There’s definitely a strange feeling in our small hotel room in Menaggio, Italy. After a week of finals, napping in the sun, long walks, eating outside, and last night’s goodbyes, my friends (with the exception of Lainey) have left Florence, met up with their parents, or flown home. I thought I had it all together, but as I passed through the Piazza de Reublica for the last time this morning I couldn’t help but be that crying girl walking through the streets of Florence pulling a suitcase and headed for the train station. Without question, these were the best 10 days of my trip. I’m incredibly glad to end things on a high note but thats making it much harder to say goodbye to the place I never thought I could truly consider home.
Last Thursday the warm weather and sunshine came and it didn’t leave until we woke up this morning. On Saturday I finally made it to Cinque Terre, a collection of five small beach towns on the Ligurian Sea connected by hiking trails and a train line. We awoke at 5:40 AM to meet at the train station at 7:10 for our 7:40 train. Despite our exhaustion, we were pretty pumped (after a cappuccino or two) to get exploring. In the first town, Riomaggiore, we had breakfast and found our first great view of the coast. We waited over an hour for the train to the next town which was great because it gave us time to soak up the sun!
This view reminded me of Chapel at Camp Tecumseh. Beautiful.
We skipped over Manarola and headed to Corniglia where we started my favorite part of the day, a 1.5 hour hike to Vernazza up the side of the cliff. We got incredible views of the sea and the town of Vernazza as we hiked away. The clear skies, blue water, warm air, and pastel buildings really felt like they were too good to be true. Mid-hike we found an adorable Oasis with a yard to sit, rest, and fill up your water bottles. For the first time in Italy we were able to lay and enjoy the warmth without jackets. After resting and playing with the owner’s dog, we finished the hike, grabbed a quick lunch, and headed to the most anticipated town: Monterosso al Mare home of the beach. The nine of us laid on the beach for hours talking, laughing, napping, and soaking in the rays. On the beautiful, warm afternoon there were tons of people out in bathing suits, even the Italians. Cinque Terre was wonderful for its simplistic beauty. The entire day was full of moments that took my breath away and I was incredibly happy we waited until mid-April to visit, especially given this hard winter.
On Sunday I woke up and ran for 60 minutes. That’s right, I ran for 1 hour! For those of you keeping track at home, that’s 2 Modern Family episodes, the trip from West Lafayette to Indy, or bus ride from Florence to Pisa Airport. I may have forgotten to mention this, but I’m running a half marathon in mid-June. Now I am four weeks into my training and I’m really proud of my perseverance to run through mobs of tourists on painful cobblestone streets! Very proud but excited to finish training on paved, secluded paths in the US.
After my run I went to Boboli Gardens to study for finals with my friend Shea. She and I had a blissful afternoon reading over Psychology notes, people watching, sun bathing, and eventually meeting up with other friends from our program. I’m not sure how I will ever be able to study indoors again after the incredible finals week I just had. Hopefully as a senior I will be able continue the whole blissful finals week thing.
FINALLY FINISHED AN OIL PAINTING!
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are a blur of tests, trips to the market, long walks around the city, naps in the grass, and a night with the Italian Beetles Cover Band. They were blissful, warm, and too incredible to put into words right now.
Shea and I with Ringo
On Thursday I took an oral Italian exam and became a Senior in college by noon. In celebration, Shea, Kelsey, Katie, and I took our last trip to the leather market and got gelato. Afterwards Shea and I found a small beach on the river where we spent a nice, quiet hour taking it all in. Then I got to meet up with my friend Kristen who was in town with her mom and aunt from Sevilla. We only had two hours but it was great to see her and show her the major sights and marked so she could take her mom!
Thursday evening was the much anticipated and at the same time dreaded farewell dinner. My entire program, including teachers, got all dressed up to have one last sit down meal together. It was crazy and full of hugs, funny stories, speeches, and pictures with our teachers. Afterwards we embarked on our last night out. First stop, the carousel in the Piazza de Republia. The carousel is there year round and though none of us had ever ridden it, we had all decided we needed to do it before leaving Florence. We rode it twice around and despise the stares and photographs taken by people in the piazza, it was a blast and one of the best euros I’ve ever spent. The next stop was the Duomo where we sat on the steps and drank a bottle of wine. A group of Koreans asked if they could get pictures with us, so of course we had to get one with them! After about an hour by the Duomo we headed to our favorite bar, Salamonca. It’s located right below my apartment and has been the CAPA hangout ever since my roommates and I went there to get free wifi back in February (yeah I know we’re so cool). We danced the night away and really went out with a bang.
Lainey, Katie, and I with our Art teacher, Jamie
Shea and I with our Cinema teacher, Guido (he told us we’re the favorites)
Friday was full of final things. We ate ate lunch at Viola’s where she makes homemade pasta of the day with wine and bread for €5, had gelato while sitting on the bridge, drank wine while watching the sunset at Piazza Michelangelo, took pictures in front of the Ponte Vecchio, ate a final pizza dinner and went to Danny Rock where we had our CAPA welcome dinner and everyone met up to say our final goodbyes. I still cannot believe I’ve said goodbye to the people who have literally held my hand through this incredible journey. When my mom came in February, Lainey and I didn’t think we would ever make friends and now I’m trying to figure out a way to get to Boston to see Shea or Pittsburgh to see Kelsey, Annie, and Becky because I can’t imagine sharing this life changing experience with them and never seeing them again!
Shea, Kelsey and I
This morning I said goodbye to my roommates and Ghibellina 90. I met Lainey and we slowly walked to the train station while trying not to cry (failing) and telling stories about our last days in Florence. We traveled to Lake Como for a quiet weekend before we leave early Tuesday morning. Como is surrounded on one side by the Swiss Alps and the others by Italian mountains filled with my favorite pastel houses. This afternoon it was cold and rainy which matched our somber mood so we got warm and watched Pitch Perfect in bed. After a delicious pizza dinner in our hotel we’re both ready for bed and a day of wandering (hopefully not in the rain) tomorrow.
In less than 60 hours I’ll be on a plane across the Atlantic! The next time I post, I’ll be on my couch in West Lafayette with Bogey on my lap. I’m incredibly excited but also can’t quite fathom that I’m actually going home. When I moved to Florence I couldn’t picture myself feeling comfortable and now I can’t picture myself in America. Now we’ve traveled so much that I feel like I’ll return to Florence as usual on Monday and start another week. It’s hard to believe the last time I was in Indiana there were still Christmas lights on many houses and I’m going home to finals week and Taylor’s graduation!
I hope you all had an awesome week whether you were celebrating Little 500, Grand Prix, your last week abroad, or any other great thing in your life! I can’t wait to tell you all about my 22 hour trip home and what it was like to see Keaton, Riley, my mom, and dad again!