Hello Again!!

Hello again!

Sorry it has taken so long to write on this blog, I have been very busy. Florence has been wonderful and I have experienced many wonderful amazing things since being here. Since it is the half way mark through the semester I am beginning to miss more and more things about being home. It’s the little things that I miss about home such as a warm bowl of chili on a cold day, autumn and the leaves falling and changing colors, I miss green grass or grass in general, I miss the classes at U of L, and I miss just being at home and the convenience of driving anywhere you want. Living with 7 other people doesn’t help anything either but it has been a fun process of getting to know people and learn and talk with them about there schools at home. But all of these things are making me miss home a little more everyday.

Since my last post I have done a lot. On the weekend of September 26th Florence had a wine event. At this event you just paid 10 Euros and you got a wine glass and you got to go around to over a hundred different booths and taste the wine. I had about 12 glasses and it was delicious. It was fun to be able to interact with tourist and locals all at the same time. On October 8 for my wine marketing class we were able to attend the biggest wine event in Florence. All the important wine producers and journalists from all over Italy attended. Oh did I mention earlier that my wine marketing teacher is apart of Frescobaldi? Frescobaldi is one of the most prestigious wine producing families in all of Europe. They have been Tuscan wine producers for 700 years, since 1308. This is just incredible to me. But anyways since I am getting off track…my class and I went to this huge wine event on October 8th. Here I tried the most expensive bottles of wine that I will never be able to try again. Some of these bottles were selling for 1000 Euros. Yes, the wine was the best that I have a ever tasted but I can’t imagine spending that much money on a bottle of wine. The outfits that the people pouring wine were wearing were so sophisticated. It was like nothing I have ever experienced before. It was exciting.

Now on to my travels…The first weekend of October my roommates and I went to Rome for the weekend. At first I did not think that I would like Rome as much as I did. Before I chose Florence as my place to study I was planning on studying in Rome. Even though I loved Rome I can’t imagine being there and studying, I think I would be over-whelmed and in culture shock with the amount of people and tourist in Rome. I went and saw everything that you should see when in Rome. Of all the things I saw my favorite was the Coliseum and the Roman Forman and ruins. It is so fascinating how intelligent the Romans where and how they built the buildings they did back some 1,900 years ago.

After Rome I went on an excursion offered through the school. This excursion was to the town of Maiori, Amalfi, Capri Island, and Pompeii. This trip was full of scenic landscapes. The Amalfi coast is filled with cliffs and towns built on these cliffs. The water here was a beautiful teal color. Capri island was beautiful as well but it was much more tourist than I was hoping although they do make the best homemade Limoncello (a lemon Liquor). While on our trip we stayed in a little town called Maiori. The locals in Maiori were unlike most Italians. They were very nice and did not judge us because we were Americans. One night after dinner there was a wedding reception going on outside and a member from the family came inside the hotel and told us to all get out on the dancer floor. We all went outside and crashed an Italian wedding. The 70-year-old grandfather of the family led all of the dances as we tried to follow a long with him. I hope I am as energetic as he was at 70 years old. The last song that they played was Y.M.C.A. I didn’t even know people in Italy knew of this song but at the end of the night we all came together as two totally different cultures with a song we all knew and spelled out those four letters. Y.M.C.A. After the reception I kept thinking about how welcoming they all were to us coming and joining in on something that is so family oriented. I kept thinking about how that would never happen in the United States. A family would never invite a bunch of foreign strangers into their wedding reception. This showed me how different and welcoming the Italian culture is from our culture. After Maiori we were on to Pompeii. I am sure most of you have heard of Pompeii. Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. killing everyone and the volcanic ash preserved their bodies. This place was fascinating. The ruins were fascinating and the bodies were the most fascinating. It was sad and hard to see the bodies of people once struggling for their lives and the look of agony still on their faces.

My next trip was to a wine estate called Castello di Verrazzan in Chianti, Tuscany about 45 minutes outside Florence. This wine estate was beautiful. It’s an old castle built on top of a hill overlooking Tuscany in 1716. On this trip we sampled his wine, which was great, and we ate some food he prepared for us. The olive oil he makes is probably the best olive oil I have ever tasted. While showing us through the cellar and the rest of the winery he was talking to us and kept telling us to live in the moment and “Happiness is only real if shared.” I have come to learn that this is true and to try and live everyday in the moment.

My fall break trip was last week and Ellie( my roommate and another U of L student) and I went to Ireland. Let me just say I fell in love with Ireland. I want to move there. Maybe it was just being in the presence of fall and being around green grass and the leaves falling and the leaves changing color, but Ireland was all I had ever imagined it to be and more. The first stop was Dublin. Right when I stepped off the plane it felt like home. The wind, the coldness, the people speaking English… ahh it was a pleasant arrival. The people in Ireland are so nice as well. We stepped of the public bus onto O’Connell Street looking a little lost and this woman came right up to us and asked us if we were lost and if she could help. It was a pleasant surprise since in Italy people sometimes tend to just kind of ignore you or act like they don’t speak English. The best thing about Dublin was just about everything. The people, the atmosphere, the Guinness beer and the rainbows were all amazing. The next stop after Dublin was flying to Cork, Ireland. In Cork there was the Cork Jazz Festival going on but it was very rainy there so we just went to a pub and listened to live music. Then we went to a little teashop and had the best hot chocolate ever with HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS!! This made our day. There is no hot chocolate in Florence, let alone homemade marshmallows, we were in heaven to say the least. The bed and breakfast we stayed at (Garnish House) had the best breakfast in the morning. They had Porridge with Baileys Irish Cream on top, delicious. Cork had some great places to relax, eat and drink. After Cork we were off the Blarney, home of the Blarney Castle. We went to the top of the castle to kiss the Blarney stone, which was kind of scary since you have to lean backward over the castle ledge to kiss the stone. But some famous people including Winston Churchill have kissed the stone so it was pretty cool. Then if was back to Dublin to catch a bus in the morning to go to Glendalough, Ireland. This is about an hour drive from Dublin. During the drive we got to see the countryside of Ireland. Glendalough was the home of St. Kevin back in 500 A.D. He built his Monastery there and leaved in the woods. Here there is also a really old cemetery, which was neat to see since it was 3 days from Halloween. Here in Glendalough the landscape was gorgeous. Autumn leaves everywhere and there were some great hiking trails around the two lakes that we went on. The next morning we went back to Dublin to hangout for the day before we headed back to Florence the following morning. If you ever go to Dublin go to the Archeological Museum. This was probably the most interesting museum that I have ever been in. In this Museum they had the “Bog Bodies” look it up on Google but it is where dead people were found in the bogs of Ireland. These people that they found are as old as 300 B.C. That is 2,300-year-old people and since they were found in a bog the chemicals in the mud preserved all of them. Their skin and organs are still preserved! Amazing. I found this to be even more interesting than Pompeii because all of the people found in the bog had been murdered some 2,300 years ago. All in all I want to move to Ireland. I loved everything about it, the people, the landscape, the weather, the food, everything. If you ever get the chance go to Ireland… GO!!

Now I am back in Florence enjoying my last month and a half here. I will definitely miss Florence and the beautiful skies here.

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