One of my favorite parts about studying abroad in Italy is that I am able to hop on a train and travel to places I’ve always dreamt of going to. Fortunately, the manageable amount of classwork I have and the convenient location of Florence makes it easy to plan affordable weekend trips with some friends. Within these past 4 weeks, I have already visited many places within Italy like Cinque Terre, Siena, San Gimignano, Sorrento, Pompeii, and even the beautiful countryside of Tuscany.
Each place had their own unique character and charm, but what stood out to me the most was the beautiful scenery of the Tuscan countryside. My friend Ashlynn and I decided to leave the busy streets of Florence for a few hours to go check it out. Although we ran into some bad luck at first, I’m happy to say that luck turned around and it ended up being one of my favorite trips so far.
After much anticipation, the day of the bike ride finally rolled around and I was so ready to go; however, the wether was not. Of course, the entire week was nice and sunny, but it rains when I actually plan an outdoor activity. Ashlynn and I didn’t want this to ruin our day so we decided to throw our rain jackets and rain boots on and left to meet our cycle group. As we were walking in the pouring rain to find the bike shop, we came across unfamiliar territory. Since we didn’t have a map and we both don’t have data on our cellphones for GPS, we relied on asking vendors inside stores. (Who probably got us more lost because I found out that they will give you the most specific directions even when they aren’t sure where something is). Regardless, we finally found the store and since we were so late we knew we missed the tour already and were hoping to just reschedule. Luckily, the owner was very nice and helpful and we were able to reschedule our bike ride for the following week.
The long walk in the rain ended up being a blessing in disguise. Besides developing an amazing sense of direction, the new day we rescheduled was a beautiful day and I know we would have had a miserable experience if we ended up going the first time in the rain. In addition to the beautiful weather, Ashlynn and I experienced some more luck. We traveled 20 minutes out in a van to the countryside with four other people. The 4 others however, didn’t even end up being on the same tour as us because they chose to ride vespas around instead of riding a bike. Ashlynn and I ended up enjoying our own private tour where we could stop whenever we wanted to take pictures or to take a break from riding our bikes. Our tour guide was extremely friendly too and we enjoyed cruising around the countryside for about 2 hours. After the ride was over, we reconnected with the 4 other people and enjoyed a delicious lunch and wine tasting before we headed back to Florence in the van. The entire activity was only 70 euros with the van ride, bike ride, lunch, and wine tasting included. It was so much fun and completely worth it!
In addition to traveling within Italy, I am also planning on traveling to other places in Europe. I am lucky that I do not have any friday classes so traveling outside of Italy is easy when you have a long weekend! On the last weekend of October I booked my flight to go to Barcelona, Spain! I have never been to Spain before, but a few of my friends from home have and told me I have to go! I figured I might as well take advantage of the opportunity while I am here. In addition to the Barcelona trip, I am also planning on going to Mainz, Germany in December! My friend from my school abroad has a cousin who lives in Mainz that we can stay with so, luckily we only had to worry about our flight there and back! When I was little, my family and I went to Germany during Christmas time and I remember it being beautiful with all the Holiday decorations and lights strung around the city. However, my memories are very vauge becuase I was only 5 years old so, I’m excited to go back now and get into the Christmas spirit.
With all of these weekends filled up and constantly being on the go over here, I’ve been missing my down time at home with my friends and family. My parents are coming to visit me just in time though! They’ll be arriving in a week. I can’t wait to show them around!