In one month I traveled around Italy, Sicily, Croatia and Spain. I saw brand new places had some of the best experiences I have ever had. I learned more than I had ever anticipated on this trip.
Beautiful seasides, Greek temples, cathedrals, art and culture, pizza and cannollis, are all fantastic but the best experiences I had were thanks to the many people I met along the way. Whether it was someone in my hostel, a stranger attempting to help me when they didn’t speak any English, locals who invited me to sit with them at dinner when they saw me eating solo, or an entertaining tour guide. Above all what made my trip unique were the people I met in this past month. People from all over the globe that even if I never see them again I hope I never forget them and their stories.
Before I left my friends asked me if I was scared or nervous. At the time I was too busy finishing up college to let it register but I honestly thought it would hit me once I was on my own and I would be scared. Although I had my moments where I was scared (cough cough Palermo) for the most part I was so busy enjoying every ounce of my experience that I didn’t have time to worry. Like someone in my last hostel said, “just because you’re alone it doesn’t make you lonely.”
During my week in between part one and two of my trip I stayed in Florence with my family. Even though I’ve been to Florence a half-dozen times I still was able to have two fun and new experiences.
The first of my new experiences was Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre literally means five lands. Five villages along the Italian Riviera all border one another and are connected by hiking trails, trains and ferry boats.
Cinque Terre is known for their local white wine and their pesto so before we left we were sure to stop in at wine bar and have some wine and crostini with pesto.
A couple days later, once Marisa and Scott arrived, the three of us with my mom went to Castello di Verrazzano in Chianti for a tour of the vineyards and wine tasting. In addition to plenty of wine, we each had a huge plate full of cheese, prosciutto, salami and other yummy things! So delish!
For the most part I think I packed pretty well. This is definitely the lightest I’ve ever traveled anywhere for any amount of time (just one backpack for a whole month!) there have been a few things that I wish I had packed.. but at least I’ll remember them for next time.
Here they are:
- External drive. I’m glad I didn’t pack my whole computer. I’m in Europe and I didn’t come here to spend my time on the computer. Plus relying on my smartphone and paying for time at internet cafe’s really limits my time on the internet which is good when there is so much to see and do in a new city. However, I do wish I brought my external drive. I’ve been keeping all my files, reservations and guides on my dropbox account which has been great but it would be nice to have something that doesn’t require internet access to get to my documents! Plus, the major reason it would be beneficial to have packed an external drive is that I’ve already filled up the memory card on my DSLR. I’ve been using dropbox again to store images but like I said, I’d feel more comfortable if I had somewhere off the internet to keep them safe!
- Towel. Just a small to medium size one so I wouldn’t have to pay one to three euros at every hostel to rent one. The last hostel made me buy one actually for five euros which I found annoying. The towel actually is pretty good for what I need though its small enough to be packed easily and big enough for showers/beach/etc. I’m just pretty sure I could’ve found a similar one for less in the States.
- Nyquil/Dayquil. The pill kind. Didn’t pack any because I decided I wasn’t going to get sick and I wanted to save space. That was dumb because they hardly take any space and I did get sick! Thank goodness for the sweet friend I made in Taormina who gave me a couple days worth of both Nyquil and Dayquil!
- An art tube. Since I was about 12 I started collecting paintings from street artists in different places I visited (my first one I bought in one of an old ghetto in Prague). I’ve already bought two paintings and tomorrow I’m going to the studio of an artist that I bought from four years ago in Florence. He said he’d give me a REALLY good discount since I’m a returning customer and his paintings are definitely my favorite ones that I’ve collected.
- Tevas or Chacos. Or whatever those hippy shoe are. I swore I’d never get a pair but honestly, I wish I had for this trip! I’ve done so much walking and the shoes I brought aren’t as comfortable as I thought they were.
Just a couple little things that would make this trip easier!
After travelling to Milan in Venice I am now back in Florence for a few days catching up with my family, relaxing and planning part two of my trip (which I’m currently planning will consist of Croatia and Madrid)!
Of all the places I’ve been to in Italy, Milan might be my favorite. People have always told me that Milan was the New York of Italy. Yes, Milan is a very modern city and is where the majority of businesses are and the fashion capital of the country but the over all atmosphere to me was very different than New York.
I’ve never visited anywhere where I thought I could live there comfortably for my whole life. There are places where I could see myself starting off or others where I could see myself settling down but they rarely were the same place. In Milan I felt I could live there my entire life and never have the desire to live anywhere else!
If I could describe a perfect day for me it would consist of everything I did during my three days/two nights. Street markets, fabulous museums, beautiful city parks. Being surrounded by art and culture in a beautiful setting truly is where I feel like my best self. I went to the Brera Picture Gallery, the Leonardo da Vinci museum of Science and Technology and hiked to the top of their duomo. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to see da Vinci’s last summer and a couple other museums but at least I have that reason to come back! I was sad to leave Milan because it just felt like I belonged there!
Next was Venice and for some reason even though I enjoyed everything I saw and did I just did not like the city. Maybe it was because everything was so ridiculously overpriced and I had to spend 20 extra euros in the process of doing anything. It was frustrating. I just started sneaking into the water buses without buying tickets in order to save money.
I still had fun though! I went to the Academia and the Peggy Guggenhiem gallery of modern art which was amazing. I then found out my favorite photographer since I was 16, Elliott Erwitt, had a gallery show right next to my hostel so I went to that as well.
In order to get away from all ticky tacky touristy things inside of Venice I snuck on a couple of water buses and made my way to Burano (not Murano). This was a really part of the city about 30 minutes away from the center. I had lunch and took some really great photographs which I’ll half to upload when I get back! I really recommend anyone in Venice heading over there!
Like I said, I’m back in Florence now with my family. Today my parents and I took a daytrip to Lucca where we bikes the old city walls. We also visited a church that held a tomb of a young bride who married some important guy a long time ago. I read in one of the tour books that the young girls of the town use to rub the nose of the statue on it for good luck in finding love and a sweet boyfriend. Since Lord knows I need all the luck I can get in that department I paid the extra two euros to go see her tomb. When I got there though there were bars blocking people from getting too close. But that didn’t stop me, no siree. I waited until no one was around, ducked under and rubbed her nose! Success! So basically, Mr. Right should be walking into my life any minute now!
Tomorrow I’m getting up early to catch a bus and make a daytrip to the seaside towns in Cinque Terre! There will be lots of hiking and hopefully some laying out involved!
Let me recap the past five days of my life:
I graduated college.
Hopped on a plane (on my 22nd birthday).
And arrived in Florence!
Needless to say it has been a BUSY five days!
I’m so happy to finally be in Italy though. I’ve been planning this trip for the past semester. While my dad will be in Florence for the next six weeks teaching a study abroad course I really wanted to see parts of Italy I haven’t been to before. I’ve been to Florence and Tuscany quite a few times. I lived here for four months when I was five years old and visited for six weeks at a time almost every summer I was in high school.
- Palermo, Sicily (6 days)
- Milan (3 days)
- Venice (3 days)
- Back to Florence (6 days)
- Herculaneum (1-2 days)
Then probably Barcelona and Madrid then back to Florida!
This is the lightest I’ve ever traveled anywhere in my entire life. Only one backpack for the whole trip! It’s going to be a very busy and interesting six weeks!
Things that make me happy right now:
- my fam
- my cats
- tiramisu gelato
- color blocking
PS- If you want to see a few more pics that I’ve taken since getting to Italy you can click here…