Italia Round 2

July 15, the fam bam and I packed up and headed back to Italy for a week in the Tuscan countryside. It was a fun, jam-packed week that went by way too quickly.

We arrived Saturday morning and spent the first half of the day touring around Rome before driving to Trequanda to our villa. We saw all the major sites in about half a day, which was a lot of fun! We arrived late in the afternoon to the villa, where we unpacked and explored the house before calling it an early night.

Sunday morning we woke up early to take a water painting class that was a lot of fun. I know I am not artistically talented… there’s a reason I choose the business side of fashion versus the artistic! My painting turned out much better than I imagined, but it still wasn’t great! That afternoon I took mom and dad to experience their first Italian grocery store! We had a great time and it was fun to show them the aisles of pasta and how I shopped for four months!

Monday we spent the day at the villa, relaxing by the pool, and exploring the town! It was so nice to have one more day to enjoy ourselves before our Italian sight-seeing adventure began!

Tuesday we visited Siena and toured the city. It was fun to see the churches there and explore a different city! From there, Mairead and I took the train to Florence, where I was able to show her all around where I lived for four months! We ate dinner at the Mercato Centrale and then went to the Accademia to see David before going out to Kikuya!

Wednesday morning everyone joined us in Florence and we all went our separate ways to tour the city! While everyone went to really tour the city, Mairead, mom, dad and I went to run errands I forgot to do while there. We went back to the Mercato to get balsamic, then to take a picture in front of my apartment, before stopping by Pino’s for a panini. We then crossed the Ponte Vecchio and shopped a little before seeing Pitti Palace. We were so hot that we found a place to cool off and grab a drink before going to La Carraia for gelato and then to the Ferragamo Museum. We finished our night off at my favorite restaurant in Florence – Trattoria Gargani! Holy yum!

Thursday was wine day! We went to the Chianti region and to four vineyards for wine tasting. While I am not a huge fan of red wine, it was fun trying all the wines and to be with the fam! Lunch was at our tour guide’s friend’s mom’s house – she cooked the entire meal for us, and it was insanely delicious! We had so much food and it was all amazing!

Friday was our last full day at the villa… we spent the morning hot-air ballooning over Tuscany at sunrise and had breakfast where we landed! It was my first time in a hot-air balloon and it was amazing and the views were breath-taking! Afterwards, we returned to the villa where we hung out by the pool for the last time before packing up.

Saturday we woke up and drove back to Rome to catch our flight home. It was such an amazing trip and I am already looking forward to my trip back to Italy, whenever that may be!

 

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Lunch in Trequanda

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Siena Church

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Siena

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with David

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Duomo

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My lovely dinner date at Mercato Centrale

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Streets in Florence

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Pitti Palace

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Ponte Vecchio

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Tuscan Vineyard

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Vineyard

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Hot Air Balloon

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Balloon

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Balloon Shadows

Florence for the Weekend

This past weekend, we stayed in Florence, which was nice to just have time to relax and enjoy the city! We started Friday off by climbing to the top of the Duomo and the Bell Tower, visiting the church museum and the Baptistery! It was such a beautiful day and crystal blue skies, so it was completely worth the 463 steps (for the Duomo) and 414 steps (for the Bell Tower). We enjoyed some gelato afterwards to treat ourselves. We then made our way to the Church Museum, where we were able to see the real golden doors from the Baptistry – they were BEAUTIFUL! I then met up with three friends from high school who were visiting for dinner and we had a lot of fun catching up and reconnecting!

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Saturday I spent the day playing tour guide to my friends. We went all over Florence in the pouring down rain and managed to take absolutely no photos  But we had a great time and I’m so happy I got to see them! That night, Lizzy, Kayleigh and I finally made it to a “secret bakery.” It’s where the bakeries start baking late at night for the next day and you go to the back door of them and can buy fresh pastries! We all got chocolate croissants for $1 each and they were delicious!

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Today, we went to see the David at the Accademia since in Florence state museums are free the first Sunday of every month! It was a bit crowded, but so much fun and we really enjoyed seeing David and the other art around the museum. It has been a gross, cold, rainy day here, so we are all now in comfy clothes and relaxing!

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Florence Days 4-6

Wednesday was our first morning in our new apartment. We quickly learned that the noise on the street echoes (as one girl noticed as she screamed “echo” down the street) and people are LOUD at 3 am. While the noise eventually subsided, I finally fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning only to wake up at in a few hours for the first day of orientation. We made it through the 2-hour session and had the whole day to explore even more. Lizzy, Kayleigh (our roommate from FIT) and I grabbed coffee at a café near our apartment and then went on a hunt for a pillow. We may have the tiniest beds in the world and the stiff pillows did not make it any better. But we found some, and let me tell you, it was glorious to sleep on. We went back to rest for a bit before walking around and shopping some more. While on our walk, we found a cannoli place where they make the cannoli for you… it was the best thing ever! We ended up at dinner at a restaurant with all study abroad students that had a deal for dinner and sat a table with three girls from a different school. They were the nicest people and we spent the whole night laughing and talking, which was nice to meet such normal people and have a good time. But, by like 11 we were exhausted and were in bed and asleep!

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Making my cannoli

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The final product

Thursday, after a pretty good night’s sleep, we went to orientation again this morning for just a bit. After that, we walked back to our apartment and got situated before heading out for lunch. We went to this really yummy burger place by us and enjoyed some non-Italian food We then explored some more of the city and went across the river to get some gelato and walk around there some more. We eventually found our way to our friend Cassie’s apartment, which was fun to see (but I like ours a lot better)! Now we’re just relaxing and enjoying the comfort of our apartment before a welcome dinner at the school tonight!

 

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Yesterday, we had our last session of orientation and rewarded ourselves at News Cafe with a Nutella lined coffee… Though I am not a coffee drinker by any means, it was pretty good, but not good enough to convert me. We then went on a little walk and enjoyed and ended up at All’antico Vinaio for a panini – OMG this was literally the most amazing sandwich I’ve ever had. I can’t even describe it – it was so amazing! We grabbed our sandwiches and walked across the Ponte Vecchio and sat in front of Boboli Gardens before going in and walking around them. It was so beautiful and nice to escape from the “city.” We finished the night at dinner with Jenny at the Mercato Centrale. This weekend we’re just enjoying Florence and doing a day trip to Tuscany!

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Milano Panini

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Ciao for now!

xx
Grace

Florence Days 1-3

I have finally made it to Florence and to say that I am excited is way understated. Lizzy and I arrived after a pit stop in Amsterdam to a rainy Florence, with all our luggage in tow. Though we were insanely exhausted, we decided to explore a bit so we could get comfortable with our new home and try not fall asleep! After a delicious lunch in one of the piazzas, we went on a mission to find shampoo and conditioner at Sephora and after visiting 2 Sephoras, I was finally successful! Who knew that it was that hard to find shampoo? We then decided to venture over to the area of our new apartment and see what it was like. When we finally arrived we looked around and there were very few people in sight and not many places to eat or shop at and while we were skeptical (don’t worry mom, that changed quickly), we decided to go back to the hotel and rest since it decided to rain harder. With one more go on the town for dinner, we both crawled into bed at 8:30 and slept fabulously! Monday morning, we woke up well rested and enjoyed a nice croissant at a little café.

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Yesterday, I was determined to find a curling iron or hair straighter. After many visits to department stores and pharmacies, I was about to give up, when I saw an electronic store (I had read that they carried them), only to find it was closed. However, the sweet man that owned it came running up after us and opened it for us. Praise the lord! Lizzy and I then ventured across the Ponte Vecchio and grabbed a slice of pizza before climbing to the top of Piazza Michelangelo. Don’t let the photo below fool you, it took us 3 breaks on the steep steps up to get to the top, but the view was well worth it! After our trek, we thought we’d go explore the area around our apartment since it was a beautiful sunny day. And much to our surprise, the area was packed with people (see mom, it’s going to be okay!) We finished our night off with dinner with Jenny and it was so much fun to see her!

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Stairs to the Top

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View from the Top

Today, Tuesday, we went to orientation for our apartment and finally got our room keys. Lizzy and I packed up our suitcases and took a taxi to our new home. It only took us using 4 of the 6 keys to finally get into the front door to then have to figure out the next key to use to open the next door. 3 trips later, we finally made it with all our stuff to our door on the 3rd floor, which uses two keys to get in. Our apartment is perfect! There’s a decent sized kitchen with a fridge, oven, microwave, and even a dishwasher. Off that we have a little living area with a TV. Lizzy and I share the first room and there are 3 other rooms for the 4 other girls, plus 2 bathrooms. The ceilings are high, so it makes it feel a lot bigger and it’s IKEA furniture, so it’s pretty modern for such an old city. The window in my room is across the street from a music school, so we hear the piano and other instruments, which is fun to hear. Orientation starts tomorrow and I’m excited to meet more people and get everything ready, but, for now, it’s nice to finally be unpacked and organized! I’ll try to write and post pictures as much as possible!

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Our bedroom

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The Kitchen

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Living Room

Ciao

 

Art in Florence

Florence Day 1:

From London, we took a quick plane ride to Florence. Our first and only real day in Florence we spent sightseeing again. It was insanely HOT, which made walking around a little unbearable, but I was determined to see everything in a day. We started by looking at the Duomo, which I had studied in art history (nerd alert) and it is incredible. It’s so massive and beautiful, words or pictures cannot do it justice. We then went to a food market where you can literally buy any type of meat, cheese, wine, etc. It’s a massive building, but it smells amazing and some of the pasta looked incredible. From the market we finally got to go to the Uffizi Gallery, which was by far my favorite part of Florence (nerd alert x2). I played “tour guide” for my parents showing them some of the paintings I had learned about and was amazed that I actually remembered that much.. While we were there, we even ran into my good friend from Kansas who was studying abroad and had a few meals with her, which was nice to catch up and see her! Anyways, for as hot as Florence was, it is an amazing place and I highly recommend it.

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Ponte Vecchio

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Duomo

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Romper: Alice & Olivia, Purse: Longchamp, Sunglasses: Ray-Ban, Shoes: Tory Burch (Old, Similar Here), Necklace: Chelsea Market

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