This past month of November I traveled to many cities of Italy, essentially taking a “tour of Italy”. I visited Rome, Florence, Venice, Naples, and Capri (and of course spent time in my abroad city of Milan!). Here were my experiences with the Italian cities and my comparisons between them!
Florence is the apple of the American’s eye. Easy to see why with it’s beautiful buildings, small picturesque cobble-stoned roads, and breathtaking river running through the town. I visited Florence with my mom who came to visit all the way from my home in Colorado. Florence is wonderful to visit and sight-see in, but because of this, it also seems very touristy at times! There are so many abroad students studying in Florence that just about every other person we walked by on the street was speaking english! Now, this makes getting around and communicating much easier (especially than here in Milan where english is rarely spoken!), but there is also a downside to it. Even though I sometimes struggle to communicate here in Milan, I wanted an abroad experience in a foreign country, complete with language barriers, and I feel that Milan was the right place for this! Anyway, one wonderful thing about Florence is its location in Tuscany, aka: Wine Country! My mom and I took a bike &wine tour with Tuscany Bike Tours and enjoyed riding through the Tuscan vineyards while learning about wine and olive oil. We got a tour of the Castello di Poppiano and had a wonderful Italian lunch as well!
Venice was a lot larger than I expected. I imagined it to be similar to the size of a Cinqueterra town, but I was pleasantly surprised with the larger-than-expceted city! Furthermore, the whole city relies on the canals for transportation of everything! I loved escaping from the cars and walking everywhere! There were so many little alleyways which made exploring the island all the more fun! I love the feeling of aimlessly exploring new terrains just to the point of barely getting lost (my mother did not share this feeling). Of course, I never truly get lost: my iphone is usually my savior — yay technology! I only spent 1 day on the island of Venice and that 1 day was so nice that I’d love to visit again!
I told one of my teachers here in Milan that I would be visiting Napoli and he told me, “Napoli is a different world”. I asked him what he meant by that, and the only other adjective he could come up with to describe it? Crazy. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when my mom and I arrived in Naples, we saw what my teacher meant. There were so many people out at all times of the day; the city was chaotic! There were times when (on the more touristy streets), there were so many people packed together, we could not even walk. Naples was also much dirtier than the other cities I have visited. But Napoli wasn’t all bad experiences by any means — the people of Napoli are so nice! Very willing to help you out whenever you need it, give you free pastries with an afternoon coffee, etc. I was also very surprised with the willingness of Napoli people to speak english! And of course, you can’t forget the Napoli food. Pizza, fish, and pastries are the specialties and I can definitely see why!
Capri was the cutest, picturesque island off the coast of Naples, and really only needs pictures to sum it up:)
I loved Rome. I could even go as far as to say it wins the “favorite Italian city” award. Rome is probably one of the most touristy cities in Italy, and if I went during the summer, my experience may have been different. But for the most part, Rome seemed to have many different neighborhoods, some more touristy than others. For example, we stayed in Trastevere, which is known as the young, college neighborhood. I loved staying here and definitely would consider studying abroad there if I had to do it all over again! Of course the Rome colosseum and Vatican and numerous famous sights were great to see, but those aren’t the reason I loved Rome so much. Rome just felt large enough to never get bored in, but had enough smaller neighborhoods to make it feel comfortable to live in.
– Rachel Carande, Boston University