24 Feb | Taylor OSullivan | No Comments

A Day Under The Tuscan Sun: Wine Tasting | Rome, Italy

This weekend I visited the beautiful Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy. As the name implies, this region is known for it’s Chianti Classico, a red wine made from Sangiovese grapes. Chianti is located about 45 minutes outside of Florence, by bus, so we decided to make the day trip out there in celebration of my …


22 Feb | Alejandro Castillo | No Comments

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 | Florence, Italy

{module Alejandro2} As a part of the program package for our semester abroad, Athena includes two free trips to a variety of locations. Last weekend, I had my first free excursion to the South of France! It seemed a bit surreal at the time that I would be waking up in Italy to find myself …


21 Feb | Hope Lee | No Comments

A Bit of Bad Luck

  One of the lakes we visited. I know it’s been a while since I’ve last wrote a blog. I know you are all wondering why because everyone is obsessed with me and consumed with my life. I’m only kidding, I promise. For the past two and a half weeks, I have had pretty bad …


18 Feb | Alejandro Castillo | No Comments

Friday, February 18, 2011 | Florence, Italy

Hold it steady, now!

It’s been a couple weeks since I first flew into Florence and it’s easy for me to forget how much has happened since I first arrived. It seems like years ago that I stepped onto a plane at LAX for my first European excursion. 12 hours, a connecting flight, and one taxi ride later, I landed my new home for the next four months.

The first few days were spent orienting myself amongst the city’s narrow streets and odd layout but it didn’t take long for Firenze (as they call it here) to feel like home. But Ventura, California can’t quite capture the sensation of living in the world’s most famed Renaissance city.

I’ve always loved to travel, so I’m happy to say I’ve adjusted pretty quickly. I have four great roommates, a conveniently located apartment downtown, and I’ve have already had a chance to explore the city. My favorite pizza place so? Gusta Pizza. Some of the best gelato in town? Grom’s. The best place for a lunchtime feast? Trattoria Mario’s. And of course, we’ve already found one of favorite places to go out on a Friday night: The Lion’s Fountain. I’m happy to have discovered some great spots in Florence already and I’m even happier to know that it’s just the beginning of city living here.

As much as there is to see in Florence, public transportation in Europe makes exploring the area incredibly convenient. My friends and I have already gone on day-trips to Pisa, Lucca, and a small village near Florence by the name of Fiesole. We even went to Rome last weekend for about 40 Euro roundtrip.

Beautiful Florence

To anybody thinking of making a visit to the ancient city, spend an entire weekend there! While we were visiting, we saw the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, and all of Vatican City. And that’s just the tip of it. We even lucked out when we went to the Vatican and heard the Pope speak about 200 feet away from us! Talk about a once and a lifetime experience.

At the Trevi Fountain in Rome

The only difficulty I’ve experienced so far is balancing my coursework and my traveling. I love my classes (Foods of Italy, Italian Lit, History of Europe, Renaissance Art, Italian) but balancing a full course load can be a bit of a challenge when traveling across Europe almost every weekend. I figure if these are the worst of my problems, life is pretty good. And besides, what better place to take the classes I’m taking than in Italy?

My time in here is only beginning and I’m looking forward to see where this adventure takes me. If there’s one thing I do know, it’s that I’ll be going through Nutella jars much quicker than anticipated. In the mean time, it’s just time to buckle up and enjoy the ride. Until next time everyone, ciao!

More of Florence



3 Feb | Hope Lee | No Comments

Carolina Girls…Best in the World!

  Words cannot describe the past few days. It’s gone by too quickly. Time flies when you’re having fun, right? I’ll start off with telling you about my new friends, Jenna and Whitney. The title of this post and dedicated to them, and me of course, as we are all Carolina girls. Jenna is from …



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