The Undergrad students have made it through another week! This week’s ADALife Bloggers are Music students; Elmira, Madison, Laura Lynn, and Bryan! Read below to hear about their first excursions through Italy!
Elmira David: Music, Goucher College
It has been a great two weeks here in Italy with a lot of walking, eating, and exploring. In the short period of time we have been here, we have done so many things. On top of having classes, we went to see the Joust, explored Arezzo’s antiques fair, watched Carmina Burana, downtown, went to Florence for a day, and spent the weekend exploring Cinque Terre, just to name a few of them. We always look forward to the beginning of the week because it means that we will be able to eat the amazing food provided at the Mensa.
One of my goals of studying abroad in Italy is to immerse myself and learn music in a country that has so much history related to it. It’s amazing how we talk about a certain person or family in music history and later on go to a museum or church and see the things we talked about in class. So far, we have visited two churches in Florence. In a few days, we will be going on our next trip, which is Venice. That is another thing I was looking forward to studying abroad here. Being able to explore Italy with the music group, and also having the opportunity to travel with a friend or a group to other places in Europe, which is not necessarily something you get to do often.
This past weekend, most of the music students went on a two-day trip to explore Cinque Terre (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso). We stayed in La Spezia, a city near Cinque Terre, for a night and although we did not have that much time, we got to hop on a train visit three of the five villages. We arrived in La Spezia from Arezzo in the afternoon, then we visited Riomaggiore where we enjoyed the beautiful scenery and had dinner. The next day, we went to Monterosso and then hiked all the way to Vernazza, where it took us approximately 90 minutes. Although we had to take small breaks in between, it was worth the walk as the view along the way was breathtaking (we also saved €4 for the train ticket from Monterosso to Vernazza!)
Overall, I’m very fortunate to be here and to have this experience in Italy. I’m looking forward to traveling more, learning more about Italy, and of course having new opportunities in learning and playing music.
Before embarking on my journey to Italy, I decide to re-watch THE movie of my childhood. Following Lizzie McGuire on her dreamy journey through Rome sparked curiosity of what my own experience would be when making my own trip to the land of ancient and new. Would I meet my handsome Paolo? Would we ride off into the sunset on his vespa? Is the gelato as good as everyone says it is? ….
From my arrival in Arezzo, to my first trip to Rome this weekend, Italy has not been what I expected it to be. It’s been better than I could have ever imagined. There is no Paolo but the gelato really is as good as everyone claims. The most notable difference between my expectations of Italy and the reality of it, is the pace of life. Italians live life in a more relaxed and go with the flow “Va Bene” kind of attitude. Whereas back at Furman University, I am always on the go. The few times I’m not keeping myself busy or writing in my planner, mean something is off. Adjusting to this more “in the moment” and present way of living has been both an incredible relief and somewhat of a challenge. Taking the day to explore cities like Rome and Florence rejuvenate me in ways I can’t easily explain. The fusion of the ancient ruins and the vibrancy of life make Italy quite unique. I find connections every day to the music history I’m learning, or the things I’ve learned in the past. There is no better feeling than seeing something monumental to human history, for the first time. Each time I turn a corner there are new things to be discovered. I have clear pictures in my head of the Saturday I spent in Rome, emerging from the cover of the train station to see the Colosseum towering above in all its glory. So my takeaway is this…For my time in Italy, I am okay with getting lost a little and discovering a lot. I am okay with tossing my planner out the window. I am okay with have a glass of wine and eating gelato until I have to roll myself back to the Accademia. Italy will be something I never forget and hopefully a different lifestyle I can incorporate into my own once I return.
Laura Lynn Brickle: Music, Furman University
Bryan Johnson: Music, Furman University
This weekend was the first free weekend for all of us and we, like most in their youth, decided to take full advantage of such an opportunity by traveling to Cinque Terre. While we have spent prior weekends wandering the streets of Arezzo during the joust or visiting centuries old churches in Florence, we were entirely on our own for this excursion. Our trip began at 6:00 am Saturday, or at least it was supposed to until it decided to rain profusely, so we had a bit later start at a modest 7:30. After two train changes, four hours of riding and lots of napping, we finally reached our host city La Spezia, a port city only minutes away from Cinque Terre. With its vibrantly colored buildings and streets lined with orange trees, we knew that La Spezia was just a taste of what was to come.
Our first stop came that afternoon in Riomaggiore, the closest of the five seaside villages. This quaint town, with its steep hills and brightly colored facades, sits perfectly situated on the coast. After spending most of the day traveling on the train, it was quite the sight for weary eyes. Having spent a few hours perusing the city and eating a late dinner, we headed back to La Spezia and topped off the night with gelato in the main square. The next day we traveled to Monterosso, the furthest villa from our host city. The 30 minute train ride seemed to go by in an instant as we passed through all the other cities and stared out at the glistening sea. Our time was short in Monterosso, spending only an hour or so walking the sandy beaches and observing the marketplace on the main street. It was then that we decided to make the long trek up the side of the mountain to Vernazza. To say the least, the hike was more than we were expecting and at times felt that it was off the beaten path, but the view at the top made it all worthwhile.