I am kind of behind on these entries because all of the different places I went on Spring Break put me behind. But I will be caught up by the end of this week I promise.
The weekend after Spring Break we had an excursion planned with API called “Under the Tuscan Sun.” They took us around different parts of Tuscany in order to show us what small town life in Italy is really like. First stop was Sienna. We did have a walking tour but it was more to just show the ways of life of the people rather than monuments. It was a beautiful city and it reminded me of a mini Florence.
After our city tour we were taken by bus to the thermal baths close by. These thermal baths contain water that is heated naturally from the center of the Earth. It was such a cool place. It reminded me of a country club in the US. The water started in one pool and slowly trickled down to other pools below. The pool where it started was inside a little hut, which I didn’t really understand at first. We got in the lowest pool that was only a little warm, but it was better than being in the windy air. On the bottom of the pool there was a ton of this white clay stuff. It was all the natural minerals that the water contained that settled on the bottom. These are really good for your skin so many people were taking it off the bottom and rubbing it on their skin, especially their faces. I did the same, and my face has been, or will it ever be again, that soft. After a little while we made our way up through the pools to the starting pool inside the hut and that was when I realized why they have it inside. The smell of sulfur from the water smelled SO BAD. The water was the warmest there of course but it smelled really bad so we didn’t stay long.
After the spa, we left and headed to our hotel in a very small town. We were given dinner at the hotel, which was really yummy and then we had the night to explore the city. The city was ultimately dead after 9 pm, except for a DJ that was set up on the side of a street with a karaoke machine set up. It was really funny because multiple children were up dancing to the music as well as some people from our program. We then continued up the hill and found the main square completely deserted. A group of my friends decided to play Ninja in the middle of the piazza for something to do. Ninja for those who don’t know is a game many student involvement programs will play as ice breakers in college.
The next day we were taking to the small town of Cortona. This city tour was similar to the Sienna one, except the city was much smaller. We were there on Palm Sunday, so there was a procession of people walking to the church. But instead of having palm leaves, they had olive branches, because that is easier to come by in Italy than palm leaves. After the tour we were free to spend the afternoon on our own. My group went and got pizza at a local restaurant. I personally got one with cheese, arugula, and shrimp. It was delicious and probably one of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten.
After our free time we were brought to the Castello di Verrazzano on our way back to Florence. It is a Castle as well as a vineyard in the Chianti region of Italy, which is known for its amazing wine. At the vineyard, we were shown how they make the different wines. After the tour, we were given a mini appetizer as well as a wine tasting of three wines and a dessert wine. Since I am taking Pairing Food and Wine as a class this semester, I knew exactly what I was doing at the wine tasting.
After everyone was done drinking their wine, everyone was herded back to the bus in order to get us back to Florence. It was a really nice change to the weekend to be able to have a lot of free time to enjoy yourself, rather than being so scheduled and on the go the whole weekend. It was a nice change from the Spring Break pace I had been on the week before.