Pisa, Pietrasanta, & Cinque Terre

Wow!

So much to update you all on!

So on Thursday I went on a group trip to Pisa, home to the world famous “Leaning Tower.” The whole experience was just awesome. For the first time, it really sank in that I was in Italy; it made me tear up a bit! The main sights located in the piazza are the Leaning Tower, a Baptistery, and Church of Saint Maria della Spina, as well as a sort of mausoleum where there are graves and preserved artwork.

I know what you’re wondering…Did I take a touristy picture holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Of course I did! I actually took three, which all came out great.

I was not able to go into the tower, unfortunately. Apparently it is quite expensive and the waiting list is extensive. I did, however, get the chance to walk through the Baptistery and the Church, both of which were INCREDIBLE. In the Baptistery, they close the doors every half hour or so, and a man sings and demonstrates the amazing acoustics that occur due to the dome shape and architecture of the building. Unfortunately, I am unable to upload the video to this blog. Perhaps at a later date I will upload it to YouTube and post the link.

The next day, I was able to venture into the town of Pietrasanta. While on the trip, I visited the studio of the amazing, talented, and popular mosaic artist Piero Giannoni. His art is nothing less than pure talent and training. He was so kind too. On our way out, he gave everyone a small handful of gold mosaic tiles, which was extremely generous as these are the most expensive pieces to buy as they have real gold leaf on them. They are a terrific souvenir.

From the mosaic studio we went and checked out the marble studio. There were a few artists hard at work on their craft. Again, the artwork was absolutely incredible.

But the coolest thing about Pietrasanta was the fact that I stood outside of what was once the house of Michelangelo. It was really mind boggling to think that I was walking where one of the greatest artists in history had previously walked as well.

The following Saturday was the trip to Cinque Terre, or “Five Lands”. For those of you who don’t know, Cinque Terre consists of 5 towns all constructed into the sides of mountains. This is also the region of Italy where (my favorite) Pesto originated. I’ve wanted to travel here for a while, since Bing had a picture of one of the towns as the homepage. It was every bit as beautiful in real life as the picture, if not more-so.

You need to get on a train in order to get to the first town, but from there you have the option of hiking to the rest of the towns or taking the train. Looking to get the whole experience, I chose to hike through Cinque Terre. It was exhausting, but a lot of fun with breathtaking views. At one point, we had to climb up 382 steps! Needless to say, I got an excellent workout that day. We weren’t able to hike from Manarola to Corniglia, as the area had experienced severe flooding and was closed off.

On the hike from Corniglia to Vernazza, a man has opened up his home as a rest area and called it “5 Stones.” Here, hikers are offered seats, water, and fresh figs to refresh themselves. I know, it sounds sketchy, but it really is quite the opposite. It was MUCH needed, and the figs were so delicious. This all goes without mentioning the view from the sitting area; absolutely beautiful. Another interesting, one-of-a-kind experience.

At the fifth village, Monterosso, I had the opportunity to swim in the wonderfully blue ocean that is Mar Ligure, a part of the Mediterranean Sea. The water was incredibly clear and clean, and just so refreshing. There are so many experiences that I just can’t describe without sounding redundant. It was all just so mesmerizing.

A view of Vernazza from the hiking trail

Cinque Terre Photo Album

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Well, Today’s the Day!

After months and months of planning, applying for a visa, and straight up anticipation, I’m finally leaving today to spend about 4 months in Italy. Amazingly, I’m not that nervous… just anxious knowing I have to wait around until 6pm to even be at the airport.

I’m mostly packed with the exception of a few last minute things. I also have to weigh my luggage. Virgin Atlantic, like most other airlines, will make you pay a fee if your bag is over 50 lbs.

I’ll be going out to lunch today with my mom, my brother Wesley, and friend Colin for my last American meal for a few months. Then the 3 of them will see me off at the airport.

My flight will land tonight in London, Heathrow very early in the morning. I will spend about 2 days there in order to acclamate my body with the time zone change. After my stay in London, I will fly out to Pisa. For the first 2 weeks, I will be going through orientation at Pietrasanta. Then finally, off to Firenze (Florence)!

Hopefully I will be able to update this blog fairly regularly with pictures and whatnot. For my friends and family, please feel free to follow me on Twitter or contact me via Facebook, email, and/or Skype.

For now, Arrivederci!

xo,

Katryn