My First Hike
Shante, Florence, Fall 2013
October 3, 2013

At Cinque Terre at the start of the hike.

I have had an amazing time for my first full month in Italy. I went to cinque terre and had the most amazing experience! I enjoyed all of the small towns and they all were so unique. I tried pesto pizza for the first time and it was one of the best things I have ever eaten. I went on a hike from the 3rd city to the 5th city and we had some very beautiful views of the Mediterranean. The sight was unreal! That was my first hike I have ever done so it was a bit challenging but I did it and loved it! I had a great time swimming and being able to have a margarita while being out in the water, something I’m not used to in the states.

Cinque Terre.

I also went to Tuscany and went wine tasting. The wine was very good and so was the food. I liked the idea of an organic winery that uses energy-saving technology.

My classes have started and they are going great. My professors seem pretty relaxed and definitely not as strict as American professors. I see this being a great academic semester.

I went to Maremma, Giglio Island and Volterra also. I really loved Maremma! I liked that it wasn’t as touristy and it was a nice, quiet and serene place. Sitting by the beach was so relaxing. We enjoyed our nights with big groups of people all sitting by the beach and sharing stories and getting to know eachother and just having a good time all around. Maremma became so special to me and I truly thank SAI for taking me to such a memorable place. That was the best weekend I have ever had in my entire life and was definitely by far the best trip that I’ve taken since I have been here.

Ferry ride to Giglio.

I also loved Giglio Island. I was intrigued with the site of the Costa Concordia! It was unbelievable. The water there was crystal clear and very calm. I also learned how to swim and jumped off a rock in the ocean. It was a beautiful place and I even enjoyed the ferry rides!

Jumping off of a rock at Giglio

I also fell in love with Volterra, most importantly all of the handmade chess boards! I almost bought one until I realized I didn’t have that kind of money. This month, I took risks, I took chances, I overcame some fears and most of all I have began to fall in love with life, to fall more and love with God and that is in turn making me fall more in love with myself.


Shante is a student at University of North Carolina at Charlotte studying at Florence University of the Arts during the Fall 2013 term.


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SAI is dedicated to providing academic and cultural learning experiences abroad that enhance global awareness, professional development and social responsibility. We concentrate our programs in Europe, with a focus on in-depth learning of individual European countries and their unique global role in the geopolitical economy, humanities, and in the arts.