Posts Tagged ‘italy’

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Holly: Checklist

January 5, 2012

January 18, 2012. 91 days.

That is the day that I take off from Milwaukee, WI, USA and head to Rome, Italy.

It seems a long way off but I just know that it is going to creep up quickly. Especially since now almost all pre-departure items are turned in and complete!

Next week I have my orientation and I am really excited to meet the other kids that will be going to Rome as well!

I have already made a list of things I MUST complete while in Italy (’cause how many times does a kid get to go to Italy??!):

1. Throw a euro (or two)  in the Trevi Fountain

2. Visit The Colosseum & The Pantheon

3. Go on a Wednesday and see the Pope speak at the Vatican

4. Walk through the magnificent Sistine Chapel at St. Peter’s Basilica

5. Admire the beautiful ancient art and the gardens at Galleria Borghese

6. Take a canal ride through Venice

7. Visit Il Duomo and Il Ponte Vecchio in Florence

8. Drink wine and appreciate the Tuscany countryside

9. Take a weekend off and go to Cinque Terre

10. TAKE LOTS AND LOTS OF PICTURES OF EVERYTHING!

In addition to this list, I hope to eat lots and lots of great Italian pasta and gelato. I’m also hoping that my host family will teach me their exquisite cooking ways.

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Lauren: Milan, Verona, Venice

August 8, 2011

Friday, July 22 – Rome to Milan
It was another early morning of travel for the crew.  Everything was going smoothly enough as it can in hectic Rome, until a girl we were with, Alyssa, realized she didn’t have her passport with her, which caused her to miss our flight to Milan. However, she made plans to meet with us in Verona the next day, so her weekend wasn’t completely ruined.

We made it to Milan bright and early.  It looked much like Rome—except more industrial.  We checked our bags at the hostel and set out for a day of Shopping.  We made our way to Milan’s famous duomo, which is the third largest cathedral in the world.  It was awe-inspiring, and probably one of my favorites for the entire trip.

It was interesting (and refreshing) to find that a lot of the shopping in Milan was cheaper than that in Rome.  However, this prompted me to do a lot of damage with the credit card (oops).  That night we found a Tex-Mex Restaurant near our hotel and decided to take our chances with tacos and enchiladas, italian-style.  It was excellent.

July 23 – Milan to Verona
The next morning, we took an hour long train east from Milan to Verona.  When we entered the station, it was down pouring, which wasn’t fun.  We struggled for a bit finding the right bus to our hostel, which was somewhat outside the city and located on a vineyard, but eventually figured it out around the same time the rain stopped.

After finding our hostel, which turned out to be a huge hotel, we ventured into the city center for some Shakespeare exploring.  First stop, was the Capulet’s house, where we saw Juliet’s balcony, which was completely overcrowded. Afterwards, we went upstairs to write our love letters to Juliet, asking for advice and whatnot.  I felt weird writing to a fictional character.

We then walked along the river, did some souvenier shopping, and tried to see Juliet’s tomb, only to get there and find that it was already closed.  That night, we had a private wine tasting at our hotel with a middle aged German woman who was absolutely hilarious. 

July 24 – Verona to Venice, Venice to Rome
The next morning, we packed up and it was off to Venice, which was the city I had been most excited for. And it did not disappoint!  I’ve never been anywhere quite like it.  The city is truly unique.  We simply let ourselves get lost in the city and somehow ended up everywhere we had wanted to go.  Much of the day was dedicated to glass shopping, and we all spoiled ourselves with jewelry.

We went on a gondola ride, which may have been overpriced, but it was still totally worth it.  We drank Bellini’s and took in our surroundings.  It was magnificent.  We then climbed to the top of the bell tower and got a view of Venice from above, which was just as surreal.

In the early evening, we made our way to the airport, and it was back to Rome.  The entire weekend was wonderful, with my favorite city being Venice.  However, I hope that one day I have the chance to visit all three once again.

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Lauren: Week 5

July 25, 2011

Tuesday, July 19th –
We returned from a trip to Paris the night before around midnight.  I had two papers to finish writing, one for my Media Class, and the other for my Art History final.  I finalized both Tuesday morning, and it was a relief to be done with the both of them (especially Art History).  For my media class, we had a guest speaker.  He was a very intelligent man, but not entirely good at public speaking.  It further confirmed how important it is to be able to communicate with others.

In Art History, we received our final exam grades (I got a B+).  Soooo happy to almost be done with this class.  My teacher, Pia, is absolutely terrible.  That night, we went out to celebrate finishing our research papers.  It was Scholar’s again for Karaoke, which was great, as always.

Wednesday, July 20th –
I spent the day out and about in Rome with friends.  We went shopping on Del Corso and I picked up a few gifts for my loved ones back home!

That night, we tried out a new place called “DJ Bar”, which was great!  We had a ton of fun dancing the night away…and it really hit me how much I’m going to miss all my new friends!!  Especially the ones from Michigan State, who I won’t have the ability to see for quite some time!

Thursday, July 21st –
We went to Vatican Radio Station to have a personal interview with our professor, Sean Patrick.  It was weird being in a recording studio and being asked questions based on my resume, but it was also a very eye-opening experience!  This has been one of the best classes I have ever taken.

The rest of the day was dedicated to packing for the weekend, which consisted trips to Milan, Verona, and Venice!  Stay tuned for more on that trip

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Lauren: Quick updates

July 23, 2011

Tuesday, July 12 – For my communications class, we discussed the role of newspaper, and how it must be looked at analogically in order to find greater meaning.  It was very interesting, as always!  Our professor is absolutely amazing, and probably one of the best I have ever had!Sorry for the wait!  It’s been a very busy week and a half!  Here’s a quick summary before I get to the good stuff!

Monday, July 11 – We needed a day of rest from our busy weekend in Florence.  My roommate, Janel, made a fabulous chicken dinner and we stayed in for some roomie bonding!  We also watched the movie, “Letters to Juliet” which made me very excited to go to Verona!

That night, we went to an amazing spaghetteria.  I had pasta with smoked cheese, bacon, olive oil, and onions.  It was DELICIOUS.  After dinner, we (once again) went to karaoke, got ridiculous, and rocked the place!!  As always, it was awesome!  Several song highlights include Independent Woman (Destiny’s Child), Jitterbug (Wham), and My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion). 

Thursday, July 14 – Our communications professor took us to see an ancient “Domus” (aka Roman house) that was found beneath a palace in the center of Rome.  They believe it once belonged to a senator.  The house itself was discovered merely six years ago, while renovating the palace cellars.  Since then, the area has continuously been in a process of excavation.  The floor there was completely glass, so we were able to see under into the ruins at all times.  At first, it was a little scary, but ultimately I got used to it.  They did a really great job on the tour of incorporating sound and projections, which made the space come to life.  I think that my dad would appreciate the design elements they used, and I would love to take him here if we ever get the chance.

After this class, we had our Art History final.  Don’t worry, I rocked it. 

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Lauren: Celebrating America, not in America

July 10, 2011

It was another beautiful week in Italy!

Monday we celebrated the 4th of July.  It was a very bizarre to celebrate a holiday like that in a foreign country, where it was just another day for the Italians.  It was also weird not being in America to partake in Independence Day Traditions—no fireworks, no parades, no family get-togethers, no barbeques!  We did what we could though to make the evening memorable—and memorable it was! 

For lunch, a group of people went to McDonald’s (one of the very few American “restaurants” in Rome).  The food was typical quality for the place – however I was surprised to learn that it’s not cheap here, at all!  What would cost me roughly $6 in the US cost me 10 euro here (which is $15)!  I felt absolutely ridiculous spending that much for a simple meal…but I consoled myself by keeping to the motto, “I did it for America”.

Getting by with what we have!

After that, there was some downtime until dinner, where we all got together at the boys’ house and had an Independence Day pot luck!  Each apartment was in charge of bringing something different—and they knew to trust me with the simple stuff (like ketchup, mustard, and frozen fries).  All together we had a very nice spread of boiled hotdogs, fruit salad, and about 2.5 pounds of pasta salad!  We drank Budweisers the boys had picked up for the occasion and eventually went to a piazza in Rome, referred to as Campo de’ Fiori.  Campo de’ Fiori serves as a marketplace during the daytime, but at night it is typically an American draw, having bars on all sides that serve US beer and play American pop music.  We usually do not go here, as pickpockets tend to target the area, but in honor of the 4th we decided to take our chancing and party with our fellow Americans!  In all, the evening was quite the success!

…so much of Tuesday was dedicated to rest and relaxation, with Wednesday providing more of the same since it’s my day off from class.  During these two days, I read both the first and second novels in the Hunger Games Trilogy.  It’s a complex storyline, but actually a very easy read!  I strongly recommend reading them!  But if that’s not your cup of tea, the first movie of the franchise (starring Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence) will be out in March 2012.  Going slightly off topic, but still speaking of movie franchises, I’m going crazy trying to find an english speaking movie theater here!  I originally thought that Harry Potter would be kept in its original language, but with Italian subtitles—but it turns out it’s completely dubbed over everywhere we’ve looked!  Seeing as the movie comes out in a couple days (which is the last Harry Potter and will be my first in six that I haven’t attended the midnight premiere) it’s been very VERY stressful!

 

At TG5 with the rest of my class

On Thursday I went to one of the media centers under Berlusconi’s control, MEDIASET.  A couple posts back I referred to the fact that Berlusconi controls all of the media here, including print and online, which results in a lot of bias for the controversial prime minister.  His programming often included dubbed over American soap operas, VH1 type shows with barely dressed girls, and bias political programs in which he reigns supreme.  It’s ridiculous how much control he has here!  Security to get into the center was more strict than even the Vatican, as we had to go through several metal detectors, have our passports verified, and had to be patted down.

 

However, once we were in the center it was very interesting!  We saw where their most popular talk shows take place (in which the audience consists of paid actors), and even got to be news anchors for a couple minutes!  It was an eye opening experience into how communications vary across the globe.  In fact, the station was still in the process of fully switching over to digital!

Afterwards was my Art History midterm, which was much harder than I thought it was going to be.  Keep your fingers crossed for me and my knowledge of doric, ionic, and corinthian style architectural orders!

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Lauren: Week two

July 1, 2011

It has officially been two weeks since I arrived in the Eternal City!  I know I said I was feeling homesick—that feeling has passed (although I do wish I could be home to help out my mother, who broke her ankle two days ago.

I have had many more adventures since visiting the Colosseum.  We were supposed to have a field trip to Tivoli on Friday, but while we were at the Roman Forum the day before my art history professor, Pia, became sick, so the trip was postponed.  My roommates and I instead used Friday and a large part of Saturday to catch up on rest!  We also visited Villa Borghese (a park shaped in a heart—comparable in atmosphere to New York’s Central Park).

Sunday was a very exhausting, yet funfilled day.  In the morning, we traveled with my art class to the ancient city of Ostia Antica.  In its prime, the city served as Rome’s harbour for imports, and was then located on the banks of the Tiber River.  It is said to have been founded in the 7th century, and grew to be home to almost 50,000 citizens!  The experience was very interesting, although the tour we were on did get a little long…the 90 degree weather and lack of shade was very tiring!


Because Ostia is close to the coast, we then traveled 10 minutes to the Mediterranean Sea, where we swam in the refreshing water and tried to relax at the very crowded beach for several hours.  I didn’t much enjoy the salt water, but it was very nice to cool down from all the heat.

That night we went to one of our favorite restaurants in Rome, Tony’s, where we have become regular customers.  They spoil us at Tony’s, with free bread, free italian ice, and even free limoncello!  Plus they have amazing food!  We have gone there 3 times in two weeks, and I have a feeling we will be there many more times before the trip is over!  After dinner, we went to Scholar’s Pub, an irish bar that attracts many American students due to the fact that they have Karaoke on Tuesday and Sunday nights. Needless to say, it was a good time.

Fireworks for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

Monday was a day of rest in which I finally got around to watching Gladiator.  The battle sequences that occurred in the Colosseum gave me chills.  It’s crazy to imagine that people used to watch these warriors kill for entertainment!

Tuesday involved a guest speaker, James Walston, in my Italian Communications class.  An expert in Italian Politics, James told us many interesting facts about current situations in the country and also about their current (controversial) prime minister, Bersculoni.  Turns out he owns/controls most of the media here, so newspapers, magazines, and even television programs are all very bias (in favor of him).  It astonishes me that this is the case – just imagine if Obama had the same control!

Wednesday was a very religious holiday in Rome celebrating the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, so much of the city was closed.  I was supposed to go to a mass led by the Pope at the Vatican that morning, but due to a severely annoying miscommunication that was unable to happen. That night, however, a group of us went out to dinner at a Spaghetteria, where we had some of our best food since arriving!  We made sure to inform our waiters that we will be returning in the near future!  That night in honor of the holiday there were amazing fireworks!

Today I visited an ancient Palace in the middle of the city, in which the original owners still live, having had it passed down through their families for generations upon generations.  Today, the palace serves as both living quarters for the remaining family members and a private gallery. It was absolutely beautiful!

Tomorrow I am going to Naples/Pompeii with my Art History class, which I am really excited for.  We then are planning on staying in Sorrento for the night and going to Capri for a day trip!  I can’t wait to see the Blue Grotto.  Seriously, google “Capri Blue Grotto” – you will be amazed!

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Lauren: Exhaustion

June 16, 2011

Greetings!  I am writing to you from somewhere over the continental United States!  So far the journey (from Milwaukee to Minneapolis, back down to Chicago, and onto the plane to Rome) as been going smoothly enough, with the exception of some confusion as the massive O’Hare airport and a bit of turbulence we experienced leaving rainy Chicago.

It has been quite a process getting me prepared for my trip to Rome – with several shopping trips and extensive fashion research to ensure that I don’t look like a hunky-dory tourist my entire stay (which I probably still will anyways).  Monday night I finally had to stop the procrastinating, and my mom and I worked hard to check off every item on my VERY extensive packing list.  Since I’ll be away for six weeks in a foreign country, it’s hard to know for sure which material items I will miss the most and which will be most helpful.  Being a chronic over-packer, I can say with positivity that a good amount of stuff in my suitcase will probably never be used or worn in Italy.  Oh well.

One thing I am glad to have packed is my handheld mini fan, since Italians apparently don’t believe in air conditioning.  As childish as these neon battery-powered fans may be, I have a feeling that they are going to become quite a luxury item for me.  Funny isn’t it?  The things that you take for granted everyday?

My mom and I drove up to Minneapolis yesterday along with my (adorable) puppy, Oliver.  Although we had a connecting flight in Chicago, and it would have been easier to drive down there and fly directly, I am glad that I chose to travel with the group.  This morning I met about ten people in my program, most of whom are from the University of Minnesota or a college nearby.  Everyone seems very pleasant and excited to start our adventure!  So far I’ve met two of my Roman roomies, Heather and Janel.  We all share a love of Harry Potter, along with quite a few others on the trip, so we have so far been able to bond over our love for all things HP.

I had a lunch of parmesan cheez itz and a casear salad wrap before leaving Chicago, and was just served a chicken dinner on the flight (which actually was not bad, especially considering that it’s airplane food).

Before dinner I was able to see the hook of Massachusetts and a lot of the US shoreline as we began to travel over the Atlantic Ocean. I lucked out with a window seat!  It is beginning to get dark outside, which means I should probably start considering going to sleep so the jet-lag isn’t so bad.

So goodnight and goodbye America!  See you in six weeks!

 

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Anna: Visits to Italian family before returning home

May 6, 2011

So I am finally back home in America, no culture shock yet. I haven’t said grazie yet to anyone either. The last week I spent with my parents visiting family in Torino for Easter, family in Genova near the Ligurian Coast, and finally wrapping up our visits in Rome. It was really fun to meet family that I had never met before. Some had only seen me when I was a couple months old. This was my dad’s first time back in Italy in 30 years, so it was really great for him to see his family.

All of the cities were really different, but really beautiful. Torino seemed like a great place to live, and really big! I liked it because it had both modern and old parts of the town. I met most of the relatives that I had never met before there. Zia Rita is my Nana Ida’s sister, they are so much alike! It was really fun to finally meet the cousins I have heard so much about over the years.

In Genova, their main attraction is the ocean. We went to Portofino one day which is a beautiful area on the Italian Riviera. We saw the mansions of Dolce & Gabbana, Silvio Burlesconi, as well as other designers and famous people! I had the opportunity to go out with Alessandra (my cousin who is 19 years old) and her friends one night. Most know English so I was able to communicate with them. It was really fun and I made the observation that boys are the same everywhere! Her friends reminded me of my own. 

We had already been to Rome before. In fact we were visiting the same family members that I visited in January. We were there during the Beatification of JP 2 so it was really crazy! Also, Obama and the other presidents of countries were meeting to discuss business. Rome was really crazy but we had a really great time seeing family and some of the sites! All in all it was a really fun and exciting week seeing family. It was hard to say hello and goodbye to people I had just met in two days. I know I will be back to Italy, there is no doubt about that. Some of the cousins even told me they want to visit the USA so that would be exciting for me to show them American culture.

I am so happy I decided to study abroad. I have learned so much about other cultures as well as myself! I am happy to be back home, also. But I already miss Italy and I will do all I can to go back soon. Thanks to everyone who read my blog. It was my way of journaling and staying connected to what is happening at home. 

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Anna: Wrapping it up

April 28, 2011

I realize I have not vented a whole lot on this blog, which is probably a good thing. Here are a list of things I will miss, and things I will not miss. Might I add the things I will not miss are things I have taken with a grain a salt, and made me appreciate what I have at home!

What I will miss…list could go on forever….1 euro cappuccinos, walking everywhere, affordable amazing no preservative food, my cute apartment, traveling the world every weekend, class once a week, markets…everywhere, lack of technology—no need for a cell phone, letting my undies dry anywhere and everywhere and have it be perfectly acceptable, Pino my man who makes my paninos, hearing people speaking a beautiful language everywhere I go…again the list could go on.

What I won’t miss…crusty jeans because I don’t have a dryer, creeper Italian & Albanian men, grocery shopping multiple times a week, slow internet, my feet are ALWAYS dirty, and cobblestone streets. I would say this list is definitely much shorter.

My parents have arrived! I have spent barely any time with them since I have had finals and they were in Cinque Terre this week! But as we travel, I will try to keep writing until May.

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Anna: 5 Terre, Heaven on Earth!

April 23, 2011

I spent my last weekend of my time as a student in Italy in Cinque Terre. And I decided I liked it even more than Amalfi Coast trip! My friend Ellen and I spent 2 days and 1 night in Monterosso Al Mare, the beach town and the fifth town of Cinque Terre. My friend Paige, another Gopher joined us the first day. We ate some pesto and mozzarella foccacia, had some gelato and then boated to the first town called Riomaggiore. Riomaggiore has really great colorful buildings all stacked close together. We walked from Riomaggiore to the next town, it started with a M but I can’t seem to remember the name. Regardless, we did the walk of love together and reminisced about our time spent in Italy. The end verdict? We love the people from Minnesota and we love the city of Florence.

The next day Ellen and I were on a mission to hike! Recovering from my awful sinus infection, I was motivated and ready to kick some butt hitting as many towns as I could! Unfortunately, the main trail was closed. Of course! It was a beautiful day, but it was closed because it rained a week before. Our other option was to take one of the three unmarked trails, hike an hour and a half straight up hill, then hike another hour and a half straight downhill to reach the city directly next to Monterosso. We started to hike it, but it only took about 5 minutes of deciding that we would rather veg out and enjoy ourselves. Who were we kidding to think we could be athletic after stuffing our faces with Italian pastries and pastas and pizzas these last four months? We ended up having a great day boating to Vernazza for only 3 euros and we ended up loving that town! Regardless of our lack of hiking we then headed home later that day. Monterosso has a great beach, and we would’ve like to spent more time there. I don’t think a day trip would’ve been enough here, glad I spent the night.Ellen is again, for the 50th time, my foodie friend. We split a dinner of black home made pasta (made with squid ink I believe), curry, zucchini and prawns. We also tried fish ravioli, which was really delicious and not as weird as it sounds.
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