Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Buona Primavera a tutti! I know that most of you are still buried in snow, but here it is about 50-60 degrees farenheit everyday, and we’ve had a lovely run of sunshine. Spring is here. This past weekend, three friends and I spent 4 days in Florence! This was my first overnight trip outside of Padova. We had some issues with hostel bookings, museum reservations, and train tickets, but in the end, we made it there and back safely.

The first day, we checked into our hostel (in a perfect location – about a 5 minute walk from everything in the center) then climbed the Duomo! The Duomo is an absolutely incredible structure. I can’t believe that people built it by hand so many years ago! The outside of the Cathedral is so ornate and beautiful as well. We climbed the 300 something steps to the top, and the view was amazing:

After a little bit of exploring, we found a place for dinner. That Thursday was St. Patrick’s Day, so my friend and I had a Birra Morretti in honor of that. That day was also the 150th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy! There were flags all over the place and museums all throughout the country were free. It was pretty cool that I got to be here to see it.

Delicious gnocchi at dinner

 So, you want to know how to avoid standing in line for museums in Italy? Get there early! We decided to get to the Uffizi Gallery about an hour before it opened and guess what? We were the first in line! It was actually fun to walk around a bit without any tourists around (except us of course). The Uffizi itself was awesome. I saw so much incredible art in such a short amount of time! I know I couldn’t really appreciate it all, but I still enjoyed it. From there, we eventually made our way to Santa Maria della Novella, then to San Lorenzo where they have a leather market. Florence is famous for its leather, so I bought myself a pair of leather gloves. We also got over to Ponte Vecchio and had a nice view of the river Arno.

On Saturday we took a day trip to San Gimignano, this little town on a hill that overlooks the rolling Tuscan countryside. It was absolutely gorgeous. I took about a thousand landscape shots that day:

 We had a delicious lunch, then went to the gelateria that has won “best gelato in the world” for two years. I had cannella (cinnamon), stracciatella (chocolate chip), and nutella flavors. So delicious!

Where we ate lunch

On Sunday, we got up early once again to head to the Academia to see the David. It was maybe my favorite thing we saw all weekend. The David is an incredible masterpiece. The looming statue is much larger than pictures make it seem, and it’s flawless. I can’t understand how Michelangelo (only 29 at the time) took an abandoned piece of marble and turned it into something so beautiful! We were also lucky to get to see the David with hardly anyone else there. From there, we headed over to the Boboli Gardens and Pitti Palace. There weren’t many flowers in bloom yet, but it was a beautiful sunny day so we enjoyed walking the grounds in the sunshine. We got to see some exhibits within the palace, then headed out to lunch. Our train didn’t leave until 8 at night, so we mostly wandered around and visited a couple churches.

View from the Boboli Gardens

By the end, I was so ready to get back to Padova! Being in Florence made me realize how much I enjoy being in a small city like Padova that is beautiful, but not filled with tourists (I literally heard more English spoken in Florence than Italian). Coming up this week: a trip to Torino, Mantova, and another opera! Ciao ciao!

Learn Italian
prenotazione – reservation
stanza – room
asciugamano - towel

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tiramisu, Bologna, e Puccini

Well, the adventure in Italy continues! I feel like I haven’t written in a while and I have a lot to catch up on! Last weekend, we ventured out to the little town of Treviso, known for tiramisu, radicchio, the United Colors of Benetton, and… well that’s about it. It was a pretty little town with some nice views, and we had a delicious lunch at La Beccherie. I had tagliatelli with pancetta and radicchio (so good) and for dessert, tiramisu (amazing). La Beccherie claims to be the restaurant where tiramisu was invented!

Tagliatelli con pancetta e radicchio

Original tiramisu!

The next day we went to visit Bologna, a much larger city and the home to the oldest university in the world. The city is much to big to see everything in one day, but the highlights included seeing a few churches, eating spaghetti alla Bolognese, and finding this little street filled with food vendors. That street was probably my favorite thing we found all day! Here are a few pictures:

Spaghetti alla bolognese

Last night, I also had the chance to see the opera La Boheme at the Fenice in Venice! It was absolutely incredible. While I am not that well-versed in opera, it was still amazing to be in the theater in Italy watching a high quality production. We went as part of my class on Italian Music. The theater itself is gorgeous, but was not designed for viewing the stage very well! We didn’t have the best seats, but we could still see pretty decently and could hear everything. The set was also pretty awesome, with big moving pieces, tons of lights, and a stage that moved up and down like an elevator! The singing was fantastic, and, thanks to the subtitles they included above the stage, I could actually follow along with most of it. Overall, a memorable experience.

On the way to the opera
At the Fenice

Learn Italian
tiramisu - italian dessert (literally translates as "pick me up")
teatro – theater
pausa – intermission
palcoscenico – stage (of a theater)