Monday, July 28, 2008

Previous Week, Venice & Vienna!

Ciao!! Sorry it has been so long, I have been busy busy busy!! These last weeks are flying by. It's a whirlwind!
So.. last week was just school. Boring! But, we did have one big event! Aleksa, Carlyn and I went to a place called Teatro del Sale. It translates into "theatre of the salt." It is this really cool place owned by the creator of Cibreo, another really good restaurant in Firenze. So, first you pay a membership fee (5euro) and apply and it allows you into the "circle." I guess the whole concept behind the place is a group of people who love to eat, drink, and have a good time(aka me), and once you are a member you are supposed to go and share your knowledge of all that plus traveling. So, we became members of the Circle, and then went inside. For dinner, the fee is 30 euro, so we paid and went in. They also have breakfast and lunch though. There was an area full of all kinds of salts and specialty food items to buy and then a little sitting area. It was full of books including traveling books! We sat around there for a while and you could help yourself to water and wine. And then the curtains go up! You walk in and sit wherever you like. It was so cute, all of the tables and chairs were different but the theme was red and wood and they had candles, a very nice atmosphere. So you sit down and they set out all the cold antipasti. Then you go help yourself buffet style. That was amazing as is, but THEN they open up these blinds and you see into these big glass windows into the kitchen!! It was an amazing kitchen, big and open with food roasting over an open flame!!! Then this plump old chef with long curly white hair sticks his head out of a window and starts YELLING in Italian! It was so hilarious. So he would pop his head out and yell, and that meant that the next hot food was ready. There was probably 7 courses... lets see if I can remember them all :) First was a meatball with capers, yummy! 2nd was a roasted tomato and onion, 3rd was some crazy eggplant thing, 4th was a pesto pasta, 5th was a veal with tomato sauce, 6th was pork with potatoes (what was roasting over the fire all night) and 7th was coffee gelato!! Wow, I can't believe I remember! Anyway, all the while the cold food was still out. It was absolutely fabulous! The food was incredible and I was SO FULL!! So the whole time you had to go grab the food yourself (when the guy yelled) and bring up your plates to a dish counter. Then after the food, they took away all the tables and you turned your chairs around for the show. First the chef came out and talked though.. He rambled for quite a while and I tried to pick up one what he was saying.. He came out with his son who has down syndrome and it was so adorable. They were hugging the whole time and you could tell that they loved each other and made each other so happy! Anyway, he talked about his son and how he loved too cook and cooking made him so happy. I thought it was so nice. Anyway, the night we went there was a small band playing. It was a drummer, a bassist, and a singer. They played French music, tango, and jazz. They even played a Chick Corea song! It was very quirky.. but still fun to watch!!

So.. then we left on Friday morning early for Venice. We took the train and of course slept the whole time.. from the train station we took a huge water taxi with just our group to a main port. We journeyed into Saint Mark's square where Nero gave us an incredibly long description/explanation and then went into the church. The church was very interesting because it was all mosaics. It was impossible to use frescoes inside the church because the amount of moisture in the air would ruin them, so every single picture in the church is mosaics!! It was amazing. Also, the floor was WAVY because of all the movement below the ground. It was unreal!
After that it was get lunch on your own. Our lunch was pretty lame. Then we went on a tour of the Guggenheim! It was very cool, we got see Picasso and some other Cubism artwork. Very nice! Anyway, then our trip was over. It was pretty cool but it wasn't really long enough. I didn't really like Venice though.. Maybe I wasn't there long enough? It was just really crowded and.. boring? Anyway, we had a quick dinner and then we got on our train ride for Vienna. We were SHOCKED when we saw the sleeper train, hahahah! For those of you who don't know its six people shoved in this shoebox room with 3 beds on each side. Anyway, once we finally got adjusted and got over the shock, we were fine. We were sharing the room with a mother and her 2 young daughters, so it wasn't too bad. The sleep was okay. I got as good of a sleep as you can on a train... We got woken up about 6 am and then got off the train. We went to our hostel and checked into our room. It was pretty crappy but.. it was only for one night. We left and went to the famous Schonbrunn Palace which is where the emperor Leopold lived with his family. The palace was enormous, supposedly with 1441 rooms, but we didn't go inside because we had so much we wanted to do! We went to this cute little cafe, which was very Viennese, and had a cute little traditional lunch. Then we went and saw an Apfelstreudel demonstration which was hilarious. They picked Carlyn to go up and help and it was so funny! Then we went into the back "garden" which was ENORMOUS and hiked up the hill to these huge stone arcs. Apparently Leopold had them built for his wife. The view from the top was amazing, it was the Palace and all of Vienna laid out behind it! Then we hiked back down and went to the zoo. It was wonderful, the best zoo I've ever been to. They had elk, polar bears, seals, marine life, bears, monkeys, lions, koalas, seriously anything you can imagine. And they had pandas and the baby panda (born last year) is the first panda born in captivity in Europe since 1982! It was incredible and all of the settings were very natural and not caged in. We spent hours there! Then we went home to our lovely hostel, showered, and went to dinner at some boring place. After dinner we took the U to a little theme park. They had tons of rides and we acted like little kids, running around and riding them all! There was a huge Ferris Wheel which is ancient and has been there for ages, but we decided not to ride it because it was 8euro a person and we are cheapies. After that we just went to a quaint little bar by our hostel and had a few drinks. Sunday morning we woke up and had a delicious breakfast (ham and eggs!!! and fresh squeezed orange juice) and then went to the museum quartier which is just an area FILLED with museums. First we went to the Natural History museum which was incredible! We spent way too long in there, but they had everything! All these rocks and meteorites and taxidermed animals! After that we went to a museum called the Albertini which is famous for its artwork. We got to see one of Monet's "lily pad" paintings and some Picasso. The gallery was amazing because it was all a couple's private collection that they donated. Then we had no time left and had to leave. We took the U to the train station and had another lovely overnight ride. This time though, the lady who was supposed to ride with us FREAKED OUT over claustrophobia and wouldn't get on the train so we got it all alone to the 3 of us! Needless to say, it was much more comfortable. So, we arrived back in Florence at about 6:30 this morning. Although I was exhausted, it was so good to be back! For my first class this morning we went and hiked the duomo. Amazing I have been here this long and it was my first time hiking it! But, the view was amazing of course and I learned some cool stuff about it from my friend who is in Art History.
So, that is everything that's new. I'm going to Cortemilia this weekend and possibly London. We are trying to plan a trip now but its a bit last minute so we'll see how it works out!! LOVE YOU ALL AND MISS YOU! Just think.. less than 2 weeks till I'm home!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Capri and Sorrento

Ciao! Well, this weekend was amazing. Our trip started out at the train station where we met and got picked up by a bus. Most of the people from our group ended up going so the majority of kids were from FSU. We took the train ride overnight but had to stop and pick up our friend Eric because he mistakenly booked his trip from Rome instead of Florence! It was so funny, when he finally got on the bus we all clapped. Finally we got to Sorrento at about 3 in the morning and we were all exhausted. We stayed in a hotel called 7 and it is only about a month old. It was my first hostel experience so I was pretty spoiled because this place was so nice!! It was brand new and the bathrooms and rooms were all nice. We had 10 girls in our room, but they were all from our apartment, so we're used to living together. Anyway, they had a courtyard and a huge rooftop porch which were so nice! We all went to sleep when we got back and then had to meet at 8:15 in the morning for our Capri trip. We had breakfast at the hostel, which was complimentary, and then walked down to the marina where we caught a ferry to Capri. When we got there, we took a boat to the Blue Grotto and went in! It was so beautiful and we actually got to swim inside. The water was so cool and blue, it was amazing!! The guy driving us even sang as we left. My camera got a little wet though and it's not working anymore so I am going to have to rely on other people for pictures which is a huge dissapointment :( My friend Aleksa is an amazing photographer though and she has one of those awesome cameras, so at least I know I'll get good pictures. After we left the grotto, our boat took the long way around Capri, so we got to see some of the famous landmarks and the whole island. When we got back to the marina, we took the funiculare (spelling?) up to the actual city of Capri and had lunch. Lunch was good, we had a glass of wine and got to look at all the gorgeous Italian men serving us the whole time! Then we took a bus up to Ana Capri and jumped on the chair lift. The views were of course, GORGEOUS! When we got back down to Capri we just laid out on the beach until it was time to leave. We took the ferry back to Sorrento and all 38 of us literally CRAMMED on the bus. It was ridiculously crowded, and the few Italians on there hated us, lol. We got back to the hostel and fought for showers then had dinner there. They had a pretty good selection for very cheap. But the food turned out to be.. not so good. Oh well! It was pretty late by the time we finished so we just grabbed drinks at the bar (at the hostel!) and went up to the roof to just hang out.
The next morning we had to meet at 10 and we got on a bus to go to Positano. We went to the beach and it was all rocks, it was amazing! There was tons of Italians there, definitely a very busy time of year for the beach, but it was still nice. We walked to another beach and had lunch and hung out there for a little longer. Then we rented these awesome speed boats and we drove out to this HUGE rock in the middle of the ocean. You had to first pull yourself onto the rock and then literally climb and hug it to get to the top. Then WE JUMPED OFF!!! It was amazing. The first drop was only about 10 feet but you could climb up higher and there was a 32 foot drop! I jumped off the first one a few times and it was very exhilirating but I finally got myself to do the 32 foot one. I knew I just had to do it fast, so I just went to edge and jumped! It was INCREDIBLE. I got the worst wedgie of my life, but it was totally worth it! I have never done anything like that and it was crazy!! Then once we jumped in we just floated around in the HUGE waves and watched other people jump. It was so amazing. We finally got back on the boats and headed back to the beach and hung out until it was time to leave. We took the ferry back to Sorrento and then crammed on a bus AGAIN to go back to the hostel. It was a fight for the showers again and we grabbed a pizza from down the street. We were supposed to go into Sorrento for the night, but with a group so large, nothing can move quickly and it ended up getting too late. So, once again, we just drank on the roof. We met some British friends and just hung out up there all night.
Sunday morning we had to wake up early again. We got on the bus and headed to Pompeii. Everyone in the group went on a guided tour, but I chose not to go because I've been there so many times, and I saved 20 euro! I ended up going with the guy who was in charge of the whole trip into "new Pompeii" and just walking around exploring. It was nice to see new Pompeii, cause you only ever see the touristy area. It was small and very quiet!
We got back on the bus and made it to Florence around 10 pm. On the way home from the train station, we got lost and had to ask for help twice! It was all in good fun though as we know we're learning more and more about the city by getting lost!
So, that's all that's new. More class today, of course. Classes are going well, I got a 91 on my Italian midterm! But it's still boring when you're in Firenze to go to class.
Thinking about leaving this place is making me sad! It is really becoming like home, and I am making such great friends. I am going to try to make the most of the rest of my time though. We are trying to book a hotel for Vienna right now! Next week we are going to Venice for the day on Friday with FSU and then Carlyn, Aleksa and I are heading off on our own to Vienna, Austria. We have an overnight train ride (with beds!) booked friday night and then we have 2 full days and one night in Vienna, and then another overnight train ride sunday night. Needless to say, I'm sure I will be EXHAUSTED monday morning for class, but you only live once!!!
Hope everyone enjoyed my picture updates. I am going to post Roma asap. Love you all and miss you!! xox

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I love youu all!

Hey everyone. I am soo tired. I just had a midterm today and a huge paper due. We are leaving for Capri in a couple of hours and I haven't even packed yet! Leaving tonight and we won't be back until Sunday night at 12! We are staying at a hostel in Sorrento and then taking a day trip to Capri and on our way home stopping in Pompeii. This week wasn't too eventful just school shit going on. But one interesting thing.. my writing teacher is having a huge article come out in this month's (august) issue of Esquire about the recent college shooting. It's a big deal! So, if you want to check it out pick up the mag, his name is David Vann. And you can check out his website as well, I have been cooking a lot. Monday night we had chicken involtini from one of the recipe books I checked out from the library. It was chicken rolled up stuffed with chicken, rosemary, and fontina. Then I made a white wine sauce and put it on top with a peice of italian bread and spinach. Tuesday night I made chicken with prosciutto, sage and fontina with another sauce and spinach. Then on the side I made panzanella which is a bread tomato salad. It was delicious! I'll try to update asap. Sorry I am slacking! I love you all and miss you!!!! I put pictures up of Cinqueterre, so enjoy. I am trying to update with San Giminano and Volterra. I'm so far behind!!! loooove

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Ciao! Well Rome was (surprise, surprise) AMAZING! We woke up at the crack of dawn and met at our usual meeting place to get on the bus. I pretty must slept the whole ride there. When we arrived we checked into our hotel. The rooms were so funny! They had 3 twin beds in them! And they were all completely different. Anyway, they were pretty decent. After we checked in we grabbed a quick lunch and met up for our trip to the Vatican. It was soo hot and waiting in line with crowds of people was painful but we finally got in. We walked through the meseum part pretty quickly but there were so many people it took a while. When we finally got there it was of course incredible. The day before our teacher (Nero) had given us a lecture all about the artwork we would see and he gave us two detailed handouts about the Sistine Chapel. It was so neat looking up and being able to spot everything and point it out and actually know what it meant! Anyway, it was so quiet but then of course they had the guards yelling "SILENCIO. NO PHOTOS," over and over. I got an amazing picture but then got kicked out for taking pictures.. whoops! Then we split up and everyone went to check out St Peter's Basilica. It was so beautiful and once again we had the handout with the descriptions. We headed into one of the side chapels and just when we went in a monk came out and started singing, it was incredible! We left the Vatican and went back to the hotel to take showers and whatnot. I took a nap :)Then we had a huge group dinner! It started with homeade pasta with a simple red sauce that was so good. Then we had saltimbucco and they served a whole bunch of fried veggies.. zucchini, artichokes, zucchini flowers, and even rice balls! It was so yummy and very fun. Then as a group most of us went to Trevi fountain and made our wishes. We just walked around a little bit and then went home. In the morning we went downstairs for breakfast and then walked to the Roman Forum. We got the most incredible tour from Nero who told us the meaning of every little ruin. We saw the place where Caesar was cremated, it was so awesome. Then we walked around more, and saw some sites. We went to the Pantheon last and then broke for individual lunch. We went to this salad place and Carlyn got a bug in her salad, so they offered to give her something else and then charged her for it! Haha, damn cheap Italians! Anyway, after lunch we took a bus to the Catacombs. It was so eerie. It was so cold underground and they had all the little baby graves eek! You could even see your breath! But, we got to see the coolest thing. There is one grave which they think belonged to a martyr but theyre not sure. Anyway, there are frescoes next to it and above it and they are ORGINAL and haven't been restored and you can still make out a lot of the details. It was amazing. Anyway, we went home after that. The drive was hellish as everyone insisted on SINGING for most of the journey. We went out last night to Naima because it is their last night before they close! We are all very sad. But, we had fun for the most part. This morning most of us woke up and went to American brunch! I got eggs and "bacon," (really pancetta) and a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice! Then we did a little shopping because everything is on SALDI right now! It's so wonderful. Now I'm in the study center. I uploaded some pics and I'm still trying but it's really difficult. When everyone is on the internet at once in the study center it goes really slow and my uploads usually fail. But, I'm still trying! I'm going to try and call today but I don't have minutes right now so it depends on whether or not the stores are open. Anyway, if I don't speak to you fam, happy family day.Love and miss everyone!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ying Yang Twins/What else is new

I am the study center after class and I'm sooo happy my school week is over! It has been a long, but fun week. The concert on Tuesday night turned out to be only ok. The club it was at was very cool, it was all outdoors and very modern and chic. We got into VIP somehow which was right in front of the stage. The only bad thing was drinks were 10 euro each, so no one was crazy enough to drink! When they finally came on around 1 in the morning they only performed for a little while. It was pretty much all of their songs condensed into one long thing. Then their DJ just performed and played all these American songs and everyone danced. So, it was fun, just not as fun as I was expecting.
Wednesday morning I had to wake up earrly for class but it was a good day. We met for class at Palazzo Pitti which is a museum and it also houses the Boboli gardens. We had class out in the Boboli gardens and the lecture was only 30 minutes. Then we got to walk around and separated. I checked out the costume part of the museum which was VERY cool! Then I went and had lunch with a few people from my class and then had Italian. After class I took the longest nap ever!! Everyone in our apartment was sleeping at the same time for 2-3 hours. It was pretty funny! Last night we just headed to dinner, thinking it would be casual. Anyway, that idea flew out the window when we found a really cute restaurant and I checked out the wine list. I ended up getting a 2003 Brunello and ordering a 4 course meal. I started with duck carpaccio with a fig reduction and fresh figs. Next I had Spaghetti Carbonara which was amazing! For secondi I had lamb with "aromatic bread crumbs" and potatoes. Last I had a cheese plate with two kinds of Pecorino and honey, plus a glass of Vin Santo. Then the waitress brought us complimentary dessert wine! AND refilled it! Plus they gave us a discount. Needless to say we loved it and they loved us so we'll definitely be going back there. My friends kept cracking up at me because I was so giggly and happy all night from such an incredible meal. I'm saving all the cards from my favorite restaurants so anyone who visits can go!!
Anyway, I just slept in this morning and had Italian this afternoon. Everyone is in the study center waiting on a lecture about the Vatican because on our tour tomorrow he isn't going to be able to speak inside. We leave Firenze at 7:15 so I'm super psyched about waking up at 6 am. I'll take plenty of pictures and be thinking of you all! I'll try to put more pictures up soon. LOVE YOU ALL AND MISS YOU!
When you go to the house pet Bean for me :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


I know it's been almost a week since I wrote last but I have been SO busy and now our internet is down in the house. So I'm at the study center right now before class.. It's going to be so hard to write because it's been forever but I'll try to be as detailed as possible!
Thursday.. I had Italian. I can't really remember much else from Thursday. I guess it wasn't too exciting?
Anyway, Friday was our trip to San Giminano and Volterra. We got on one of those "tour buses" and headed up to Volterra first. It was so amazing and of course Nero (the teacher) led the tour. We got to see the whole city and some amazing Estruscan art. After that we headed to San Giminano but stopped for a group lunch right outside the city. It was a beautiful restaraunt and we ate outside. Vegetable lasagna to start and some amazing chicken! After Volterra we went to San Giminano. We had a group tour and then we had free time to do whatever we wanted. I just went and had a glass of white wine, which San Giminano is supposedly famous for, with my friend Carlyn.
We took the bus home and didn't do much although it was July 4th. Another apartment was having a little grill out/party but I was so pooped so I didn't go.
Saturday morning we woke up realll early and we went to Cinqueterre!! We took a train through Pisa and started out in Monterosso, the "last city." We hiked to the next city and it was INCREDIBLE. We were hiking on the side of a mountain on these teeny paths with the whole Medditeranean laid out in front of us. It was really intense but definitely worth it. When we made it to the next city we were ALL ready to jump in the ocean. There was this concrete "cliff" so to speak and the waves would come crashing up onto it and then fall literally 10 feet below. All the Italians were jumping in these HUGE waves and then they would let the ocean carry them back onto cliff. It was ridiculous. I finally jumped in even though I was scared but I definitely chose to use the ladder instead of the crazy way. It was still pretty hard though because if you didn't swim fast enough or time it right there was a lovely bed of rocks waiting for you. Doing it the "Italian way" was the type of thing that you could tell only the kids who had been doing it since they were 12 could actually accomplish. It was really one of the craziest things I have ever seen!! We had lunch there and I went with seafood and it was horrible and overpriced :( Huge dissapointment. Then we hiked to the next town. It was SUCH an intense hike, pretty much all uphill stairs. The next city was really pretty, although there was no beach. I took tons of pictures and will try to post them soon.. After our last hike we took a train home. We were soo tired and coated with sweat. But it was definitely an incredible day! Saturday night we went to a bar called "21," which was fun. It was student night and they have dancing so it was great to see all the kids dancing. The Italian boys are so funny here! They love to dance by themselves and show off, it cracked me up.
Sunday was pretty laid back. A few of us put our bathing suits on and went out to the Arno and laid out with all the Italians. I'm sure they loved us blasting our American music and throwing the football around, lol. It was pretty much my "get stuff done day" after that as I had homework and cleaning to do.
Yesterday I had my two classes. I had to write my first paper for travel and adventure writing. I was really nervous because we had to read it in front of the whole class, but it was alright. It was very helpful! It was only 2 pages and it's supposed to be a "rough draft" for one of our 2 big papers. Anyway, we went out again last night to another dancing bar and a lot of people from other apartments joined us as well so it was pretty fun..
You wouldn't belive it but tonight I'm going to see Ying Yang Twins hahahahah! The concert is only 15 euro, so it's definitely worth it. Who ever thought, Ying Yang Twins in Firenze! I'm very excited. Also, our Rome trip is this weekend so I can't wait!

Sorry it was pretty brief. I've got some Italian homework to finish. Love you all and MISS YOU TONS! Less than a month till I'm home :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Past few days..

Ciao all! Let's see... I know it's been two whole days since I posted but not much has been going on. Class keeps us very busy! Tuesday morning we went to Mercato Centrale. It was so amazing and we got lots of good veggies, some dried fruits (they had kiwi, papaya, cocunut, ginger!), some homeade pesto, and some chicken. After Mercato Centrale my friend Carlyn and I went to lunch at this amazing place that has about 12 different paninis and they are all sooo good. We went two days in a row! Then I had class again. Tuesday night we didn't do much. I made dinner again.. chicken with the homeade pesto, asparagus and fresh tomato salad. ("The most amazing thing i have ever put in my mouth. It melted immediately." --Carlyn)
I had a TON of homework in Italian and it's been really difficult. Today I had class in the morning and then class in the afternoon. I got to go to the writing class for the first time today.. It's called "adventure and travel writing." It sounds great. Actually one of the books we were looking at an excerpt from today, I'm reading right now called the shipping news.. mom you would know it! Anyway, I'm very excited about that class!! After class a few of us went to Palazzo Pitti and looked at the beautiful artwork. I was pretty pooped so I took a siesta. Tonight, a few friends and I went to dinner at the restaraunt we went to the first night. It was so good again, and I'm teaching all of my friends Italian! They loved us there and even brought us complimentary Limoncello before we left. It's on the other side of the river and the food is SO good! Then we brought a bottle of wine outside and enjoyed the Arno and the beautiful weather. It is cool and windy.
Anyway, that's all for now! If anyone wants to ever talk to me you can call me and I'll SKYPE you immediately! LOVE YOU ALL AND MISS YOU!!