Exploring Italy by Marlee Lord

I have officially started the last week of my program and I am not ready to go! I haven’t even left yet but I’m already missing this amazing country. Although I’m sad to leave I feel like I really made the most of my time in Italy. During the weekdays I was able to see so much of the city through tours with my class, the API program, and exploring on my own. My friends and I also took advantage of every weekend to see a different part of the country to experience as much as we could in our short month abroad. The first weekend was planned by API which took us to Venice, the Venetian Islands, and Verona. The highlights of this trip included a gondola ride around the Venetian lagoon, a glass blowing demonstration in Burano, a look at Juliet’s tower in Verona, and a wine tasting in the hills of Velopulciano. It was an incredible experience, and we were able to fit so much into the weekend. It was a great way to kick off the trip. The second weekend my friends and I decided at the last minute to travel to a small town just south of Cinque Terre called Lerici. The town was beautiful and quaint. We were one of the only Americans in the town since it is mostly a vacation spot for Italian families. It was a very immersive experience that pushed us to interact with the locals and I absolutely loved it! It was the perfect way to relax after our first week of classes. Our third weekend was another excursion planned by API to Rome. Rome is a place that is extremely rich in history and culture, especially in its art and architecture… but personally I found Rome to be a bit disappointing. Rome was both overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time. The city is full of incredible places that hold so much significance like the colosseum, pantheon, and Trevi fountain, but this transforms the city into more of a living tourist attraction than a historic city. The structures are so massive that it almost makes the city difficult to appreciate them. It was also extremely hot and crowded, making it harder to take in the city. While I’m glad I got to see the sites that you read about in history books, I feel like Rome was more of a hot crowded museum than an ancient city. One highlight was getting to see the Pope address the people from his papal apartment in St. Peter’s square! I am currently on the train back from our fourth and final weekend which we spent in Ischia, a small town off the southern coast of Italy. We had our sights set on Capri but ended up on a small island just north of Capri which was truly an incredible experience.

Some highlights of the weekend include a hike up to some botanical gardens that were insanely unique full of towering cacti, lemons larger than my face, and 3 peacocks that roamed the property.

We stayed at a family-owned bed and breakfast that also owned a restaurant in the hills of the city which they personally transported us to by VESPA! Another magical experience to end the weekend and our final trip in Italy we took a private boat tour of the island where we saw incredible rock formations, swam in the grottoes, and took a dip in the natural hot springs of the volcanic island. It was the perfect end to the perfect trip to end my perfect experience studying abroad.

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