Monday, December 9, 2013

Cinque Terre

For my last weekend in Italy Jenna, Shelby and I went to Cinque Terre for the weekend. We stayed in Manorola which is one of the 5 cities. We had a couple of difficulties with the train on Friday morning one of which included Shelby and I buying tickets for the wrong days. We figured it out and we finally made it to the city around 4, just in time to check into our hostel. That night after putting our stuff down we went and watched the sunset from the top of a hill in the city. All 5 cities rest on hills and in between are mountains with hiking trails. After sunset we walked around the town and went down to the water where there were a couple people fishing. Because we had been traveling all day we were all exhausted and starving, so we got dinner earlier than normal and then went to bed. For dinner we got pasta with pesto which is really famous in cinque terre. The next day we were up early to shower (hot water available from 7am-10am) and we were on our way hiking a little before 10. It was such a nice day out that we could've been wearing shorts while we were hiking. Even though I'm afraid of heights, and not the best hiker, it was definitely worth it for the view every time you reached the top of a peak. We went from the second city where we were staying to the fourth city. About halfway in-between the third and fourth city there was a man who lives in the mountains who had an area for people to come and rest and fill up their waters with fresh spring water. He had an excellent view of the water and he had made a lot of crafts that represented cinque terre. It was so cool and a very nice place to take a break. When we got to the fourth city we decided to go down to the water and take a break because we knew we wouldn't be able to hike to the fifth city before dark. So we stayed in the fourth city for a while and watched the sunset again. While we were there we ran into these two girls who we met at dinner Friday night. It was really funny realizing that we knew someone there (kinda). After we had taken a break we took the train to the fifth city where we got pizza and calzones for dinner. For dessert we had foccacia and nutella. It was so good even though I was a little worried about how it was going to be served. Foccacia is another thing that is famous in cinque terre and we were told we had to try it. By the time we got back to our hostel we were exhausted from all the hiking we did but we stayed up for a little bit just to hang out and reminisced about all of the good times we've had in Rome. Our last day in cinque terre we were carrying around our luggage so we took a train to the first city and hung out in a bar until we had to leave to catch our train. It was nice to sit and relax while having a cappuccino after such a long weekend. Our train ride back went a lot smoother than the train ride there and we were all able to get some studying done for our finals this week.
Going to Cinque Terre for the weekend was definitely a great way to wrap up the study abroad trip. Hiking through the mountains gave us time to reflect on everything that has happened and everything we are looking forward to when we come home. Just a few more days left in Rome and then I'll be on my way home! Can't wait!

Another winter day, Has come and gone away, In even Paris and Rome & I wanna go home

            I can’t believe that this semester is coming to an end. I have been doing so much since I have been here and I am so thankful for how much I’ve been able to travel! A couple weeks ago I went to my favorite place in the world, Paris, and it most definitely lived up to my expectations. My friend Adam, his parents and I went on the trip.  The first night there (Thursday) we went straight to the hostel to go to bed and we slept in the next morning. During the day on Friday we went to the Eiffel Tower and went all the way to the top! The view left me speechless and freezing. At the very top we bought a glass of champagne to celebrate. We bought tickets to take the stairs most of the way up and then took the elevator when we had to. I enjoyed walking to the top because you could take your time and enjoy every level and see the view. It was so cold up there but I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for it. After we went to the Eiffel Tower we got a small lunch and then we took the metro to the Arc d’Triumph. The Arc is on the Champs Elysees, which is this beautifully lit up road with shops. After taking the necessary pictures of the Arc we made our way down the street and stopped into a view stores. At the end of the street there was something set up that looked like a Christmas Festival. There were a few kids rides, a giant slide and lots of shops that you could buy scarves, ornaments and random things as well. At the very end of the road there was a Ferris wheel and ice-skating. Adam and I went ice-skating while his parents went on the Ferris wheel and it was so much fun because I never thought that I would ever be ice skating in Paris! After such a nice day we got a brief dinner and went to bed because we were all exhausted. On Saturday we spent the day at the Louvre, and when I say we spent the day I mean it. We spent six hours in the museum. The place is so huge that even though we were there for so long we still didn’t see everything. My favorite part about the museum was finally being able to have Starbucks. Other than that there were a couple pieces that I really did enjoy. One of the first things we saw was the Mona Lisa and that was incredible. Its so funny that something that seems so simple can be so popular. We also got Ben & Jerry’s in the museum and that was another highlight of course. After the Louvre, Adams parents were exhausted so they headed back to the hostel while Adam and I stopped at a random metro stop to get dinner. When we got of the stop we came across the Galeries Lafayette, which is a huge mall in Paris. There were so many stores so we just walked around and watched the tree light up. Afterwards we got on the metro again and found another stop to get dinner at. Dinner was delicious our waiter was great which was a relief because the night before our waiter was nothing special. On Sunday we had our flight at 9pm so we took our luggage with us to do some sight seeing for the day. First we went to the Notre Dame Cathedral and walked around while there was a mass going on inside. The music was my favorite part aside from the fa├žade of the cathedral. The inside wasn’t well lit so it was difficult to just walk through and see everything. After the Cathedral we went to the lock bridge, which was probably my second favorite thing about Paris. For anyone who doesn’t know, the lock bridge is a bridge in Paris that is covered in locks (which seems self-explanatory) but the meaning behind it is that people will go to this bridge, place a lock on the bridge and then throw the key in the Seine to symbolize everlasting love. I promised myself that when I go back to Paris in the future I will definitely put a lock on the bridge. After the bridge we got lunch and then Adam and I went into Saint Chappelle. What was interesting about this church was that the first floor is extremely boring. We were really disappointed at first because we had paid to get into the church and there was nothing there. We made our way upstairs and realized what it really was that we paid for. There were a series of stain glass windows that told the stories from Genesis, Exodus, etc. The room used to be a reliquary but all of the relics are now kept underneath Notre Dame. Once we left there we made our way to the airport to catch our plane. While I was in Paris I was able to try all of the foods I wanted to which was my main goal in going. I had wine, cheese, bread, chocolate croissant, and a croque-monsieur (ham & cheese). I was very sad to go but now I can’t wait to go back!!
            The weekend after Paris, Sinead and I went to London for the weekend. My dad says it was only a day trip because we were only there from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning. Even though we didn’t get there until the afternoon on Friday we were still able to see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Seeing Eye. The Seeing Eye is the third largest Ferris wheel in the world and you get a great view of London from the top. During the ride there are touch screens where you can look up information about all of the sights around you. This was really helpful because Sinead and I didn’t know a lot about London except for a few things. When we got back to our hotel it was already late so we took a quick nap and then headed out for the night. Friday night was probably my favorite part about London because we were able to meet two girls from the small town we were staying in and they took us to another irish pub nearby. It was so much fun being out with them because it was so different from going out in Rome. Everyone there was out to have a good time, there was great music and everyone was so friendly! The next day Sinead and I had a few places we wanted to see before we went to Winter Wonderland at night. First, we went to the London Bridge but then we were a little disappointed and wanted to find out what the nicer looking bridge was on the other side. On our walk there we came across the Towers of London and then continued walking toward the Tower Bridge (the cooler bridge). After seeing those sights we made our way back to Big Ben and went to go into Westminster Abbey, which was right near it. Unfortunately Westminster Abbey was closed to sightseeing so we were not able to go in. From there we found directions to go to Buckingham Palace and by the time we reached there it was darker out so it was lit up but there were no fancy guards outside the building. From there we decided we would start walking in the general direction that we thought Winter Wonderland would be in. Eventually we came across it which was fantastic because the entire weekend we were having such great lunch finding things and trains being perfectly on time. Even though it was free to get in there was such a long line because of how many people were already inside Winter Wonderland. Sinead and I had no idea what to expect when we went in but it wound up being this giant carnival with tons of rides and games and booths selling the same sort of things that they were selling in Paris. It was a little chilly outside but it was so much fun to be there! While we were there we got hot chocolate with baileys, we went on a couple of rides, and just enjoyed being there. It was a good thing we left early because it was so packed that when we did leave people were still trying to get in even thought it closed in an hour. On our way to the metro to get back to our hotel we came across the Hard Rock in London! We didn’t go to the restaurant but we did go inside the store and bought a couple of souvenirs. We were so happy that the entire weekend we kept coming across awesome things rather than seeking out everything. The next morning we were up really early to catch our flight and once again I was sad to leave, but mostly because London reminded me of Boston and it made me miss home more. AND they spoke English… that was probably the best part.

            This past Thursday was our last day of classes and now I am off to Cinque Terre for the weekend with Jenna and Shelby. One last trip before I go back home! It is also a nice distraction from finals but thankfully they are not as bad as I thought they would be. We already finished Italian earlier in the week so now once I return to Rome I have three finals, packing, buying a few more souvenirs and then I’m heading home! This Study Abroad experience was without a doubt the best choice I’ve ever made and the best experience I have ever had in my life. When I think about leaving it is bittersweet because I will miss the experience itself, but I am positive that I will return to Italy. Maybe not Rome, but definitely Italy!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Three wishes...

My bag is packed, my essay is sent in and all that stands between me and going to Paris is lunch! This weekend is something that I have been looking forward to every since I was a kid. Going to Paris will make all of my french classes worth it (hopefully) and I will be the happiest person on the planet. These past couple weeks have been amazing and it keeps on getting better. This whole experience has been incredible and there is still more left! A couple weeks ago my parents came to visit me and I missed them the second they left. I was so excited for them to be here and to finally see them after what felt like forever. We did a lot of touristy things and ate at wonderful restaurants. My mom was here for her birthday and so for her birthday I planned a trip to Chianti in Tuscany and we had a blast! Luckily the weather was great the entire weekend even though it was supposed to rain the entire time. The same thing happened when my aunts were here the following weekend. It did rain a little bit but not enough to keep us inside! With my aunts we traveled to Venice and it was absolutely amazing! I didn't have any expectations for Venice because I knew that whatever I would come across would be something new and beautiful. I could not get over how much water there was! It is literally a city on water. The trip was definitely worth the long train ride and the three of us had such a great time. While my aunts where here the school went on a trip to Scansano where we visited a winery and had a delicious lunch. While I was there my aunts traveled out and about in Rome by themselves and even though they got lost they said it was worth it. It was so much fun to be able to eat out at nice restaurants while they were here and I am so thankful that they treated me to such nice dinners! Last weekend the school took a weekend long exertion to Urbino where we stayed at the University of Urbino. My favorite part about the trip was being around people my own age. We were situated in a real college environment and that is something I miss having while I am here. We took a trip to Assisi while we were in Urbino and then were able to do whatever we wanted for the rest of the trip. We spent a lot of time relaxing which was perfect because relaxation has been something that is much needed recently with the semester coming to an end. While we were in Urbino we did come across some rain and cold weather but a little rain never hurt anybody. Every time I went into a church one of my three wishes was for good weather during the trip just like when my aunts and my parents were here. I made the same wish recently for my trip to Paris but I don't even care if it rains the entire time. I just can't wait to be in Paris!
Now that you are finally caught up with everything that has been going on I now have to go eat lunch and catch a plane! Au revoir!
p.s I will post pictures next time for the past trips I've had!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Napoli, Capri & Pompeii

This past weekend we took a group trip to Naples. We stayed in a small hotel on the same street where Prof. Balena lived. Every morning we had a cornetto and cappucino at the same cafe same restaurant every night. For lunch, we were given bagged lunches from another place down the street. It was so nice to be in Naples because we were with our professor who is from the area and he knew everyone! It reminded me of the tv show Cheers! when Norm walks into the bar and every one screams his name. Wherever we went with Prof. Balena everyone would scream "OTTA!!!". Everyone in the area was so friendly and we definitely made a lot of friends during this trip. We got to Naples around 7 on thursday night and had dinner around 8. I'm still so full from all the food we ate this weekend. Neapolitan food is amazing but they serve so much food! Thursday night we had seafood which was excellent! Naples is on the water which was what made the city beautiful. Everyone that we talked to before our trip told us to watch out for people trying to steal from us and not everyone said they liked the city. Naples doesn't have a very good reputation but Prof. Balena would always talk about how everything is better in Naples. After this weekend I have nothing negative to say about the city. Everything is definitely better in Naples. Maybe not the trash filled streets and graffiti, but everything else was amazing. After dinner thursday night we got our first experience of the city by walking around at night and seeing a lot of the history behind the city and seeing just how beautiful Naples night life is right on the water. We walked for a very long time and were all extremely exhausted when we got back to the hotel. Friday we went to Capri... which i'm going to save until the end to talk about because I have to save the best for last! Friday night we went out to dinner again and had lots of pasta and fried food. Once again, so filling. Afterwards the adults knew how tired we all were so we were able to go to bed right after dinner. Our visit to Pompeii was on Saturday and that was incredible. I had heard very little about Pompeii but remembered the most important stuff. Pompeii is full of ancient roman ruins that were uncovered after the entire city was destroyed when Mt. Vesuvius erupted. The lava didn't reach the city but the ashes and gasses killed everyone in the city immediately. Something that I still haven't gotten used to since I've been in Rome is how old everything is and imagining everyone that has walked before me in the exact same spot. Ancient emperors and kings have been to the same places I have and that astonishes me. What was extremely overwhelming in Pompeii was seeing the remains of the people that lived there. When the people perished what remained was cavities that were later found and archaeologists pumped plaster into these cavities and in certain places in pompeii you can see these plaster filled cavities. You are able to see the last seconds of a person's life and that is a very depressing sight to see. On the upside, it was very exciting to see ancient ruins and picture a lively city that was there thousands of years ago. While we were in Pompeii Prof. Balena didn't have anything to cover his bald head and so instead of having to hold a map over his head I lent him my scarf to wear as a turban. It was definitely a sight to see (I will post a photo). After Pompeii we went back to the hotel and napped before dinner. After dinner, Prof. Balena and a few of his friends took us out around town in their cars to see more of the city night life. We went to the top of a very big hill to see the city all light up. It was a gorgeous place. He told us that he was taking us to one of the most romantic places in rome. I also learned that there are two different ways to say "I love you" in italian. Prof. Balena is not only a generally happy person full of information but he is also a big romantic, which makes sense because he has a huge heart. In italian, "ti voglio bene" is what you would say to a friend or family when you wanted to say that you love them. In a relationship (boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife) you would say "ti amo". He further explained the three different ways the greeks used "I love you" but that was very confusing. Sunday we didn't have anything planed but Prof. Balena's friends took us out around the city again to show us Naples during the daytime. His friend that owned the cafe that we had been eating at opened up just for us on Sunday so we could have breakfast. For lunch we finally got to have Neapolitan pizza. To no surprise the pizza was huge and delicious. I was unable to finish mine after eating so much this weekend but I loved every bite. It was very sad to leave on Sunday and I am already looking forward to going back in the future (WHEN i get the chance, not if).
There are many reasons why I saved Capri for last but the most important one is because you save the best for last. Capri was the highlight of my weekend and I don't think I ever stopped smiling. The second we got off the ferry I fell in love with the little town. The whole place is on a hill so there was a lot of going up and down hills but I didn't mind at all. The view from the top was gorgeous and normally this is when I would be speechless but I could not stop talking about it. I kept talking about how I had never seen water so clear and so blue before. We went swimming right when we got there and it was the last thing we did before we headed home. When we were about 20 minutes away from having to meet everyone someone said "are you going to remember the time you were cold on a ferry because you were wet, or are you going to remember the last time you swam in the Mediterranean sea". I already wanted to go swimming again but that made it even more convincing. The water was so perfect that I never wanted to leave. I was acting like a child on Christmas morning the entire time I was in the water. I will still appreciate the beaches in Scituate, but nothing could come even close to how perfect the water was in Capri. The beach itself was rocky but I couldn't care less about that. One day was not enough to soak up all of the beauty in Capri. I thought it was funny because the night before at dinner we were all talking about our "best day ever" and I couldn't think of just one. Now I definitely have a best day ever. I can't think of much else to say about Capri other than the fact that it was the happiest place I have ever been in. Before I left for Rome I was told to go to Capri and I think that even if it was a scheduled trip I would've found my way there. I am so thankful for the opportunities I have been given while I am here and this was a trip that we all worked for. We cleaned our entire building from top to bottom for a week to pay for this trip and every second was worth it. I brought back with me many memories of both Capri and Naples. In Capri I bought a pretty dress for only 15 euros and in Naples I bought an infinity ring for 5 euros. I also have an obscene amount of photos from the weekend which I have gone through multiple times. On the boat ride back you could see the moon on one side and the sunset on the other side. This was the perfect ending to the day because both sides were gorgeous. I have never seen anything so beautiful in my whole life. My only wish would be to show everyone in my life Capri and hope that they would enjoy it just as much as I did. I will always remember Naples and Capri because it was extremely sentimental coming from someone who lives on the water. When we went to the beach in Capri I sat at the end of the jetty for a little bit like I would do at the Scituate Lighthouse and it had the same feeling of knowing that I was in a place that felt like home.  Now that I have gone on and on about how much I loved Capri I think its time for pictures! Also, here is a link to my facebook photo album of all my pictures from italy.
Ti Voglio Bene!
One more thing I want to add... On top of enjoying this weekend so much it was also a good weekend to reflect on everything that I am thankful for in life and I hope that everyone can take time out of their day to appreciate what they have and who they have in their life that care about them. Don't ever take a day for granted and make the most of everything!

Me at the top of a hill in Capri

view from another hill in Capri

look at how blue the water is!

more pictures from capri

Capri from the port

ti amo

the forum in pompeii

plaster cavity in pompeii

i couldn't believe how well preserved the frescos were!

pompeii amphitheater 

Naples at night! View from the top of a hill

the gang with the woman who owned the cafe

I was too anxious to eat it that I forgot to take a picture at first....

Prof. Balena

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Taking a breather...

After a very busy weekend I can honestly say it is so wonderful to sit in a comfy chair and watch game 3 of the playoffs. It might not get over until late but I don't mind. This weekend the Dean of Students came to visit the Rome campus and she came with us to Orvieto on Sunday. Orvieto was gorgeous and it was such a nice day out! Definitely another one of my favorite places we have visited. She brought with her candy and peanut butter which was the best gift imaginable. Also this weekend we went to HomeBaked which is an American breakfast place nearby and it was delicious! We will definitely be spending more time there. After our trip to Orvieto we came back and went out for a really nice dinner. During the second part if the first course (more pasta) they gave us bibs to wear! I'm still not sure if it was a joke or if everyone at the restaurant gets bibs if they get a certain type of pasta. Once we got back we all had to get to work on our homework and we were all up very late. This Thursday we leave for Napoli and we will be visiting Capri while we are there. I am so excited to go! Prof. Balena cannot stop talking about how amazing Naples is and I'm sure it will love up to expectations. For now I wanted to be able to share some photos from Orvieto and bring you up to date on my busy busy life. Sidenote: 16 days till my mom and dad come to visit!!
Being able to watch the red sox was a highlight of my day
Bibs at the restaurant!
Duomo Di Orvieto
I want to live here!
Panoramic of Orvieto countryside

Thursday, October 10, 2013

My week in a nutshell...

I can't believe it has almost been one month since I got here! It seems like time is flying by but I'm still enjoying every second of it. Between visiting St. Peter's Basilica twice this week, a midterm exam and napping I have had zero time to sit down and reflect on the past week. I will definitely have more time this weekend to think about everything but for right now I wanted to share a couple of things that has happened recently. 
Today: I knew I had to post something today after hearing something during class. Prof. Bonanno is away at a conference this weekend so we had Prof. Balena teaching us lit this morning. He was talking about Dante and Boccacio and mentioned a quote in italian. I do not remember the italian but it translated to something like this "Love comes to those who are gentle". I'm pretty sure thats what he said. He reminded me of when he told me that he saw me as a very motherly person that has plenty of love to share and that love comes easy to me. I really appreciated hearing this because it reminded me of my own mother. Every night before I go to bed I see my favorite picture of my mom and I from when I was a baby and it makes me so happy to think that some day I will be just like her. This thought process really had nothing to do with the Decameron that we are reading in class but it didn't matter to me. Later today we went to St. Peter's Basilica for the second time this week and it was just as thrilling as if I were seeing it for the first time. Today we focused on the religious aspect of the church rather than the art in the church like we did yesterday. Luckily the rain held off while we were waiting in line to go through security. The line was crazy! You don't have to pay to get in but you do have to stand in line for a very long time to get into the basilica. Even though I was able to sleep in last weekend I will definitely need to sleep in tomorrow to catch up for this past week. Saturday we have a day trip to Orvieto which should be fun because the Dean from Assumption will be visiting! I will post lots of pictures and post about it sometime this weekend.
Yesterday: Between Italian class and Renaissance Art class yesterday was a very LONG day. We were at our Italian class from 9:30-1 and then had a bag lunch because we were meeting our art professor at 2 at the Vatican Museum. We got back to our building around 5:50 or 6. The museum was really cool but unfortunately we had to jog through it like most of our visits to museums. The art work is absolutely stunning and I could spend hours there! After the museum we went to the Sistine Chapel. It was nothing like I expected but every single inch of it was painted and it was stunning! There were so many people there so it wasn't as quiet as expected but I was still able to appreciate being there. After that we went into the basilica which like I said earlier, was absolutely beautiful. There is so much artwork to appreciate in Rome and not one piece looks alike. One of my high points of yesterday was being able to understand everything in my Italian class. It was the first time I did not feel so lost and I loved every second of it. However, my favorite part of yesterday was last night after dinner I was talking to Prof. Balena about teaching and I finally found someone who feels the same way I do! He talked to me about how everyone has knowledge, but it is about making learning exciting and inciting people to want to learn. Talking to him about education was making me so excited for the day I finally am able to begin teaching. I want to ask him if he could email me a page he wrote about teaching because I would really like to share it and read more about the Socratic method of teaching he was talking about. It made me so happy to have someone to talk to about it!
Tuesday: For Ethics class we went to the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna. When you first walk into the museum the first room has a floor entirely made up of cracked mirrors. I loved this effect because it showed how things are without any distortion done by the artist. You see yourself for who you really are while standing next to beautiful statues. The first statue I saw was of Eve and I probably stared at her for what felt like hours. She was stunning and so life like and was right there in front of me. She was looking down and so in the mirror you could see her distraught face. It was titled "Eva dopo il peccato" (Eva after the sin). There was an immediate connection I felt with her and couldn't look away. I didn't take a picture of her myself because I felt like it would ruin the moment but I will find one and post it here. Just like going to the Vatican Museum we were rushed on this trip but I plan on going back because I could've spent hours in that museum. One of the paints we saw was called "Grande Rosso" and it reminded me of reading the play Red in my Romanticism class last semester. Its hard to explain what the artwork was but it was very modern and stuck out. 
Monday: We didn't do much monday besides go to Italian class and then we stayed inside for our Renaissance Art class. So out of this whole week monday was the most relaxing but I was able to face time with friends from home which made me very happy! 
I am so happy now that I have finally been able to share with you everything that has happened this week. I feel like I am always so busy and never have a second to share my experiences! Hopefully I will get into a better routine shortly. Enjoy the pictures!
Joke from Italian class "tonight we stop United States"

From the Vatican Museum

From Vatican Museum

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica

Eva dopo il peccato

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Free weekend!

After an extremely crazy and hectic week we finally made it to our first free weekend. Yesterday after getting a REAL American breakfast (pancakes, eggs & bacon) I headed towards sperlonga for a day trip. It's a beautiful little town that has a great beach but unfortunately the weather wasn't so great so we didn't really go to the beach. But I did out my feet in the Mediterranean Sea! On our to sperlonga it took us forever to get there because we kept running into issues. For example, the bus to the train station had to take a detour and then she we got to the train the doors were closing as we were trying to get on. Luckily the train comes every hour. Then when we got to sperlonga we had to wait a bit for the bus to the town. It was definitely worth it though! Such a gorgeous town. We made it back later last night and had my second fast-food meal in 2 days. You gotta do what you gotta do. We don't eat a lot of meat in our house which a couple of us our struggling with so we got subway the other day for lunch after barely eating anything and last night I got mcdonalds. It hit the spot. It's so nice to have a weekend to relax after a long week. The weather isn't that great but I'm sure we will make due. Hopefully I will be able to go for another run now that I have found a beautiful park to run in. Enjoy your weekend! 


Mediterranean Sea

This cat was everywhere!

Sorry its blurry- I was running