Europe, Italy, Study Abroad, Top Five

Top Five – Italy

I’m home from Italy!  But I’m not quite over the jet lag, so this will just be a short post to list my Top Five places in Italy and to post a few final pictures. 

Post-cooking class

My Top 5 Places in Italy

1.Pompeii: There’s nothing like it.  You can walk through the streets and imagine that nothing has changed.  Easily my favorite place! I spent the entire trip to Naples and Pompeii fan-girling over the ancient art and places that I’d read so much about. Like, I knew of course that Pompeii was a real place, and I knew that Pliny the Younger had seen and written about the eruption from a villa in the Bay of Naples, but actually being in Naples and Pompeii was utterly surreal because I was actually there! Even though there’s not a lot to do in walking the streets of Pompeii, I could have spent hours wandering these ancient roads and imagining the people who lived and died here.

In the Villa of the Mysteries

2. Florence:  I didn’t get to spend as much time here as I wanted, but it was incredible.  I love that it doesn’t feel like a big city and that there’s so much art just out there.  For me, there’s nothing like walking down the road and realizing, “Oh, hey, that statue was made by Giambologna, and it’s just hanging out there.” My Art History 202 class began with Renaissance art, so a lot of the art from that period and just after was made in Italy and, therefore, is on display here. You literally can’t study the Renaissance without learning about Florence and the Medici. While I thought about spending a weekend in Florence, I ultimately changed my mind due to money. That ended up being my big regret though because one day is not nearly enough for Florence, and while I loved being here, I’m very disappointed that I didn’t get to go into the Uffizi or Academia Galleries, and those would be my first stops on a return trip!

Rape of the Sabine Women

3. Vernazza: My favorite of the towns in Cinque Terre.  It’s touristy, but it doesn’t really feel that way – it’s very peaceful.  You can just get a gelato and sit by the water for hours without a care in the world. The wifi (when I was there) was absolutely terrible, which turned out to be perfect. With a limited international plan, I needed wifi to do just about anything on my phone, and the inability to do that meant that I was actually able to unplug and relax in this beautiful beach town. I loved Cinque Terre as a whole, but evenings in Vernazza are unbeatable.

After getting splashed while posing for pictures

4. The Roman Forum: It’s so amazing to be in the center of Rome and look over this huge area that is just ruins, but gives you an idea of how big this place was even in ancient times.  I’m a history lover, so like with Pompeii, it’s great for me to walk through a place and be able to imagine I’m in a different time. I loved Rome’s blending of old and new and how a walk through the city is a walk through centuries of history with some buildings dating the the Roman empire, others to the middle ages, and some made in the 20th century. The Forum, in particular, was a place where history came alive, and I was constantly aware that I was walking in the footsteps of so many people in history, not only the famous emperors and popes but also the ordinary people who would come to the Forum’s market and think nothing of the majestic marble surrounding them.

In front of the Basilica of Maxentius

5. Orvieto Duomo: Every city in Italy has its cathedral, and they’re all impressive, but I have a bias towards this one.  While I of course love the architecture and the frescoes inside, I also now have a connection to the stray cats in the park outside where I would eat lunch and read between classes. Orvieto really started to feel like home during my five weeks here, and though I never completely adjusted to casually walking past such a magnificent cathedral, it did start to feel normal to live in a place of such beauty. I’m so eternally grateful that I had the chance to do this study abroad, and I hope that I can visit Italy again in the future and stop by Orvieto to remember these wonderful days.

Until next time ~


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