Travels throughout Italy
For my last travels in Italy, after Spring Break, I went to Cinque Terre, Cagliari Sardegna, Catania Sicily, and several smaller towns in Tuscany.
Cinque Terre was breathtaking. It is a series of five small, colorful towns on the coast of Liguria on the northwest coast of Italy. Cinque Terre is not something you really go to simply “see.” You “do” Cinque Terre. And by that I mean you go to Cinque Terre to hike along the coastline through all five of the towns.
When we went, the weather was not perfect; it was maybe 60°F, cloudy, and incredibly humid. The cool air and lack of sun turned out to be a boon when the normal trail was closed and we were required to hike inland and straight up a mountain to get to the next town. The view was still spectacular. The trails were unlike those in national parks in the US, where you would have to make a serious effort to put yourself at risk of falling. Rather, the trail was, for the most part, only wide enough for one person, cut into the side of a veritable cliff with either terraced vineyards or a rocky Mediterranean shoreline below you.
Cagliari, Sardegna also disappointed us with cold, rainy, and windy weather for the most part, although “it NEVER rains in Cagliari!” The beach was fantastic nevertheless, and we got to explore several unique and exotic stores in the city, like MANGO and Nike.
Catania, Sicily was stunning. Mt. Etna loomed in the distance, and even when you couldn’t see it, you had only to look around at the buildings made out of grey lava stone to remember its eternal presence in the city.
I then went to Castiglione di Pescaia on the Tuscan coast for a day, which might have been the most perfect day of beaching I have ever experienced. It was just hot enough for you to bake nicely, but there was still a nice breeze. Enough to cool you off, but not enough to blow sand into your face and iPod. The water was clear, calm, and refreshingly cool. We were about a hundred steps from a strip of restaurants, and a short walk to the bus stop. There was some serious relaxation going on that day.
Going to Monteriggioni with two Italian friends was another day of fun despite less-than-ideal weather. It was Italian Labor Day. On the way, we stopped by a public park so that Pierluigi’s dog, Toby, could stretch his legs. At this park (why on earth don’t they have these in the US??) they had a playground-turned-public-gym. Instead of monkey bars and tic-tac-toe, there were a number of individual exercise machines, like an elliptical, a leg-press, these discs you stand on and twist back and forth, working your obliques, and a number of other strange contraptions. It was awesome. I don’t frequent gyms, but I would totally go to this place all of the time. Did I mention there was also a zipline??
I finished my last exam this morning, and now as I sit here trying to come to terms with the fact that I return home in a little over two days, I am experiencing ALL OF THE FEELINGS.
I don’t have words to describe how happy and thankful I am for the time I have had here in Siena, but I am sad that that time is ending so soon. I am happy for the friends I have made here, but I am sad to be leaving them for a future in which there is no certainty we will see each other again. I am happy to be going home, to see my friends and family, to eat a burrito from Chipotle and “real” ethnic food. I am happy I will be going to the beach for the week I return, and that I have an exciting internship lined up for the summer. I can’t wait to blast music and sing out loud with the windows down and that heavy Virginia air blowing in my face. But I still can’t say I want to go home. All I can say is that on the plane ride on the way home, the tears are going to flow. At least it would lend a nice symmetry to my time abroad.
Packing shall commence this afternoon, concluding only at 6am on Sunday morning when I will begin my homeward travels.