Below is my 1st blog of Italy. Check out videos, pictures, and if you feel inclined, read the details I wrote about these first few days abroad!
Well… Let the journey begin. After eight months of working on the application process, learning about the Italian culture from my italian roommate at Northern Arizona University this past semester, and countless hours of research about “the boot,” I am finally beginning my study abroad experience in Siena, Italy. I am so excited to share this experience/growth with you. I have started working on the first video, and will hopefully have that up and complete by the time this blog article is done. This is actually a very long blog post, with a lot of content. I will try to make them shorter in the future, but I figured I would try and compile all the info of the first few days into one HUGE post. So, if you are not that interested in reading, I completely understand. That is why I have included a lot of pictures and three embedded videos to make it more fun than just reading!
I figured I would document my trip to Italy in real time, so as of now, I am on my first of three planes, on my way to New York, then off to Rome, and finally Florence. This morning I excitedly awoke at 1:30, ready to leave for the airport by 2am. It was quite a weird feeling, knowing I would not sleep in my bed, eat at my table or feel the Arizona sun for 5 months. But I was also very anxious for all the opportunities to come on the other side of the world. After a nice long hug and a wave, I said arrivarci to my parents, passed seamlessly thought security and found my way onto this plane that is now my new home… Well for the next few hours at least. It’s 10 am on Tuesday now, and after finishing my little salted peanut and ginger ale breakfast, I think a small nap is in order before we land at 12:30 at the JFK airport. I will pick back up on the next flight and write a few more lines.
Okay. About 45 minutes until I land in Rome, and a lot to report. So when we landed in New York, there was a lot of snow on the ground. We were about. 30 minutes late into JFK, but it was not bad. I had to change terminals, by exiting the airport, and going again through security in the international terminal. It went so smoothly, despite having to walk outside in the cold weather for a few minutes. When we finally were getting ready for takeoff, these two big trucks came and de-iced the plane, which was a new experience. It’s like being in a car wash while sitting in a jumbo jet. Shortly after an easy takeoff, dinner (cena) was served. It was very exciting ordering for the first time in Italian, and the stewardess must have thought I was fluent in Italian, because she starting talking to me. I just did the classic; smile and nod, because I had no idea what she actually said. It was some version of a penne pasta, but honestly, it was amazing food. If the Italian airplane food was this good, I can only imagine what the food will be in Italy. I am flying Alitalia, which is the major Italian airline company. I am convinced that there are only about 4 American people on this plane, all the rest are from Italy! We are currently at 39,000 feet, with an outside temperature of -78 degrees f. And we are currently flying at 620 mph ground speed. I see just the slight hint of a sunrise out my window. But now it’s time to shut off the electronics, as we are beginning our decent into Rome. Only one more flight to go!
Let me interject with a brief look at the Rome airport. Okay, I think you can only find this caliber if stores in Vegas or a fine shopping mall in the richer districts of America. Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Armani, Ferrari, Channel, and only to name a few of the small ones along my rapid paced walk from one terminal to the next. I actually found it easier to navigate the Rome airport than most American ones, because they use easy to understand signs and put them in just the right places. No, in case you were wondering, you can not see the colosseum or anything for that matter from the airport. Okay, now I will try my first attempt at ordering in Italian, one bottle of water… Haha okay, with a little pointing and using some words I have learned, I was successful.
Now the final flight! I can feel the underlying excitement building. With only about 50 minutes of flight time, it felt as though it was only 10 minutes, because of the length of my other two flights. My luggage was the first one to come off the plane! Now I am waiting by the “Entrata” (entrance) for the remaining 30ish people to arrive, most of which are girls!
What can I say… It is amazing. Finally getting a taste of Italian air, Italian driving, and the tease of the Italian countryside as we drove from the airport to our home for the next 2 days: Fattoria Poggio Alloro. This place is like a farm/bed and breakfast, where people are able to stay the night in a small villa, eat all the farm grown/raised foods, and learn about the farm and the land during the day. Everyone has the most tired looks on their faces, as most are going on nearly 30 hours of no sleep. Tonight for dinner we had Tomato onion and bacon fuzzilli as the “Primo” or first in Italian. Then followed that up by a fantastic selection of meats and cheeses made from the animals of the farm. Well, now it is time to sleep for the first time in probably 30 hours.
Day 1 – Fattoria Poggio Alloro:
After an early awakening, and a quite journey alone around the beautiful farm of Fattoria Poggio Alloro, I have truly taken in a sense of the tuscan landscape as it opens itself up to me with the rising sun. I could hear the distant bells, and the calling birds echo across the fields, and found myself realizing my presence in Italy. It is actually quite overwhelming the first time being in a situation like this. Everything is like a blur because it still seems so unreal. I have to stop, kneel down and feel the dirt between my fingers to really grasp the tangibility of this experience.
Upon exploring the architecture of the farm, and learning the history of the 4-generations of family members that have owned this place, I have started to get the hint of the true depth of historical roots that awaits my discovery here in Italy. The Italian people are unique. A special breed of deeply passionate people, something that is antiquated in most of the world. It runs in their blood and that is present in everything they do… such as the food. Oh gosh, the food. Don’t get me started. Here at this farm, all of the food that is served is fresh from the ground and the animals that they own. From all the meats and cheeses that can be tasted, to the sumptuous wines and olive oils, all the way to the fresh made pasta from the wheat of the farm; every single thing you taste is better than the last.
Today we got a chance to explore the farm, meet the cows and learn about the rich history behind the secrets of this magical place. We got a chance to look at the massive wine barrels that store some of the greatest flavors of tuscany, and also saw the bottling machine used to fill thousands of bottles each year, and sold all over the world. For lunch and dinner, we got a chance to try two more unique pastas and were very impressed with the amazing flavors and textures with every bite. We really have a good group of people, and are enthusiastic about getting to know each other. Now, back to the bed for another night’s rest.
Video about the first 24 hours:
Photos of the farm and of the beautiful view of Tuscany:
Day 2 – San Gimignano:
After a wonderful morning of beautiful fog throughout the countryside, we boarded the bus, said goodbye to this amazing farm, and set off towards San Gimignano. Similar in history to Siena (the place where I am studying abroad), San Gimignano was once an ancient mid-evil town/civilization, built to protect it’s people from the outside attackers. With a tall wall that completely surrounds the city, all unwanted guests were blocked from entering the city and contaminating it’s people with barbaric treason. Now, of course, it is no longer what it once was in civilization, however the history and stories are hidden in the ancient bricks which make up the city. As you will see in the video and the pictures, being a January day, there were almost no tourists at all; making it mostly an intimate experience with only the locals to offer their questioning gaze upon our large group of American students. There is not much I can say that is not explained in the video, so make sure to click below and watch the video to learn about the amazing history of this beautiful place!
Video about the history of San Gimignano:
Photos of San Gimignano:
Thank you, and I look forward to sharing my journey with you!
See you back here soon!
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