Saturday, May 19, 2012

an epilogue:

i've been back in the states for a week now, and i must say - even though it has been a little hectic, running back and forth between new jersey and boston - it is great to be home.  on my first day back, i felt like buddy the elf when he came to new york city for the first time, a stranger in a foreign land, absolutely amazed at everything i saw.  i wasn't exactly a stranger to america, but there were definitely a lot of things that made me gasp with excitement a little, things i had totally forgotten about.  there is green grass and trees everywhere i go - the streets smell like flowers, not sh*t - the air is clean and i can breath without constantly inhaling cigarette smoke - temperature is measured in fahrenheit and time is told with a twelve hour clock, not 24 - tap water is free, and it tastes good - american soap actually makes me feel clean - dryers exist, so now i can actually wash my sweatshirt more than once a month without worrying about having something to wear while it dries - i can put my purse on the back of my chair at restaurants without getting robbed - stores sell cheerios, peanut butter, and oreos - people speak english (obviously) and i know what's going on ALL the time.  don't get me wrong, living in italy for four months was amazing.  it was a once in a lifetime experience i will never forget.  but if there's one thing i've learned from it all, it is that i don't ever really want to leave this country again.  sure, things might be a little screwed up from time to time, but once i took a step away from it for a little while, i realized how simple and easy things can be here.

i love america.

Friday, May 11, 2012

tonight is my last night in firenze - in about 24 hours, i'll be back in new jersey, ready to curl up in my big comfy bed, air conditioning, with my pup marley.  i honestly don't even know how to feel about going home.  it's hard to explain the feeling to anyone who has not shared this experience, it's almost like this whole semester was a dream (if that makes any sense).  i have to admit i am excited to get back to america, but here are some things i'll definitely miss about living in florence:

the best food in the entire world
unlimited gelato
the leather market (i'll even miss being hit on by the creepy men)
pizza man (pretty much all these things have to do with food)
not real school
fresh fruit at the markets
family dinners with my roommates
cheap wine
hanging out in our bat cave
sun bathing on santa croce
playing with cats in the gardens

i didn't realize how much i'm going to miss it here until tonight - sitting on the stairs at piazzale michelangelo, overlooking the city and the sunset, listening to a woman with dreads play her ukulele and sing it's a wonderful world.  doesn't get much better than that.

arrivederci firenze! see you later (maybe?)!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

just got back from amalfi coast this weekend, which is one of the most beautiful places in the world. i went with some friends from florence through a tour group for students, we stayed in sorrento and took some day trips to capri, positano and pompei. friday we took a boat tour around the island of capri, went inside the blue grotto - a cave with glowing blue water that is one of the seven wonders of the world - explored the island, took a one-man chairlift up to the top of anacapri, tasted some limoncello and got some custom made sandals.
on our way to capri
inside the blue grotto
tunnel of love
natural arch shaped like an elephant
chair lift to anacapri

making my sandals
took a ride in an open air taxi... wish they had these in america
saturday was our beach day. we headed down to positano early in the morning, and of course as soon as we got on the beach, the sun hid behind storm clouds and it got freezing cold. despite the ominous clouds, we still hopped on a boat to go cave swimming and cliff jumping. we jumped off the boat to swim through a cave in what ended up being jelly-fish-infested waters. luckily, i dodged all the jelly fish with my expert swimming skills and was one of the only one's who didn't get stung (psh who am i kidding, i just got lucky). but after the near-death experience, i was too wiped to jump back into that water off of a cliff. i can only handle so much adrenaline in one day. when we got back to the beach, we took a walk, found some another new cat friend, and then the sun came out 10 minutes before we left. typical murphy's law. it was still a good day. and absolutely beautiful and breath taking.
sitting on the beach in positano
here come the clouds...

on the boat to cave swimming
cave with billions of jellies
caroline and sweetest cat alive
cat and me playing
today was our last day in amalfi - we took an early bus to pompei and wandered around the ruins that were uncovered from a mount vesuvius eruption thousands of years ago.
ruins in pompei

pups taking a nap

frozen man from the volcano eruption
 it was a great weekend, but i'm happy to be home in florence. and with only a week to go! how did that happen?? time flies.

Monday, April 30, 2012

i just said goodbye to my mom a couple days ago.  she was here visiting me for about a week - we went to cinque terre last weekend and spent a few nights in manarola, which was beautiful.  we got stuck there an extra night due to a train strike, but luckily we were able to find a cute little apartment to stay in for the day/night where we were able to hang out, enjoy the view, and cook our own delicious dinner.  the rest of the week, we just hung out here in florence in the warm sunshine (finally).  it was so good to have her here, we had a great week together.
obviously made some cat friends in cinque terre

our beautiful meal with italian colored pasta
sunset view from our balcony
gardens in florence
yea so i went back to cinque terre yesterday with some friends...
and did that extremely hard hike, but it was beautiful and worth it

Saturday, April 14, 2012

i was so happy to have my dad and alex here this past week.  we spent easter together in santa margherita--one of the most beautiful places on earth.  it was right on the coast and our hotel overlooked the bay, filled with tons of boats.  there were palm trees and brightly colored houses all along the shore line.  we took a train to cinque terre one day, where the houses were built into the hills all along the ocean.  my dad and i took a path between towns, called via dell'amore, and had lunch at a little cafe built into the cliff.  then we hiked between two other towns--we weren't exactly looking for some intense mountain climbing, we just thought it would be another casual trail like the one before.  but instead we walked up and down a billion stone stairs in the mountains.  on easter, we took a boat to portofino, another seaside town.  then back to florence: we pretty much saw all of florence in one day--from piazzale michelangelo to the top of the duomo, and from palazzo pitti and the boboli gardens to piazza signoria and the ponte vecchio.  after one exhausting day of being their tour guide, we spent the rest of the week relaxing, catching up and eating lots and lots of delicious italian food.
alex, dad and me on our hotel balcony
pretty boats in the bay
cinque terre
love locks on via dell'amore
via dell'amore
the stairs that went forever
there were so many cats in cinque terre
me and alex on the boat to portofino on easter
view of portofino
santa margherita
alex and florence
i'm so blessed that i got to spend a week with two of my favorite people in the world.  we had a lot of fun, and i miss them already!

Monday, April 2, 2012

this weekend i went on a trip through my school to a few cute little medieval towns in italy: perugia, assisi, siena and san gimignano.  we got to eat some free meals, stay in a fancy hotel, had tons of gelato, and it was beautiful.  see for yourself...

Assisi had pink bricks in every building
Duomo in Siena
Tower in San Gimignano

towers in San Gim
makin a little love under the flowers
best gelato in the whole world. no joke, i ate seven different flavors

Sunday, March 25, 2012

hola, i just got home from spring break in spain!  i went with caroline and met up with a couple of my roommates, amie and kelly, in barcelona.  i had my first experience with ryanair, the low fare airline--we flew to barcelona for only 20 euros, had to pack everything for the entire week (including my purse and giant camera) in my tiny backpack, and fought for the best seats once on the plane since there are no assigned seats.  the take-off and landing were kinda rough, but when we landed an hour later ryanair played their victory song and everyone applauded for making it to spain.
in case of emergency: don't forget to hold your skirt down on the slide
it was weird getting to barcelona in the middle of the night on st. patrick's day.  it was dark and we saw the city for the first time at night, while people dressed as leprechauns stumbled down the streets.  we got pretty lucky with our hostel in barcelona though.  downtown paraiso happened to be located right off la rambla, one of the most well-known streets in the city, filled with little souvenir stands, street performers, and buildings that look like their straight from candy land.

in barcelona, we woke every day, bought fresh fruit and a warm loaf of bread at the corner supermarket, ate out by the fountain in the placa reial.  we went to the beach, saw a bunch of topless women and a couple of completely naked people.  we explored the city down by the water, learned how to use the subway system to go to guell park, a ginormous park filled with gardens and tons of cacti.  we went to the local travelbar for a free dinner and met lots of travelers from all over the world.  needless to say, barcelona was amazing.  the only problem was that apparently they don't speak spanish there.  i tried to prepare myself with the memories of high school spanish, only to find out everyone spoke catalan.
barcelona down by the beach
borat at the beach
one of the many beautiful fountains
hangin at the ice bar

breakfast spot
on wedenesday we headed to sevilla in southern spain, where spanish was a real thing.  our hostel wasn't as trendy as the one in barcelona, but nuevo suizo did have a rooftop garden and was in a really great location.  sevilla was beautiful and warm.  i couldn't stop feeling like i was in florida.  maybe it was because of the overwhelming amount of palm trees, oranges and old people.  the city was really small and reminded me a lot of florence.  we stayed in the city center, while the residential area was separated by a river.  we pretty much saw the whole city in a matter of hours--we went to the real alcazar, a royal palace/tropical garden filled with palm trees, orange trees, lemon trees, fountains, and peacocks.  we sat down by the river, got some sun at the beach, visited the plaza espana, and ate lots of churros con chocolate and tapas for dinner.

i have to say this was an amazing week.  i was loving the warm weather, the beautiful cities, the delicious food.  but there's no doubt, i'm so glad to be back to my little home in florence.