Italy 2.0: Venice

Venice is exactly as I imagined it. The canals are really a sight to see. Honestly, I would have been happy to stay there forever.

We arrived Friday morning and immediately had a city tour. Honestly, the tour was awful. The day was extremely hot and sunny, we were all stir-crazy from the bus ride, nobody had eaten lunch, and the tour was three hours of nonstop walking. It was hard to appreciate the beauty around us when we were so miserable. We did get to go into the Cathedral of Saint Mark (Saint Mark of Gospel fame), which was gorgeous. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside.

After that we had free time. A couple of my friends and I sat outside an Italian cafe and ate fried zucchini blossoms and mozzarella balls and I don’t think I have ever been more content in my life than in that moment. I was surrounded by good friends and eating good food in the most beautiful place I have ever been. Honestly, I could have sat there forever.

At dinner, I had hoped to try the risotto that is traditional in Venice, but for some reason all of the restaurants only offered risotto for two and I was never able to get anyone to share with me. I did get some great shrimp pasta, though, so I got the Venetian seafood.

Saturday was entirely free time, so most of the girls went to the island of Murano, which is known for its glass. I bought a beautiful wine bottle stopper. I learned that there are 47 true Venetian glass families and all others, while legitimate, are not the traditional Murano glass.

When we returned to the main island, my friend Emma and I split off from the group. We ended up walking from the northern coast nearly all the way to the southern coast. We walked through a residential neighborhood and the tourist shopping district. Although, really everywhere in Venice is a tourist area. I definitely heard more English than Italian and a significant amount of German as well.

Eventually, we met up with the entire IES group for dinner. I had high expectations for Italian food, but honestly it is a million times better than I could have imagined. I could really live in Italy, I could.

On Sunday, we mainly just had the bus trip home. We did make a two hour stop in Verona, though, but instead of seeing Juliet’s tower, I made friends with Kylo Ren at the Disney store.

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Italy 1.0: Padua

I don’t know what the deal with this was, but I thought it was pretty funny.

Last Wednesday I went to Italy. This was a trip with my program and almost all of us went, which made it a truly great experience. We had a 10 hour bus ride and that was a fun bonding experience.

First, we went to Padua and right off the bat, we had free time to do some shopping and eating. Italian pizza is as delicious as you would expect.

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On Thursday, we had a city tour, which included a visit to the Scrovegni Chapel and the first anatomy theater at the University of Padua, where medical students would watch bodies be dissected to learn. It was eerie standing on the exact spot where countless corpses have been.

Here I am at the botanical gardens (notice my new Italian pants, which I had bought at the market that morning)

Afterwards, we had more free time, so my friends and I went to Saint Anthony’s Basilica, which is absolutely enormous. And the tourist there were terrible (not us, of course). I saw a woman fill up her water bottle with the holy water, and Ally said she saw a girl splash the water down her shirt. Everyone was taking pictures, even with flash, despite all of the signs telling them to respect the historical monument and art. I was pretty angry at how obnoxious these tourists were being.

We basically had a photo shoot at this spot. All the pictures turned out great!

We also went to the botanical gardens, which was so pretty. Since the area was so beautiful, we more or less just relaxed and took photos.

For a while, we sat by the river in a park full of statues, but then a guy started talking to us. His greeting was “hakuna matata” and so we pretended not to speak English, only German. Some people (not naming names) kept responding to what he was saying, though. It didn’t really work to speak in German when they were clearly understanding what he was saying.