I guess the saying is true-time goes by fast when you are having fun! It’s already been a month since I’ve been in Rome and I can’t believe it! This past month has been filled with numerous trips, activities, challenges, and wonderful experiences.
The first weekend in September, my roommates and I went on SAI’s first weekend excursion to The Green Heart of Italy-Umbria. On the first day, we traveled to Perugina Factory and were given a tour of Italy’s most famous chocolate factory. To start off the tour, we watched a video of the origins of chocolate, and then took a tour of the museum, and finally, the best part of all: we sampled a variety of different chocolates! I was in chocolate heaven! After devouring all the samples, we got the chance to walk through the factory. We weren’t allowed to take pictures in the factory, which was unfortunate, however, it was an experience that I will always remember. The aroma of sweet, rich, chocolate was all around us. I can’t put into words (or pictures) how incredible it was! Just when I thought chocolate heaven could not get any better, it did! For the last part of our activity, we were given the opportunity to participate in a chocolate making workshop! It felt like a real culinary class! We were given the proper equipments and ingredients to make our very own candy. The recipe consisted of melted chocolate, 2 blocks of chocolate, (which I almost ate before we even started baking), hazelnut (crushed and whole), and milk. The instructor was funny, helpful, and informative. We learned how to mold the chocolate and create our own chocolate candy! After creating our own masterpiece, we were given diplomas for “graduating” from chocolate class.
The next day we were taken on a Mountain day trip which was led by a local geography expert. We learned about the history of the local land, had lunch on a farm, and hiked up the mountain and experienced the gorgeous views. The next day we went to Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis. We had the opportunity to go to Church, shop, explore, and went on a guided tour to learn about the history of Assisi. Umbria was a great experience. We got to explore a part of Italy that we otherwise wouldn’t have. SAI did a great job organizing this event for the weekend. It was fun, informative, educational, and a great experience. It was a great first weekend trip in Rome, and a great way to start off the month!
The rest of the month consisted of more traveling. We went to Tuscany and participated in wine tasting, then were given a tour of the 2nd best winery in the world. Last weekend, we traveled to Florence and Cinque Terre. The views in Cinque Terre were amazing. On our hike in Cinque Terre, we had the chance to walk through the tunnel of love and learned the tradition behind the padlocks hanging on the railings and cables (Couples lock the padlocks together and drop the key into the sea. By doing this, they seal their love forever).
This past weekend we went on another SAI excursion: Discovering Rome-Testaccio. We first got cappuccino at this cozy coffee shop, and then were taken to the fresh fruit and vegetable market. Then we visited Montetestaccio, the Protestant Cemetery and the Aventine hill. Finally, to wrap up our trip, we got to taste trapezzino, a special snack that is only found in Testaccio. The Trapezzinos were so delicious!
My Italian has been improving since I first arrived in Italy (mainly because of the soup kitchen!). This past week, while volunteering at the soup kitchen, an elderly man approached me and handed me a piece of paper. It was a poem he had written himself in Italian titled “grazie volontariato” (Thank you Volunteer). It was so sweet and thoughtful!
It has been an exciting, busy and adventurous month! I constantly have to remind myself to take advantage of every opportunity that comes along and to explore as much as possible!
Miriam – Suffolk University