Over the fall break, two of my roommates and I traveled to Italy for carbs, cultural exploration and the beauty of the country. We succeeded in all three of these categories, plus more. I traveled to Verona, Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples.
I left a day earlier than my roommates and flew to Venice. I took a train to Verona, the city of love. My travel experiences challenged me as not many people seemed to speak English.
For my first dinner in Italy, I ordered salmon sauce and pasta, a glass of red wine and strawberries for dessert. This dish in my top three meals for the trip. I spoke to some of the Italians about studying abroad, America and Italy. There, many seemed to know better English.
One of my roommates came to Verona the next day. Both of us loved the movie Letters to Juliet and wanted to go to Juliet’s House. It cost 6 euro to go inside, they had a student discount, but neither of us had remembered our student cards that day. Juliet’s House was a museum of the real story, Shakespeare’s story and Hollywood’s story as there were many clothes and props used in the movies.
Lovers signed a wall outside the house, left stickers that were probably symbolic and gum. Lots of gum. At first, I was offended by the gum, “why would someone decide to be gross and stick gum on this wall?!” Then, I watched a couple. One chewed the gum, the other chewed the gum, and they both stuck it to the wall. At that point, I was no longer offended, I was just slightly disgusted.
Food called to us after this and we found a cheap and tasty restaurant in the middle of the city. I read through the menu and paused, “HORSE?!” I remembered my years of horseback riding and needless to say, did not order the horse… nor the donkey. We walked around, ate gelato, bumped into a fancy red carpet event for ice skating and boarded a train to Venice where we met up with another one of our roommates.
If you decide to go to Venice, I highly recommend staying at The Generator Hostel. Aside from their breakfasts, it was an awesome place to stay with a bar for food and drinks, events going on nightly and a nice place for people to come together and lounge. The rooms had 16 people — bunk bed style. The bunks were really nice! Each had their own light, electric outlets and shelf.
Saturday, I had a fantastic and massive slice of margherita pizza for lunch. Delicious! Cheesy, but not too cheesy, thicker crust and what must have been homemade sauce. I needed my roommates’ help to finish it. In Venice, we explored the Piazza San Marco, Saint Mark’s Basilica and took many, many photos of the Grand Canal. At dinner, I learned some Italian fish is not deboned. Keep that in mind if you decide to go and order fish in Italy! The water made the sights, particular the sunset, better. Sunset scenes were best seen on the water taxis.
Venice Street// Ashley Wolf
Sunday, we traveled to Florence. I tried to find my roommates in the afternoon, but became very lost. Thanks a lot, Apple Maps! I saw a lot of Florence, even parts that were run down and probably not where most tourists ventured to. Monday morning, we visited the Florence Cathedral.
Florence Cathedral// Ashley Wolf
In Rome, we visited the Trevi Fountain and had our Lizzie McGuire moment when we tossed a coin behind our backs and into the water (Reference: Watch ‘The Lizzie McGuire Movie’ for more information — it’s a nice throwback. We watched it our second night in Rome!)
Trevi Fountain//Ashley Wolf
We visited the Colosseum. The Colosseum was huge and well preserved. I continuously thought about how this huge arena was built such a long time ago and for such a brutal sport. We took a walk and went to a rooftop garden that looked over Rome. The sky turned grey and it started to downpour. I was the only one with an umbrella. We waited out the storm a bit and then went to eat.
Wednesday, we went to the Vatican. The pope was there! We didn’t seem him. There was so much beautiful art. Hallways and rooms were filled on the walls and ceiling with art. Some of the art we saw was by artists we learned about in Art in London. It’s interesting to see how you can connect your experiences and travels with some of the ICLC classes. The Vatican was our last day in Rome. Hecklers at the Vatican were quite intense. They were everywhere! One of my roommates left to spend the weekend in Barcelona.
*Tip: We bought Rome Passes. Do not buy these unless you plan to do a lot of traveling to places not central to Rome. Even then, it’s iffy. The pass gave us free access to the Colosseum, but it cost us more than a Colosseum entrance ticket.
My roommate and I took a train to Naples, where we stayed for two nights. Naples was the least tourist-y place of our Italy journey. The city is graffitied over, not many speak English and it was a very big residential area. We knew not many spoke English when we went to a bar and tried to order a cheeseburger — they did not understand, two waiters were at our table trying to figure out what we wanted to order. It took a bit, but everyone eventually got on the same page. However, all of that said, it was still a great cultural experience.
We traveled to Naples because we wanted to go to Pompeii. Pompeii impressed me. Artists at the time used such advanced techniques for sculptures, paintings inside the houses were also very impressive. When we got back, we went for pizza. Ironically, the best place for pizza was not where pizza was invented on this trip! We surely did not get the best pizza in Naples, however.
Friday, we walked around Naples and explored. We walked to what we thought would be a food market like that of a fair, but it was actually like that of a grocery store.
Pompeii// Ashley Wolf
Note: If you want to go to Pompeii, purchase your train ticket in the tobacco shop and take one of the local trains. Trenitalia has a trip from Naples to Pompeii, but its 16 euros more.
I hope everyone enjoyed their break, had safe travels and made memories and stories that can last a lifetime. Embrace the last half of your time in London and be sure to make as many memories as possible! Before we know it, we’ll be flying back to the states!