bonjour…merci!!

The first time I went to Paris, I was twelve years old and really had no idea what kind of city I was in. I was on a school trip and our days were full of walking, museums, and group dinners. I never explored the city on my own. Well, that changed this weekend. On Thursday, my roommates and I flew to Paris, France and stayed in a great hotel near Montparnasse. Our flight was at 6:30am so our first course of action upon arriving was a long nap!

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Paris is one of the most beautiful cities. We got lost a lot, but we didn’t care. We enjoyed our time strolling down the streets, stopping at little bakeries to try a pastry, and marveling at the Eiffel Tower that somehow could always be seen from where we were standing. On Friday, we met two of our friends who were also visiting at the Louvre. I couldn’t believe how small the Mona Lisa was!!

On Saturday, we all went to Laduree, which is a bakery in Paris that is famous for their macaroons. And now I know why!! I got a delicious dessert with raspberries and creme. My first (and hopefully not last) Laduree experience was a success!

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I couldn’t believe it but five days was definitely not enough time in this amazing city!! When Monday came, we didn’t want to leave. We spent our last day at Versailles, exploring the beautiful gardens. Until next time, Paris…

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now that’s a field trip

Ciao readers!! Firstly, I’d like to apologize for my post being a day late–things have been very busy here! This past weekend, my class and I took a field trip to Tuscany. We visited Siena, Monticchiello, Pienza, and Montepulciano. I had been to Siena before with my family, but our day was filled with tours so it was nice to have some free time and get so explore on our own.

One thing you should know about me–I love views. Whenever I visit a new city, my goal is to find a spot that will provide me with a great view of the city. So, when we arrived to Siena, I was on the lookout. We came across the Siena museum, which had a “panoramic view.” We bought tickets, and climbed the 150-or-so steps to the top. And believe me, it was worth it.

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After our day trip to Siena, we headed to Pienza, where we had dinner and spent the night. The next morning was an early rise, and we were off to Monticchiello, where we would begin our hike. The hike last around 3.5 and it was beautiful. We hiked through the woods, over hills, and in valleys. 

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After the hike, we had all worked up quite the appetite. Our hike ended us in the beautiful town of Montepulciano, which I had visited once before. Our meal was a five course, with bruschetta, soup, pasta, different kinds of meat, and a dessert. However, my favorite part of the meal was the steak! It had been a very long time since I’d eaten it, and it was some of the best steak I’d ever eaten.

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I couldn’t believe that this was a class trip! It reminded how lucky we all are to get to have experiences like this. This Thursday, my roommates and I are off to Paris! I’ll fill you in next Monday…

verona getaway

This past weekend, my roommate Kilby and I did something spontaneous, something that I wish I did more of. We took a train to Verona, located near Venice in Northern Italy. We stayed a night in a bed a breakfast, and spent two days exploring this beautiful city. We arrived on Friday morning, and our first stop was Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s House). 

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Kilby and I were in awe at how many letters were stuck to the wall, and even folded into the cracks of the bricks. We knew we had to write one. Above the wall, was Juliet’s famous balcony, and there was also a bronze statue of her, as well. We spent a long time, reading the love notes of people from all over the world. So many were in different languages, and it was beautiful reading what people had to say about their loved ones, wished for love, and advice from Juliet. 

One of the best parts about the trip, was that we found Mexican food! While the two of us absolutely love Italian food, we had been craving this. We entered a little restaurant, where they handed us Italian menus. However, the walls were decorated in Mexican designs, so we asked our waitress if they had a Mexican menu; she smiled and brought over one. Yes! We ordered our favorites: tacos and burritos and we were two very happy girls.

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Overall, this was an amazing weekend, and makes me want to do more spontaneous trips! Verona was very easy to get to, and we loved our little bed and breakfast. This weekend, my class is doing a hiking trip in Pienza. Hoping for another great weekend! Talk to you on Monday!

a family affair

On Thursday, October 3, my parents and sister arrived in Rome, renting an apartment just down the road from me in Prati. Three years ago, we were all in Rome visiting my sister who was studying abroad in Italy at the time. Being that we did all of the touristy things on our last trip here, this trip was more adventurous! On Friday, my family went to Florence by train, where we explored the Duomo and the Boboli Gardens. This trip was very special to my sister because this is where she studied three years ago. It was nice to get out of Rome for a little while; Florence has such a different feel–not to mention it was about fifteen degrees cooler!

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One of my favorite activities that we did in Florence was climbing to the top of the Duomo. It provided one of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen, not to mention a great workout climbing up 414 steps! 

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Sunday was an extremely special day, and something that I will always remember. My two aunts, three uncles, parents, and sister rented a van and drove three hours south of Rome to a small town in Benevento called Apollosa. Apollosa is a town of about 2,600 people located in the mountains. What makes this town special to us, is that it is where my great-grandfather grew up. When he was seventeen, he got on a boat for America. The past couple of years, my mother has loved doing family tree projects, and was able to find out where my father’s grandfather lived. We headed to Apollosa with no plan, and no idea what to expect.

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On our way there, we got a little lost so we pulled over on the side of the road when we saw an Italian couple. The couple spoke no English, and I used what little Italian I knew to try and get across the message that we were lost, and looking for Apollosa. The couple told us to follow them, and drove us twenty minutes to the town. I couldn’t believe how friendly they were to complete strangers. They brought us to one of the only hotels in Apollosa, and to one of the only people in the town who spoke any English. We tried to explain that we came from America, and that our great-grandfather grew up in this town. My dad had his translator out on his iPhone, which actually helped. The innkeeper got in contact with a man who he said would help us.

In the meantime, being that we were the only people at the hotel, they cooked an amazing meal for us–homemade pasta, some of the best steak I have ever eaten, and potatoes. Not to mention homemade wine. After about an hour, a little Italian man, named Americo, came up to our table. Americo spoke no English, but the innkeeper helped translate. Americo’s sister married into my family, the Coletti’s. Americo’s grandfather was great friends with my dad’s grandfather and the two of them went over on the boat to America together. Americo and the innkeeper then told us to get our car, and drove us to my great-grandfather’s old home, which was in ruins.

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The house was completely in shambles, but I didn’t care. Just being there was such an amazing feeling. So many people in the town were trying to help our family, people that they didn’t even know. We walked around the old Coletti property, which overlooked the mountain of southern Italy–it was unreal. After about twenty minutes, Americo told us to get in the car, and directed us to the Apollosa cemetery. 

I had never seen a cemetery like this. Most of the graves were in the walls, with flowers all over them, not to mention pictures of each person. We met the man in charge of the cemetery and he helped us find the Coletti family grave plot. 

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I couldn’t have asked for a better day, or a more amazing experience to share with my family. It was great seeing my father together with his three siblings. That doesn’t happen often because my aunts and uncles live all over the country. It made me think of their sister, Faith, who passed away around ten years ago. Having her there would have made the experience even better. This just made me think, this is what family is all about. My family leaves tomorrow, and their trip here is something that I’ll always remember.