A stay-in home day? Yeah no… we don’t know her. Studying abroad has involved constant moving around and traveling. You know the drill: class in the days, Florence in the night, and spontaneous trips on the weekend. In my first three weeks abroad I visited Pisa, Lucca, Cinque Terre, Bagni de Lucca, Rome, and Paris and will share my experience, thoughts, highlight, etc. of each trip.
Pisa : A rather small town. Inside the ancient walls are the bell tower, cathedral, and baptistry. As you can probably guess, the main attraction in Pisa was the leaning tower of Pisa. Tourists swarmed the square and the surrounding shops and restaurants accordingly catered to the tourist culture. For this reason, if you’re looking for an authentic Italian culture experience, I’d recommend looking further than Pisa. FUN FACT: the tower took 344 years to build because of countless breaks in construction. First they realized it was leaning then there was war then they started building again then there was another war and so on. The tower really faced countless threats and the wrath of time but still stands–leaning none the less but–strong.
Lucca : a mini Florence. It’s renown for it’s festivals and appreciation for the arts. Like Florence Lucca runs along the Arno, offers many brand name shops, and has it’s own little Duomo.
Cinque Terre: a coastal getaway. ‘Cinque terre’ translates to ‘five towns’. These villages are Manarola, Riomaggiore, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, and Corniglia and the view from each of these towns have probably been the prettiest views I’ve seen this whole trip. I just think the combination of the green hillsides and Mediterranean blue waters with the Ligurian colorful landscaping were breathtaking.
Bagni De Lucca: remember Lucca— well Bagni de Lucca is a province offside Lucca. While Lucca and Florence are more urban on the Tuscan scale, Bagni de Lucca is much more rural. So rural there was only one taxi driver in the whole town. Getting there wasn’t as simple as getting to other big cities too but it was well worth the trip and additional expenses. The views, waters, air, weather, EVERYTHING (nature wise) was monumentally richer than all the other places I’ve been to in Italy. And it makes sense. It’s a land untouched; evidently earthy and refreshing. We ziplined above canyon waters, paddle boarded to a waterfall, and swam in the cool water. Once we dried up, we went on an ATV tour through the bumpy Meadows and hillside streets where we had a beautiful view of the Tuscan plains. Fun fact: Bagni de Lucca is not a popular tourist destination and accordingly most of the people we crossed paths with including our taxi driver and ATV tour guides did not speak English. My little French and Aminas little Spanish came to the rescue (low key google translate was the real savior).
Rome: Rome was the first actual big city we went to. Big roads, metros, and all that. When in Rome, we realized we were not fans of sight seeing mainly due to the scorching heat and the crowd and lines associated with it. Our first stop was the Colosseum where we stood in line for an hour to get inside. It was a necessity but overall, I wouldn’t do it again. Once home to grand shows, gladiator fights, and executions, the Colosseum is now a monument broken up and desperately renovated past originality. Residing by the Colosseum was Palentines hill, where (FUN FACT) Romulus was said to build the Roman empire after he killed his brother who first attempted to kill him. After we walked to the Roman forum, Trevi’s fountain, the Spanish steps, and the Pantheon.
Paris: You can imagine the excitement being in a country speaking a language you understand. All I can say is je t’aime Paris, you were definitely a vibe. Like Rome, Paris was much larger than all the previous cities we’ve visited but without the hectic city-life atmosphere. We had a laid back and chill experience in Paris as we got lost in the Louvre, roamed around the tour Eiffel and got major scammed but that’s another story, rode ferries on the Siene river, shopped the Champs E’lyses, and passed countless famous structures and bridges. I was intending on listing them all but they’re too many and I honestly don’t know where to cross the line between fame and beauty because they were all so grand and ravishing. FUN FACT: The weight of all the locks on the bridge had to be removed because of concerns that the bridge might collapse. Also, the Eiffel tower was only supposed to be a temporary exhibit. Yes, TEMPORARY. Before its installment, Eiffel’s design was deemed as hideous by the organizers but they went on with the project as they intended on removing the tower after twenty years of installment. Attitudes were swayed as they discovered the value of the tower seeing all its received global attention and admiration. Eifel was a genius and it’s amazing how the tower, built only to stand for 20 years, has been stable and standing for 130 years. VIVE LE FRANCE