A Sign Calling Me Home

Thursday, May 11, 2017

I’m all about respecting and appreciating signs in addition to believing that “Everything happens for a reason.” While walking on Via del Giglio (the street that Marist Italy is on), I passed this adorable scene on the corner of the street. This King Charles enjoyed a nice, afternoon snooze in a comfy olive bed (one that looks strangely familiar to the one in my living room) next to a newsstand. I couldn’t help but think that my precious Kiara came to my school, calling me home.


I miss my sweet Kiara very much. She was my first puppy, and we’ve spent a lot of time together in the past six years. When I’m home, we play fetch in the backyard, run and swim, and nap. I’ve seen so many cute pups in Italy, but none of them compare to Kiks. My mom frequently sends me videos of her coming home and being greeted enthusiastically by Kiara. I am so excited to see her next weekend! We will be so happy to see each other after such a long time apart. xo ~ e.


Photo creds to Lisa

Two Girls in Florence

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I achieved one of my writer dreams today by meeting up with Georgette Jupe (better known as Girl in Florence) today at Ditta! I pitched a “Campus Celebrity (Florence Edition)” article to Her Campus Marist and got the OK from the Editor in Chief in Poughkeepsie. I messaged Georgette on Instagram a few days ago asking if she’d be willing to do an interview, and she generously said yes! We talked for 2.5 hours (longer than both of us anticipated) about life in Florence as an expat 🙂 We covered study abroad, politics (American and European), travel, food, wine/drinking culture, the blogging community, family, and language. It was fascinating! I revere her for having a successful freelance career, and it’s even cooler that she’s abroad (her husband is French)! I’m still hoping to meet her precious beagle, Ginger (@beagleinflorence). Check out her blog here and her Instagram feed here. And look for my published post on Her Campus Marist soon.

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Yesterday I splurged and went to Hard Rock Cafe Florence. Lauren had never been, and Tahiti really wanted to go back. Why not have your first Hard Rock experience in the city you’re studying abroad in? I felt like I was back in Stati Uniti. I hate to admit that my pulled pork sandwich was DELISH!


Sasha and I had our second to last Wednesday morning La Ménagère cappuccini; we added a blueberry and chocolate  muffin to our orders today.

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Lunch was at San Gallo Trattoria Pizzeria on our street. 5 euro for a primo dish (huge plate of pasta), bottle of water, and espresso. That’s within the meager student budget!


Sasha and Amelia’s event planning class threw an event tonight at LdM. My Florentine editor, Mary Gray, was there to interview Sasha and a classmate on camera! It was nice seeing her. Coincidence after meeting her friend Georgette this morning! xo ~ e.

Summer Reading List

Tuesday, May 10, 2017

It’s a goal of mine to read as many books as possible this summer that will serve as inspiration for the first book listed! Books will also keep me away from Netflix and Instagram 🙂 Please comment any recommendations you may have, and I urge you to create your own list for the summer; it’s the best time to get your bookworm on! xo ~ e.


Last Soccer

Monday, May 8, 2017

Last soccer match on the field we’ve been playing at since September ): Very bittersweet. There were only 10 of us, so we played 5 v 5 which meant a lot of running. Everyone was dying from being out of shape; at one point, I couldn’t even breathe. As Jill would say, “The pasta belly took over.” Still scored three goals though (even though my team lost). Soccer club was something I looked forward to every Monday, and it kept my abroad experience active. Next field I’ll play on will be in either Vermont or Poughkeepsie!

I had two presentations to give today and two papers to hand in. Now I’m basically done until finals next week! I wanted to share the conclusion to my history paper. We had to read Primo Levi’s memoir, If This Was a Man, which was very eye opening. I discussed the theme of Levi’s evolving definition of ‘free man’ during his brutal time at Auschwitz. xo ~ e.

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Free Museum Sunday

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Last free museum Sunday of the year! I managed to get to three museums today which surpassed my goal of one. Olivia and I had cappuccinos at La Ménagère at 7:30 AM and headed to the Uffizi with Colleen. We waited in line for a good 75 minutes, and once we were in, we headed to the Botticelli room. I went to the Uffizi in October with my Writing for College class, but for some reason, I couldn’t recall seeing its most famous masterpieces! The Birth of Venus and Primavera are simply capturing in size, detail, and revolution. We’ve talked about them in philosophy throughout the past couple weeks.

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The Uffizi

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Sleepy Coll

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Leonardo da Vinci

I went home to nap for a couple hours then Sasha and I got more coffee and headed to the Bargello (at which there was no line). It’s a huge museum! We got to see Donatello’s bronze David and some really neat sculptures, rugs, paintings, and artifacts.

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the Bargello

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Photo credits: Sasha

We were going to go home after the Bargello, but then we decided to go to Pitti Palace. We waited in like for two hours, and it began to rain. A kind, young, blonde American woman and an elderly Italian couple used their umbrellas to protect us. It was very nice of them! The American told us she’s from Dallas and is visiting Italy before her sister in London. She’s moving to Boston to work, for she recently graduated from med school. She was impressed we were freshmen studying/living abroad; she said she doesn’t think she could’ve!

We finally got into the palace, and it was ginormous. I didn’t expect to see so many paintings and frescoes! The interior was ornate and decorated with antique furniture. We basically just walked through all the rooms in awe.

We also checked out the modern art exhibit. This was my favorite painting:

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The Boboli Gardens would’ve been great to see again (and for free), but we didn’t have umbrellas with us. We skipped grocery shopping and treated ourselves to dinner at the recently opened pasta restaurant neighboring and owned by Simbiosi. We scarfed the ragù and cheesecake down– wet hair, dresses, and all.

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I am so proud of myself for making it out to Florence’s museums; it was the perfect dreary day for it. I wish I could say I could spend all day in a museum, but I can’t. I appreciated the works I saw though! I can continue to study art history and reference art history to what I saw in Florence. One May goal accomplished! xo ~ e.

Terme di Petriolo

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Second baths experience in Europe this year! We loved the Széchenyi thermal baths in Budapest, and the Petriolo thermal baths in Monticiano were also very cool. Most FFEs boarded the bus at a square close to our apartment at 10 AM this morning. I loved all being on a bus together again; it reminded me of orientation in August. We’ve come a long way since then! Our bus unfortunately broke down on the highway about an hour in. We stopped at the Florence American Cemetery and Memorial of all places! We got to walk around and explore while a new bus came. We felt like we were back in the U.S. It’s a beautiful cemetery and memorial (orderly and spacious).

We had lunch at Locanda nel Cassero, a secluded restaurant south of Siena. We had a scrumptious three course meal while it rained! A pancake of some sort with fried artichokes, freshly made pasta, and a mascarpone concoction for dessert. SO yummy! Some of the best eating I’ve done in Italy throughout the entire year. We had a typical Italian dining experience (bread, red wine, several courses, espresso to cleanse the palette) that lasted two and a half hours. The communal tables enhanced the family feel.

I left my phone on the bus, but Olivia graciously took some photos of the food for me to post on the blog!


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The baths were in close proximity to our restaurant but hidden away in a valley. We could smell the sulfur from the bus when we pulled in. The baths were small but hot and effective! There weren’t too many locals there, but we saw a few. There was a cool creek next to the baths for us to rinse and cool off; it felt like the Battenkill. Our skin soaked in the mineral water with the clay and mud. Natural spa treatment! We were there for a couple hours. Olivia took more pictures to document the excursion! Many of us girls went European style at some point during our stay; Alex, Louis and Steven didn’t quite know what to think. I bought my one piece bathing suit (they are ‘in’ right now and do a good job of hiding the European weight gain) at H & M for 15 euros.


Me, Colleen, Tahiti

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Olivia V. (our photographer) and me

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View on our way out

We had a stinky and sleepy ride back to Florence. I was so relaxed from the water I crashed as soon as I sat down on the bus! I brought my blanket with me for this trip 🙂 We bought unhealthy snacks (Oreos and potato chips, or as Sasha would call them ‘crisps’) at a rest stop on our way. The hot shower felt so good after the rain and baths! What a fun bonding experience towards the end of the year. Thank you Marist Italy and our RAs for making it happen! xo ~ e.



Cinco de Mayo

Friday, May 5, 2017

Happy Cinco de Mayo! I can’t say many American college students celebrate this holiday for the ‘correct’ reasons… But it is a very important holiday in Mexico (May 5 is the date Mexico was surprisingly victorious of the French at the Battle of Puebla). In the U.S., Cinco de Mayo signifies a celebration of Mexican-American culture which should be celebrated!

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Sasha and I finally had coffee at this local cafe (Caffè Rosanò) on our street

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Due caffè latte per noi

We had classes today to make up for missed classes on Monday (Labor Day). For history, we walked to the train station to see Jewish memorials. I had no idea they were located there, and I’m sure many passing people are oblivious to them. I can understand why the memorials are at the train station, because that’s where Jews left their homes during the Holocaust. However, I don’t think they gain the respect and admiration they deserve in such a crowded transportation hub. I’m glad my professor pointed them out to us though.

A strange encounter happened when we stood outside the train station. A man (I don’t think he was completely there mentally) walked passed us and said, “Mussolini” while performing the Nazi salute. I don’t know if it was just an odd coincidence or if he knew he passed a class dedicated to the Holocaust and wanted to screw with us. We tried our best not to react, even though it took us by surprise and was very disrespectful– horrific even.

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Italian Jewish memorial at Firenze Santa Maria Novella

Nine of us went to Tijuana’s for margaritas tonight. There were so many kids I saw from my classes! It was really fun all being together, talking about our summer plans, and reflecting on our year. There will be lots of that in the remaining time here. Sasha and I shared a medio (medium) plate of nachos, and they were delicious! Tomorrow we are taking a day trip (planned by our RAs) to hot springs. Last free weekend of the school year, since next weekend is a study weekend! xo ~ e.

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Two hours after our reservation…