Written by Elizabeth Persons (Vanderbilt University) Student Correspondent CET Florence, Summer 2018 Last weekend, I decided to go off on my own to explore some more of Italy without a tour group. While I love the groups and the experience of visiting new people with new friends, it was a great to be on my own schedule for the weekend. First stop was Rome where of course I had to go see the Colosseum. I got a guided tour so I got to skip the insane line (woohoo!!) With the ticket to the Colosseum I got access to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill and museum. So, I got this awesome view of the Arch of Titus which of course made me think of good ole NYC. – The next day I went to go visit the Pope in the smallest independent country in the world, Vatican City. To skip the long lines, I took an open-top bus tour of the gardens, which were gorgeous. With this, I got into all the Vatican museums (and oh my goodness there were a lot). No trip to Rome would be complete without tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain. The story is that if you throw a coin into the fountain, then you will one day return to Rome (we’ll have to wait to see if it works). On Tuesday for our CET organized activity, we went on a hike through Fiesole, the neighboring town of Florence. Fiesole is up on a hill, so we were able to see all of Florence from above with the sun setting over it. This was my attempt at getting a picture of the moon over the Cyprus trees. No stay in Italy would be complete without visiting Venice. The gondola ride was too expensive for me, but I was able to get around on the public ferry. I visited the Palazzo Ducale, which was the political center of Venice. This bridge that the gondoliers are under is called the bridge of tears, as this was the bridge that prisoners crossed on the way to be put to death. In the Palace, I was able to cross the bridge and visit all of the dungeons in the building. Around the main island of Venice, accessible by the public ferry, are many other islands including the two I visited, Murano and Burano. Murano is famous for its glass blowing, which you can go watch happen in one of the many factories. Burano is famous for its colorful buildings, pictured here, along with lace. This weekend I took yet another trip with Bus2Alps, this time to the Amalfi Coast. On Friday, we went on a cruise to Positano from Sorrento, where we were staying. Positano was super pretty and the beach, which is a black sand beach, was gorgeous. For me, the beach was a little too crowded, so I opted to go kayaking through the many yachts anchored nearby. This was the view of Positano from the beach. The buildings of Positano were built on top of each other climbing the mountain, and of course, are very colorful. Saturday we went on a guided tour around the island of Capri. These are the famous love rocks, which according to legend, if you don’t kiss someone under them, you will experience seven years of bad relationships, guess I’m risking it. We also saw the blue grotto, orange coral, the Gerber family house (which has an elevator from the house on the top of the mountain to the beach), and Leonardo Dicaprio’s house. While sailing, we also got a glimpse of Lebron James’s yacht, even if we didn’t see him. The island is split into three layers: the marinas, Capri town, and Anacapri. In Anacapri, there was a store where you could design your own sandals and a single-person chairlift to the top of Mount Solaro.