Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Home.

What a whirlwind these last few weeks have been! In the two weeks I’ve been back from Italy, I have spent a few days in Knoxville for Father’s Day, packed my house in Athens, moved to Atlanta and started my new job at ignition. A lot of changes, and moving is quite the process! While I successfully got all of my stuff into my new apartment, I have yet to get my furniture moved…no worries, the air mattress is only mostly uncomfortable—not completely miserably, and my piles of clothes give the room some nice d├ęcor. I never knew how nice sitting on pillows on the floor staring at a cable-less TV could be! Colleen and I love our new place, however, and in a few weeks I’ll appreciate it more than ever.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chianti.

On our second day in Florence, we hopped on a tour for an afternoon in Chianti. The stops included a couple medieval villages, including Monteriggioni, and a winery. Sant Appiano winery was centuries old, and produced Chianti Classico. We obviously has a wine tasting here, sampling two delicious Chianti Wines, a Super Tusan and a Rosato. It was Hunter's first tasting experience. Also, Mom got a small journal to start taking her own tasting notes!

Bike.

For our last day in Florence, and the Tuscany region, Hunter, Mom and I geared up for a bike tour through the hills and vineyards of the Chianti country. Before we started peddling, however, we visited the coolest castle and wine estate in the Florentine Hills. I loved the views from the tower, seeing how and where the grapes used for Italy's Vin Santo dessert wine we're dried, and learning about olive oil production. The samples we tasted we're not disappointing. The bike portion was not disappointing either. It was surreal to be cruising past the vines and flowers; so beautiful! The whole day was really perfect. Our guides were incredibly helpful, funny, nice and knowledgable. It was definitely an activity I would love to do again.

Venice.


We packed up and took the train from Florence to Venice, a quick 2 hour trip. Of course it downpoured the second we walked out to try and find the right water bus to take us to our hotel! 45 minutes later we managed to piece the broken English advice together and make it to our hotel's port. Another 20 minutes of dragging our luggage up and down the cobblestone streets and having shop owners pull up the iPhone map to point us in the right direction, we stumbled into the hotel. Venice is about the most confusing and illogical street system I've ever seen! We got lost each and every time we tried to find the hotel again. We did enjoy the lively streets, picturesque canals and yummy seafood. For as touristy as te whole city is, however, it is not visitor-friendly!

Florence.

Florence has been my favorite city to visit so far. Full of tourists, everyone is so friendly and accommodating! You can get gelato or granita (my new favorite slushie) in just about every other shop--leather goods in the alternating ones. We spent one solid day exploring and making the rounds of the must-see sites, including David in the academia, il Duomo, etc. Our Florentine guide, Bernie, grew up in the area and went to the same high school that Galileo looked through telescopes and where da Vinci painted Mona Lisa! He was a proud alum. There are so many day trips you can take from Florence, and we chose an afternoon in Chianti and a bike day through the region the next two days. For dinner, we had one fun, casual night eating outside in a lively piazza, one salami and cheese night in the hotel before Hunter and I went bar crawling, and one 5 star (by the quality, not price) meal. I will never forget our food at Acqua al 2. A five pasta sampler, amazing Greek salad and the blueberry fillet will be hard to beat anywhere!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bulldawg.

You can find a UGA Bulldawg anywhere in the world! Even in the bars of Italy. I thought the Georgia flag in the Lions Well in Cortona was strange, but it made sense enough with the study abroad program there year round. In Florence, though? Sure enough, a huge icon Uga was posted up on the wall! Obviously I had to leave my name next to it. My mom's favorite phrase, "fool's names and fool's faces can always be found in public places" briefly crossed my mind...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cook.

One of the must-dos we wanted to experience in Italy was an Italian cooking class. So, Diane Seed was our lady! Finding our way to her 5th floor apartment that overlooks the Roman Forum and monuments was an adventure in itself, but the dinner we cooked was even more fabulous--if possible. It was just the three of us and her. We cooked the food completely out of order and ate it immediately when it was hot. Starting with a delicious salmon-cream dressed pasta, we moved onto the zucchini and mint risotto. Two carb-o-licios plates I couldn't get enough of! Next was our fennel seed chicken (Hunter single-handedly ate almost the whole thing), and we finished with the fabulous anti-pasta: fried yeast balls stuffer with olives, cheese, onions, capers and goodness! The whole evening was quite an experience, and we definitely learned a few things about Italian cooking! There was even one point when I asked for more cream sauce on my pasta and Ms. Seed promptly told me no. Apparently Italian dishes should be lightly dressed, not drowned in sauce. I wasn't too happy, as it was salmon deliciousness, but had to respect her and accept it as a learning process!

Pantheon.

Yes, this is the view of the Pantheon from our hotel!! Unreal. It is the closest building next to Rome's most well preserved building. And yes, what's more than that, this picture is from the rooftop bar. Gorgeous! I don't know if I will ever again be so lucky to drink a glass of Prosecco and look down upon one of he worlds most well known monuments. Cheers!

Patches!

I left my beautiful Cortona and made my way to Rome on Sunday. I met mom and Hunter at their fabulous hotel (details to come), and was surprisingly reunited with Patches, my beloved stuffed dog who has been to 15 countries with me. Patches was obviously with me as I entered the airport in Atlanta, but I decided to leave him last minute (for his own safety) since I was traveling alone, he didn't fit in my backpack and I was going I need two hands. Mama knew best though, and it was a joyful moment when I saw him laying on my bed waiting for me!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The last supper.

Yup, I leave Cortona tomorrow! Heading to Roma, and am so excited...but still so sad. You would think I'd finish my trip at a wonderful Italian restaurant. Wrong. Lions Well got the best of me. Burger, chips, salsa and queso. So wrong. I complain about the squishy layer I've gained on my body, and would love to blame it on my daily gelato treats and the full pizzas I eat by myself, but no--it's the late night cheese dip at Lions Well pub. Go figure.