Five Things to Do: Taormina, Sicily

olivia leigh gaggiHere are my top five things to do in Taormina, Sicily:

1. Have cannoli for breakfast, lunch and dinner (:

2. Walk to Isola Bella (it means beautiful island in Italian)
The guy who sells you the ticket to walk around the island is going to make you feel like you have a special discount by saying, “for you, tickets are two euro.” Then you’re going to realize that the sign that clearly states that the price for everyone is two euros (oh, those Italian men).
While you’re there, break the rules a little and climb over the sectioned off rope to explore the parts of the island that are “forbidden” to tourists. (:

3. See the Greek theater

4. Meet new friends and make a wine cooler with rocks on the beach
SIDE-NOTE: They say “when in Rome, do as the Romans do,” and I think that saying should stand for anywhere you go while travelling.  So, if you feel the desire to lay out topless on a European beach – go for it. I won’t judge and it’s actually quite freeing… Plus, you won’t have to worry about tan-lines (;

5. Stay at Hostel Taormina!
The staff was super nice and helpful and told you where to get discounts in town! Plus, look at the view from the terrace!

One last thing! I didn’t get a chance to visit the Turrisi Bar while I was there, but if someone could check it out and let me know what this “famous penis collection” is about, I’d appreciate further clarification, thanks!

Split and Dubrovnik

Even before I knew how I was getting to Dubrovik, I knew I had to get there. Not just because it’s in “1000 Place to See Before You Die” but because I had already booked my flight from Dubrovnik to Madrid at least month or two prior.

It may not seem as though that it would be that difficult to get to since it’s literally next to Italy but you’d be surprised!

Easy Jet starts flying direct from Rome to Dubrovnik but not until July 1st. The only flights currently available had ridiculous connections and were really expensive.

After a lot of research, I figured out the best way to reach Croatia would be to take two trains from Florence to Ancona, take an overnight ferry to Split, and then a four hour bus ride from Split to Dubrovnik.

Phew! It took a good minute to get there but it was worth it!

Three days and nights of a peacock inhabited island, sea kayaking and going out and getting to know the locals a little bit and I found myself falling in love with this small city.

I’ve been to the Amalfi Coast, the Italian Riviera, the French Riviera and Sicily and the ocean and beaches I saw in Dubrovnik easily topped them all.

As of now, I’d officially rank them:

1. Dubrovnik
2. Taormina (Sicily)
3. Sorrento (Amalfi)
4. Cinque Terre (Italian Riviera)
5. Nice (French Riviera)

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Cliff jumping is supposed the be the thing to do in Dubrovnik. I didn’t do because I was travelling solo but it looked like so much fun!

Love,
Liv

Milan and Venice

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.
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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

Love,
Liv

Summertime

So I’ve been insanely busy with my internship cause I’m out of my mind and agreed to work until August 16th when I head back to Boone for school the 18th. So while everyone else has finished up their summer internships I’m still working on mine! Which is great because I’m learning a ton and meeting so many wonderful people.. I just wish I had scheduled in a little vacation time before I start my senior year of college! I still have no idea how my senior year is already here but that’s a whole other story!

Some other very exciting news in the Life of Liv is that I have another internship already lined up for this coming winter break with Daytime on News Channel 8! I had my interview with their lovely executive producer last Monday and I am very excited about this fabulous opportunity. I am so excited to learn more about the broadcasting aspect of communications careers!

I’m trying to fit in as much fun experiences as I can in my last couple of weeks in Florida as I can before I move back to the mountains so I’ve been extremely busy. Last Saturday I went snorkeling through Tropical Island Getaway’s with my lovely friend Samantha Whiting and had the time of our lives! I already knew about Tropical Island Getaway through one of the Family Fun tours I had been working on through my internship with Visit St. Petersburg Clearwater. I included it on my tour of South Pinellas county so I decided to give it a try myself!

The guides/captains were so much fun and they gave us a heads up on the best seats on the boat so we could get the best view of the dolphins who came and played and jumped behind us for part of the ride. The ferry was BYOB and they had extra coolers to keep your drinks and snacks reallyyy cold. Then we once we got to Egmont Key the snorkeling gear (and noodle floating devices) were included and we got to see all the cool marine life around the ruins of the Fort Dade, which was used in the Spanish American War.

After the snorkeling portion of the trip we went over to the island which was incredible. You don’t see beaches like that too often. Everything was very natural feeling.  The only thing missing was Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom from the Pirates movies!  We hiked around the old fort and saw the lighthouse which was built in 1858.  After our explorations then we went back and relaxed in the water with a couple noodles and brews.

There were private boats all pulled up and anchored right on shore.  If I ever move back to Florida for good: 1) I must live closer to the ocean and 2) I will have my own boat.

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After Saturdays sea adventure I went on a different kind adventure to Universal Studios. There was no way I was going back to North Carolina without seeing Hogwarts! I am a huge Harry Potter fan and had to see the new section of the park!

I think my favorite part of the day was going to Ollivanders wand shop. When you go to Ollivanders you can either wait in line and go in with a small group of other Muggles and have a chance at being picked by Ollivander himself to go through the whole process of finding the perfect wand for you or you can just skip ahead and just pick one yourself. I, of course, wanted the whole experience and luckily Ollivander picked ME out of everyone in our group to find the wand for me! Anyways the Ash wand picked me.. thats the same type of wand that Cedric Diggory had and it was also the same as Ron Weasley’s first wand.

It was such a fun day! I even tried fish and chips again. For those who don’t know me but I stopped eating seafood when I was nine years old because I ate too much fish and chips when we lived in Cambridge, England for a little over a month that year!

So anyways, I’m at my parents right now recovering from my wisdom teeth removal surgery and after going a little stir crazy the past couple days I decided to go run some errands around town with my mother.  We went and looked at the lot where they are going to be building their new house. It’s really beautiful and has a woods in the backyard which are going to be nice for barbecues and get togethers. Hopefully it’ll be done being built by the end of December!

Then we had to go run some errands in Temple Terrace (the part of town where we use to live.) I feel really bad because I kind of made my mom go and drive by our old house even though she didn’t want to and it looked terrible.  It was so depressing to drive by. The new owners were not taking care of it at ALL. There was crap all on the roof, the lawn needed to be mowed, they tore out some of the bushes so the yard looked bare and ugly, there were bouncy balls and toys all over the yard… The entire front of the neighborhood looked HORRIBLE because of the jerks that moved into our old house! The house I grew up was entirely TRASHED. It was beautiful when we sold it to them. My parents worked so hard to make it nice and they literally just killed the entire house and made the entire neighborhood look awful. I really hope that somehow the new owners of —— see this post and realize what assholes they are for killing an already beautiful home. I hope they realize that the entire neighborhood of Raintree Oaks probably thinks they’re douche bags for doing so.

Okay, well that’s what I’ve been up to lately! I’ll upload some pictures from one of the tours I’ve been working on later! Summer is almost over!

Love,
Liv

Liv’s Weekly Goals

Goals for this week:

  1. Watch at least three sunsets: I live at the beach. I need to make a point of getting back home before 8:20 p.m. and watch Florida sunsets more often.
  2. Be in bed by 9:30 each night: I need to get more sleep. Need. More. Sleep.
  3.  Introduce myself to at least three mayors at the Big C meeting Wednesday: I have to build up some confidence when talking and meeting public figures around the community and in the world. Once I push myself to do it won’t bother me so much in the future.

Liv Learns:

As I come to the end of my fourth week interning I’ve only just begun learning about all the ways PR techniques work their way into many of the different aspects of organizations and companies, especially those related to tourism.

One of the main projects I have been working on during my time at the CVB is planning  familiarization tours, also called a FAM tours. The point of the FAM tour is to help give those who work directly with tourists (concierge, bus drivers, hotels, etc.) an idea of different suggestions for activities that our location offers that they may not already know about.

The FAM I’m currently finishing up on is one that focuses on family fun activities that are offered in our county… and there are a LOT! There are so many that we decided to divide the county into North and South sections and do a tour for each part of the county. So I’m actually finishing up on two FAMs (after this I have to work on two more.. actually four more possibly)! In order to come up with fun family activities I have to do research through internet and making phone calls to various venues and companies.

Mapping out where all the different places are located and possible routes for the two tours are also part of what I have been working on. Also, since there will be two tours mapping possible routes and itineraries are also part of the process. We decided that it would be really neat for the the North tour to instead of using a boring regular bus to rent one of the old fashioned beach trollies instead!

Networking is also a huge part of public relations and promotion. Whether it is relating to tourism or anything else. Meeting as many people as you can and making connections to other groups and individuals in your community and elsewhere helps to create mutually beneficial relationships that will help build your company while creating a positive reputation for others to see.

Another project I have been working on is actually with helping out the film commission. Many of the photos on their database are out of date and need to be updated so on days when I’m not working on the FAM I’m driving around the county taking pictures of what it has to offer. I love doing this because A) I love taking pictures and this is a great excuse to do that! B) It helps me learn the county better and C) I learn another aspect of of the CVB and something else I may enjoy. What I DIDN’T like about it was walking around all day on Clearwater Beach when it was 150 degrees outside (or at least it felt like it)!! All I wanted to do was to RUN as fast as I could into the ocean but I couldn’t because I did not have my bathing suit on and I had my expensive Canon Rebel around my neck… Not to mention, it might have been a bit odd if I returned to the office soaking wet. Not sure what kind of impression that would have left on everyone there.

Also, I’ll be uploading my favorite photos from my film commission scouting every few days hopefully! The previous post was actually from my first day working on that!

Meanwhile, one of my favorite parts of living at the beach this summer are Florida sunsets every night. Even if I’m just watching them with girlfriends or Harry Potter (reading the book, obviously), Florida sunsets are by far the best in the world.

BTW, my sailing lessons begin this Saturday at one of the marinas downtown! There are four days of class, two weekends, each day begins at 2 p.m. and lasts until 7 p.m. ! I’m really excited about adding yet another new experience to this summer!

That’s all for this evening.

Love,
Liv

Home is where the heart is?

Andrew: You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn’t really your home anymore? All of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your shit, that idea of home is gone.

Sam: I still feel at home in my house.

Andrew: You’ll see one day when you move out it just sort of happens one day and it’s gone. You feel like you can never get it back. It’s like you feel homesick for a place that doesn’t even exist. Maybe it’s like this rite of passage, you know. You won’t ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it’s like a cycle or something. I don’t know, but I miss the idea of it, you know. Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place.”  – Garden State

So lately, this quote has been continually popping up in my thoughts… Continue reading