What are you doing this weekend?
This is the question that plagues us all! Should I stay in Arezzo, should I take a day trip, or should I take a BIG trip? We talked to our fellow students about their travels thus far and compiled their suggestions into a rudimentary travel guide.
Viareggio is a quiet and quaint town, unless you pay them a visit during their Carnival parade, which is definitely worth seeing. The top restaurant recommendation here is Il ristorante la Posteria. This place has gluten free options, delicious food at not to high of a price, and they even made room for a small group on Valentine’s Day without reservations.
About an hour away from Arezzo by bus, Siena makes for a beautiful day trip. The Duomo in Siena is a must-see. It houses the preserved head of Saint Catherine of Siena, circa 1348. The Santa Maria della Scala, a free museum across the street from the Duomo, is one of the oldest hospitals in Europe and displays a wide assortment of artifacts, medical and otherwise. We cannot stress enough that the frittelle, which can be purchased from the vendors in the Piazza del Campo, is not to be missed.
The top three museum recommendations are the Academia, the Uffizi, and the Boboli gardens. The most common recommendation we’ve heard thus far is to book ahead online to see the David. This way you can cut the line, which sometime takes an hour or even an hour and a half to get through. The David is certainly worth the wait, however, so don’t miss it even if you haven’t booked ahead. For a great view visit the Piazzale Michelangelo to watch the sun rise or set. Our restaurant recommendations are: Gusta Pizza – casual and delicious and crowded, La Giostra – brilliant atmosphere, free drinks and appetizers, and great service, and Quinoa — for a 100 percent gluten-free menu. For a bar visit Old Stone which offers student discounts, has a good vibe, and is rumored to employ cute bartenders. Many restaurants in Florence require reservations, so be sure to call ahead for dinner plans if you have somewhere you really want to go. That being said, Antico Fattore, on the other side of the river, made room of some of us on Valentine’s Day of all days.
Take the funicolare (cable car) up the hill to reach the charming Etruscan town. Orvieto is built over a network of manmade caves and students highly suggest taking the Orvieto Underground cave tour for only 6 euro. They enjoyed Le Grotto restaurant, which was located IN A CAVE! Try Orvieto Clasico white wine, which is also known as Liquid Gold!
Carnivale goers in Venice suggest visiting the Piazza San Marco for a lively atmosphere. They additionally suggested the Caffe Florian and warn night pedestrians that there are no sidewalks!
Top place to visit for breakfast, lunch, to grab a coffee or a pastry, basically at any time of the day is Stefano’s. It has some of the friendliest service in the city, a great atmosphere, and delicious coffee, food, and pastries. This is sa great place to stop by, hang out, and work on your Italian with one of the patient waiters. For dinner we recommend Mivà. This place has a good atmosphere, delicious food, and a gluten free menu! When you order a gluten free pizza it even comes with a mini Italian flag. It’s worth a visit to Arezzo’s famous Piero della Francesca frescoes at the Basilica di San Francesco. You can purchase a student discount ticket to see this work of art and, being an Arezzo local, you can try to time your visit so that you do not have to wait in line. Usually there is a thirty-minute time limit to look at this work of art but inhabitants of Arezzo have the privilege to time their visit so that there is no line, and sometimes you can have an extended look.
Cortona is one of the easiest places to get to, by bus or by train, for a day trip. It is a small town with beautiful views. This town is mountainous, if you think walking uphill in Arezzo is a challenge then prepare for Cortona. Those who visited went in February so the weather was unseasonable and they even had some snow but the streets are a pleasure to wander, the atmosphere is peaceful, and there are plenty of cafés, restaurants, and shops to pop into. It also boasts a beautiful park and playground.
We are all preparing to visit Rome this coming Thursday! As we haven’t traveled there yet, we have no suggestions. However, our go-to travel guru Monica shared some tips with us that were too good not to pass on.
Monica’s favorite museums: Palazzo Barberini and Villa Borghese
Monica’s must-eat locations in Rome: Pasta Carbonara, Carciofi alla Giudea, Jewish style artichokes
Finally, Monica says we can’t miss the Trastevere neighborhood while we are exploring Rome.
We can’t wait to report back what else we found there next week!
By: Alice Gehrke, Siobhan Carroll, Nicolas Chuba and Julia Larcenaire