Thanks to: My parents for allowing me to go on this trip of a lifetime, the honors program for the opportunity to take a class trip to enhance my learning and life experiences, and Dr. Vandergriff-Avery and Dr. Sabo for a wonderful time in Italy.
Friday March 1st: Flight
The trip to the airport was one of excitement and anxiety as I knew in a few hours we would be boarding a plane for Italy, a place I have wanted to travel to almost my entire life. My parents dropped Jeffrey and me off at the airport doors and left, in a way that was the best way to say goodbye. Getting my ticket and going through security was a breeze, after all I have travelled by plane since I was six months old. As the time for the flight to Philly grew near my nerves set in, so I took my medicine and boarded the big metal bird to the sky. The flight from Charlotte to Philly was quick and somewhat smooth. I sat on an aisle seat next to Danielle. This was her first time flying, and regardless of whether she wanted to know or not, I felt compelled to explain everything that was going on. We were able to talk for most of the trip. The flight attendants were nice once I told them that I was nervous about our trip to Italy and came and checked on me during our trip. I read my book until we had to turn the electronic devices off, which made the trip go by even quicker. I was able to look out the window and see the view which was really beautiful. The walk from gate C to A was long and made me tired, but we had a lot of time before our plane boarded. Hannah and I ate Chinese food, one last taste of home before we experienced a different culture and different food. We then proceeded to the gate which was packed full from people headed to Rome and people who just came from Rome. I plugged in my tablet, which put me close to a man who had just come off the plane from Rome. I began to pick his brain about places to go and what life was like in Italy. He seemed happy to talk to us and said that he was headed to L.A. The flight was delayed because they were fixing seats on the plane. The Rome flight took eight long hours and had a lot of turbulence which bothered me greatly. The best part of the flight was seeing the Swiss Alps. The snow was so beautiful with little houses and villages scattered through them. It was a sight that made the trip worth taking. The food was pretty good during the trip and I made sure to drink plenty of water, but I did not sleep very long. I also cut myself on the tray table in front of me which had a metal piece sticking out of it that I had not noticed. The flight attendants came over right away and fixed the seat and made sure my finger was fine. We finally landed and I was so happy to see the ground and be in a different country.
Saturday March 2nd: Walking Tour
We landed at 9:30 am in Rome. We met Georgio after getting our passports stamped, which I believe is one of the most exciting things we get to do in the airport when travelling to a different country. We got on the bus and began our tour. Many of us were still really tired, myself included, but I couldn’t close my eyes, I did not want to miss one single thing. During our tour we were able to see the Trevi Fountain, the Parliament building, the Basilica Santa Maria, different Roman ruins and the Pantheon. We ate lunch at the pizzeria next to our hotel. It was there we learned about Gypsies and what to do when they come around. The mushroom pizza I had was excellent and had fresh ingredients. Next we saw Doctor’s housing from the Mussolini era. It was then I asked Georgio about Mussolini and how I always thought he was a bad guy and he essentially represented him as good. He explained that he was a better alternative than communism and yes he was bad but he did some good things as well. This gave me a different perspective something that I always thought was black and white, or good and bad. We ate dinner at a restaurant called Sotto Sopra. They fed us appetizers of eggplant, bread with olive oil, bread with olive spread, a caprice kabob, prosciutto, cheese and fried vegetables. It was so much food we thought it was our meal. It was so good; just what I thought Italian food should taste like. I enjoyed the eggplant the most. We had four different slices of pizza and my favorite, to no surprise for those who know me, was the one without the cheese. In America I always take my cheese off; in Italy they did it for me. It was this night that we had gelato for the first time in Italy and it was amazing!!! We went back to the Trevi fountain which was cool and busy at night. We threw coins in the fountain. We then made our way to the hotel, but instead of going to sleep we went to the bar and sat for a little while absorbing the Italian culture and night life. When I finally hit the bed I was so exhausted I fell asleep in seconds.
Sunday March 3rd: Colosseum
We went to the Colosseum today. It was great to be at the place I have read about in so many of my theatre books. Being a theatre major this was a major site to visit. It was a bit of a hike to see the second level, but worth it to see the architecture and backstage areas. The stairs were steep and little, but most of the colosseum was still standing from when it was first built. Walking the forum was interesting to see, however it was a lot of walking and the roads were not paved which made it difficult to walk. After the tour we went to the Spanish steps which were huge and had grand fountains surrounding it. The boat statue/fountain was my favorite part of it because it symbolized the floods. After which we had free time, so Hannah, Rachel, Jeffery and I went to the expensive shops by the Spanish steps. They had places like Gucci, and Louis Vitton. These shops made my heart race with their high prices and not only do I not enjoy spending money, but I also hate shopping so it was not my favorite part of the trip. We got lost on our way to the Popala and spent an hour and a half on a bus until it stopped and turned off. I kept calm and finally it started again and took us to the Trevi fountain where we stopped and got dinner. It was a nice restaurant where there was a live harpist who played a wide arrange of American tunes including My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion, and Memories from Cats the musical. We went back to the bar by the hotel and stayed up till 3:00am which was a bad decision because we had to get up at 6:45 am.
Monday March 4th: The Vatican
Today we went to the Vatican. It was awesome. All the art and statues were amazing and the best part was the Sistine Chapel, which we were expecting not to be able to see, but I am glad we did. I cried the whole time we were in the Sistine Chapel. I could really feel the spirit in the room. St. Peter’s Cathedral was so big and grand it left me awestruck. After the Vatican we went to the Catacombs, which is what I did my presentation on for the class. They were even cooler in person. To see the way they were built out of the volcanic rock was incredible. Hannah, Rachel, Emma, Jeffery and I went back to the Vatican after our tour of the Catacombs, and took the elevator to the top on the inside. The others climbed the 320 steps to the very top while I waited for them and talked to American strangers and wished them luck as they started to climb the stairs. Then the guards came and kicked me outside which presented me with a beautiful view of Rome. We took a taxi back to the Spanish steps and shopped a little more. I was ready to turn in early and be ready for our trip to Florence in the morning.
Tuesday March 5th: Florence
We left for Florence this morning on a bus for four hours. I thought I would sleep, but Dr. Sabo had a card game to play and I couldn’t pass it up. Dr. V-A and I won both games against Dr. Sabo and Patrick, proving once again girls are better than boys at everything! Then we asked Georgio to play Catch Phrase with us. That was so fun because of the language barrier that usually is not present when playing with an all American group. We made a pit stop and I bought some Pringles and water and used the ATM. The Pringles tasted just like the ones from America. We arrived in Florence and ate. Dr. V-A and I both ordered a Pizza that was the size of a large pizza in America. We then got a Florence city tour of the Domo and different Florence landmarks. We ended at the leather factory in which we received a lesson on leather and then could buy leather. I got my mom a purse. Then we walked around until dinner. We had a really good dessert which was like a cream puff dipped in chocolate with coco powder on top. Then Hannah, Jeffery, and Rachel wanted to explore the city. I was hesitant, but eventually went. We walked a long way and found out people in Florence give bad directions. We got back to the hotel and the rest of the group was in the lobby, so we sat and talked then we played Catch Phrase. It was so much fun until the guy at the reception desk told us to be quiet. Then we had a hard time finding our hotel room as it was a complicated staircase system. Then we went to bed because the next day we were cooking in Tuscany.
Wednesday March 6th: Cooking Lesson
I got to sleep in today until 8:30am. It was the most sleep I had in a while, it was much needed. We met the group at fake David statue and then went to catch the van to Tuscany. It was a 45 minute bus ride with beautiful scenery of the country side. Once there it was a castle that the people had converted into a home, in which they invited guests to come and stay and cook. We visited the top of the tower which had an amazing view. Then we went inside to cook. We began with making pasta out of flour and one egg and a pinch of salt. We then got to make the filling of ricotta cheese, spinach, and parmesano reggiano. We flattened the pasta on the machine and made raviolis, angel hair pasta and little green spinach balls. It was all so delicious. We had artichoke quiche which was my favorite item and tiramisu for dessert. We had hot wine which was good. Then we left and went to the academia and saw the real David statue. He was huge, but the details were perfect. We left and went to some outdoor shops. I went back to the room and relaxed before dinner. We met at the fake David again to walk to dinner. They brought out two jugs of wine and never ending water. We had prosciutto, tomato soup, bean soup, pasta, venison, chicken, beef, pork, potatoes and spinach. It was all delicious. They brought out biscotti and a wine to dip in. Then they brought out Moscato that is a sweet wine and it was the best wine I ever had. I was full at the end of dinner and walking back to the hotel was nice, but it was so hot that I just wanted to lie down. The next day was back to Rome and Dr. Sabo’s surprise.
Thursday March 7th: Wine Tasting
We woke up and went to the central market in Florence. Hannah, Rachel and I walked around for an hour and I bought biscotti, olives, cheese and chocolate for my family. We left for Rome at 9:30 and about an hour later we arrived at a vineyard for a private wine tasting. It was a lot of fun and the food was great, but I still do not like wine. We had a mixed dish of meats, salad and cheese. We had bean soup and then lasagna which was so good. We left there and headed for another surprise. We headed to a medieval village. The hike up was hard, but the sights were beautiful and totally worth it. We then headed back to Rome and arrived around 7:30 pm. Jeffery and I left to go to the theatre and see a commedia dell’arte piece. It was fun and I was happy we did. We did not understand what they said and we were hungry so we left at intermission. We visited the Trevi fountain one last time and threw a coin into the fountain. I loved the trip and saw a lot of wonderful monuments, but now I am ready to go home and soak my feet and drive my car.
Friday March 8th: Home
We left for the airport at 7:30am and caught our flight for home. It was a long flight, but we had individual screens to watch movies and television. It was a long flight, but I was determined not to sleep so I would be on a regular sleep schedule when I got home. We landed at the airport and customs took a long time. We almost missed our flight to Charlotte. We finally landed in Charlotte and received our bags, but my parents were stuck in traffic so we did not get to leave the airport until around 7:30pm. My parents took Jeffery, Danielle and me to a Mexican restaurant in Salisbury and then I went home and went to sleep. It was a wonderful trip and I hope to return someday.