Thursday, June 26, 2014

Gardens, Towers, and Beaches, Oh My!

EB: This past week has been jam-packed with traveling and new sights. Beginning on Thursday, we made the journey to Florence to go to the Boboli Gardens and the Uffizi museum. The gardens were a perfect way to start off my day. The views and landscaping were absolutely beautiful; Italy continues to take my breath away. We meandered through covered arches, past wondrous fountains and aspiring artists trying to capture all that beauty.  Passing by a hydrangea bush, Keith, my ever-helpful horticulture guide, pointed out that some of the blossoms were a different color that the rest of them. Explaining *slowly for us non-hort majors* that this was because the soil had different pH balances. The blue color resulted from a more alkaline soil and the red from a more acid composition. Having both colors on the same plant meant that the soil was pretty well balanced.  Besides that fact that I now felt very knowledgeable with this information, the flowers were also lovely to look at.  After exploring the rest of the gardens, and winning gelato, we made our way to the Uffizi museum. The art work in there was absolutely exquisite. Getting to see famous pieces, such as the Birth of Venus, was such a blessing.  Winding down our day we made it back to Castiglion Fiorentino, to get ready for the next day.

Waking up early, our group of travelers made our way to Cinque Terre. However on our way there, we made an obligatory stop in Pisa in order to get the best, most clich├ęd tourist pictures possible. While the tower was impressive, watching everyone take leaning pictures was even more entertaining.  After that excursion we made our way to Levanto and then to the beach.  Enjoying the waves and playing volleyball with some nice Germans was the perfect way to end a long day of traveling.  The next day we woke up early, taking the train to Corniglia to begin our hike. The hike *a.k.a uphill climb* took us through the beautiful Cinque Terre cliff-side, passing through Vernazza before ending (3 hours later) in Monterosso. After the exhausting, but totally worth-it trek, we made our way to the beach where chairs and waves were waiting for us. 
Again, it was a great way to end yet another 
magical day in Italy.

I’m not sure I will ever want to come home.
Can I please stay?!

Signing up for this study abroad was one of the most spur of the moment decisions I have ever made, but also the most rewarding and wonderful. Italy is a country beyond compare and I know I am only going to want to keep seeing more and more of it. Going on all of these excursions with twenty-six of my newest friends has been absolutely incredible. It is by the grace of God, that I am able to be here; seeing all these beautiful sites and going on all of these life-changing journeys with these extraordinary people. While I know that our Italy exploration is nearing its end, I hope that the adventures never stop. 

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