Student Post: Exploring Italy

Jul 11, 2014

"The Pope speaks on Wednesdays so we really wanted to see him if it was possible. He was just a little speck and you had to really zoom your camera if you wanted a picture of him but we saw him and heard him so that was very cool!"

Photos from Lisa Mitchell's trip to Italy during her study abroad experience.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog post by B-Section senior Lisa Mitchell, who is majoring in Mechanical Engineering and works as a co-op at UTC Aero Systems LK in Connecticut. She is currently sharing her experiences in study abroad. If you’d like to write a guest blog post, e-mail jmurphy(at)kettering(dot)edu

By Lisa Mitchell

I am writing this post on a train from Rome to Bari, Italy. This trip is our longest adventure, a 10-day trip through Italy and Greece, because we have time off with Pentecost Break.

Previously from this author:

We left on Friday morning and began with meeting at the train station (45 minute walk from our dorms) in Esslingen at 6:30 a.m. to meet with our history class for a trip to the Dachau Concentration Camp in Augsburg, Germany. This was an especially sobering trip but it was necessary to understand and appreciate German history. The emotions I felt were emotions one would expect to have in a place where so many individuals were tortured and died. I'm glad to have had the experience but it certainly didn't leave me with a feeling of happiness. Afterwards, our class got a tour of Augsburg, which is an absolutely beautiful city. Then we finished the day in a Biergarten before we left to the train station for Italy. 

Once again, we took a night train and reserved couchettes for the ride. When we got on the train they asked for our Eurail passes to hold on to them for the night, and informed us they were going to give them back in the morning when they brought us breakfast. We really didn't feel comfortable giving them our passes because these passes contain the only means with which we can travel so freely. We inquired with two people, then figured it was the only option. Sure enough, they brought them with our breakfast in the morning.

The night's sleep was not so sound because the train was rather violent and we had to sleep on a small bed with our luggage because there were other people in our room and there was not enough space to put it anywhere else. However, we arrived to Florence, Italy, in the morning safe and sound. We wandered around Florence for the first part of the day and got to climb to the top of the Duomo (and I mean to the very top! It was incredibly steep because we were literally hiking up the dome itself) which ended with an amazing view from the top! Then we took a train to Pisa because we wanted to see the Leaning Tower. The Leaning Tower is at the end of the city opposite that of the train station so after taking all our fun photos we had lunch and gelato then took a train back to Florence.

When we got back to Florence we stopped back at the hostel then we met up with our friend Abhishek and his parents for dinner. We met at the rooftop of their hotel for an ice coffee, which offered a perfect view of the city (especially the duomo) at sunset. Then we went to a place proclaimed to be the best place to eat in Florence. It was great and we got three pizzas between the three of us. 

The following day we took a day trip to Venice. It's an amazingly beautiful city! Perhaps one of the most beautiful so far. I will also say it was one of my favorites. We avoided the tourist paths and wandered the city, numerous Venetian masks shops, the glass factory, and ate the most delicious pasta I have ever had! We didn't get back until about 9:30 and when we got back we decided to go for a night swim at our hostel to cool off after such an amazingly hot day in Venice. 

The following day began at the market. Savannah and I went shopping, and by that I mean we really went shopping! So much Italian leather! A girl just can't resist. I bought a beautiful leather bag and matching wallet, along with numerous gifts for my family and a leather jacket (!!!!) for myself (best purchase ever). I probably spent too much money but I really bartered with the sellers. The leather jacket was originally 360€ and I got it for 50€ (that's a steal!!).

After we shopped til we dropped, we met up with our friend Kyle and got on a bus into the deep countryside of Tuscany to go on a tour of a vineyard that is over a century old and go wine tasting! It was absolutely beautiful countryside and smelled wonderfully of flowers and sweetness. The wine was also wonderful. After touring us around the vineyard they had us try three different types of wine, first without food, then with bread/olive oil and cheese. It was a really amazing experience and the day was very relaxed and lovely. The tour guide was so wonderfully nice and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. That night we left Florence around 10 p.m. to arrive in Rome around midnight. Then we ended up taking a taxi to our hostel. We stayed in a camping hostel about 40 mins out of Rome. The five of us stayed in a trailer/camper which was a pretty awesome experience and a nice change from our hostels in the heart of downtown. 

The next day we explored Rome. We began by exploring the Il Convento dei Cappuccini (a museum made up of the bones and skeletons of hundreds of monks). It was quite interesting and certainly unlike anything I've seen before. We ended with the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Rome is a really unique city, full of a fascinating history. There is so much to see. We got the "Roma Pass" which let us into two major attractions for free and allowed us to skip the line and gave us free and unlimited transportation for three days, which was perfect. When we got back to hostel we ran back, changed into our swimsuits and immediately went swimming. It has been unbelievably hot here in Italy so a pool is a saving grace after a long day of walking. Then we got food from the market and all of us just relaxed and made quesadillas and hung out at the hostel for the rest of the night. 

The following day we woke up and packed everything up and checked out of our hostel, stored our luggage in a closet at the hostel, then went to the Vatican. The Pope speaks on Wednesdays so we really wanted to see him if it was possible. He was just a little speck and you had to really zoom your camera if you wanted a picture of him but we saw him and heard him so that was very cool! Then we went to the Fontana di Trevi (which ended up not having water in it because of construction, sad day) then we went to the Spanish Steps (Palazzo delle Esposizioni) before heading back to the hostel to grab our luggage and head to the train station. Now we are heading to Bari where we hope to catch a ferry to Patras, Greec,e then get on a train to Athens.