Hey, everyone! It’s been a busy month for me, but I am here with my monthly update on my trip to Italy. Enjoy!
We started the month off with our first grammar exam. Not going to lie, I did better than I thought but there were still definitely areas I need to improve. Aside from that, school has been relatively good. But enough of that. This month was all about the school trips and there was no disappointment there.
Poppi Spiritual Retreat
The second week of the month, our group went off to a mountain retreat out of Florence, to this area known as Poppi. The drive there was simply gorgeous with the vineyards, mountains, and fields. This was the part of Italy I had really wanted to see. Again, pictures say a thousand words:)
The rest of the weekend involved freezing at night in our cabins, worshiping multiple times throughout the day, and having the most fun together away from school and day-to-day life. I love retreats like this because we get to bond with other people we don’t normally get to see all the time or hang out with. It brings us closer together.
So far, this experience (involving the people) has felt a lot like high school – including the drama. I’ve been transported back four years. It’s nice, in a way. It’s made me realize that I missed having the same class or group of people for more than 3-4 months before starting a new quarter and sitting with new people. I’ve missed having trips with classmates, which we did a lot during my high school years.
The whole weekend was a lot of fun, ending with singing songs we hoped everyone knew, dancing to Just Dance, card games, and sport matches. The best part is we get to do it again in the spring!
Trip to the Amalfi Coast
A week later, we took off and headed to Napoli by bus. We got off schedule and couldn’t really see that much of the city and could only stay a few hours. We took a tour of the underground part of the city and of course had pizza. For what little time we spent in Napoli, I really enjoyed it and would like to return to see more of it.
For the week, we stayed at this cabin-styled forest gem in Sorrento.
Sorrento is a lovely city and I could honestly see myself living there. I wish I took more pictures to show you. There’s this adorable downtown area with this long street, shops lining the sides and its right next to the water. Simply lovely place.
Okay, not going to beat around the bush. This place was freaking gorgeous. If you end up making it over to Italy, you HAVE to check this place out and be sure to get yourself an experienced driver. Props to our bus driver, the roads were so tight and with other cars and buses moving in the opposite direction, he maneuvered the roads like a pro. The coast was just breathtaking with the small towns along the edge of the water, the mountains, and trees.
We arrived in this small town and had a few hours to eat, shop the stores, and hang out on the beach. I officially learned that I am whitest person in the group. Tanning and I have never gotten along very well. I burn and then my skin turns back to normal:/ But the water was great! Very salty and it liked to splash in my mouth and eyes. I finished off the day with gelato and our day on the beach sadly ended.
Who doesn’t love a roughly 20-30 minute boat ride to a beautiful island? No sarcasm there. I love boats and being on water. Our day in Capri was simply perfect. Upon arrival, we bought tickets for a boat tour around the island and got to get close to a few caves, and went under the rocks of Faraglioni – I had no one to kiss, which is apparently tradition when passing under the rock. Lunch was, as always, delicious, and I did not have pizza again. Had Gnocchi for the first time and will definitely be ordering it again when given the opportunity.
For the rest of the afternoon, our group split up into smaller groups to explore the island. My group went further up to check out the shops and homes. I ended up pulling away and going off on my own for a bit, which was very rewarding because I found this spot that was perfect for capturing the island in all its beauty.
The beach part of the island was sadly not as fabulous as Amalfi, but it was still nice – didn’t swim. The day ended once again with gelato – not complaining – and we enjoyed a sunset ride back to the mainland.
Saturday afternoon, we set off to Pompei and spent the late afternoon touring the old city. Before coming on the trip, my Fine Arts and Monuments teacher showed us a short BBC film about the history of the town and of the devastating eruption that took place. Seeing everything in person really hits home and you can’t help but feel a bit emotional walking through the main street, into homes, and seeing the castes of adults, a dog, and children. It is physically impossible to walk through this destructed city without tearing up once.
Palace of Casetra
Our last day – and I wish it wasn’t our last – we checked out and headed for the Reggia di Caserta. If you are writing a book with a castle in it, then this place is definitely worth checking out for details and layout. And the garden in the back? You’ll need at least a whole afternoon or even day to explore it.
After a tour of the inside (which was pretty spectacular), we only had ONE HOUR to explore the garden before we had to leave. ONE. It was not enough. Some friends and I were fast-walking back to the palace, while trying to take as many pictures as possible. If I ever come back to Italy or I have some extra time before I return home, I’m definitely coming back here.
And thus, trip week was over. It was undoubtedly amazing and I will never forget it.
Midterms arrived and I have not yet learned what I got on my test, but I think I did okay. We had one final trip to end the month. On Halloween, we went to Siena for most of the day. Very beautiful city. We got a taste of one of the 17 contradas – the Caterpillars – and got to learn more about Siena life and how these many groups ran and their relationships with each other. Honestly, Siena is an entirely different world with their traditions and morals of society and their competitions and celebrations. We got to watch a short film on the horse races that are quite a big thing there. Even if you don’t end up visiting Siena, it’s definitely worth researching the city and learning more about the people in it.
We also visited the Torre del Mangia and the cathedral, AND we saw the severed head and thumb of Saint Catherine! Couldn’t take any pictures sadly 😦
Returning home, a large group of us wanted to get dresses up for Halloween and go out to town. Trying to be open-minded and willing to do things I normally wouldn’t do at home, I decided to go, had my roommate put makeup on me, but by the time I was finished, everyone, but a couple of girls, decided they were too tired and didn’t want to go. So, I ended up going out with another introverted friend, and we had fun! We had pizza by the Duomo, gelato after, talked a lot about video games, enjoyed seeing everyone’s costumes (the ones who had dressed up, and the kids were adorable), and how much it sucked everyone bailed on us. But we still had a good time and it was a perfect way to end the month.