Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Under the Tuscan Sun (when it wasn't raining)

When I would think about Italy before I came to study abroad in Torino, an image of Tuscany would appear. To me, the region of Tuscany was the epitome of Italy. Rolling green hills, amazing food, tall thin trees, small cities, and of course sun. I didn't get to experience the sun the whole time, but Tuscany definitely didn't disappoint.

My parents decided to rent a car in Torino for our trip so we could go on our own time and enjoy the scenery better. We learned by the end, that a road trip was probably not the best idea. It probably would have ended up costing less to take trains (the rental fee, GPS fee, gas, tolls!), and faster because we wouldn't have spent time getting lost. Of course, being able to leave the cities when ever we wanted was nice.

Anyway, the first stop was Pisa. And we basically just went to see the leaning tower, which looked exactly how it does in all the photos. It was pretty cool to see it, but if you don't have time, don't fret about missing it.

We headed to Florence and almost got a huge fine for illegally entering the city without a permit. We also got embarrassingly lost driving in circles. Here is the deal. GPSs do not work in Florence. Don't even try. And on top of that, you have to have a permit to drive in the city center. We ended up getting a cab to lead us to the hotel and then the hotel's parking arrangements made it so we didn't have to pay the city a fine.

I loved Florence, but I am glad I didn't decide to study abroad there. So many Americans. The city was so beautiful though. We got the museum pass the city offers, which if you go to more than three museums or important religious buildings, it makes a lot of sense. The first day we hiked up the cathedral with a grand total of 463 steps. The views were stunning. We also went to the Accademia di Belle Arti to see Michelangelo's David and then to Palazzo Della Signora to see the fake David and many other statues. We also went to the Uffizi Gallery, which is full of famous works including the Birth of Venus by Botticelli.

The next day we went to Palazzo Pitti, which was definitely the highlight of Florence. We spent most of the time exploring the Boboli Gardens, which also offered an amazing view of the city. Of course we also saw Ponte Vecchio many times along with the famous good luck boar, il porcellino.

I ate duck, wild boar, pear and gorgonzola gnocchi, and passion fruit gelato.

Our last stop in Tuscany was Siena, which is where I highly considering studying abroad before I heard about Torino. Again, as much as I enjoyed the city, I am still happy with my choice of Torino. Sienna is known for its architecture, art, and the Piazza Del Campo. I walked up the 400 steps of Torre del Mangia to see another incredible view. I also was very excited to visit Palazzo Pubblico and see the frescos called the Allegory and Effects of Good and Bad Government, which I studied about in Art History. I ate ricotta and fig gelato.

Since I rubbed the head of il porcellino I will be coming back to Florence and therefore the rest of Tuscany, so I'm not very worried.

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