Thursday, May 3, 2012

All good things must come to an end.

I don't know where to start. For one, I'm a bit bummed I fell so behind with my blog. This past week I did end up almost catching up. I could try to catch up and add more when I'm home, but writing from the states about being here won't be the same.

I leave my apartment in 3 hours and 15 minutes. I have had so many mixed emotions run through me throughout the day. This afternoon when I was walking around shopping with people, Yelena was quiet, and when I asked her what was wrong, she said she didn't know what to feel and that she just felt empty. That's how I feel right now. As I'm writing this last post, tears fill my eyes because I cannot imagine leaving here in so short of a time.

Don't get me wrong. I am overjoyed with coming home and running into Kory's arms. I've been picturing it since the day I left. I cannot wait to be with my family and be with my friends again, but nothing will be the same.

Deborah, our instructor for our orientation class for study abroad, told us we would become like a family here. I really didn't know what to think of that when she said that. I looked at all 14 people surrounding me and thought, "there's no way we'll all get along." I was completely wrong.

There were two different "cliques" in our group of 15, but we all meshed at some points and had family dinners throughout the semester. And I know that no matter what, if anything were to ever happen, they would all be there for me in a heartbeat. That's what family is about.

I was doing so well with not crying today. When we hugged Petra goodbye and said our thanks, I held myself together when Bethany and Yelena got teary eyed, but it all hit me tonight.

I was hugging Bethany and we were saying how we both wanted to become friends when we first met each other in the fall, and then we did. We both started crying, but tried pulling ourselves together. I didn't realize how hard it would be for me to leave. I'm not just leaving a city behind, I'm leaving a family behind. No matter how many times I travel back to Florence, it will never be the same.

I don't regret anything about coming here. I've been saving up for this trip since high school, and I made my dream come true. Never tell anyone nothing is possible because if you put your mind to it, anything is possible.

In 3 hours and 15 minutes I will be traveling back to the U.S. After reading my post the night before I left, I can clearly see I am a different person. So many people who studied abroad before told me you'll come back a different person, and you'll see things differently. I didn't really get what they were saying until I thought about it tonight. I really do look at things differently now. Before I left, I had never been outside of North America and I was so incredibly nervous to travel, and now I want to see everything and I feel that I could go anywhere if I want.

My last day here was perfect. There was not a cloud in the sky, I spent time with all of my good friends, we walked up to Piazza Michelangelo to watch the sunset, we went out to dinner and we sang karaoke at a bar. All we did was laugh and cry.

I remember the night before I left I couldn't picture myself in Florence. It's funny because now I can't picture myself at home.

I will always have place for my Firenze family in my heart. They shared something with me that no one else did and no one else will understand. I am forever grateful for this experience, and I will never take it back.

This song was our theme song of the night, and I think it suits it perfectly. In 3 hours and 15 minutes I'll be in a taxi on my way to the airport to come home. A new person with a completely different perspective on the world and life.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Gondola ride ladies?

Friday — April 20

I had to wake up early today, but not as early as I have before for trips. Today marked the last day I would take a train and go on a trip. How in the world has time flown by so fast? I remembered writing this trip in my planner during the first few weeks here when we got our class trip schedule. This weekend we were going to Venice, and I surely hoped it was a better and warmer experience than the one back in February. Hopefully this time I would be able to feel my fingers and toes. 

I woke up and showered at 6:30. I ended up talking to Kory on Skype while I finished getting ready before heading out. It was odd because his yesterday hadn't ended since he didn't go to sleep yet, but my day was already starting. 

Lydia, Jess, Kate and I took a taxi to the train station to save us the hassle of dragging our suitcases across town. We finally learned almost four months in that when you take a taxi it's not that expensive because you split it. 

When we made it to the train station, we walked over to the pharmacy where our meeting point was. After waiting for a bit, Petra and her boyfriend showed up. Originally, Erica Bianchi, another teacher, was supposed to come with us, but she got sick so Petra brought her boyfriend. 

While we were standing there, Petra passed out numbers on post-it notes. These were going to be out seat numbers for our train. It also had our coach number in a circle in the corner. This was a good idea because on previous trips we've had Kent students sit in other people's seats, and it can be a hassle. 

When we got on the train I was happy to see that the compartments above the seats were big enough to accommodate my suitcase. I don't like leaving it up front because I'm always paranoid someone will steal it. I sat at a table, which was nice, with Lauren, Maria and Kelsey. I had planned on blogging during our two-hour train ride, but I was more tired than I thought I would be, so I fell asleep listening to my music.

Toward the end of the train ride, I had my head phones out and was just sitting there. I realized I heard Lydia talking, but I knew she wasn't sitting near me. Maria started laughing because she could here her too. She was helping someone with the euro exchange rate and it made me laugh because her voice carries so easily.

When we arrived in Venice, we waited for Petra and her boyfriend to get us water taxi tickets. After they came around to all of us and handed us them. We waited at the water taxi stop, which felt like a boat. I remembered these from last time, but last time it was SO cold.

Our taxi finally came after what felt like a while of waiting. When we were getting ready to depart a few of my friends and me noticed that there were two Asian girls trying to get on the boat. Their parents, who were older, were already on the boat and trying to get them on. A woman who was working on the boat pushed off the dock and told them no, they couldn't get on. We were all appalled. Those two girls probably had no idea where to go and their parents were stuck on the boat. The mom looked worried. "That's how Italians roll," I thought to myself.

When we were on the taxi, the view of the city was gorgeous. "So this is was Venice is really supposed to look like," Bethany said. And yes it was. It was a gorgeous sunny day, the waters were blue and the city was just gorgeous. We passed a few gondolas here and there and smaller water taxis taking shuffling people from one part of the city to the next.

While we were on the boat there was this precious-looking dog that all of us fell in love with. At first the owner owned the attention, and then eventually I think my friends started creeping her out, which made me laugh. We just miss our puppies at home.

After a half hour boat ride, we walked onto land and to our hotel. Bethany was nervous because she forgot her passport and had no license, since it was stolen in Madrid. Petra came around asking all of us for our passports or license. Luckily I had both, but I always travel with it.

Petra went to check in with the hotel, but when she came out she said the rooms weren't ready. She also said they didn't need our passports for the rooms, so Bethany could breathe once again.

We went inside the hotel and put our luggage in a storage closet until our rooms were ready. We had about an hour and half until we had anything planned with the school, so some of us went out on the hunt for food.

I ventured out with Maria, Bethany, Glenn and Lauren. We wandered around for a bit, walking up and down the streets. We ended up going into a cafe that had promising-looking sandwiches. I got a mozzarella, tomato and lettuce sandwich for only €3! It was SO good and so filling, which was just what I was looking for.

We didn't want to pay to sit, so after we all got our sandwiches we ate and walked. We ended up finding a wooden bridge that had a beautiful view. As I ate my delicious sandwich, I gazed out into the rivers of Venice and watches gondoliers row couples throughout the city. "I love my life," I thought to myself.

Maria, Bethany and I headed back to the hotel for Maria, and then we ended up just relaxing in a lounge near the storage room. I got a cappuccino from a machine like the one at the school, but it was not even close to as good as the one at the school's is. It was nice though. The three of us just talked and relaxed. Other people ended up joining our conversation until we had to go outside of the hotel to meet Petra.

When we were all ready, Petra and her boyfriend led us to the Peggy Guggenheim. I had never heard of her before, but basically she's famous for collecting so many famous works of art. Our group was split up into two groups. Our tour guide seemed like she was only a little bit older than me. I could tell she loved her job and she loved talking about art. It was almost a little over -the-top, but I tried my best to pay attention. She kept asking us if we were boring her in her peppy voice, and we all said no.

All of the art in the museum was contemporary. I finally realized I do not understand art at all. It's cool to look at, but geeze, the scenarios people pull out of these paintings is absurd. There was a painting that looked like gradient blocks to me and it was supposed to be two people dancing. She showed us how it was supposed to be the two people dancing, but I just could not see it at all. There were also painting that just looked like someone got drunk and decided to color, but it was supposed to look like something specific. I really think people just look far too into paintings and pull out things that aren't really there. But too each their own.

During the tour Yelena and I kept looking at each other with weird, confused faces trying to understand what our tour guide was seeing. There were some pretty vulgar things in there too, which was...different.

After two hours, the tour finally ended. Yelena, Amy and I decided to head back to the hotel because Petra said the rooms would be ready. Unfortunately, it was raining when the tour ended. It was only sprinkling, but we wanted it to stay nice out. I didn't want a repeat of last weekend.

When we got back to the hotel, other people from our group were there. They were trying to deal with a problem that had risen with the hotel. When we were on the train here, a sheet was passed around, and we picked who we wanted to have a hotel room with. All of the rooms accommodated four people and the boys, three.

However, the hotel now only had a few rooms to accommodate four people and the rest were rooms for three people, so there was going to have to be some shifting between rooms. Luckily, my friends' rooms and mine wasn't affected. When I asked for my key, they said a roommate already had it. Kate and Jess must have already been back.

The staircase up to our room was probably the coolest thing I'd ever seen.

When I finally made it to the top, I walked to where my room was at. I knocked and was let in. When I walked in I was in awe by how big and nice our room was! I've been so used to just decent hostels and hotels that I forgot how nice a hotel room can be. I also thought it was going to be small like the one Lydia and I had in Rome, but this was SO much better.

-view from our room-

Lydia, Kate, Jess and I all relaxed on our beds and were talking. Bethany came into our room asking if we wanted to venture out into Venice around 4, which was an hour from now. We all agreed because we didn't want to waste our time here. Before I knew it, I was passed out. I really didn't think I was that tired, but apparently I was. I fell asleep at 3:00 and woke up at 5:00. I was confused because I thought we were leaving at 4, but apparently things had changed.

I went over to Bethany's room where she was staying with Erika, Amy and Yelena. They were all there and were just hanging out. I guess Erika took a nap too. When I was sitting on someone's bed, Erika was looking up information about an island that was supposed to be around here and haunted. Someone told us that no one lives there and no one will take you there, even if you offer to pay them.
Erika said there have been documentaries on the place for people who hunt ghosts, which I found interesting. I probably wouldn't want to go though.

After we were talking about that we finally headed outside. It had cooled down because of the rain, but it was that perfect temperature. I love the feeling and the smell right after it rains. It's just so fresh.

We walked the same way we had earlier in the day to the museum. We ended up standing on the wooden bridge again enjoying the view.

When we got to the other side of the bridge, Bethany and Lydia started talking to a gondolier man asking him what his prices were. We all wanted to ride a gondola tomorrow, but we didn't know much about the prices. He ended up telling them a good deal, so Bethany and Lydia asked if we would want to just do it now. I wanted to wait until tomorrow, and others weren't sure if they wanted to do it today.

So Bethany and Lydia told him they didn't have enough people to do the deal and thanked him.

We kept walking and Bethany and Lydia made it pretty obvious they wanted to go on it now. We walked a little ways and they asked again if we would do it now. I still wanted to wait, but I didn't want to not go and then have no one to go with tomorrow, so I caved.

Kate and Amy didn't want to ride the gondola at all anyways, so they went off and did their own thing.

When we walked back to where the man was standing he was talking to other people. We were worried he was going to have new people and we wouldn't be able to do it. He ended up just giving them directions or something, so we went up and told him we changed our minds. He laughed, but was sincere.

He led us down to his gondola and helped us all in. Then he said, "Okay, I'm going to go get your gondolier. He's really good."

We all said at the same time, "Wait, you're not taking us?" Then a creepy looking man started walking down toward us and I just glared at Lydia and Bethany, and said, "Really?"

I don't know what happened, but the creepy guy went away and then the nice one we were talking to earlier hopped on ours. I don't know if he was kidding around with us, or if he just change his mind.

The ride throughout Venice was just beautiful. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!! It was high up on my bucket list to ride a gondola and I was making it happen. We went down tiny streets, which made it seem more like Venice.

I learned that our driver came from a family that has always been in the gondola business. I thought that was really cool. It's just like a business being passed on down.

He was very knowledgeable on the city and showed us houses where famous writers and artists used to live. He also showed us the building where they filmed a part of Casino Royale. That was pretty awesome because that's such a good movie.

-second building in from the left-

As much as I've always wanted to take a gondola ride, I found it very interesting. I learned that the gondolas actually used to be a water herse for funerals. How does someone twist that into something romantic. Not to mention that the waters in Venice have 20 percent of the city's sewage in it. So essentially what a romantic ride through Venice really is, is a funeral herse riding along sewage water. Whoever spun that in a romantic way, I give a lot of props to!

We ended up paying €5 for a longer ride, which was well worth it. When we went under bridges, my friends said we should kiss each other on the cheeks, so of course we did that too.

As we were riding around Venice, a lot of people were taking pictures of us, and I realized I probably looked like that too when I take pictures. I silently laughed to myself.

The gondola ride was €25 a person, but it was so worth it. How often do you get to say you got to ride a gondola through the streets of Venice? And since I've always wanted to do it, it was worth every penny.

We walked around for a bit after the ride and then headed back to the hotel to relax before dinner. Tonight the school was providing us dinner, like they did in Rome, so I was looking forward to that.

We met Petra in the front of the hotel at 8:00, and she led us to the restaurant. We had to wait outside for a while because the waiters were still getting our tables ready, since there were 40 of us.

We were led upstairs to a room reserved just for us, and we filled it up with no problem. I sat with Erika, Lydia, Bethany, Amy, Jess and Yelena. We ordered a pitcher of wine, which wasn't included in our free meal, but you have to have wine with Italian food!

A couple of weeks ago Petra sent an email out to everyone asking if anyone didn't like seafood or was a vegetarian because this restaurant was known for it's seafood, and that was going to be dinner.

I emailed back saying I didn't eat seafood, but I'd eat meat. I've given seafood plenty of tries and it's a mutual dislike.

So for dinner, I had mozzarella, olives and tomatoes for an appetizer, pasta for my first course, chicken for my second course and tiramisu for dessert. Wow, it was probably one of the best meals I'd had so far in Italy.

And boy was I glad I didn't get the seafood. My friends had the seafood risotto when I had my pasta. When it came out it just smelled like under the sea, and I was immediately thankful for my pasta.

I was also very thankful for my chicken, that doesn't look like an alive chicken because my friends had this thing that looked like a mini lobster. It still had it's eyes. YUCK.

It was funny and entertaining though because Jess was eating seafood for the first time. So when she was having difficulties with eating something, I spoon fed her by using the airplane tactic, like you do with little kids.

It was a very entertaining meal to say the least, and all we did was laugh.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel. On our way back we noticed that the streets were flooding and had to find different ways to walk. We were told that when it rains, sometimes it will overflow into the city and after the sewage is dumped in. Fun I tried to not step in the icky water.

When we got back, Yelena, Jess and I wanted to go out for a couple drinks. I was warned by my good friend Carolyn, that a lot of places close early in Venice, but there's one piazza that stays open a little later. We asked the front desk and he gave us his recommendations.

We weren't sure really how to get there, so we just went out on a limb. Somehow we ended up running into Maria, Kelsey, Lauren and Kate at a bar they had found, which ended up being in the piazza we were looking for. When I walked up to them I wasn't paying attention to a guy who was kindly trying to get my attention to stop walking because there was water. I walked right into ankle-deep water. Ankle-deep sewage water. Oh well...I was planning on throwing out the shoes I had on before I left Florence anyways...

We ended up not staying too long because we were tired. When I got back to my hotel room I crashed as soon as I was in my comfy bed.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Not too much happening here.

Thursday — April 19

This past week not too much happened. On Tuesday the president of Kent State came to visit. We had a reception at 4:30, which was nice because it got us out of our practicum class, which I don't really care for. 

It was funny because during the reception, President Lestor Lefton and others spoke about how fortunate we were to be here in Florence. Someone said something about us being fortunate too because it can be expensive. The entire reception I was waiting for someone to chuck a tomato at our president. Recently, Lefton and his board passed something new at Kent State that doesn't sit well with a lot of students, including myself. 

After 17 credits, you have to pay a $440 fee for each credit. I was planning on taking 20 credits next semester, but I had to drop a class because I'm not paying $1,320 extra in fees just for one class, nor can I afford that. I have an apartment in the fall I need to pay rent for. Thank God I'm graduating in a year because starting in fall 2013, it's any credit after 16, you have to pay that fee. Kent State used to be an affordable school, but it keeps getting more expensive every year. I'm sorry you're in debt Kent State, but that's not my fault. Stop taking on unnecessary projects then. Clearly I'm not happy with this new fee. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. 

In the end no one chucked a tomato at Lefton. I laughed when I talked to Kory because I told him how he was visiting Kent State here, and Korr said, "Well, he certainly fled the country at the perfect time." 

After the reception I went home to relax, and boy I'm glad I did. Lydia, Glenn and I had finished our documentary video for practicum and we left one of our teachers with it to fix the audio. I guess he ended up trying to change our video and move things around and Glenn and Lydia got pretty mad. I would have been mad too, but I have more patience than the two of them. 

Other than that, this week I just tried to relax and get things in order.

Thursday night Maria came over and Kate, she and I watched the Last Samurai. We watched it in Intercultural, but I missed the class when we finished the movie, so Fabbio let me borrow it. I had heard of the movie before, but I've never seen it. It was fantastic. I was blubbering like a baby by the time it was over. If I cry, that means it was good. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Sunday — April 15

This morning was a bit nicer in the sense that we were able to sleep in a little later. Check out was at 10, so I woke up, showered and got ready for the day. 

I didn’t really know what to expect for the day. We were going to Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius. When Lydia and I got to the busses, we put our suitcases underneath and walked on the bus. We had to end up sitting in the back because people took our seats, which was kind of annoying. 

The bus ride to Pompeii took about an hour or so. I seriously gave our bus driver a ton of credit because these roads were really skinny and had a lot of turns going up and down the hills. It made me nervous at some points because if we went off the cliff, it was into the ocean we go!

When we got to Pompeii we were told there was an entrance fee of €11. I didn’t understand why we had to pay money just to get into a city, but I wasn’t going to argue it. We could pay €5 for an English tour guide, but Lydia and I decided against it. 

When we went up to buy our entrance ticket, we learned that today it was free! Since it was culture week, Pompeii was free to get in to, which was awesome! I also learned since it was culture week, we would be able to get into a lot of other museums in Florence throughout the next week.
When we started walking into the city I finally realized where I was and why we had to pay. I don’t know, but for some reason I thought Pompeii was just a normal city like Naples or Sorrento. I quickly remembered learning about Pompeii in high school. It’s the city that was covered in ashes in 79 AD when Mt. Vesuvius erupted. They said the ashes were about 9 feet high and covered the entire city, killing everyone. The city is preserved, and I found it fascinating that it was still standing. To think after so many years, it is still standing to day. 

Lydia and I walked around throughout the city. It was absolutely massive! Luckily, it wasn’t raining in the beginning. I soon jinxed that by mentioning it, and before we knew it, it was down pouring. My shoes were officially being thrown out before I fly home to Pittsburgh. 

At one point we ran into Lindsay, a girl who goes to Kent with us. She was with Bus2Alps and they were on their tour here. 

We also later ran into Kate, which was funny. She said they went to Amalfi on Friday and Capri on Saturday. No wonder we didn’t see them Friday. Lindsay said Bus2Alps went to Capri the same day we did, so we were surprised we didn’t run into them. Probably because we were hiding out in a cafe all day. 

The most fascinating part of the walk through Pompeii was the preservatives. There was a 17-year-old pregnant girl whose body was still in tact. It was covered in ashes and sort of looked like a mummy, but I could tell she was laying down covering herself before she died. I couldn’t imagine dying like that. 

Later when we ran into Dan and them, Dan said they saw a man who was hiding in his bathtub, which would have been really hard to see.

The entire walk around Pompeii was well-worth it, despite the rain because I love learning about history and seeing it is even more exciting.

-The Amphitheatre- 

Gina, one of the Florence For Fun leaders, told us that they have a good deal with this one restaurant where we can eat a three course meal with a drink for €12, which is pretty unheard of. She said if we were interested to meet outside of the Pompeii entrance at 1. So Lydia and I made sure we were out there by 1. 

We were led inside to our tables. Most of the Florence For Fun group was there, so there was probably over 100 of us agin. I felt like I was in a banquet hall for a wedding reception. It seemed like there were other big organization groups there too, so this place must be known for that. 

Lydia and I sat with Michelle, her boyfriend, Dan and Ryan. I feel like all we did was laugh and enjoy our time. The food service was phenomenal. It was the fastest service I’d had while being in Italy. 

Gina came over to our table at one point during lunch and asked us what our thoughts were on climbing Mt. Vesuvius. She said the leaders were going to ask everyone and if majority said they didn’t want to climb it, we would head home earlier and skip it, but if there was more in favor, then we would climb it. I had hit the point where I was just wet, cold and tired and just wanted to head home. She said we wouldn’t even have the view of the Naples bay from up top because it would be so cloudy. 

Everyone at my table felt the same way — they just wanted to go home too. I thought that would be the consensus of everyone, but it ended up not being the case.

When we got back on the buses, they said more people were in favor of climbing, so the busses headed toward Mt. Vesuvius. 

The drive up was beautiful. You could see the Naples bay and everything about the city. Soon enough though we were in a white cloud and I couldn’t see a thing. Once again, I gave our bus driver a ton of credit because these roads were extremely narrow and windy. He honked every time we made a turn to warn people if they were descending down the hill.

When we made it to the top we all climbed out. Some people stayed on the bus, which I thought was stupid. If you’re here, you may as well climb it instead of sitting on a bus for an hour. Walking up to the top was one of the most tiresome things I’ve done in a while. I thought climbing the volcano in Santorini was hard, but that was nothing compared to this. There was lava rock every where, which made it a bit more difficult to walk and it was misting and freezing because we were so high up. It was really cool though because when I would turn around to see where I had just walked from, I could see absolutely nothing because the fog was so thick.

Finally, we made it to the top. On a beautiful day, normally you would see the Naples bay. It’s supposed to be a gorgeous view, but we saw nothing by white. We were basically in a white cloud, which we ended up finding entertaining. We all kept joking about how beautiful this view was. 

We also tried looking down into the volcano, but you couldn’t see anything but white as well, which was just crazy. If I were to fall, I’d have no idea how far I’d be falling because I could barely see a a few feet down from me. 

Lydia climbed up this one rock where other people were, and when she reached the top, which really wasn’t that far up, I had to squint to see her, and she said she had to do the same with me. 

The walk up took about a total of 20 minutes and then we stayed up top for quite some time, then descended back down. Going back down was a bit difficult too because it was so steep and I didn’t want to walk to fast because it was hard to stop.

I laughed at one point and told Michelle why. I saw all of this lava rock everywhere and found it awfully similar to what mom uses to decorate our yard. It clicked that it was actual lava rock. I had a major blonde moment to say the least. 

I didn’t take any rock home with me though because Bethany told me in Santorini it’s bad luck to take it. She said her one friend took a rock from a volcano in Italy home and now every time she flies home from Italy she gets a phone call that someone died. Kind of creepy if you ask me and I can be quite superstitious. 

When we finally got back to the bus, I curled up in my seat and tried to get warm. I was all wet from the rain and cold from the mist. This was going to be a fun eight hour bus ride home!

The ride ended up going pretty fast, which was nice. We only stopped once for dinner for an hour and somehow made it home by 10:30. I was expecting to get home by midnight, so this was a pleasant surprise. 

During the ride home, I had a lot of time to think because all I was really doing was listening to my music. I realized I was slowly starting to get ready to come home. After my family left I really missed them. I never thought I would be ready to leave, but I think when the time comes I’ll be ready.

When we were taking the taxi home, I was incredibly nervous to check my email. I had no wifi this past weekend, and I knew Kristina was going to email me about the internship. When I got home, the first thing I did was get on my computer and log into my Kent email. I saw I had an email from her, and I was so nervous it was a no. If it was a no, I didn’t know what I was going to do. 

I opened it, and it said she would love to have me be a part of the Pittsburgh Magazine internship team this summer. I have never been more relieved. I squealed and jumped up and down and Lydia hugged me. I felt like a little kid. It was a HUGE weight lifted off of my shoulders. 

I told Kory to get on Skype ASAP because I wanted to tell him because it was so hard to not even tell him I was interviewing with them. I wanted to tell mom, but she was at Jon’s hockey banquet, so I knew I would have to wait until tomorrow. 

What a wonderful way to come home though. Now I was in warm, comfy clothes and I officially had plans for the summer!


Saturday — April 14

Today's plans had to change because it was supposed to be raining all day again. We were originally supposed to go to Positano and relax on the beach all day, but mother nature didn't want that. 

I decided not to get the free breakfast today and just eat my strawberry jelly on bread. I met Lydia and Michelle upstairs and checked in with our tour guides. I wasn't sure where we were going, but I was told we were going to the Versailles of Italy, which I thought was pretty cool, and we were also supposed to get really good pizza somewhere after. 

We walked up to where the busses were parked and all piled on in. The bus ride was about an hour, so I relaxed and dozed off and on listening to my ipod. When we arrived we were in a parking garage. We followed the leaders upstairs and starting walking towards this magnificent-looking palace. 

It reminded me of the palace in Madrid, except this one wasn't all white. It was called Reggia Di Caserta, and boy was it beautiful. 

Florence For Fun organized a tour for us to take, which we didn't have to pay more money for, which was extremely nice. The tour lead us throughout the palace and told us about different rooms and what they were used for. There was a statue of Marie Antoinette's sister because she was here before, which I thought was fascinating. I have always been in love with this time period, so it was amazing to walk through this beautiful palace knowing all of these people walked through these halls and it was their home. I couldn't imagine living in a place this big, although it would be a great place to play hide and go seek. 

My favorite rooms were the bedrooms. The beds were so antique looking, just like I've seen in the movies I watch. Considering my favorite movies are Pride and Prejudice and Becoming Jane, no wonder I was in love with this place.

I also really liked the dining rooms because the chandeliers were so magnificent. 

-view from one of the windows-

-chandelier made of Morano glass from Venice-


After the tour was finished, the tour guide left us at the entrance of the gardens. The gardens are supposed to be really famous because it is three miles long, which is incredible. It was still raining outside, so we didn't want to walk the three miles in it. The Florence For Fun tour guides said to meet at the front of the palace in 15-20 minutes. Lydia and I went outside in the gardens to see some of it. Since it was raining, the gardens looked even more green, making it look even more beautiful. 

Dan also had found a dog laying in the grass that he went over to pet. It was precious and seemed so comfortable laying out in the rain.

We met everyone in the front of the palace and we were led to the busses. I thought the ride to the pizza place was going to be 30 minutes, but it ended up being an hour. I was thrilled when we got there because I was starving. 

The place we went to was called University Pizza. This place very well-known in Italy because they serve pizza by the meter. We walked inside the restaurant and thankfully it was a very big one because there were probably about 100 of us coming in to eat. 

Michelle, Lydia and I found a table to sit at, but Dan, Ryan and Ryan went to another table with other people. 

We were each going to get our own mini pizza, but then we figured we could just get the meter and split the price and get more for our money. A waiter came up to us and he didn't seem to speak much English. We tried speaking to him in Italian. We were trying to ask him if a meter would be okay for three people because it says it's enough for five people. I asked, then Lydia and when Michelle asked, the waiter rolled his eyes and walked away.

We were SO confused as to what had just happened. Was he coming back? We didn't know. About 10 minutes had passed and he kept walking by our table not coming back. Everyone else already had their drinks at this point and others were already getting their pizza. 

So we asked the Florence For Fun leaders sitting next to us how we were supposed to order. They said to just flag down a waiter and they would help us. So we did that and we had more luck this time. The waiter thought we were ordering a meter for six people when he took the order. We tried telling him it was just for us, but he didn't understand.

Ryan, Michelle's boyfriend, came over to ask what we were getting. We told him we ordered a meter pizza. He said he and his two other friends got the same thing. After he left we said, if three boys can eat a meter, we can surely do it!

I splurged a bit and ordered a coke, which came in the glass bottle — only the best kind. 

I was hungry, so I figured that would help too. We were all incredibly hungry. Michelle ended up pulling out her sandwich she had packed and ate that while we were waiting. I asked her if she was sure she wanted to do that since she was about to help eat a meter pizza. It didn't help when everyone else was getting their food because it smelled SO good.

Finally, ours was rolled out to us. The waiter placed 6 plates down and we told him it was just us. He had a sort of shocked look on his face, which made us laugh. "We can do it!"

The pizza was delicious and it was definitely helping to cure my hunger.

I was doing pretty well, but towards the end we definitely started slowing down. We only had a piece left for each of us and we said if they guys can do it we can! So we finished it. 

I sat in my chair and felt like I needed to unbutton my jeans. Ryan came over to see how our pizza was. We said it was really good, but we were full. He was pretty surprised we had finished it already. We asked him how his was. He said it was good, but the guys didn't know if they would be able to finish it. When he said that, Michelle, Lydia and I bursted out laughing. We finished an entire meter of pizza because we figured if they could do it, we could, and then even the guys were too full! 

Thankfully, all we had left to do was hop on a bus back to the hotel, where I planned on taking a nap until dinner. We were only 20 minutes away, so when we got back it was around 5. We had two hours until dinner. We all ended up falling asleep and when we woke up, of course we weren't hungry.

However, dinner was free and we felt like we should eat something. We went upstairs and ate with Ryan. Michelle and Ryan couldn't get through the second course and left. Lydia was going to go back, but she was curious about what the dessert was. I somehow mustered my way through dinner and ended up nibbling at the dessert, even though it was fantastic.

When we were done, I seriously felt like I needed to be wheel barreled to my room. I don't think I have ever felt so full in my life. If someone poked me, I think my stomach would have exploded. 

I was thinking about going out for a few drinks, but after being so full, it just made me way to tired to do anything, so we just stayed in and watched Crazy, Stupid Love again. The movie never gets old!