I have to say one of the most exciting parts of traveling is looking back on the experience and reliving it, whether it’s in a photograph, a scribbled journal entry (yes I did this on my boarding pass in the Prague airport) a blog entry or videos. While living it, you’re experiencing it first hand and it truly can’t get any better in those moments when you really take it in, realizing how blessed you are. But looking back on memories always adds a wistful glow to the experience because you remember what sticks out to you. The ‘good’ suddenly becomes incredible and the ‘bad’ suddenly becomes comical.
Over the last week I traveled to Italy, Prague and Paris, all of which have earned their own place in my heart. Because they are incredible for their own reasons I’m going to break down my blog entries over the next week to give each lovely city it’s own attention.
Our first stop was to Florence, Italy! I’ll spare you the traveling details because if I start now, it’ll just go on and on because as we all know, traveling is an exhausting PROCESS. We made it safely though and were welcomed by some cheery faces from our friends which instantly made us feel better. Chelsea’s high school friend who was gracious enough to let us stay with her (shout out to Bridget for being the bomb and show us around Florence!) took us to get panini’s which were our first Italian food experience. Nothing will ever compare. Afterwards we walked around the city which is small enough to get everywhere on foot. It was honestly hard for me to even believe I was in Italy at first. Italy was always a country I just never imagined I would actually get to visit so walking around Florence and seeing the Tuscan wine valley in the distance was unreal.
That night we went out to dinner and chatted over dishes of pasta and red wine and had the true Italian experience. I’ll never forget that plate of pesto pasta for the rest of my young life, honestly. Afterwards we hopped around to a few bars before going to Space, a club I’d heard of from some sisters that studied in Florence over the summer. It was a night for the books for sure.
The next day we got breakfast at an American diner and I FINALLY had my pancakes I’d been craving and complaining about for weeks. I tend to crave random American foods from time to time over here and at that moment pancakes were it. SO I indulged myself and then burned them off (I can dream can’t I?) by walking the 414 steps to the top of the tower in the center of Florence. It was definitely a surreal experience for all of us. The view was beautiful but my favorite part was when I could hear the entire city erupt in cheers when the Florence football team won their game that was playing in the stadium in the distance. I could literally hear the entire city cheer and seconds later the bells in the tower we were in started going off for about 5 minutes straight. It sent chills down my spine. Later we found out Florence hadn’t beaten this team in over 20 years! Incredible! That night we had another delicious meal and then went to a few bars and stopped at Lions Fountain which is an American Bar that has US University t-shirts on the ceiling. The walls are covered with autographs of peoples names, schools, and fraternities and sororites. We all signed the wall and we’re trying to get a Susquehanna shirt hung some way, some how!
On Monday we took a trip to Rome and tried to pack in a many sights in one day as we could. I was immediately overwhelmed by the business of Rome. It’s a larger city and such a tourist attraction so it was challenge fitting in everything we wanted to see in one day. We saw the Colosseum, ate pizza, took a long tour of the Vatican, saw the Sistine Chapel and threw coins into the Trevi Fountain. All of which were so surreal to witness. We finished off the day with gelato on the Spanish steps, a perfect way to end our trip in Italy.
Liz Gilbert wrote in her book Eat, Pray, Love that “American’s are good at entertainment but not necessarily pleasure” and I have to say that after visiting Italy for the short visit that I had, I agree with her. The people of Italy were some of the most genuine Europeans I’ve met this semester. Dinners are long and relaxed, filled with carefully made food and wine. Although Florence is a city, it has the essence of a small town which felt comforting. If you’re looking to go to Italy, go with an appetite for the food and company!