This last week has been so hectic! I arrived in Italy one week early and visited Lake Como and Cinque Terre. Lake Como was gorgeous and peaceful, and arriving early and going on my own allowed me to connect with Italian culture in a way that feels so personal. Lake Como was the perfect place to start my trip in Italy. After so many hours of flying, so much planning, and so much chaos, I found a beautiful sense of calm in the quiet ripples of the lake. And my journey began.
After a peaceful couple of days by the lake, I zipped my carryon back up and took a train (actually, more like 7) to Cinque Terre. Let me explain! One of the aforementioned realizations that I came to on my trip was that in Italy, it is typical and highly suggested to purchase train tickets in advance to secure a cheap and direct train to your destination. In between all of the packing, planning, and traveling, I had committed a rookie mistake: I did not buy train tickets in advance.
I thought, how could I make such a mistake! I pride myself on planning everything, all the time. So when I arrived to the train station and requested a train ticket from Milan to Cinque Terre on a Friday afternoon, the ticket seller may as well have laughed in my face. Actually, they did. They totally laughed at me. And then they explained that there were no direct train tickets left and I would have to take 7 different trains to get to my destination. It took 7 trains and almost 8 hours to finally arrive in Cinque Terre, but when I did, it was magic.
After a plate of delicious walnut pasta, gelato, and much needed sleep, I was feeling refreshed. The following day, I went on a hike and saw one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. Then, I cooled off by the beach, had more gelato (of course), and explored around the town of Vernazza.
In the evening, I booked a sunset book tour through Airbnb experiences. The captain of the boat and the host of the experience was so awesome! They played music, provided fresh focaccia bread and Prosecco, and took us to all the islands. When the sun started setting, he stopped the boat for us to jump off and swim. It was truly an incredible experience.
This first week was eventful, but magical. It was the cultural introduction to Italy that I did not know i needed, but am so grateful to have experienced. I am so excited to be arriving to Florence to continue learning and experiencing Italian culture. My course this session is on Food, Wine, and culture, and after this last week, I could not be more excited to dive in! Although there were many struggles, culture shocks, and realizations, I am so grateful to be able to experience such a beautiful part of Italy. I am honestly a ball of emotions as I embark on this journey, but I could not feel more ready to tackle Florence and what the beautiful city has to offer.
Here’s to good times ahead! 🥂