Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Vita Bella

At the end of April, I spent about 2 and a half weeks traveling over a nice long spring break for Holy Week and Easter (ok, plus I took a couple more days off…totally worth it because I got to spend more time travelling AND the kids at San Ignacio learning all kinds of phrases that mean “to skip class” when I told them about it later).

A few of us from the Canisius group spent several days traveling around Italy. We visited a lot of different cities, which was good because each place was so different. We ate lots of pizza and pasta, became VERY familiar with the rail system in Italy, learned a bit of Italian, saw lots of cool things and met lots of cool people.

We started off in Naples, where the pizza is fabulous and the traffic is a free for all. While we were there, we took a little day trip to Pompeii, where you can walk through what remains of the ancient city.

From there, we headed up to Rome, which was beautiful. In a lot of ways, it was like other big, modernized cities (tall buildings, traffic, tourists…the works), but then you turn a corner and there’s the coliseum or some other reminder that this city was more or less considered the center of the world at one point.

While we were in Rome, we took a tour of the Vatican. The number 1 piece of advice I would give to anyone planning to visit would be, invest in the guided tour! We had a great guide who explained everything that we saw and shared all kinds of fun facts about the history of the place (such as how Michelangelo wasn’t really a fan of the Pope when he was painting the Sistine chapel, and if you look closely at the frescos, you can tell).

After Rome we went to Florence, which was by far my favorite place in Italy. It’s a fairly small city (you can walk everywhere and it doesn’t take you very long), there are a lot of art museums, markets, plazas, and the whole place is just beautiful in general.

Before heading to Venice, we stopped in Pisa to see the leaning tower:

Our lodging situation in Venice was kind of interesting. Long story short, when you’re trying to spend a holiday weekend on (or as close to as possible) a beautiful island in Italy, you kind of have to take what you can get as far as a cheap place to stay. We ended up in a little cabin at a campground outside the city, and took a ferry into town every day. So, for all you who camp, here are a couple pictures of how it's done in Europe (not too different except that the campers are generally smaller and I couldn't figure out the logic of the layout of the sites...they seemed to be parked more or less randomly in the grass. Also, there was a nice bar/restaurant...right next to the shower house).

Venice itself is amazing. The original part of the city is more or less an island with a bunch of canals all over it. There are pedestrian streets, but no cars…everyone gets around either by walking or by boat.

Our last stop in Italy was Milan. Milan is up there with New York and Paris as far as fashion goes, and there are all kinds of classy stores and restaurants all over. By this point in the trip, the Holy Week tourist crowds had died down (plus Milan isn’t really a super touristy city), so we had a relaxing day window shopping, visiting the cathedral, and eating gelato in the park.

From Milan I took the train up to Munich, Germany, to visit a friend who’s studying there this semester. Since I’ve probably already crashed your browser with all the pictures I’ve posted in this post, and Germany deserves its own post, I’ll save that for later. For now I’ll just say IT WAS AWESOME!


  1. the tower didn't really look like it was leaning that much

  2. Good thing I didn't know about the campground. I would have been more sleepless then usual.

    I think I need to quit my job and buy a bunch of English/_______(insert a language) dictionaries and get hopping.