Monday, February 12, 2007


Visiting Assisi was like taking a trip back in time to a medieval village. Situated on a hill,it draws it's charm from the winding streets, stone buildings, and beautiful surrounding landscape of olive groves. It took 2 1/2 hours to travel there by train, and from the train station we had to take a short bus ride up to the top of the hill, but the view was gorgeous.
We followed a Rick Steve's recommended route for a day trip, and it was perfect. We saw all the major sites, including a medieval castle, and the tomb of St. Francis, and of course enjoyed the educational yet witty commentary of Rick Steve's guidebook. Yet, what I liked most about Assisi was the peaceful atmosphere. There were very few cars, and it was overall a very relaxing experience.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A Coastal Adventure and the Leaning Tower

Chinque Terre, Lucca, Viareggio, and Pisa were the destinations of my travel last weekend. The trip began with Chinque Terre: a series of 5 quaint cities situated along the western coast of Italy. The cities are connected by hiking trails and a train, but it is well worth the walk. The climb, steep at times, winds through beautiful gardens of orange and lemon trees and affords an amazing view of the Mediterranean Sea!
We hiked to the first town, and arrived just in time to watch the sun setting. We spent the night in Lucca, a smaller city further inland, whose main attraction is the exisiting medieval city wall, which has a walking trail on top.
Relaxing on the beach was next on our agenda, so the next day we headed to the coastal city of Viareggio. The water was still quite cold, but we had a nice picnic of pizza by the water. We ended the day in Pisa, which has little to offer besides the infamous tower, so we amused ourselves by taking fun pictures!

Thursday, February 1, 2007


As this was my first visit to Rome I feel like I accomplished a lot: the first day was taken up mainly by a lengthy tour of the Roman forum. It was impressive, but not as great as it could have been since it was pouring, thundering occasionally, windy and freezing. The day did seem to be getting better as the clouds cleared, revealing a rainbow, perfectly framed by the ruins, and later that day I visited the Villa Borghese, a magnificent art and sculpture gallery, with many exquisite works by Giotto. Other highlights included: St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican Museum, Trevi Fountain, and of course, the Colosseum. Sadly, we did not have much time to spend at the Vatican, so I don't feel that my experience of the Sistine Chapel was complete; however, it was inspiring just to see even for a short amount of time.
After a jam-packed weekend, it was nice to return to Florence. Rome was an exciting trip, but it made me realise how much I prefer the small-city charm of Florence.
Tonight I ate at "Il Latini," an authentic Tuscan restaurant, whose ambiance was completed by the proscioutto (cured ham) hanging from the ceiling, and group style seating. We shared a table with an Italian couple, as well as some travelers from Germany. I ate a wonderful caprese salad (tomato and fresh mozzarella), tomato soup with basil and thickened with bread, and a rich chocolate cake for desert- The best meal I have had so far!