Firenze: home sweet home.

Hello everybody!

I’m sorry it’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog. We’ve been extremely busy, and we’re about to be even busier soon! woah! We’re traveling every single weekend in October and most of November. If you add in all of the things we’re doing for school now that the semester is officially underway, I have a feeling these next few months are going to fly by.  At first, I thought four months here would be plenty of time, but now I feel like it’s not nearly enough! I can’t believe it’s already been over a month since we arrived.

P.S: Did you know that school doesn’t start here until October? What the heck. And if schools can’t afford to hire enough teachers since the school system isn’t funded very well by the government, it doesn’t start until even later when more teachers can be hired. And they’re still all so much smarter than us. Every single European I’ve met speaks at least three different languages. So. Ridiculous.

Anyway, in spite of the fact that I’m jealous of their school system, we’ve been doing a lot of fun things lately! We’ve had the past couple of weekends to hang out in Florence, which was really nice for a change. It almost feels like we’ve been so busy going to school through the week and traveling on the weekends that we haven’t had much of a chance to explore the place where we live! Which is just not acceptable. So it was nice to do some local things and kick it in our ‘hood. I also have had more opportunities to run in the evenings since we’ve been home, which is one of my favorite parts of the day. I love being up on the Piazzale Michelangelo overlooking the whole city. Now that it’s fall, the leaves are starting to change and it smells like campfires and leaves and autumn while I’m running! I love it.

We went to a local wine tasting festival, and that was fun! It was also fun getting some free merchandise, like wine glasses and a little purse. We checked out the Vogue Fashion’s Night Out as well, which was also really fun. All of the stores were giving away free stuff (do you see a trend here?), and there were some concerts and other things going on around the city. Plus, everyone was super fashionable. So it was lovely hanging with all the hip, European fashionistas for a night.

On Mondays, a restaurant across the river called House of Sizzle does Margarita Mondays, (and taco tuesdays and chicken wing wednesdays….we NEVER hang out there, if that’s what you were thinking) so we went there on monday for margaritas and quesadillas! That was really fun because we had a group of like 20 people. They had to push a bunch of chairs and tables together to accommodate us. But they shouldn’t complain, because they made a lot of money from us. So there.

Last night was really fun too because a bunch of us went out to dinner at this cute italian restaurant called Il Gato e Il Volpe, which means The Cat and the Fox. We’ve been there four times already because it has delicious food, and it’s just so cute inside! It’s really authentic, with brick walls, and wine racks and wooden floors. I love it. After dinner, we decided to go to the disco! That was a lot of fun! It was the first time I’ve ever been to a club and actually had fun! yay! Usually, they just annoy me because it’s not really my scene at all. We went with a couple of our friends from church, so everybody was on the same page as far as not drinking or flirting with random, creepy men. Instead, we all just hung out together and acted like dorks. We had some awesome dance moves! I love hanging out with friends and dancing. It’s the best.

Today after church, we went out to lunch with a few new friends, and then decided to check out this organic market on the outskirts of the city..but it was closed. It was still fun though, because along the way, we found a dance store that sells leotards and tights! yay! I’ve been looking for one of those. We also found a cute antique market that had a lot of really cool things. Plus, we got to hang out, which is always a good thing. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I love all of our friends here. In my opinion, we became friends with all the best people in Florence. Obviously.

I’m also really, really in love with my art history class. A lot. I just want to talk about it all the time. I feel like I’m learning so much! That class and my Italian language class are my favorites! I love learning Italian, and because it’s similar to Spanish, it’s easy to figure out what most words mean.

Art history is awesome too. We just randomly had class inside a 14th century palace last week. No big deal. Except that it was SO cool. The palace was huge and beautiful! They didn’t have much paper back then, so people would write and draw important things they wanted to remember on the walls; so there are all of these ancient inscriptions all over the walls of the palace! For some reason, that just fascinated me. I kept trying to figure out what everything means. Some of it is important events they wanted to remember, like dates and things like that. But I kept wondering if maybe some of it was just from the kids running around and drawing pictures on the walls, or like, a grocery list or something. One of them looked like a math equation, and I was wondering if the teenage kids did their homework on the walls? maybe? I’m sure that totally happened back then. I just felt like imagining things that way made it more relatable. Because even though those people lived in the 1300’s, maybe they were just like us! Who knows? The palace also didn’t have a ceiling, so when it rained, it was designed so that all of the rain fell down the center of the palace into one area in the living room, where it drained out. How cool would that be to have it rain inside your house?!?! I’m totally designing my house that way. Wait….I mean, I’m totally designing my PALACE that way. Houses are for peasants. Duh.

Well, that’s what’s been going on in my life recently! We took a field trip to Milan this week, which I will tell you all about in my next post because it was awesome! We had the chance to tour a newspaper newsroom, the US consolate and the Duomo (which was so gorgeous, I almost died). And we got to see the Virgin Records radio station completely by accident, where I also apparently said hello to a famous band getting interviewed, but I didn’t know who they were and we were kind of lost at the time….so it wasn’t really that life changing.

I hope everything is going fantastic for you! Stay classy. Have a wonderful week!

xoxo Elizabeth xoxo

Writing playlist:

I’ve just seen a face – The beatles
7×70 – chris august
This little light of mine – addison road
avalanche – hillsong united
whatever it is – zac brown band
angel – jack johnson
river of dreams – billy joel
you and I – ingrid michaelson
holocene – bon iver
Manhattan – norah jones

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Lake Como. Part 2!

Hey hey hey!

Sooo….Day 2 at Lake Como was a lot of fun as well! wahoo!

We decided to get up early (early as in…we set our alarms for 7:30, but nobody actually got out of bed until 8. typical.) so we could head downstairs for the complimentary hotel breakfast (by now, you should fully understand my feelings about free food).

I was totally expecting: orange juice from concentrate, coffee flavored gasoline, brown fruit, tiny boxes of cereal, stale bread, stale croissants, grey, oddly shaped sausage, a complicated waffle making contraption, and infamous hotel scrambled eggs.

But I was so surprised because the breakfast was 100% awesome. I had: real scrambled eggs (shocking), ham, an apple croissant thing, a mocha cappuccino and delicious pineapple juice! LOTS of delicious pineapple juice. So good.

We had planned to go hiking that day, but none of us planned on it being cold and rainy, so we weren’t exactly dressed for the weather. But it was our last day there, so we decided to make the best of it, talk in our fun British accents and set out for a hike anyway! Once we started walking at an extremely fast pace, we warmed up and forgot all about the frigid weather. I was actually glad it was chillier and rainy, because hiking when it’s hot is the worst. Since we were further away from the lake and closer to the mountains, there wasn’t as much of a breeze either, so it was a nice, gentle rain. Beautiful!

I can’t even describe to you how gorgeous this place is. We followed the path on the map we picked up from the tourist office, and it took us through the cutest little towns way up in the mountains! Since it was a rainy morning, there was this misty fog all along the tops of the mountains and over the lake. We hiked all morning, and then stopped for coffee and hot chocolate at this little coffee shop in one of the other towns. I ordered espresso con panna and it was DE-licious! We also ate lunch at this hotel that had a restaurant attached. It was family-owned and everything was homemade. So, I’m sure you can imagine how delicious that was too.

We planned to stay a little longer, but by that time, the chilliness was getting to all of us, so we decided to take the ferry back to the train station and leave a little early. We had a few hours to kill at the Milan train station, so we sat at a cafe and people-watched.  I’ve been to Milan about three times now, but so far, all I’ve seen is the inside of the train station. That’ll change soon, because we’re spending a weekend there at the end of September. Yay!

After we boarded, all of us quickly noticed the guy sitting next to me on the train was all kinds of attractive. He was writing something in a notebook when I sat down, so we obviously have lots in common since we both share a passion for writing. He closed the notebook and put it away as soon as I sat there though, so I can only assume it was his diary. just kidding. I’m weird about people reading what I’m writing too, even if it’s nothing personal. It’s just….a thing that I have. So, there’s two things we have in common.

Then, he proceeded to stare out the window while I stared at him and planned the rest of our lives together. So…that’s how that train ride went. When we arrived in Florence, he stood up, grabbed his messenger bag from the overhead compartment, and walked straight out of my life forever.

Just kidding. I’m not crazy.
…well…for the most part.

Even though our weekend was super long and adventurous, I actually didn’t feel tired at all! Just exhilarated! I think it’s mostly because I was operating on adrenaline and several cups of coffee. Actually, that’s kind of how this whole semester has been. I’ve decided all I’m going to do in the spring is sleep, because I’ll be bored with my Ohio life, first of all, let’s be serious….and I’ll have to catch up from not sleeping at all this semester. It’s just too exciting to sleep ever!

On Sunday, we went to church at St. Mark’s (our new home) and it was fantastic, as always! Father William (the new priest) just moved here and had invited us to his house warming party on Saturday! Unfortunately, we were in Lake Como and couldn’t attend, so we bought him a house warming gift.

We sang one of my favorite hymns and read one of my favorite psalms at church too! After the service, they always have refreshments and hanging out, so we stayed for a little bit and met some cool people! The church has some apartments it rents to people staying in the city for a short time, and Jason (the guy from Michigan) lives in one of them, so we got to meet his adorable kitten!! So. precious. We also met a girl studying jewelry-making here this semester, and a guy from Northern Africa who teaches business at a university in Florence!  (“um…if you’re from Africa…why are you white?” sorry, I had to. :P) He helped explain to us the confusing airline system when we travel and talked to us about how good studying abroad will look on our resumes. I love everyone we’ve met. We are officially blessed, and it’s only the third week.

So, that was our awesome weekend!! I hope yours was equally, if not more fantastic!! (I think I said that last time, but it needed to be emphasized again!!)

Sending love and prayers your way!!!!!

xoxo Lizzie xoxo

Writing Playlist:
Birdy – Skinny Love
Tyrone Wells – Happy as the Sun
Owl City – Galaxies
Monk and Neagle – 21st Time
Joshua Radin – Tomorrow is Gonna be Better
Michael Buble – Crazy Love
Switchfoot – Restless
Chris Tomlin – Captured

 

Lake Como. Part 1!

Hi there!

This weekend was a really good one. It was our very first weekend traveling by ourselves, so we weren’t sure exactly how it would work, but it turned out to be great!

We were trying to decide where to go, and some ideas were: Switzerland, Croatia, Poland, Sweden and Spain. We ended up having some problems with the travel agency we were working with though, and we didn’t have a chance to book our trip with enough time in advance to go out of the country. But, you live and learn! So we decided to stay in the country this weekend, which ended up being a lot cheaper and just as much fun!

We were all getting kind of restless, so we decided to take a two-day trip to Lake Como, which is where a lot of-ahem-ridiculously wealthy people live…including George Clooney and Madonna!

I have to say, I am so impressed with our newly developed ability to navigate train stations. We’re becoming expert world travelers! We took an express train from the station in Florence to a big, beautiful train station in Milan. Then we took a smaller, regional train to one of five villages in Lake Como. I’m kind of in love with trains. They just fascinate me for some reason. I think it’s mostly because I love people so much, and there is so much interesting people-watching to do and so many interesting people involved in a train ride.

Our seats on the first train were spread out, so I was sitting in a section by myself. Every time we stopped and somebody new would sit down across from me, I couldn’t help wondering who they were and what their story was. It’s just really interesting to me how many random strangers come in and out of our lives, and the brief impact they have on us.  And for some reason, trains make me think about that.

After we arrived at the train station in Lake Como, we had to take a ferry to our hotel. The weather had been stormy, so the waves on the lake were really big, which made it an interesting ferry ride. I’m not saying I was scared, but I’m also not saying the thought of our boat capsizing didn’t cross my mind one or two or a thousand times.

We are just going to pause for a second right here and have a moment of silence to appreciate the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen in all of my 20 years.

What do you see?  I see God! Nothing but Him could have created these masterpieces.

The world is seriously so beautiful!  Just being there made me extremely aware of the fact that I’ve been living in an Ohio-sized bubble. The whole weekend felt like a movie or a dream or something. The pictures and videos I have don’t even compare to what it was like in real life! I cannot get over the mountains. While I was there, I decided that I just want to live in the side of a mountain. With my bearded lumberjack husband. And a rose garden.

The first day, we walked to one of the other villages and did some eating and shopping. Some of the mansions by the lake are incredible. We decided that either George Clooney or a princess of some sort lives in every single one of them.

PS: rich people are obnoxious. I hope I never become like that. (When i’m a rich debutante someday, obviously)

We explored some beautiful churches and little shops, then took the trolley back to our hotel because it was freezing and windy by the lake at that point.

Note to self: when it is extremely windy and cold, do NOT, under any circumstance, ever wear a dress.

We spent some time resting at our hotel room and had a nice dinner. Then, we returned to our hotel and watched Anastasia!

Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about Day 2!

But for now, I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from anastasia:

“All men are babies.” -Anastasia

I just thought it was very true and relatable.

I hope your weekend was fantastic!

Ciao!

xoxo Lizzie xoxo

Writing Playlist:

The Struggle Album – Tenth Avenue North

Amalfi Coast: Day three in Pompeii.

So….back to our lovely weekend in the Amalfi Coast.

On our last day, we headed to Pompeii to explore the ruined city and, the best part, climb Mount Vesuvius! wahoo! Mt. Vesuvius is the volcano that erupted all over pompeii, but you were probably aware of that.  I actually didn’t know this before we visited, but the volcano is really about an hour away from the city.  When it erupted, the wind carried the ash all the way over to Pompeii, and ash rained on the entire city until everything was destroyed and everybody died. How crazy is that?!  They didn’t die from the actual eruption, just the effects of it. That is like a volcano erupting in Canton, Ohio, and carrying tons and tons of ash via the wind all the way to Cleveland and destroying the entire city of Cleveland. Ridiculous.

When we arrived in Pompeii, our tour guide took us on a tour of the city for a couple hours, and it was SO awesome! I remember studying Pompeii way back in elementary school. Back in the stone age. I absolutely loved it. I remember always being completely fascinated by the fact that an entire civilization could be there one second and then gone so quickly. I don’t know why, but the idea of pompeii just amazed me. Maybe it’s because I was about eight years old and everything amazed me then.  Even now, I still remember so vividly how much I loved it and wanted to visit the ruins someday. I tried to research as much as I could, and I actually (this is kind of nerdy. fasten your seatbelts.) watched a million documentaries on the history channel about it. They were like 3 hours long and every time one was on, I would hide in my room and watch it. I was a silly little kid. When I found out we were exploring Pompeii during our trip to the Amalfi Coast, I obviously had to sign up.

It was so perfect because we got to see in real life all of the places I had learned about: The old town square and the old theatre…even the old brothel! (there was a whole documentary on the history channel about how obsessed with -um- reproduction the people of pompeii were. I remember it because I was so disturbed.) The symbol of their city (kind of like how Columbus’ symbol is the buckeye, and well…I’m not sure what Cantons is…maybe like, somebody who’s really depressed and bored because nothing happens there ever… haha just kidding….) is actually a male reproductive organ (do you like how I worded that so classy? *pats self on back*) with wings. This is because it symbolizes ‘strength’ and ‘good fortune’.  (the good fortune part didn’t seem to work out for them though…too soon?) That symbol is engraved in everything all over the city.  It’s really weird.  But I go to Kent State, so sexual organs drawn all over everything is really nothing new.  Pompeii, back in its prime, actually reminded me a lot of Kent State. I’m still deciding whether that’s a good thing.

Anyway, we also got to visit an old fast food restaurant and a really wealthy family’s mansion!  You could tell they were wealthy because they had a bathroom IN their house. Unheard of. They also had a library and a theater. Our guide told us that nobody really had shoes back in those days, so all of the extremely rich people were carried around everywhere by their servants on pillows so they didn’t have to walk on the ground in their bare feet. Um….where can I hire a pillow servant to carry me around Kent? Can you imagine being a servant and your whole job is just to carry someone around everywhere they want to go on a huge pillow? You’re like a human car. Meanwhile, you are just walking around in your bare feet, totally resentful. I would be like, “um, excuse me, if I can do it, so can you.” And then “accidentally” drop them/get lost/ram into things a lot. I was mostly just so amazed by the fact that Pompeii was founded in B.C. That’s crazy. That’s so long ago. You never get a chance to explore cities that are so old. Scientists were able to preserve some of the bodies of people who died during pompeii by covering their corpses with plaster, so even when their bodies decomposed, the plaster is still in the shape of their body. It was so sad seeing their bodies curled up in the fetal position, and they just looked so scared. I kept wondering what their lives were like when they were still alive! I hope they weren’t one of those poor servants. That would be obnoxious. But I also hope they weren’t one of those annoying rich people. That would be equally obnoxious. After exploring Pompeii, we got served this amazing lunch at a fancy hotel! I got a plate of spaghetti that was the size of Mount Vesuvius and a delicious caprese salad and vanilla gelato. We took a bus to the mountain, and it was so insane! The bus drove about 3/4 of the way up, and then we hiked the rest of the way, which still took about 45 minutes. There are ropes all down the side of the mountain for hard core people who climb the entire way, which I’m sure would take way longer than 45 minutes. I made a mental note to come back one day with my husband and do that. We are going to be one of those adventurous couples who climb mountains in Italy and things like that. And get carried around on pillows in our spare time. Just for future reference.

The bus ride up the side of the volcano was actually more insane than the climb! There was a narrow, windy little road that twisted around the volcano, and the higher we got, the tighter it got; no guard rail or anything, just our huge charter bus, a monstrous mountain, and a tiny, twisty road…and then miles and miles of cliffs, trees, boulders, and an ocean below. No worries. Oh, and it was a two lane road that was actually big enough for one small bike, maybe a tandem or something. But in reality, there were other people, with equally huge charter buses, going in the opposite direction as us. I wasn’t scared though. Other people were scared. They were freaking out, but I was totally down with the whole thing.

Actually, I was way too immersed in the amazing view to even pay attention to the fact that, at any fatal moment, I could be plummeting to my death. No matter how many awesome views I experience during this trip, I can never, ever get over it. They take my breath away every time. I just cannot believe scenery like that exists in real life. I always thought they photoshopped a lot of stuff in movies, and they probably do, but they really wouldn’t have to if they were filming on location in some of these places. Ridiculous.

The climb up Mount Everest -I mean-Mount Vesuvius should have been exhausting, but all I actually felt was exhilarated! I don’t know if it was the gorgeous scenery, or the mountains, or the fact that I was climbing an ancient volcano I’ve been obsessed with since I was eight, or the fact that I’m studying abroad in Italy, or a combination of all of it and more, but it was the biggest adrenaline rush! Especially after making it to the very top and getting to look over the edge, and see inside the active volcano! What?!  It was smoking and everything. so cool. As a joke when we were close to the top, some of the guys in our group decided to run back down screaming “It’s happening!! It’s happening!!” not. funny.

Just kidding, it was hilarious.

This post is already way too long, so I’ll just wrap it up by saying check out the pictures on facebook if you have some time! There are some good ones! I could spend days and days and days talking about how awesome it was, and my fingers would fall off from typing, probably.

After we climbed back down, we got on the bus and began the 8 hour ride home. It was sad to leave, but also exciting because we were heading back to Florence instead of Kent! woo! On the way back, we watched Knocked Up and Forgetting Sarah Marshall (we obviously have quality movie taste) and our friend Danny decided to read an excerpt from 50 Shades of Gray aloud to the whole bus as a bedtime story….which is actually really disturbing and should never be read as a bedtime story. Who in the world reads that book? I’m appalled at its existence.

I hope you are having a day full of adventure and excitement, wherever you are! Here are some quotes to inspire you:

“Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress: Adventure.” – J.K. Rowling (The Deathly Hallows)

“We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. Tour masters, schedules, reservations, brass-bound and inevitable, dash themselves to wreckage on the personality of the trip. In this, a journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong, is to think you control it.” -John Steinbeck (Travels with Charley)
^^^ This book is so good, everyone read it. ^^^

xoxo Lizzie xoxo

Writing Playlist:
The pieces don’t fit – James Morrison
Sarah – Ray LaMontagne
Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop – Landon Pigg
Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop – Landon Pigg (I listened to it twice because this song accurately describes my dream life 😛 Actually, just the title.)
The dreamer – The tallest man on earth
Never let me go – Florence and the Machine
Bloom – The paper kites
Skinny Love – Bon Iver
Don’t you worry child – Swedish House Mafia

 

Amalfi coast: day two in Positano

Buongiorno!

How is everyone’s day going? Wonderful, I hope! Sorry I haven’t had a chance to post about the rest of our weekend in the Amalfi Coast! We’ve been super busy!

By the way, before I tell you about the rest of our weekend, I just have to talk about this superb running location I found! I’m pretty energetic, and I like to run a lot, listen to music and get away from everything for a minute.  But, running around the city of Florence is almost impossible because it’s such a crowded city, so people are always in your way. Plus, it’s really really hot..I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that before.

So, a couple days ago I decided to climb up the steps to the Piazzale di Michelangelo, and there’s actually this really pretty neighborhood up there with sidewalks and everything! It’s perfect, because the sidewalks are lined with trees, so the pathway is all shaded, and it looks like the neighborhood just goes on for miles and miles and wraps around the whole city.  I don’t know if that’s true, but the sidewalk just seems to keep going.  The best part is that it’s a quiet little neighborhood, and it seems like a lot of older people live there.  Occasionally you run into an old couple walking their dogs, but it’s not crowded at all. So, you can actually get around. Crazy, right? It’s also at the very top of the piazza, so every few feet, the trees open up and you catch these breathtaking views of the whole city with the hills in the background! So it’s motivating! Or it makes you stop and take a million pictures every ten seconds.  Whatever. I’ve been going for runs around the neighborhood every couple of days, and now some of the old people say hi to me. Italian old people are so cute! Yesterday, I was running at the same time the sun was starting to set, and I just kept thinking: I don’t think I’m going to be able to run at the gym in Kent anymore. It’s just not going to work out after these extraordinary views…I’ll be way too spoiled.

Anyway, back to Positano. Our second day at the coast was a lot of fun! We woke up around 8 a.m. and took a 45 minute bus ride to the beach! We basically spent the whole day there. We bought little sun chairs with umbrellas for 10 Euro (because the beach is so rocky, there’s no way you can lay on it without acquiring some huge welts) swam around in the water and laid out on the beach all day!

To the right, there was this huge hill with all of these houses that looked like they were stacked directly on top of each other! It was crazy. To the left, there were some amazing mountains. I had a hard time figuring out which way to look, because either way I just couldn’t stop staring at the view.  For lunch, we went to this cute sandwich shop called vini & panini (which means wine and panini) and we got some DELICIOUS panini. They’re the best I’ve had since we’ve been here. They were the size of my face. When the people cut them in half, it looked like two separate sandwiches! My friend Sarah and I decided to split one, which was a really good decision. You can pick what you want on it, like an italian subway, so we ordered a panino on foccacia bread, with tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, prosciutto and pesto.  After we left the beach around 5 p.m., we had dinner at the hotel, got showered and ready again, and then headed out to the square to walk around, shop and eat some gelato. Some people went back to The English Inn (the dance club place), but we were pretty tired, so a few of us walked to this private beach nearby to eat pizza and hang out. Later, a bunch of people decided to go swimming at night, but it was freezing and I really don’t know how they survived. So we opted out and just went back to the hotel.

Here are a few fun facts about Positano:

1. There is an amazing place here that sells lemon granite! Granite is Italian ice (just like those Rita’s places we have back at home) and it’s delicious mixed with some orange juice. I thought that Rita’s ohio-an italian ice was one of the best things ever, until I moved to Italy and tried italian italian ice. SO good. So, if you’re ever here in Positano, visit the lemon granite stand at the top of the stairs in the town square and order lemon granite with orange juice, or granite di limone con succo d’arancia.

2. Positano is known for selling handmade sandals! They have a bunch of sandal shops here, and it’s so cool! They are about 160 euro, so obviously, that was out of my budget range. Some of the girls bought them though, and they’re made right on your feet! They measure them so they fit perfectly, and then weave them around your foot. It’s so cool! You get to pick the colors and design you want, and these people do it so fast; they are so talented. It takes under five minutes for them to make you a pair of sandals. It’s pretty cool to watch.

3. There are a lot of really talented artists here! They take these colored tiles and break them up into little pieces.  Then, they throw the little pieces into the sea. I’m not sure how long it takes, but they have it all mathematically calculated so they know exactly how long it will take for the pieces to wash back up onto shore. After they wash back up, the artists go out onto the shore and collect all their pieces.  Since they’ve been tossed around in the salty sea for a while, they are SO smooth and shiny! Then, they use them to make awesome mosaics.  So, while you’re walking along the shore, you can find all of these beautiful colored pieces of sea glass! So awesome.

4. The sea is REALLY REALLY salty! It’s cool because I’ve never swam in water that is that salty before, but it also tastes extremely gross. So, when boats pass by and all these waves start tossing you around, you get nice little mouthfuls of salt mixed with a drop or two of water. Delicious! Also, when you get out of the water after swimming, and then dry off in the sun for a little bit, you have dried salt covering your body.  At first, I freaked out because I thought I was extremely sunburnt and peeling, but then when I started to wipe it off, I realized all the white stuff all over me was dried salt from the ocean. So… that was new!  If you ever go to Positano and swim in the mediterranean, remember that it’s extremely important to stay hydrated. I can’t afford to keep buying bottles of water, so I just carry a water bottle with me everywhere and fill it up in water fountains or bathroom sinks. I feel a bit like a homeless person, but hey! it works.

Speaking of water bottles, my water bottle has a filter, which is one of the best investments I made before coming here because I carry it with me everywhere, and it filters out anything gross in the water! yay! You have to pay for water everywhere..restaurants don’t give it to you for free with your meal. You get free wine instead, which actually is no help at all because wine dehydrates you. You also have to pay to use public restrooms. (what the heck) So this one time, we were eating lunch at a little cafe, and I forgot to bring my water bottle with me. We didn’t want to pay for water or a public restroom, so we may or may not have just gone to the bathroom in the cafe and drank out of the sink. shh don’t tell anyone.

Okay, well, tomorrow hopefully I’ll have the chance to tell you all about day 3 in POMPEII!! woohoo! (the educational part of our weekend) Then, I’ll have to fill you in on the entertaining cooking class we took this week.

Finally….ahhh I’m absolutely in love with this city! The more I learn about Florence, the more I love it so so much! It’s full of so much history, and art, and charm. We watched a National Geographic documentary yesterday about all the hidden secrets of Florence. It was so fascinating! I loved it.

I miss you all so much! (I’m listening to Christmas music right now. don’t worry about it. oh hey! I’ll be back around Christmas time!)

Lots of love!
xoxo Lizzie xoxo

Writing Playlist:

Chris Tomlin – Glory in the Highest Christmas Album (hehehe it’s cold today, okay?)

some sea glass I found on the beach!!

some sea glass I found on the beach!!

Amalfi Coast – Day 1 in Capri!

So this weekend, we traveled to the Amalfi Coast, and it was so much fun that I just don’t even know where to begin!

Honestly, I was a little skeptical at first, because we decided to travel with this student-run travel organization. It’s specifically for study abroad students staying in Florence, and they are really good about organizing trips and getting the lowest prices for us. Because as college students, and just normal human beings, our travel budgets are obviously limited. I was a little worried because I wasn’t sure what to expect, and because the entire group of KSU students here in Florence decided to go.  Last time we all went on a trip together, it was a little rough, but fun in the end. This trip was a blast though!! It was so much better than I was expecting, and I loved that everything was organized for us! It made it so much less stressful. Plus, they knew all the best places to go.

We left on Thursday evening after our classes, and we took a charter bus.  It was an eight-hour bus ride, so we didn’t arrive until around 2:30 a.m. On the way there, we watched Zoolander and Euro Trip (both very classy movies). We also passed through a little city called Napoli (Naples), which you may recognize, because it’s where Mary is from! Which reminded me of Christmas. Which made me very happy. I may or may not have listened to a Christmas song or two on the way there…. don’t worry about it.

When we arrived at our hotel, we pretty much went to sleep because it was so late.  The next morning, we woke up bright and early at 7:15 a.m., ate breakfast and headed to this BEAUTIFUL island called Capri! A ferry was waiting for us when we got there, and it took us on an hour and a half tour of the whole island. So many insanely rich people live there…it’s insane. I saw Giorgio Armani’s house and Sophia Loren’s house (well…one of their many houses, anyway) And the whole time, I just kept thinking two things: 1. God is the best artist I know. Look at these mountains. And the ocean. And the sky. And the trees. and 2. How could you ever have a bad day if you live here? I can’t believe people actually live here and get to see this every day. You would have to be the most content person in the whole world. I could never be in a bad mood. Nothing would make me angry. What the heck… why don’t I live here?

I watched a guy running along the pedestrian pathway on the side of the road, in the middle of the mountains, overlooking the most breathtaking view of the Mediterranean Sea with its crystal clear water, and white foam and graceful little sailboats. He was just casually running with his Ipod. Like, “Oh hey. I do this every day. Ain’t no thing.”

Whatever, I’m not jealous. I’m NOT.

Actually, it’s probably a good thing I don’t live there, because I would take everything for granted. I would never need anything more, therefore, I would never know how to appreciate anything. So, being a poor college kid rules. Psh. I’m glad I’m staying in a hostel.  Yeah.

Seriously though, it was gorgeous! I also saw some cool grottos, which made me want to break out in song from The Little Mermaid. I refrained though, in case you were wondering. People would have been distracted by my amazing, Beyonce voice, and I didn’t want to take away from the boating experience.

After the boat tour, we spent the rest of the day at a public beach on the island. The only downside was because the water is so crystal clear (you can see all the way to the bottom even when you can’t touch the bottom! It was like swimming in a pool) that they have to use rocks instead of sand to preserve the water. So it was a little painful walking around in bare feet, and laying out wasn’t really an option. Unless you wanted welts. But laying out was never an option anyway, because we obviously had to swim and explore the whole time! The water was the bluest water EVER with white foam like you see in the movies, but never in real life! We also went cliff jumping, which was totally awesome! I think it’s actually supposed to be cliff diving, but I don’t really know how to dive without killing myself, and I figured now wasn’t the best time to experiment. It was so exhilarating! It’s like one of those things where you walk across the hot coals, just to say you’re brave enough. It makes you feel like you can do anything! And adrenaline really is addicting. The more we jumped, the higher we kept having to climb for the adrenaline rush. No one was injured though, don’t you worry. Another highlight of the water being so clear was that you could see jelly fish coming to attack you from miles away, so you had time to plan your escape route.

After the beach, we headed back for dinner at the hostel, and then we showered and got ready to go out on the town! We headed to this dance club called the English Inn, which is in the middle of the town square, way up on a hill. It was so fun! The club played American music, and we just danced and hung out all night. We made a ton of great new friends studying abroad from all over.

I’ll tell you about Day 2 in Positano tomorrow!

For now, I have a few papers to write.  Silly school. I guess that’s why they call it STUDYING abroad. Dang it, I keep forgetting that part.

Just kidding 🙂

Love you all!!

xoxo Lizzie xoxo

Dancing, writing and joy! 3 of my favorite things.

Hello there!

So I thought about posting something about the last couple of days today, but I just needed a break from writing…even though it’s what I’m doing now. We had a really lazy day today just resting, because we’ve all gotten so worn out from doing everything constantly, basically. And my brain is fried. So I’ve spent most of the day reading and browsing the internet (Although I did go to the library and on a walk!) And I found this article that I really liked. It’s by Jon Foreman, who is the lead singer of one of my favorite bands, Switchfoot.

I feel like I could relate to this article because it’s my perspective on life, and also because people constantly ask me why I’m so happy all the time and if I ever get mad. I never know what to say, because it’s an awkward question if you think about it. I think the info in this is a really great way to respond to that awkward question, and life in general.

I like it when he says that “joy is a choice, not a result!”

So, I know it’s long, but I’m really tired and don’t feel like posting anything right now. Plus it’s wonderful and very true, so check it out if you have time!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jon-foreman/joy-the-fight-vs-the-danc_b_1812355.html

Goodnight amici!

xoxo Lizzie xoxo

Orientation Day 1.

Hello there!

So we survived our first official day of orientation for school…I’m not going to lie, I thought it would be way cooler since we’re in Italy & everything’s cool here…but, it was just like any other boring KSU orientation. (Lots and lots of slideshows and repeated information, in case you were wondering what a day in the life of a KSU student is like.)

But! There was free catered food at the end, which, as stated in my previous post, is one of my favorite things ever. Especially free Italian food. I did, however, learn lots of useful info, and our school is air conditioned so I guess I shouldn’t complain.

Last night was really great too! A few of us decided to go for an evening walk, and we actually ended up running into a few other KSU students studying business here in Italia! How crazy is that? We haven’t seen one other KSU student since we’ve gotten here, but we just happened to run into a few guys on the sidewalk wearing KSU t-shirts, so of course we instantly became friends. We all decided to grab dinner at a local pizza shop down the street, and it was delicioso! (I don’t really know if that’s an italian word…I just made it up)

We had pizza and fresh fruit. Then, we decided to go across the street to this cozy little wine and cheese bar, and we got some mozerella and moscato. I don’t drink at all ever, but it is legal here so I tried a few sips, and it was simply lovely! (I highly encourage you to read this entire post in a british accent, because everything is more fun in a british accent.)

I learned that Moscato is a white dessert wine, so it was sweet and fruity tasting. But, everyone else on the planet I’m sure already knows that. Then, we decided to go for a stroll around the town square area and watched some wonderful street musicians playing the violin! Side note, I love Italy because there are street musicians everywhere. So it feels like you’re in a movie 24/7, because there’s constant background music. The only thing that would make it cooler is if the background music actually narrated everything you’re doing all the time. I wonder if there’s someone we can email to arrange that…
We eventually made our way to the giant bridge that leads back to our apartment, so we sat down on the ledge and watched the entire sunset over the Arno River! It was probably one of my favorite days. I mean, I know I’ve only been here three days, so there isn’t exactly a big selection to choose from, but still….. It is absolutely gorgeous here everywhere!

Well, I’m sorry this post is short but the last one was so long that I thought maybe it would be okay. I’ll tell you all about our day today soon!

Buonasera!

xoxo Lizzie xoxo

Writing Playlist:
Roll Away Your Stone – Mumford & Sons
Restless – Switchfoot
Better Together – Jack Johnson
Upside Down – Jack Johnson
Happy as the Sun – Tyrone Wells

3 Things Italians Don’t Believe In

Anyone who stays in Italia for any length of time will notice there are three things Italians just don’t seem to believe in.

1. Clocks

After just one week of being here, I quickly noticed the lack of clocks everywhere.  I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise, because it goes along with Italy’s noticeably more laid-back lifestyle. Stores don’t have clocks. Restaurants don’t have clocks. Churches don’t have clocks. (don’t pretend you don’t secretly check the time when your stomach starts growling during your pastor’s fifth sermon illustration. I know there’s more than one of us.) There’s only one single, tiny clock in our apartment, hidden in a corner. Not only is it not digital, but it’s in Roman numerals. Obviously, being the 21st century and all, it’s of no use to us whatsoever. I know I could just use my cell phone to check the time, but I don’t carry it around the apartment with me.  So that presents the issue of having to walk all the way into my bedroom, AND press a button to unlock my phone.  But, if there was an easily readable digital clock, above the oven perhaps, I could just glance over whenever I want to know what time it is. I wouldn’t even have to move my head. Five seconds max. Boom. These italians are so old-fashioned.

I think the most maddening thing is not having a clock in the classroom though, honestly.  I’m obsessed with knowing what time it is during school.  Sometimes, I like to pretend the more I look at the clock, the faster it will move.  It’s usually the opposite.  But still, I would like to reserve the right to stare at the clock as many times as my little American, time-obsessed heart desires.  I mean, I understand why.  It’s distracting for professors to have students constantly looking at the clock while they’re trying to lecture.  But it’s also distracting for students to have professors constantly lecturing while they’re trying to look at the clock.  Goodness. This world works both ways, you know.

2. Air Conditioning

So it’s really hot here. Everyone told me August and the beginning of September is the off-season for tourists, and I totally understand why. Because it feels like you’re in the middle of the desert. Italy is definitely all about being eco-friendly: conserving water and driving smart cars and recycling and all that. Which I think is so awesome! It’s really cool that the whole city of Florence is so focused on the environment, because I feel like that’s something I see a lot less of in the U.S. However, there are definitely some down-sides to going green and conserving energy, such as the significant lack of air-conditioning. We never had air-conditioning in our house, but we also live in Ohio, so it was a non-issue.  But you know how when you’re in a town or a city, or outlet shopping and it’s really hot, every time you walk past a store front, there’s a nice blast of cold air from the air-conditioning? Even if you don’t go in, it’s nice to cool off for five seconds. While we were walking around, dehydrated, in the 100 degree heat the first day, I was totally looking forward to that blast of air every time we passed an open restaurant or store. But, I was severely disappointed. In fact, air conditioning is so rare here, that stores, restaurants and cafes advertise when they have it to entice people to come inside. I’ve seen big neon signs in store windows that say ‘air-conditioning’ in capital letters. It cracks me up every time, because I just love that’s what they’re advertising. Not their new clothing line, or delicious food or great service. Just that they have air conditioning. So simple.

So, if you’re excited about stopping for dinner at a restaurant to cool off, don’t get your hopes up. Because the cooling off part is probably not going to happen.  The good news is, the food will be so incredibly delicious that you will forget all about the heat stroke you’re currently suffering.

Also! We learned some tips from our landlord: 1. Have three fans, one in each room, and you’ll get a nice cross breeze while you’re in the apartment. Just remember to unplug them when you leave to conserve energy. 2. Don’t use the oven to cook (obviously) 3. Open all the windows at night after the sun sets and leave them open all night.  Then, in the morning around 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. when you wake up, shut them all.  It will trap the cool air inside the apartment all day. (this is seriously the BEST tip! It feels like we have air conditioning all day long. It’s heavenly.)

The last thing I’ve noticed Italians don’t believe in is:

 3. Speed-limit Signs

Besides being completely in love with this city, I do have a confession to make: I fear for my life daily. Want to know why? It’s because people are THE craziest drivers here. I thought Kent, Ohio, was bad, with the buses and rogue golf carts and that one kid on his unicycle.  But here, it’s so much worse.  Yesterday was the best day I’ve had in a while, because I only almost got hit by three bicycles, one vespa and a tour bus.  Most days are a lot worse.  But seriously.  Not only are there no speed limit signs anywhere, there aren’t really any specific driving rules either.  No street reflectors, no cross walks, no road signs telling you which way to go, no lanes, no lines on the road…nothing. People don’t use turn signals either. If they’re going in a certain direction and want you to know, they either honk or yell something in italian out the window. Because it’s a city, there are lots of one way streets, but no signs telling you which way.  So what I’ve gathered so far is that you just kind of guess how to drive. Pick a speed, any speed, and hope people run out of your way screaming as you go barreling down the three-inch wide streets. The rule that pedestrians have the right of way doesn’t apply around here either.  It’s kind of like the jungle. Taxis and vespas are at the top of the food chain because they just destroy everything in their path. It’s every man for himself as far as drivers and bikers go. If you’re walking, you have a 50/50 chance of survival. Another interesting fact about Italy is that cars are not equipped with brakes. People just use the sidewalk to stop their vehicles. And since there are no parking lots, that’s where they park too. I actually saw a vespa park so far on the sidewalk today that it’s front tire was inside of a clothing boutique. So, as a lowly little pedestrian, you may think you’re safe walking on the sidewalk.  Or shopping inside a store. But you’re dead wrong.  Literally, dead, wrong. Comforting, right?

Maybe I’m being SLIGHTLY dramatic, but it really is true. I would never, ever, in a million years be able to drive here. Or even ride a bike.

So, those are just a few things I’m learning about Italian culture so far! It’s so interesting. I really like their mentality and their lifestyle…maybe minus the driving skills…and the summer climate. It’s cooling off here a lot now, so it’s actually been the perfect temperature! I can’t wait until Fall when all of the leaves start changing.

I have to get up early tomorrow, but I hope your week has been fantastic and full of clocks, air conditioning and safety.

Love you and miss you!!

xoxo Lizzie xoxo

First weekend in Firenze.

Ciao!

Our first weekend here was a big success! We had these past couple of days to just explore and hang out before orientation starts on Monday, and we did so much.

The first part of yesterday was a little rough, because I was super jet-lagged/dehydrated. I always get dehydrated when I travel since I don’t eat very much, so I feel like I don’t think to drink anything either. Plus, it’s been in the 100s here in Florence, so it’s pretty hot 24/7.

I spent most of the afternoon just resting and drinking lots and lots of water, and thankfully by evening, I felt a lot better! So me and la famiglia (my roomies) decided to be cute little Italians and make a spaghetti dinner! It was really fun! Our landlord left us a bunch of free food (Free food just so happens to be one of my favorite things, so it was pretty convenient.)

We sautéed a bunch of veggies and put them in the sauce, and boiled the noodles way over (whoops! we’re still learning). It was delicious though! Fresh tomatoes from the market are pretty much one of the best things my mouth has ever tasted. oh. my. goodness. After that, we spent some time hanging out on the balcony (everyone pretty much hangs out at our apartment 24/7 because we have a balcony. The girls across the hall moved all of their chairs over to our place and everything. It’s like the show Friends! There’s even six of us!)

Some tourists actually thought we were italian and asked to take our picture! I don’t know why, maybe it was because we were saying Ciao to everyone….but…last time I checked, we look nothing like italians. Not even one little bit.

Later that evening, a few of us decided to go for a run, which lasted all of five minutes because it was so hot. Bad idea. So we ended up just walking at a brisk pace up a zillion stairs! We had no idea where they led, but somehow we ended up on the Piazzale di Michelangelo, which is absolutely GORGEOUS. You can see the whole city from up there! I felt like I was in the Lizzie Mcguire movie, basically. So we spent some time looking at the city skyline, all lit up at night. And taking a million pictures, of course. There are street vendors there too selling artwork, and musicians. It’s so cute. It makes you want to hold hands with your imaginary boyfriend and go for a stroll. Or your real boyfriend, I guess. If you’re into that sort of thing.  There is also a fancy restaurant up there, and some gelato shops. It’s my new fave hang.

Today, me and a few of the girls had been wanting to check out some local churches, so we found one that is about a fifteen minute walk from our apartment. I had been praying for a great church to go to every Sunday, with awesome people there to be friends with, and people to go with, of course. I didn’t want to go anywhere by myself without knowing anything about the city, so I was grateful that some of the girls had been wanting the same thing as well! This church ended up being exactly what we had in mind and more! It was English speaking, and everyone was so nice. We felt so welcome and fit right in. Plus, the church was absolutely gorgeous. The guy sitting in front of us introduced himself, and he was actually from Michigan! He said he was living here for about 6 months on business, and that he comes to the church every week! He told us there are usually a lot more people here who are our age, but everyone is on summer vacation right now, so next week, we should meet a lot of new friends! He also told us about a bunch of great local places that are a lot cheaper than the crazy city prices, like markets and coffee shops and things like that. It was super helpful! They charge for grocery bags here, so he said we should keep them and just reuse them every time we go to the market. Then literally, about 10 people came over to us, asking if we were coming to the lobby after the service for coffee and refreshments. We talked the whole way home about how welcome we felt there, and how it is our new home church for the semester. yay God is good!

On the way home from church, we decided to check out one of those local coffee shops, and it was adorable, delicious and cheap! We got our lunches, plus some much needed espresso, for just three Euro! Plus, the barista was OH so fine. But that’s no surprise, I have not met one unattractive italian boy yet. Not one. Side note, people are allowed to just bring their animals inside everywhere in Italy! Stores, restaurants, churches. What the heck. Anyway, it’s our new Sunday tradition…Church, then Ricchi’s Cafe.

I know this is getting long! I’m just trying to cram two days worth of info into one blog post. We went to the market later that evening to get all of our food for the next couple of days, and, not to brag or anything, but I’m a pro at italian markets. I’m basically a professional Italian these days. I just throw around ‘Buongiorno’ ‘Ciao’ ‘Grazie’ and ‘prego’ like it’s my job. I don’t really know how to spell those words, but I can say them like an Italian boss.

But seriously, we also found a supermarket not too far from where we live that has everything. I was so worried my parents would have to ship me things if I ran out, but there is everything I could possibly want down the street from me. So, no worries. A British man we were talking to about how it’s our second day here even told us we were doing a wonderful job catching on! See, the locals are noticing. But you catch on so fast, and eventually, you start to fit right in! Kind of. Maybe minus the blonde hair and ‘merican accent.

I’m sure I will have a lot more to say once orientation starts! It just still hasn’t sunk in yet that I’m actually here! I feel like I really could live here. I’m going to get home to America and be really upset that Italy isn’t just a convenient place to go every once in a while when I miss it.

Okay we’re meeting some friends, so I have to go now! Ciao!!

xoxo Lizzie xoxo
ps: gelato is the best thing ever. woah. more on that later.

Writing playlist:
Mumford & Sons