could all have gondola rides, which was so exciting. I got to go around a small part of Venice dressed up in a gondola with five of my friends. If that’s not the perfect ending to an amazing month in Venice, I don’t know what is.

July 1/ July 2, 2017 Saturday and Sunday (and a little bit of Monday July 3)

These were the last couple days that we all had together, and some people were already leaving. They were two days packed with goodbyes, hugs, and promises for reunion back at school in the fall. One of my favorite parts of the weekend was going back to the nice and green park overlooking the water and just sitting and reading with Iulia. It was a simple and calm way to end the weekend. My family was coming to meet me on Sunday morning, so I got to say goodbye to everyone who left before I did. When my parents came, I showed them around San Servolo, my room, and then we got my suitcase and headed back to their apartment/ hotel. I took a nap, and then my family and I walked around the city together, reminiscing about the last time we had been there. Except this time, I could show them around the place I had called home for a month. We went to dinner on the water because my mom loves the view, and then explored the city at night. Of course we had to get gelato, and then we went back to the apartment around midnight. Monday, we traveled the city even more, and ended out day with a visit to Saint Mark’s Square at Florian’s Cafe, somewhere I had wanted to go for so long but never got the opportunity to. This iconic cafe has been in countless movies about Venice and is an essential part of the tourist experience. (It is also quite expensive, so if that’s a factor in your trip, I wouldn’t recommend.) We sat in the piazza as the sun was low in the sky and the air was getting a little cooler. We stayed until dark and listened to the band play songs that we only partially knew. And then we went back to the hotel for our very last night in Venice, before we took the train to Napoli in the morning.

Where is some place you have always wanted to visit for an extended period of time? Leave a comment below.

Ciao for now!

Venice Week 3: Scuola & Squid Ink, and Burano & Bellinis

Venice Week 3: Scuola & Squid Ink, and Burano & Bellinis

June 19, 2017 Monday

Because of the hectic nature of the Milan trip, I took Monday to just rest and relax. I had class as usual at nine, and became a little smarter because of it. After class, I had lunch on San Servolo while reading a bit. Most of the day until dinner was spent in the sun on the island reading. When it was time for dinner, a group of us took a vaporetto to the main part of Venice and ate at our favorite good ol’ Rossopomodoro. The night was not that eventful, just like the day, but it was nice to have some time to just chill.

 

June 20, 2017 Tuesday

In class, we discussed some writings that referenced the Scuola. After talking about the comparison in the writings, we all headed out for lunch. I went with some friends to the main island and ate some delicious pizza per usual. We decided to just wander around the city because we had to meet up with our class around 4 to visit the actual Scuola. When we arrived, I was surprised to see how small and dark it was inside. While it was smaller and darker than I’d imagined, it was no less interesting to see. To get inside, I had to walk through a big red curtain, and as soon as I was in, my eyes had to adjust to the darker light. It was a medium sized room with dark wood walls and a series of paintings lining the top of the wall all the way around the room. There were a series of pews, like in a church, and some chairs for people to sit in while they observed the paintings. The reason my class was there was because we had to look at the paintings and write down descriptions of what we saw and how they connected to one another. I spent a bit longer than most others in the class mainly because I was trying to really take in the beauty of it all while capturing the artist’s intentions. When I finished, I went into the little room on the side and looked around at the religious memorabilia. Then, I went up the stairs into the large room at the top. It was very open but much more elaborate than the room below. There were amazing paintings all over the room and ceiling, along with golden designs everywhere and a reddish glow all around. It was beautiful. When I left the Scuola, I went and got some dinner with friends, and then we headed back to San Servolo to work on our writing about our observations.

June 21, 2017 Wednesday

During the night, the ceiling of our room started leaking on my roommates head and pillow, which was obviously gross. Luckily, the hotel gave us a new room in the corner of the hotel overlooking the water. The room was much bigger too, since it was meant for four people instead of three, and it had two bathrooms as well which was nice. Anyways, I had class as usual, and immediately after, our whole class went to lunch in San Polo courtesy of our Professor (aka the school). The restaurant was called Trattoria Antiche Carampane. It was a small and cozy restaurant, and our group took up much of the space. We were placed in two rows of many tables pushed together so that could all talk to one another. What was exciting about this lunch though was that we would all be getting the sam thing: Sepia pasta aka Squid ink pasta. It was a major part of one of our readings in class and we were about to experience it for ourselves together. Before the meal, we were given a paper spiral of tiny fried fish which were really good. The main course, the squid ink pasta,  was quite tasty. It had a strange taste at first, but it wasn’t a bad strange, just different. It made my teeth black until I drank water and it was funny to see everyone smile like that. The reactions from the others in my class were mixed, some liked it while others did not. We were also given white wine with our meal that went very well with the pasta. For dessert we were all given a few options and I chose the fruit parfait. By the time we finished everything, it was almost three o’clock, and we were all so stuffed. A couple of my friends and I decided to walk around and explore a bit (plus walk off all the delicious food we just ate). We went back to San Servolo around six to rest ourselves before our big night.

That night, all three of the classes from my college were going to meet up in Piazza San Marco to have a private tour of Saint Mark’s Basilica (how amazing, right?!). I and a couple other people got there around 8:30 and watched the sun fade. We grabbed a piece of pizza to eat while we were waiting for the other groups, and just sat on some steps people watching. It was neat to be there as the sun was fading because we got to see all the lights in the Piazza switch on. It was beautiful. At 9:30, we were all let into the Basilica. We had to use the back entrance because the front area, along with many parts of the Piazza, were flooded about 6 inches with water. When we entered the main church area, it was almost completely dark with just enough light for us to find our seats. After we were all seated, they turned the lights on and we got to see the glory of Saint Mark’s Basilica. The ceiling was gold and mosaic along with most of the front area. In the center of the altar there was a gorgeous ornately decorated rectangular object. After hearing about the history of the Basilica, we were allowed to walk up to this elaborately decorated artifact. Before we got there though, we were surprised by the fact that it spins around so that the other side can be visible to the congregation. The other side is a painting on what looked like separate wood blocks, of the various apostles and Jesus in the middle. We were told all about the history of the bejeweled side, including how it had been stolen from Constantinople (if I remember correctly) and had to be guarded incredibly closely because of how valuable all the jewels on it are. It was absolutely astonishing the amount of detail and design was on it as I looked up close. We then were taken to the basement area where people can have mass sometimes, and for those interested, people can get married there. It was very small and a little creepy but still a neat experience. From there, we went back up and were told a few more facts about the Basilica before we thanked the tour guide and left. After the tour, a couple of my friends and I went and got some gelato before heading back to San Servolo and calling it a night.

 

June 22, 2017 Thursday

As usual, I had class from nine to twelve. Because this was the last day of class for the week, a group of us from the class decided to explore more of Venice while we still had the chance. The end of this week meant that we only had one more left and we wanted to make the most of it. So, we hopped on a vaporetto and headed to the island of Burano to look at the famous colorful houses. When we got there, we were not disappointed. Everything was full of bright colors surrounded by the waterways so typical of Venetian cities. It was around 2 o’clock when we arrived which was the resting time so it was pretty quiet. We were hungry by this point because it was a long vaporetto ride, so we decided to find someplace to eat. As, we were going along, we decided to take some photos and shop around a bit. It was fun to take photos in such an iconic place and everything was just so pretty. Eventually, we found a cute little restaurant with an ocean theme that served us some delicious food. I ordered seafood risotto because it’s one of my favorites, and I was not disappointed. After lunch, we walked around some more, splitting up to do some shopping. Incidentally, we all ran into one another again at a gelato shop where we all indulged in the delicacy. Along that same calle, I found a little cookie shop and bought a bag of fantastic looking cookies to take back with me. By this point, we were all tired and were making our way back to the vaporetto stop. It was right outside the vaporetto stop that I found an art shop with paintings selling for not too much and the artist was there painting more as people looked around. So of course I bought a lovely print of a Venetian canal full of blues and greens. I then got on the vaporetto with the others and we headed back.

June 23, 2017 Friday

This was a chill day to sleep in and enjoy the city. I woke up around 10 o’clock and met up with my friends Iulia and Adriana at the vaporetto stop on San Servolo so that we could go into main Venice. We wandered around trying to find this cute teahouse that Adriana had heard of in Dorsoduro called Fujiyama Tea Room Beatrice. (I believe it is also a bed and breakfast.) After much roaming, we finally happened upon it, and it was so quaint that we almost missed it. We stepped inside the cafe and walked straight through to the back garden area. This is probably one of my favorite places in Venice because it is so eclectic, quiet, and quaint. There were about six or seven metal tables placed in a small area surrounded by plants with odd objects like an old sink and broken terra-cotta pots in the plants. It was about 11:30 in the morning and very quiet and removed from the touristy activity of the other parts of Venice. We each ordered a tea and snack. I chose a black tea and some fruit. Adriana ordered a green tea and some chocolate torte; Iulia chose to go with a strange dark tea that tasted almost like a bonfire (we each tried each other’s selections) along with a cheese and tomato toasted sandwich. I liked the sandwich so much that I ordered one for myself after. We spent about 2 1/2 house in this garden area, me reading Proust, Iulia writing in her journal, and Adriana writing some poetry with intermittent sparks of conversation. It was one of the most relaxing afternoons I’ve had in a long time. There was almost no one there the entire time and everything about the place was soothing. The tea was delicious as was the food, and it wasn’t expensive. The waitress was very friendly and knew exactly when to come over and they were very nice when Adriana made an enquiry about the food in English. I highly recommend visiting this little oasis if you’re ever in Venice because it is so peaceful and a nice respite from all the activity of everywhere else in the city. After we left the teahouse, we walked around for a bit and found a bookstore that, as English majors, we had to go into. It was almost empty except for the people working there. We looked around for a bit and it was fun to see books that we knew in English translated into Italian. I found a copy of the Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare and while I could have gotten it for cheaper on Amazon, I knew I just had to buy it while in Venice. Another neat aspect of the book that convinced me I needed to purchase it was that the pages were split from English to Italian. The left side was in Italian while the right page was in the classic Shakespearean english. We left the store after my purchase and window shopped as we made our way back to the island. It was a calm night with dinner on the island and conversation with friends.

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June 24/25, 2017 Saturday and Sunday

This weekend was relaxed because there was no big excursion planned. I spent most of the weekend reading in the sun on San Servolo and just walking around and exploring Venice on the last weekend I had there with friends. I got a lot of reading done and I also indulged in some Netflix because it had been a while since I simply sat down and turned my brain off. It was nice not to have any major plans and just go with the flow during the day. On Saturday night, three friends and I went out to dinner at a pizzeria and sat outside in the fresh summer air as a musician played tables away at another restaurant. After dinner we walked around and took pictures near the Rialto Bridge as typical tourists do. We also ventured to Harry’s, home of the original Bellini. In order to get in, we had to be dressed nicely and luckily we were wearing dresses (albeit much more casual than the clientele that were already there). It was extremely crowded so we ended up basically crouching in a corner near the cash register and holding our drinks. They were scrumptious, but they were not that big and they were VERY expensive. It’s all part of the experience of Harry’s though, so we had to indulge. After a little while, a spot at the counter cleared and we grabbed the spot quickly. We drank our sweet Bellini’s and looked around at all the people in there who were so nicely dressed. We knew it was crowded and people were vying for spots, so after we finished our drinks we paid and left. While waiting for the vaporetto back, we sat on the steps in Piazza San Marco and looked at the reflection of the light on the water that flooded the square, along with the little children that were splashing in it. Overall, it was a very nice night.

I’d love to hear your comments on what you thought of this post!

Ciao for now!

Venice Diary- Meeting Milan for the Weekend

Venice Diary- Meeting Milan for the Weekend

June 17, 2017 Saturday

A group of us decided to go to Milan for the weekend. So we had booked our bus tickets the week before and found an inexpensive airbnb that was a two minute walk to the famous Cathedral and could fit the seven of us. At 7am, we all took the vaporetto to the bus station, except we got off a stop early because we were concerned we would miss the bus since the vaporetto was going pretty slowly. We had to walk along the road with our suitcases in tow and the sun beating down on us, but we arrived in time to get on the bus. It left at 8:15 and we got there at 8:06. It was a four hour bus ride, but luckily it was air conditioned and I had brought some reading to do. By the time we made it to Milan, we were all ready to get off and explore. But, we still had to take the subway to the center of the city where our accommodations were. As we were waiting, Iulia decided to buy a coffee out of the coffee vending machines that seem to be everywhere in Italy. The subway arrived and we got on…except for Iulia. We called out to her to hurry on, but the doors closed and we sped away right as she started towards us. So, when we got to the stop we had to get off at, we waited around for Iulia. Finally, when she found us we all walked towards our hotel. Once we got there, we had to wait since our room wasn’t ready yet, so we went out and got some coffee and food. By the time we finished, our room was ready.It was a nice apartment-type place with a loft above the living room and kitchen. There were some problems with the place, like the handle to the bathroom door falling off, but overall it was a good place for seven college students to spend the night. \

After everyone had put their stuff down and claimed their sleeping spots, they went out to either explore or shop. My back was hurting from some mysterious illness that had plagued me the entire day and made it difficult for me to walk, so I stayed in and FaceTimed my parents. When everyone came back around 20:00, we got dressed up and went out to dinner. We walked to a restaurant about 15 minutes away from us called Salsamenteria di Parma. Because there were so many of us, we were seated downstairs at a long table. What they are known for however, is serving wine in a bowl. So, I and a couple other girls had Lambrusco in a bowl with our meal. I ordered eggplant parmesan which was good but too much for me to finish. After dinner, we sat around the Cathedral, which was beautifully lit up, and listened to some street musicians play. By that point, I was tired after the long day so most of us went back to the room, while a couple girls decided to try to find a club to go to. We all ended up going to sleep around 1am.

June 18, 2017 Sunday

We woke up around 8am so that we could make it to the Cathedral before we had to check out. It is the largest church in Italy (since the Vatican is in the state of Vatican City) and the third largest in the world. There is a very strict dress code to get in, and some girls had to go and buy a shawl for about 2 euro from the shop where they sell the tickets to enter. Luckily, my outfit was appropriate so I was able to right in after I bought my ticket. There is security that checks your ticket and belongings before you go in, but after that you get to enter this gorgeous church. It was so open and elaborate, although nothing like the outside facade. There were lovely stained glass windows, tombs to dead bishops, and a list of all the bishops that had presided over the church for the past 1,000 or so years. Because it was a Sunday, there was a Mass at 9:00, which we unfortunately could not stay for because we had to check out of our hotel. So we left the Duomo di Milano to do that.

We were able to leave our luggage for the day, so after we checked out we went to the Castello Sforzesco just to look around. It was really nice to see, and if you walk through it, there is a park right behind it. We spent a lot of the day at Sempione Park. We split off and walked through it on our own. Everything was so green and alive. There were tons of flowers, some ducks in a pond, and people playing sports in the grass. Plus, it was a gorgeous day, sunny and hot. I really enjoyed just looking around at the beauty of nature. Eventually we met up at the Napoleon arch where we took some photos. As we were walking back through the park, we stopped to get some refreshments. I got pineapple juice which was delicious and refreshing. We sat in the grass in the shade and just chatted for about half an hour. It was a really enjoyable moment.

We made our way back to the Cathedral area where we again split off, and I went shopping with some friends. I didn’t buy much, but it was fun just to look at all the shops and see what was inside. By the time dinner time rolled around, I was so tired. We met up at a nice restaurant on a busy side street and all shared some meats, cheeses, and bread for dinner. With some wine of course. After we had finished our meal, we had to hurry to make it back to the bus station on time. (Can you see the trend in our inability to be on time?) Luckily we did make it to the bus, after a heated and packed subway ride. Unfortunately, this bus was not air conditioned and the ride back seemed much longer than the ride there. But make it back we did, and with memories that will last a lifetime.

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These are the (slightly eaten) sauces we had to dip our bread into with our meal

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The famous bowl of Lambrusco

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Ciao for now!

 

Venice Week 2: Jewish Ghetto, Palaces, & Lido Beach Day

Venice Week 2: Jewish Ghetto, Palaces, & Lido Beach Day

I’ve decided to write about my experiences week by week instead of day by day because I wanted to really enjoy my time in Venice without the pressure to sit down and describe every aspect of it. I’m still going to describe what I did each day, just in a more limited fashion with a few photos here and there. So, without further ado, week 2…

June 14, 2017 Wednesday

As usual I had class in the morning from 9am to 12pm, and then spent some time hanging out before going into the city. It was a cloudy and rainy day, but I am only in Venice for a limited time so I have to make the most of it. A group of people from my class thought it would be interesting to tour the Jewish ghetto. I was going o join a little later along with my two roommates. We were supposed to meet them around 3pm, but because of the weather and the slow vaporetto system, we did not end up getting there in time to join the tour. It was incredibly humid out, so we decided to cool down and take a bathroom break inside a nearby restaurant. We bought some water to rehydrate, and as I was waiting outside for the other two girls, I saw a tour go by with some familiar faces in the group. It just happened to be our friends who had arrived before us, and they were taking the tour. We tagged along near the back of the crowd for a bit, but we couldn’t follow them inside some of the synagogues because we hadn’t actually paid to be on the tour. So, we said see you later and made a plan to meet up with them in half an hour for dinner.

While waiting for them, the three of us walked around the little shops and tried to learn some of the history of the ghetto. When we found the others again, we walked to a nice little restaurant called Gam Gam Kosher Restaurant, and we ordered a bunch of different foods to share. Luckily for us, it started raining while we were eating and was finished by the time we were ready to leave. We explored a little bit more that day, but then headed back to San Servolo for an early night and to catch up on some reading.

June 15, 2017 Thursday

Again, I started the day off with class. Since it was Thursday, we watched a movie called “Don’t Look Now” which was kind of haunting and scary, but still pretty cool to watch. It was a hot and sunny day, so after class some of us girls wanted to go to the beach. We took a vaporetto to Lido laden down with our bags filled with bathing suits, towels, and sunscreen. Once at Lido, we walked to the end of the island to the free beach because who wants to pay for a day at the beach? Along the way, we stopped into a little cafe/ grocery store for some food supplies. I bought a spinach stuffed pizza thing (great description, I know), and we all bought a large liter of Orange soda and water to drink on the beach. Once we were actually at the beach, we changed into our bathing suits and proceeded to spread out the orange tapestry that Iulia had bought from a beach peddler. We took turns going into the water, making sure someone was always with our stuff. The beach was crowded and it was later in the day, but it sure was fun and relaxing to be on a beach in Italy. But because it was later  (around 17:00) and it had been so hot all day, the water was actually pretty warm. It was still nice to go in and swim, it just wasn’t the refreshing cool water that it normally is. When it was my turn to stay with our belongings, I took out my packet of Proust and proceeded to read. There was a slight breeze that turned the pages and pushed my hair into my eyes, and it was pure perfection to be reading on this beach.

We left around 18:00, and walked along the sidewalk to a restaurant we had been to before. We sat outside under the canopy and the waiter had to push two tables together to accommodate the five of us. We took a look at the menu, and I decided to try the spaghetti alla vongole (spaghetti with clams). It is one of my favorite dishes and I was not disappointed with my meal choice. It tasted delicious and I devoured all of it. Obviously we all had a glass of wine with the meal, and I chose Prosecco which I thought went well with my pasta. We ended our meal with some gelato and then walked back to wait for the vaporetto.

June 16, 2017 Friday

Since we don’t have class on Fridays, a group of us decided to visit the Ducal Palace in St. Mark’s Square. It is something we had passed for two weeks now without ever going inside. So, we bought tickets online beforehand (which I recommend doing because the lines to buy tickets there are so long, and it saves a lot of time) and headed over around noon. To start with, the courtyard inside is big and beautiful and you can see the design of the building as a whole. It is quite a nice sight to see. There are curved arches, marble statues, and elaborate architecture. Inside the actual palace is even better. The ceilings are covered with breathtaking artwork and carvings, the rooms are massive and filled with historical and incredible paintings, and the sheer size of it all is almost overwhelming. I could have spent hours in one room in particular, I think it was the ball room, since it was huge and along all the walls and the ceiling were masterpieces of artwork.

I took a stroll down to the dungeons, and along the way there was this neat window that looked out into the canal. I felt kind of sorry for the prisoners who were kept in these dungeons because they were essentially at or under the canal level, so it was damp and dingy. I’m sure some of them probably deserved to be down there, don’t get me wrong, but the conditions were dark, damp, and depressing. Not somewhere I would want to live, but it was pretty neat to visit. I would definitely recommend taking a day to explore this magnificent and dominating building if you’re in Venice.

Ciao for now!

Venice Day 10: Pasta Dinners and Night Time Strolls

Venice Day 10: Pasta Dinners and Night Time Strolls

June 13, 2017 Tuesday

I woke up late around 8:20 and hurriedly got ready for the day. I walked to breakfast alone and had my usual meal. When I got to the restaurant, I didn’t see anyone I knew so I initially sat alone. But about two minutes later I looked up and through the glass of the window I saw Iulia and Adriana who I subsequently went to join. I ate for another five minutes before we rushed to class where the discussion was on Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice. During the 15 minute break, I walked down to the cafe and ordered an espresso then joined some of the others at a table to chat.

After class some people went off to have their own adventures. I and some others stayed on San Servolo for some much needed rest and to get a lot of work done. The plan was to meet up with essentially everyone in our class later on in the night and get dinner and drinks together. It’s nice because the rest of the week we’re usually all off in separate groups doing our own things.

Around eight o’clock, we took the vaporetto into the main city and made our way to Dosoduro. It was a nice walk under the clear sky that was slowly beginning to darken. At the restaurant (I wish I could remember the name of it because it was great), we met up with some of the kids from the other class and proceeded to order our classic Italian food. The portions were pretty big, so one of my friends and I decided to split the pasta with fish, and the staff were kind of enough to bring it out to us in two separate bowls. It was a fantastic meal with great food and lots of laughter. We sat outside and it was beautiful to look around at the restaurant at dusk. As is the custom, the waiters came around to ask if anyone would like any coffee or dessert. I and some others ordered espressos. One of my favorite moments of the night was when the waiter brought out the espressos on a tray, and when he went to place it down in front of the guy across from me, he pretended to spill the espresso all over him. We all laughed hysterically when we saw that the cup was empty and attached to a string. That was in essence the way we had been treated all night by the staff; they were genial, accommodating, and overall almost like friends. When we left, they waved us off and offered us some candy for the road.

We then headed to the Rialto area where we took in the view from the bridge at night. When we decided to go back, some of us stopped in Piazza San Marco to wait for the next vaporetto in a scene of beauty. We sat on the steps talking, laughing, and viewing the activity of San Marco’s at night until it was time to go back.

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Ciao for now!

Venice Day 9: Canareggio, Canals, and City Streets

Venice Day 9: Canareggio, Canals, and City Streets

June 12, 2017 Monday

This was a rough morning because I was so tired from my adventure in Verona the day before that I started my day a little later than usual. I had to be at class by 9 am, so I woke up around 8:20, put on a dress and sneakers, then met my friends for breakfast at 8:40. We sat outside in the sun and I had my usual eggs, meat and bread, and double espresso. It was a bit more rushed than usual because I had less time, but it was no less enjoyable. In class we discussed the connection between Plato’s Phaedrus and Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice.

After class, I went back to my room and wrote for an hour about everything I had done the previous week. Around 1 pm, I went downstairs to the hotel restaurant and ordered some lunch which I ate outside in the shade with a group of my friends. We had all brought work to do at the table but no one was doing it, and instead we were all conversing and laughing and having an overall pleasant lunch. Since we did all actually have to do some school work though, we cut lunch a bit short and headed back to our rooms. I read and wrote a bit more, until about 3:45. That’s when I and a group of other girls headed into Venice to walk around and explore some more.

We walked around Canareggio looking into shops and checking out cute cafes for a couple hours. We found this adorable little chocolate/ dessert store that would accept our vouchers, so we each bought a little something to satisfy our sweet tooth. I bought a bag of small chocolate and cookie sandwiches that taste so yummy. Gabrielle bought a slice of chocolate cake that was so dark it was black and tasted fantastic. We then went into a nice jewelry shop in which all the jewelry was made from beads and the store was separated by color. It went from blue to purple to pink to red to orange to yellow to white to black. All the jewelry was stunning. Maggie and Francesca each bought a bracelet and then we continued down the calle. We went into a couple of other stores, with people making small purchases every so often and then we got hungry.

We happened upon a tiny restaurant, “Pontini,” right on the water that appeared to be very popular and according to Gabrielle had gotten great reviews online. Because it was busy and because we were a group of six people, we had to wait for about 15 minutes before we were seated. Once we were seated inside (we didn’t get to sit in front of the water unfortunately), we had a chance to look at the menu and enjoy our complimentary bread. I ended up ordering spaghetti ala bolognese. What startled me a bit when I took my first bite was that it tasted so much like my mom’s homemade bolognese! It was also a great portion size, not too much but not too little. Other people got salads (which were huge), a caprese salad, gnocchi, and spaghetti alle vongole. The people working there were so nice and accommodating and even let us pay separately at the end which was a huge help.

After we left the restaurant, we walked to a grocery store on the Grand Canal right next to the Rialto Bridge.  We had shopped here before because they accept our vouchers and we can buy lots of fruits and veggies for a reasonable price. We stocked up on these items as well as some cases of bottled water (which can be expensive to continually buy on the street) and some other necessities. We always make a commotion when we’re paying because we have to figure out how we’re going to add everything up and what we can use the vouchers on. It’s like a scene out of a comedy act where everything is going wrong, but in a comical way. Finally we paid and then trekked back to the San Zaccaria vaporetto stop while lugging our shopping bags through the streets.

We returned to San Servolo around 21:30 and parted ways at our respective buildings. I put away my purchases when I got back to the room, did some work, and then relaxed until midnight when, with my eyes drooping with every word I read, I finally decided to go to sleep.

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This area was one of the only ones not overrun by zealous tourists
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We happened upon this area as we were wandering around the city

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The restaurant we went to is under one of the awning on the right
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Street sand art

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Ciao for now!

Venice Day 8- Verona, Castel Vecchio, & Visiting Juliet

Venice Day 8- Verona, Castel Vecchio, & Visiting Juliet

June 11, 2017 Sunday

Sunday was the day that we all decided to take a trip to Verona. In order to make the most out of our time there, since we decided on only a day trip, we booked one of the earliest trains there. So, I woke up at 6:30 am, got dressed and ready, and packed my bag with everything I would need for the trip (money, wallet, passport in case I needed ID, camera, sunscreen, sunglasses, chapstick, and some other random bits and bobs). The first vaporetto of the day left at 7:10, and at 7:05 one of my roommates and I were sprinting towards the stop to make it on time. Once on the vaporetto to the San Marco stop, we met up with the other six girls going with us. We were the only people on the boat other than a woman with her suitcase (most likely going to the airport) since it was so early.

When we arrived at the San Marco vaporetto stop, we had to go to another stop in order to take a different vaporetto to the train station (the vaporetto in Venice are like buses in major cities, with certain ones going to specific places in the city). We arrived at the train station around 7:50 and since none of us had eaten any breakfast yet, we stopped into a cafe in the station (after we had located our train of course). I ate a blueberry muffin with a small cappuccino (I know, I know you’re all shocked that I didn’t order an espresso. Sometimes a girl has to change it up a bit). We got on the train in groups as we got our food, and managed to find 8 seats together. About three minutes before the train was supposed to leave, two girls from our group were still not on board. We started to get concerned when, like out of a movie, they walked down the aisle towards us just as the train was leaving the station. Apparently one of them had spilled her coffee and the cafe had kindly replaced it for her, but it was a close call.

During the hour and a half train ride from Venice to Verona, we talked in our respective groups of four and admired the view of the countryside outside the window. When we arrived in Verona, we were met at the station by Francesca’s friend, Joan, who was there taking a class. She showed us which bus to take from the station to get to our first destination: The Colosseum. When we stepped off the bus, we were greeted by this beautiful fountain surrounded by lush green grass and sweltering heat. Maggie had Rick Steve’s guidebook from which she gave us interesting facts throughout the day about the various places we visited. At the Colosseum, only a few of us went inside of it while the others waited outside (you had to pay to go in). The “inside” was really a bunch of amphitheater seats in the open air, but it was amazing to see. On the stage there were men setting up a set for an upcoming performance that I think was going to take place there. Even though it was only 10:30 am, it was brutally hot, so I sat down and put on some sunscreen. Then I took pictures along with some of my friends.

After the Colosseum, we met up with the others and made our way to Centro Storico. Along the way we stopped into some of the stores lining the street. Six of us decided to buy some macaroons at a little French pastry shop, then we looked into a perfume store, and finally we made it to Centro Storico. Here, we followed the signs to the house of Juliet (from Romeo and Juliet) and went into the famous courtyard. It was packed with people. There was a mob of people trying to take a picture holding the breast of the Juliet statue because apparently this is good luck in love (I mean Juliet didn’t seem to have too much luck in love considering both she and her lover died, but I guess it’s the myth of Juliet). Naturally we had to partake in this tradition as well. Then, a couple of the girls decided to go up to Juliet’s balcony and take some pictures there, so while they did that I went into the gift shop and bought some postcards as souvenirs.

When we finally left the mass of people in Juliet’s courtyard, we made our way down to Joan’s apartment building where we met up with a couple of her friends. Then we split into two groups of about five people each to get lunch since we all wanted to eat at different places. The place my group went to, Osteria del Bugiardo, was lovely,  had amazing food, and was very reasonably priced. We decided to share a meat platter, a cheese platter, and a vegetable platter which was filling and delicious, and was less than 7 euro each when we split the bill. By the time we met up with the others after lunch it was 2 pm.

We went to a beautiful church called La Basilica di Santa Anastasia. Inside there were beautiful paintings and an incredibly elaborate ceiling that was difficult to look up at but breathtaking to behold. We were also given the electronic tour information electronic device that gave a history of the painting or sculpture I was standing in front of. There was a little chapel in the back where people could go, so I went in and said a little prayer. We left a little while later and walked to the square where the statue of Dante is placed. In it there was a gelato place where I and a couple other girls decided to treat ourselves. I chose a wonderful mix of limone (lemon) and fragola (strawberry) which tasted divine. As we continued down the road and after I had finished my ice cream, we found a beautiful picture location where we paused to take some snapshots. Just off of this were various cafes so we split into two groups depending on what refreshment we wanted. I went to get an espresso to wake me up while some of the others went to get gelato.

After we had some food and drink in us, we brightened up and continued on our way. We found the Duomo di Verona and I went inside along with 3 others, Caroline, Rachel, and Maggie. Inside to the immediate right when you walk in is the small chapel room with a giant basin as the main focal point. To the left when you walk in is a hallway that could go to two different rooms. The room more straight was the area where you can look down and see the exposed foundation, but it also had an altar and some pews set up like a small church. The room more towards the back and to the left was the main Cathedral area which was ornately decorated with the most exquisite artwork, organ, and marble. The dome, which was the main focus, was off to the side in the center. It was  intricately decorated and painted with such pleasing images of angels. After about half an hour of looking around, we left to meet up with the others who were having some drinks across the street.

We decided to end our tour of Venice with the Castel Vecchio before getting dinner which is precisely what we did. We entered under the arched structure after crossing a small wooden bridge. Once across the bridge, there was a magnificent courtyard, so green and lush. After I had bought my ticket, I was told I would have to leave my backpack in a cubby, so I paid one euro (which I got back at the end) to store it in a locked cubby. The lower rooms were all sculptures, while on the second and third floors there were a lot of different paintings from the late 15th, 16, and 17th centuries. Many, if not all, of the paintings were religious in some way, either depicting the saints or depicting the Virgin Mary with Jesus (Madonna and Child). They were all really interesting to look at because of how long they have lasted over the centuries. but after a while it is difficult (for me at least) to look at the same concept displayed over and over in each painting. At last, one of the last things we did at the castle was go up to the top where we could see pretty much the entire city and where we could look out into the river below. There was also a brick build walkway that was the bridge between the multiple buildings of this castle where I looked down into the courtyard of the front entrance and was mesmerized by the completely different views.

At this point, it was around 7 pm and we were tired, hungry, and mainly just wanted to take a load off our feet. We went into one shopping store (OVS) for about 15 minutes then headed back to the Colosseum which is where we were first dropped off by the bus in the morning. There, we found a great restaurant right in front with a perfect view of the Colosseum and some reasonable prices. I believe it was called Ristorante Pizzeria Olivo, and the food there was delicious. I ordered some kind of pasta with tomato sauce and eggplant topped with a giant prawn, and it was so good. Iulia, Fidelia, and I also split a tiny bottle of wine that was about 0.375 liters, which was about 1 1/4 glasses each. When we finished our food, we walked to the bus stop and took the bus back to the train station where we then waited for about an hour. While waiting, we looked at the pictures from the day, we talked about what we had seen and done, and I read a bit of Plato’s Phaedrus for class.

The train arrived around 21:50 and by 22:00 we had departed Verona. Unfortunately, this train was a fast train and we had assigned seats in different cars so we had to split up. But, luckily for me, Iulia and Maggie were also in my car and it was pretty empty, so I abandoned my assigned seat to sit with them. It was a pretty tame ride where we joked and chatted the hour away. But, there was some commotion when someone came to check tickets because this group of people sitting a few seats away from us did not have any tickets and were escorted out of the car. After they left, I heard some raised voiced and then never saw them again. Other than that, not much else transpired. By the time we arrived back in Venice, it was about 23:15 and we knew we were not going to make the 23:30 vaporetto back to San Servolo. That meant that we would have to wait another hour for the 12:30 vaporetto, and by this this point in the night we were all exhausted. So we took the vaporetto from the train station to the San Marco stop, then transferred over to the San Zaccaria stop. The half hour ride there wasn’t too difficult because I sat outside and looked at Venice by night under the beautiful, almost orange, full moon.

We waited at the San Zaccaria stop for about 45 minutes, during which time I continued to read. Everyone was so tired that we passed the time pretty much in silence. When the vaporetto finally arrived around 12:45 am, we shuffled on and looked out into the night as we rode towards San Servolo, our home. After such a long day, I was glad to be back. But, because there are three of us sharing a room, I did not get to shower until 1:30 am and didn’t go to sleep until around 2:15 am. But even though I had class the next morning, it was all worth it to see the beautiful city of Verona.

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Ciao for now!

Venice Day 7: Calm Mornings, Ciao, & Ca’ d’Oro

Venice Day 7: Calm Mornings, Ciao, & Ca’ d’Oro

June 10, 2017 Saturday

This was a day for sleeping in late and relaxing. I stayed in bed until probably 11:15 am when the cleaning woman knocked on my door and wanted to check that the room was empty. I opened the door while still in my pajamas and half asleep, and there was an exchange between us that I think meant that she would come back later, but what I heard in my head was that she would be back in 5 minutes. So, I hurriedly threw on my new cropped white off the shoulder shirt under my blue and pink striped romper, put some white sneakers on, and hurriedly did my makeup. Then I grabbed my backpack with my homework and took the rest of my box of blueberries out of the fridge and headed to the tables outside. I sat in the shade reading Plato’s Phaedrus while sipping on my water and occasionally popping some blueberries into my mouth. Every now and then when I would look up from reading my book I got to see the green of the trees and out the window in the wall I saw the blue of the water. It was such a tranquil and beautiful way to start my day.

Around 12:45 some of my friends started to come around to the tables for lunch, so I decided to join them. We all enjoyed a lunch filled with conversation and good Italian food from the San Servolo restaurant. After lunch, I quickly ran back up to my room to grab some necessities for my purse. When I opened the door, I realized that the room had not been cleaned yet, that I must have misunderstood the woman, and that I had not needed to rush after all. But it didn’t matter since it actually got me up and going with my day. After I had grabbed my purse and some money, I met the rest of my friends at the vaporetto stop and we headed into the city. As we were walking along, we came across a crowd of people gathered around some students (I assume they were students since they were young and there was a lot of them), most likely a song and dance group, performing in the middle of the calle. They were singing a capella and harmonizing beautifully, but they were also dancing perfectly in sync to the beat. We stopped to watch them for a few minutes because it was so neat, then we continued on our way.

We had decided the day before that we wanted to go to Ca’ d’Oro, so that’s what we did first when we arrived in the city. Because we’re students, we paid a reduced price to get in which was great. We started off by going into the courtyard where there were a couple  of statues and mosaics to look at. I went over to the sign that had the history of the building and right next to it there was a little square hole in one of the walls that looked out into the street out front. I went over to look into it, with my sunglasses on, and I was startled to find a man looking back at me with a big smile who said “Ciao!” Since I had my sunglasses on, I hadn’t realized there was someone from the street looking in. The whole thing was really funny, and my friends laughed at me for some time afterwards.

Next, we went inside up the stairs to the first floor which had a few rooms of statues and paintings. All the art was very beautiful and mostly religious since it was from around the 16th century. Upstairs on the second floor there were more paintings and sculptures and bronze, but there was also a room filled with carpets and rugs. Along the walls and next to the carpets were the descriptions of each type of carpet and its origin.

After about an hour or so we left Ca’ d’Oro and walked around a bit. We found a gelato place to stop at and I got fragola (strawberry) and mango which was delicious. At this point in the day, it was around 4:45 and a couple of the girls wanted to see if there was a mass at the church in Piazza San Marco, so we walked there. It turned out that the mass was at 6:45 instead of 5:30 as we had thought. We decided that since some of us wanted to go back early and get work done while the others wanted to go to mass, we would go and grab some food then split up.

We ate at Rosso Pomodoro near Piazza San Marco, and since it was early (about 5:15ish) we got some light food. I ordered a caprese salad and a glass of prosecco while some of the others ordered salad, ravioli, and some pizza, along with some prosecco. It was really good, but at the end of the meal those of us who were going back to San Servolo had to go to catch the 6:50 vaporetto. We left our meal vouchers with the others (since this restaurant was one of only a few places that takes the meal vouchers we were given through our university course), and headed on our way.

Back at San Servolo, I decided to take a nap since I hadn’t been getting a lot of sleep the past week and I decided to use this day as my catch up day. I took a nap until about 8pm and then I did some homework before finally getting ready for bed and going to sleep around 12 am.

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Ciao for now!