Exploring Italy

The goal of most study abroad students is to travel to as many places as they can and squeeze in as much as possible into this one very special semester. For many of us, this semester is something we have been saving for for years. Studying abroad is such a unique time in our lives and we feel the need to take advantage of every second. This attitude leads most of the students on my program to travel outside of Rome every weekend. Lately, my weekends have been filled with trains and planes to different cities and countries, but this weekend, I focused on Italy.

There are so many things in my own backyard that I keep telling myself I have to do before this semester is over. I used this weekend to do several of those things (and catch up on some much needed sleep!).

This weekend, I had my first cappuccino in Italy…I know, I’m crazy for waiting this long. Usually, I just can’t bring myself to spend the extra money on a cappuccino when I can easily make a quick espresso in my apartment, but this weekend, I went for it at an adorable caffe called Er Baretto. It was amazing (and beautiful!)

Exploring Italy | The Pace

The next item I checked off my Italian bucket list…apertivo. Apertivo is supposed to be the course before dinner. You buy a drink and then are welcome to enjoy an unlimited buffet of various breads, pastas, rice dishes, and more. What apertivo actually is is a really cheap way to stuff your face with the best of Italian food. After only spending 9 euros and making many trips up to the buffet at Tiki Bar, I had enjoyed a delicious strawberry daiquiri, amazing food, and good times with friends. Apertivo is a total win.

Exploring Italy | The Pace

The best part of the weekend was finally accomplishing a big item on my to-do list…a wine tour through Tuscany. We started the tour in Florence and were then taken through the Chianti wine region to the Castello del Trebbio. This castle was built in 1184 by the Pazzi family, the second most important family in Italy at the time. We were taken to the room, known as the Conspiracy Room, where this family planned to assassinate the Medici family. Now, the Castello del Trebbio is owned by the Baj Macario family who actually lives there and produces incredible wine and olive oil. After touring rooms of the castle and the wine cellar, we tasted three types of wine and learned about the importance of sight, smell, and taste in a wine tasting experience.

I am definitely no closer to being a wine snob and still plan to enjoy my 1 Euro bottles of red wine (how can I resist such a steal?!), but now I have had the privilege of enjoying reserve wine made 100% from the native Tuscan grape, Sangiovese, and have knowledge about how to use my senses to tell the age and origin of wine. However, I’m still deciding whether or not to use this knowledge on the 1 Euro wine bottles…in that case, ignorance may be bliss 😉

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Thanks for a beautiful weekend, Italy. You never disappoint.

Baci, baci (kisses, kisses),

Tatum

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Florence

Last weekend was a pretty exciting one for me, because it was my first time traveling since arriving in Europe! Florence was a great destination for my first venture out of Rome…small, easy to navigate, and totally adorable.

I think we maintained a good balance between doing ‘touristy’ things and creating our own experience in a new city. We saw Michelangelo’s David along with many other beautiful sculptures and artwork, climbed the bell tower (#tbt to 400+steps and major claustrophobia), and visited the Duomo. Other than that, we spent time wandering around the city, seeing what it has to offer beyond the tourist attractions. These journeys brought us to some amazing food (including a panino literally the size of my face), a chocolate festival with free samples (amen!), and good times exploring the city’s nightlife.

If you are in Italy or anywhere in Europe, I definitely recommend visiting Florence. Everything is walk-able so getting around is easy and not overwhelming, the food is wonderful, and the scenery is gorgeous.

After this amazing weekend, I am even more exciting to continue traveling around Italy and Europe. Next stop…Milan!

Florence | The Pace

The Duomo

Florence | The Pace

View from the top of the bell tower

Florence | The Pace

Waiting in line to see Michelangelo’s David

Florence | The Pace

Panino as big as my face

Florence | The Pace

View from the top of the bell tower

 

Baci baci (kisses, kisses!),

Tatum