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Thursday, October 16, 2008 | Florence, Italy


This weekend we spent two days in Milan and Lake Como. I've heard a lot of bad reviews of Milan, but I actually quite liked it! The train station was really neat, and yes, even though it did make me feel "small," I loved the architecture. We grabbed our tickets for Milan to Como, after we finally found a machine that would take cash, and then wandered around until we found the entrance for the underground metro. My "Let's Go Europe" book told us to take the M3 to the Duomo, so we bought our tickets and then hopped on! It was so exciting and I wish we had transportation like this in California!

As we walked up the stairs from the metro, the duomo was right in front of us! It is in a beautiful piazza with lots of different people and many flying pidgeons The gothic architecture and the stained glass on the inside was wonderful, especially when the light streamed through. I can see why so many churches have stained glass - it is a beautiful symbol of God's glory. Hannah and I sat on the benches in the central nave and soaked it all up. 

We then walked down in the Galleria Vittaro Emanuele that had many high fashion shops (of course) like Prada, Gucci and Louis Vitton. We then ate at Cafe Zucca, which is a famous cafe that people would go to after an evening at La Scala. We sat at a little table outside, drank the most delicious cafe latte that I have had yet, and watched the various models stroll by. 

After the wonderful afternoon of conversation over coffee, we headed towards La Scala! It was gorgeous! We walked into one of the boxes in the theater and gazed in awe. I got goosebumps and of course teared up again. The theater was lined with individual boxes and I could just imagine ladies in large, pouffy dresses sitting in front of their handsome dates who secretly whispered sweet nothings in their ear. 

Next, we took a train to Como. It was only 1 hour, so it went by very quickly! When we arrived, we weren't exactly sure where to go, so we just started walking in a direction that we figured was close to the water. We eventually found the ferry station at 6:30 pm and bought our tickets for the last ferry out at 7:10 pm. We were very close, I'm glad the train wasn't late! We then went to a small bakery and ordered some hot chocolate to take off the chill. 

When we got off the ferry, our hostel was only about a 5 minute walk from the dock. When we walked in, a friendly man in a stylish pair of overalls and tattoos up his arm checked us in. Our room had 3 sets of bunk beds and our own bathroom, which I think was pretty nice for our first hostel experience. 

The next day we went on a hike in the hills of Menaggio. We hiked to a church that we had actually seen the night before, the only building lit on the entire hill, so decided it would be fun to see what it looked like! The hike took us through beautiful tall, green trees and WWI trenches! When we finally reached the top, the view over Lake Como was gorgeous. We could even see the snow-covered Alps peeking through in the distance.

Four trains, two metros, two busses and three ferries later, we were home. I was very proud of our group. We had navigated ourselves through a place that we really knew nothing about! We had used the Italian that we were learning in our language classes and left the weekend with a greater sense of confidence.

Tuesday evening, our cooking professor arranged a huge Italian dinner for our class at one of his friend's restaurant. It was a true Italian-style dinner: three hours long with four courses.

We started off with a glass of white wine and warm, crispy bread. Our antipasti was composed of salmon, barley and shrimp, bresaola with ricotta and spinach and fried asparagus. The primi piatti was creamy risotto, which happened to be one of the dishes that we had made that morning in class! Next came the secondi piatti: sausage, potatoes, and my favorite, strips of steak with arugula and flakes of parmesan cheese. I had never eaten cheese with steak before, but now this is definitely going to be a staple.

Our stomachs had taken just as much as they possibly could, yet somehow, we all found a way to squeeze in some tiramisu and limoncello. Our dinner finished around midnight, stomachs full and hearts happy to be in Italy. 

The duomo in Milan. This gothic architecture is refreshing after all of the renaissance architecture in Florence!

Hannah in a WW1 trench that we passed on our hike in Menaggio.

This was the fashion street that we explored. The little cafe we sat at was right at the beginning of the archway on the left side.

Beautiful Bellagio.

The view from our hostel! We could even see the Alps peeking through on the left!


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Sunday, October 19, 2008 | Florence, Italy
Tuesday, October 14, 2008: Tour of Italy

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