A Frolic in Florence, a Cool Down in Cinque Terre, and even a Pitstop in Pisa

of florenceIt is hard to believe that the midterm of UW Creative Writing in Rome has come and gone. I remember aching for a few days of rest as soon as July rolled around, but my fun weekend has already ended, and we’re pressing on to the final parts of our program. For the midterm break, a four day period where we could choose to travel or chill out in our Trastevere apartments, I decided to venture to Florence and take a day trip to Cinque Terre along with six other girls in my program. Arriving in Florence was fairly stress free because we all purchased our train tickets in advance. The train ride, a little over an hour long, allowed for a great view under the Tuscan sun before our arrival in the center of it all. While finding our ADORABLE apartment from the train station was a bit of a struggle, once we got there and rested for a couple hours, we were so excited to get back out and explore the city. Our first night in Florence was on the 4th of July, so we decided to dine at the most all-American restaurant we could find – Hard Rock Cafe. After exploring some landmarks, we celebrated our Independence Day with bacon burgers and an awesome, energetic live-band performing every Americana and classic rock song you could ever desire, making it the first dinner of the whole trip that has truly reminded me of home, and a great escape from pasta and pizza!

On our second day in Florence, we broke off into smaller groups, exploring the Palazzo Pitti museum and The Boboli Gardens near the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo of Florence, checking out the shopping district, appreciating Leaning Towermind-blowing street art, and trekking to the top of the Piazzale Michelangelo to take in the most majestic panoramic view of Florence to be found. Our third day in Florence was hardly spent in Firenze at all, since me and three other girls took a day trip to Cinque Terre, deciding to settle down at the beach in Monterosso, one of the five main cities in Cinque Terre. While the beach itself was magnificently peaceful and picturesque, getting to Monterosso was trying. Our first train to La Spezia broke down, forcing us to run to another platform and squeeze two trains worth of people onto one, resulting in the four of us squatting on the floor with a caged cat and stinky feet as our company. Multiple hectic train transfers later, we spent the better half of the afternoon snoozing on the beach, relaxing on ocean rocks, and playing volleyball in the shore’s shallow waters. After losing track of time at our beachside dinner, we took the last train out of Monterosso, only to be stuck in Pisa at midnight! With the next train – which turned out to be a large tour bus – leaving after 1am, we decided to visit the famous Leaning Tower and make the most of our mild misfortune. If you ever have the chance to visit the Tower of Pisa, do so at night! The dark night sky as a backdrop and the lack of crowds (and heat!) made for an easy and exciting late night adventure. I was shocked at how small the Tower actually was – it always appeared larger and taller to me in the images I have seen across the years!

street art 2After returning to Florence around 3am on our last day there, we woke up early to take a final romp around the city. As Sunday marked the first day of summer sales throughout Italy, we took advantage of the affordability to do some mandatory leather shopping, and I purchased a beautiful leather purse that I am planning to use as a bookbag in the fall when I return to the UW Seattle campus. Although I was sad to leave Florence and return to reality, I was thrilled to come back to a rainy Rome! Massive thunderstorms lasted through the late afternoon. The smell and sound of rain was yet another comforting reminder of home, making me realize how different Rome is not only as an ecosystem but as a community, and I acknowledge that I am a bit homesick. However, I am enjoying the little time that I have left here in Rome. Today we visited the gloriously gorgeous Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este in Tivoli, and yesterday and tomorrow features several more church trips. This is certainly a busy few days – with three poem recitations and two presentations for me to give before the week’s end – but I’m sure all the hard work will pay off, and I will be able to love my last week in Rome growing closer to my classmates, conversing with the locals, and gaining better understandings for my love of the written word and my Seattle culture in relation to Italian life. Thanks again for joining me on my journey thus far – fino alla prossima volta!