Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Florence and Venice Purchases

I have no money left in my bank account...but I have a beautiful new leather bag from Florence!

Let's just say Florence and Venice were a success.

More tomorrow about what I saw and did while there, but for now, let's get to the important stuff: the shopping. Everyone told me that Florence and Venice were fabulous for shopping and they definitely weren't wrong.

In Florence, I went to an open air market that sold tons of leather (what Florence is famous for) scarves, jewelry and other things.

I bought a beautiful leather bag...it took me 3 hours to pick out because I'm very picky, but I'm definitely happy with it. I also bought a few scarves and some gifts for my family.

Girls with our leather bags

In Venice, I bought a ton of Murano glass (Venice's speciality) jewelry. Everything was so reasonable priced! I bought each piece of jewelry for 5 euros.

Roommates and our rings! Can you guess which hand is mine?

I also bought an adorable 5 euros nautical tote bag with an anchor! Love!

Venice bag

Success? I think so!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Italians In Love

If there is one major thing I've noticed about Italian culture during my time in Rome, it's that Italian couples seem to be way more in love than American couples.

Everywhere I go in Rome, I see Italian couples holding hands at a trattoria, kissing by a fountain, and even snuggling on the metro! At first I thought it was absolutely adorable, but now I'm wondering....are Italians just way more in love than Americans?

Is it something about their culture? In America, if you walk down a street, it's not unlikely to see a couple arguing. In Italy, it's definitely not uncommon to see a couple making out on a street corner.

Is it just me? Am I just noticing things, or is it true? Are Italian couples more in love than American couples?

For those of you who have been to Italy, what do you think?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Firenze e Venezia

I'm off to Firenze (Florence) and Venezia (Venice).

All of my friends who have already been have raved about the shopping (leather in Firenze, glass jewelry in Venice) so I'm all ready to shop til I drop!

I also am super excited to take a gondola ride in Venezia!

This will be our first experience traveling by train (Thank God! No more flights for a bit!) and we are taking an overnight train on the way back.


St. Peter's Basilica- Lifechanging

Yesterday, I had the amazing opportunity to visit St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.

View from St. Peter's Square

Papal Residence

Once I entered the building, I was in awe. The sheer beauty of the church is enough to take your breath away.

We wandered through the tomb of Popes which was a bit creepy, but still amazing to see. Walking past Pope John Paul II's tomb was incredibly eerie and saddening. We were shepherded through quite quickly and no photos were allowed, but no one could take their eyes off the tomb. Some people even tossed letters and photos into the area.

After seeing the tombs, we headed into the main church and saw Michelangelo's famous Pieta and Bernini's Baldacchino. Beautiful.

Main church.


We went into a chapel just for private prayer. It was amazingly beautiful and I felt chills just being in the room.

Afterwards, we headed to the gift shop and purchased some beautiful and reasonably priced rosaries for our family members.

I had a great experience visiting St. Peter's and might even head back there on Monday when I go to see the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fabulous Barcelona

I really loved Barcelona!

We arrived in Barcelona on Saturday early afternoon and headed to Urbaney Hostel. We were pretty happy with our 6 person dorm room hostel. It was very nice and a good place for young people to stay.

Reilly and I on the terrace of our hostel with the Torre Agbar in the background

To see the city, we purchased a pass for the tour bus that lets you hop on and off as you please. We rode around on the bus for a few hours checking out the city and stopped off a few times.

Some of the highlights we saw: La Sagrada Familia and Gaudi's architecture.

La Sagrada Familia

People in Barcelona generally don't eat dinner until very late, so we ate dinner around midnight. We ate at an amazing restaurant. The sangria was awesome!

Delicious sangria at dinner

After dinner, we headed to a bar called Chupito's that my friend Sarah recommended to me. The bar specializes in shots that involve fire. I had a "boy scout" shot where I roasted a marshmallow over a fire on the bar and then took a shot. Another shot that we did had us dipping our thumb in the alcohol, the bartender lighting out finger on fire, sucking our thumb and then taking the shot. This bar was definitely an experience to say the least.

On Sunday, we headed to the beach (my favorite!). It was a beautiful day, and we spent hours relaxing and reading on the beach. The beach wasn't as clean as I thought it would be, but we were on the first beach near the city, so maybe that's to be expected.


Sunday night, we went out for another great dinner. I had steak which was really great considering I don't eat a lot of meat here in Rome. After dinner, we headed to the "Magic Fountain" to see an amazing show of lights, fountains, and music. It was great.

Fountain show

After that, we wandered down La Rambla, a pretty happening street full of bars, clubs, and restaurants.

Barcelona was great and I had so much fun. There are definitely some things I didn't get to see, but overall, I think I was able to catch a lot in the short 2 days I spent there.
Have you ever been to Barcelona? What was your favorite part?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

In Barcelona

I'm currently in Barcelona!

Get ready for a picture-filled update when I return!

Has anyone ever been to Barcelona? What was your favorite part of the city?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rome at Sunset

Can it get more beautiful than that?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Barcelona Bound!

I'm heading to Barcelona early on Saturday morning until Monday morning.

Since I have such a short time there, I really want to make the most of it.

What are my Barcelona must-sees?

Weekend In Paris

Check out my guest blog post on Wandering Educators about my weekend in Paris.

Click here to read my post!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Best Coffee In All Of Roma!

I absolutely love Roma.

Everything about it.

Especially the delicious coffee.

Now, I'm normally a Starbucks girl myself, but they don't have any of that here in Rome! What they have is better...

Their coffee drinking culture is so different from in the states. In the US, I would drive to Starbucks, grab my grande mocha frappuccino and get back in my car and be on my way. Not so, in Rome.

In Rome, take-away coffee is virtually unheard of. Italians order their coffee, and stand at "the bar" and drink their coffee. The cups are usually quite small, but also filling. No venti cups here!

Today, my art history professor took us to what he told us was the best coffee place in Rome. It's near the Pantheon and called Tazzo D'oro. He suggested we all try a "granita di caffe" or an iced coffee. I love iced coffee at home, so I was excited to try this.

Coffee place..Tazzo D'oro

The coffee came in a small plastic cup with what looked like coffee grounds and some whipped cream. I mixed the whipped cream in with the icy coffee and took a sip. It was AMAZING. I've never had anything like it. It was the perfect amount of coffee without feeling too full or gross.


We all enjoyed our coffee sitting outside the shop chatting.

Much nicer than the drive-through at Starbucks, right?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Paris Update

Since I have a big midterm tomorrow, this has to be a short post!

Overall, Paris wasn't my favorite city. This may have to do with the fact that my roommates and I all got food poisoning, and spent a good portion of the weekend in bed, but I just didn't fall in love with the city like I thought I would.

I'll give more details on what I did in Paris after my art history midterm tomorrow, but here are some pictures to hold you over until then!

Eiffel Tower

Moulin Rouge

Hanging out with Mona Lisa

Arc de Triomphe


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Amalfi Coast Bus Trip Review

Angela Nickerson (@aknickerson on Twitter) was kind enough to let me write a review about my Amalfi Coast bus tour experience for her travel blog The Gypsy's Guide.

Click here to check out my post.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bonjour Paris!

I am currently in Paris!

Thanks for all your wonderful suggestions on things to do while there.

Here's hoping I can cram all the history, art and culture of Paris into 3 short days!

See you Sunday!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Pope

Yesterday in Art History, we were supposed to go to St. Peter's in Vatican City. For some reason, my professor didn't know/remember that on Wednesday's there is a Papal audience. We got to St. Peter's Square and saw that Vatican City was filled with hundreds of people waiting to see the Pope.

I was instantly excited at the opportunity to see the Pope in person.

My professor sat us on steps and began to lecture.

I watched as the area filled with people.

The Pope finally came out in his Pope-mobile and drove around waving and shaking hands for a few minutes. He went to his seat and began to speak. We couldn't hear very clearly, and he was speaking in Italian, so I'm not sure what he was saying, but it was still an incredible experience to see the Pope.

Pope Benedict XVI

Since we were with our class, we weren't able to fully soak in the experience. I plan on going back on a different Wednesday and trying to get a seat so I can hear and see better.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Amalfi Coast Part 3- Positano

On our last day on the Amalfi Coast, we went to the beautiful island of Positano. We took our bus to a certain point but had to walk about a mile to the top of the island and then down about a thousand (not even exaggerating!) steps to reach the beach.

The walk down the steps was a bit difficult because the steps were pretty jagged and did not have railings. Many people got dehydrated and started feeling dizzy. My legs were shaking by the time I made it to the bottom.

The beach from the highest point of town

Me in Positano

The beach was beautiful, and the sun was super strong. I laid out all day, and got pretty tan. Some people opted to rent a speed boat to take them to a point where they could cliff jump.

After spending the day at the beach, we hopped back on our bus that took us back to Rome. We hit a lot of traffic and got to Rome around 9:00 p.m.

Overall, I had a great weekend and am in love with the Amalfi Coast. I would definitely like to come back here someday!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Amalfi Coast Part 2- Capri

On Saturday morning, we woke up early and took a bus to a ferry to take us to Capri. Capri is probably one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen (Bermuda still takes number 1 on my list!).


The ferry ride was really bumpy and a lot of people got sea sick. We got to Blue Grotto which is a cave that lights up the most beautiful blue color because of the sun and the way it positions itself. We had to go in tiny rowboats and duck our heads when we entered the cave. We were only in there for about 5 minutes, but it was well worth it.

In the blue grotto

We got back on the ferry and headed to the beach. Some people on the program opted to take a walking tour of Capri, but my friends and I were tired so we decided to stay and lay on the beach. Capri has rocky beaches, which was weird to me since I'm so used to sand beaches. I went in the water for a bit, but it was freezing! It was nice to lay out and relax for a few hours though.

Relaxing on the beach

On the ferry ride back, we were able to see some more of the island including what the locals call "the tunnel of love" and a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Tunnel of Love

A rock statue in a cave that people think looks like the Virgin Mary. This is completely natural! Amazing.

Capri was definitely amazing and is a place I would love to return to and see more of the island!

Does anyone else love Capri? What's your favorite part of the island?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Amalfi Coast Part 1- Pompeii

I'm back from my amazing Amalfi Coast weekend! Instead of writing one long post, I'm going to break up the trip by day. I'm going to leave out the logistics as I'm going to be writing an actual review of the trip's itinerary for Angela Nickerson's travel blog Just Go later this week.

We left on Thursday night by bus and headed to our hostel in Sorrento. Our hostel was called Seven Hostel and it was amazing for a first hostel experience. We had a great time hanging out on the hostel's rooftop bar and terrace.

We woke up early on Friday and headed to Pompeii.

We had a choice of taking a guided tour of Pompeii, or just wandering around ourselves. I decided to take the guided tour, which was really beneficial. I learned so much.

Pompeii is the town that was utterly destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. Surprisingly, there was no lava or magma when the volcano erupted; our guide informed us that it just rained ash over the entire city and covered the city 100 feet deep. The city was left alone for hundreds of years until someone decided to uncover it. When it was uncovered, the city was surprisngly intact. Many artifacts and even dead bodies were found. Houses were left untouched with paintings still inside. We even saw a brothel with stone beds and erotic paintings that stayed intact for hundreds of years. It's quite eerie to walk around, but very cool.

Remains of a fresco inside a house

Dead body filled with plaster to preserve it

Building preserved

Later, we drove to Mount Vesuvius. Our bus was able to take us up to a landing point, but we had to walk up the steepest parts of the volcano from there. I didn't think I was going to make it, but I did!

It took about thirty minutes to get to the top of the volcano. Interestingly enough, it was easier to walk up the volcano, than down. I slipped several times going down as it was very dusty and dirty and I was stupidly wearing flip flops (no one told me I'd be hiking up a volcano this weekend!) Overall, it was an awesome experience to have made it to the top of a volcano. It's something I never would have pictured myself doing (especially since I thought I'd be relaxing on a beach all weekend!) but I'm so glad to have done it.

On the way up the volcano

Erica and I made it to the top!

Has anyone else ever been to Pompeii? Did you have a good experience there?

Friday, June 5, 2009

On Holiday!

I'm currently in Sorrento, Positano, Capri, and Pompeii for the weekend!

I will be taking a ton of pictures, so expect a wonderful photo-filled post sometime next week!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Festa della Repubblica

Tuesday was a national holiday in Italy.

While many banks and shops were closed, I still had class. My art class headed to the Colosseum area to sketch, but we were greeted with a large military parade.

According to About.com, Festa della Repubblica celebrates the day in 1946 that Italy voted for a republic form of government.

I've never seen so many military persons in one area! It was quite a sight.

The Colosseum was draped with a gigantic Italian flag.

I even caught a glimpse of the Italian president Giorgio Napolitano.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Last night, my roommates and I officially booked a weekend in Paris!

I've wanted to go to Paris since I began taking French in 7th grade. I only took French until the end of 10th grade, but I've always wanted to visit. I can't wait to see the Eiffel Tower sparkling at night!

We are going from June 11-14 and staying in a hostel and flying Ryanair.

In addition to my 3 roommates, we are traveling with a group of 6 other friends.

Unfortunately, it's peak travel time since it's June, so it was difficult to find a hostel for all 10 of us. We ended up booking two seperate hostels that are in the same general area.

Does anyone know of a good itinerary for a short 3 day weekend in Paris? What are the must see museums and sites?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pentecost at the Pantheon

Angela Nickerson (@aknickerson on Twitter) was kind enough to let me write a guest post for her travel blog Just Go about my experience attending mass at the Pantheon.

Click here to check out my post!