If you have me on Facebook, or follow me on Instagram, you’ll know the extent to which I am making the most of the opportunities to eat gelato. It. Is. EVERYWHERE. And delicious. It is on literally every corner in major cities, and having had many recommendations from friends – and a terrible sweet tooth – it is only natural that I would try as many different places as I can. I thought it was just a tourist trap, but it is actually also a celebrated activity for Italians. I met Mackenzie, a Canadian au pair in Rome and apparently a trip to gelato is as commonplace as the park or a normal walk. Why was I not raised in Italia!?
What’s more, the pizza is PHENOMENAL. Once again, if you know me at all, you will know how much I love it. At home I would commonly have (when Mum allowed it) at least a pizza or two per week. Here, I am both proud and ashamed to admit, it was one per day.. if not more. When in Rome, right? And when in Naples, Sorrento, Positano, Capri, Amalfi… you get the point. After a while of this bingeing, I came to the sad realisation that I should probably cut back, if not for the wallet, but my for limited (and shrinking..?) supply of clothes. I then moved on to pasta. Gnocchi is great, spaghetti is great, tortellini is great… etc etc. My first pasta meal in Rome with Jackie from Colorado was a memorable and delicious one, followed by double dessert! Another delicacy of binge-level of consumption is Nutella. Once again, it is everywhere! Breakfasts, snack bars and on crepes and pizza too. So yes, I am well and truly enjoying the food.
Of course, the sights I have already had the privilege of seeing have been breathtaking. Barcelona reminded me of a far cooler and older version of Melbourne, with a far better nightlife, but the Amalfi Coast was just out of this world. I absolutely loved the view from the peak of the Isle of Capri, and could not get over how amazing the coastal line of the city of Sorrento was. Positano was also spectacular. I was so glad to be able to spend three nights there in a camping ground. It had a small, rocky outcrop which was the ‘beach’ from which we jumped into the Mediterranean Sea each evening. Pretty damn cool, to say the least. This tour is the highlight so far, with the most authentic Italian guide, Francisco, who taught us all about the popular game, Twister, but how the only way to play is naked.. and with Nutella. Life lesson, I guess. The friends on this trip only made it better – Haili from Vegas, Karolina & Kaela from Chicago and Mitch and Aileen from good old Straya. Sam and Dave were great add ons for the day in Capri too. Thanks for the laughs!
Before the Amalfi Coast, Rome was pretty cool, but actually really damn hot. SO hot. Like sweating out litres each day.. but anyway, it was a very historic city too. The Colosseum was immensely impressive, as was the Pantheon. The Trevi Fountain was under construction which was disappointing, but I still had my Lizzie McGuire moment so I’m happy. I also had a perfect afternoon following the paths all around Rome, ending up in the less touristy, authentic quarter of Trastevere. It was there that I was introduced to chocolate shots with whipped cream and grated chocolate, so thanks, Tristan from New York.
Something I noticed both in Rome and Barcelona is the celebration of their histories. It makes me wonder about how such major events occurred and the effects of them – the Spanish Inquisition, dictators, wars, etc – but also makes me mad that Australia’s history is so overlooked. The Indigenous have been there for approximately 70,000 years, yet I have little doubt that if you did a walking tour of the CBD, there would be little mention of the original owners of our land. Start the acknowledgment, Australia. I do love the celebration of the local specialities in Italy though: Sorrento’s lemons, Naples’ pizzas (which weren’t even that good – I had three so I’d know) and Florence’s leather, wine and steak (yet to try!).
Although alllll of these experiences and aspects have been totally awesome so far, the thing that’s improved them that teeny bit more is the people. On my first afternoon in Barcelona, after about 30 hours of travel, walking from Park Guell was pretty lonely and tiring and I thought to myself, ‘damn, this is going to be a long 4 months by myself, not sharing it with anyone’, which is what I had planned and also accepted. Half an hour later, I made some friends in my hostel room, and, as they say, the rest is history. That flip of emotion from exhaustion and loneliness to excited sharing of experiences (and then tapas and tequila later that night) was the first turning point in my trip so far, so thanks, Conor and Garrett from Florida! It only got better from there. Cassie, from Portland, was a great influence who made me go out on my last night in Barce, when all I wanted to do was go to bed. It turned out to be such a memorable night, showing me that I really would have missed out on a swim on a Spanish beach at 4am, just for a few more hours’ sleep. Perspective is great. The following evening, before my ferry to Italy, a tapas tour with friends was the perfect end to my time in Spain: Davis & Malcom from the OC (I met people from Orange County = life is complete), and Jess & and Erica from Wisconsin.
So now, the fun has lessened slightly due to the obligation to reign it in and do a bit of study. 2 weeks out of 20 abroad – first world problems, huh? Prato is a quaint, although quiet little city just 15 minutes from Florence, so I guess it could be worse! Venice with Dennis on the weekend was a great getaway from the studying, and it was nice to experience a new city with a friend all the way from home. Pisa and Florence after classes last week were also beautiful.
Anyway, class is over now (sorry Mum), so the fun begins.. until next time, ciao!