So, I may be slacking on keeping all of you updated on my adventures, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing some amazing things! So you might want to sit down and grab yourself a nice large cup of coffee because I have so much to fill you in on! (If you are only interested in the pictures, you might just want to skip to the bottom).
First, and most importantly, I spent ten days in Italy! My school had a week break in mid-February so we took full advantage of it and packed our (very heavy) backpacks and headed to Rome, Florence, and Venice!
Our first stop was Rome, and I’m going to be honest, it might have been my favorite. There was so much to see, and all of it was so old! Never in my life did I think I would get to see something build almost 2000 years ago! We flew in and headed straight to the Collesium (it was only a few blocks from our Airbnb, how great is that). After taking an embarrassing amount of photos we headed to the Roman Forum and Palentine Hill. Talk about impressive! I think I could have spent and entire day walking around there; there was just so much to see. We also started a motto that first day that we would live by for the next 10 days of our lives: pizza, pasta, gelato. That’s right, I didn’t eat anything but cheesy carbs and ice cream for a week and a half. I was living the true Italian luxury life.
Days two and three were full of more amazing Roman sights! We wandered around the streets of Rome (how cool is that to say?) for a while, saw the Altare della Patria, went to the Pantheon, threw coins and made wishes at the Trevi Fountain, and people watched while sitting on the Spanish Steps. We even took a trip to the Vatican city and toured Saint Peter’s Basilica. Never in my life did I think I would get to see Peter’s grave! We practically ran through the Vatican museum because we were running super late but we just HAD to see the Sistine Chapel. We then jumped on the metro, grabbed our bags, and took a train to Florence!
Florence was beautiful, but the best part was seeing my best friend Casey! She is currently studying abroad there, so we met up with her every day when she got out of class. We stayed right next to the Duomo, a huge cathedral, so the first morning there we toured it and climbed to the top of the bell tower. 400 steps later, we all felt like our legs might fall off but the view was worth it! We rewarded ourselves with plenty of chocolate from a chocolate festival before heading to an Italian leather market! Don’t worry, I didn’t break the bank. That night we walked up more steps (I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it) to Piazzale Michelangelo. All the walking was worth it because we watched to sunset over all of Florence and it was breathtaking. We sat on the steps, listened to a guitarist play romantic songs and watched the sun go down in a way it only can in Italy. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my Valentines day any other way.
That night, we went to this really cool American Bar called the Lion’s Fountain. The ceiling was covered in t-shirts from pretty much every college in the USA. We all stood on a stool and signed the Clemson one. I even added a little “natty champs” shout out, just incase anyone forgot about that.
The next day we hopped on a bus and took a wine tour through the Tuscan region! We tasted countless Chianti Classicos at two different vineyards. We all had so much fun, and learned a little bit too! I even made friends with a vineyard cat, so you could say it was the best day ever. Plus, the views were to die for (I’m learning that all of Europe is really really pretty). The next morning we had cannolis at Don Ninos, where the stuff the cannoli right in front of you when you order! It was my first ever cannoli, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat another on because none will ever live up to that one. We ended out time in Florence by seeing the one and only Michelangelo’s David. Honestly, it was even more impressive in person (unlike something else cough cough Mona Lisa). After admiring David for a while, we caught our next train to Venice! Casey came with us too, so that made this part of the trip even better!
The moment we arrived in Venice we knew this would be so different than anything else we had experienced! We stepped off our train and into a water taxi! That’s right, we took a boat to our next Airbnb. By the time we dropped our stuff off, we were starving so we pretty much walked into the first restaurant we saw, which ended up being a little expensive for our budget, but we decided what the heck, when in Venice!
The next three days were filled with wandering through the beautiful canals of Venice! We didn’t know this when we planned the trip, but that weekend was Carnival in Venice, which is a HUGE celebration where everyone dresses up and wears masks! It was really fun seeing all the costumes. We spent lots of time in St. Marks Square and toured the basilica. I’ve learned that traveling through Europe is actually just going into thousands of impressive churches. We went to the top of another bell tower and saw a beautiful view of the entire island. One of my favorite parts was a free walking tour that we took. The guide was great; I learned so much and saw so many things that I wouldn’t have otherwise! We also did the most touristy thing possible and took a gondola ride through the canals. One night we went to a little bar and Casey, Ally and I met the sweetest old couple there. The husband was British and the wife was French, and we ended up talking to them for over two hours! It was so cool to hear about their lives and they gave us so many tips for when we visit the UK.
We got up super early on Sunday and begrudgingly flew home. It was seriously one of the most amazing weeks of my life! I never imagined that I would get to travel across Italy with five of my friends. I’ve also never eaten that much pasta in such a condensed amount of time. But hey, when in Italy!