Monday, October 11, 2010

Ciao, Italia!

The next day, we rose with the sun and booked it to the airport. We boarded our flight to Italy, during which everyone worked feverishly on all of our assignments due that day. We landed soon after, boarded a bus, and proceeded to do a mad dash tour of Rome.

The interior of the Basilica di San Bartomoleo on Tiber Island in Rome.

A picturesque piazza.

Tourists chilling in front of the Fontana di Quattro Fiumi - the fountain of the four rivers.

Among the most significant of the sites we saw was the Pantheon, which is a huge temple-like structure dedicated to a bunch of Roman gods. Very old, very beautiful, and very fricking crowded. The funny part is this: outside of the structure were two men dressed as ancient Roman soldiers. On my way out of the Parthenon, one of the “soldiers” spotted me. He caught my eye and then launched into a hilarious attempt to enchant me. “Oh, my princess,” he greeted me. “You are such a beautiful girl. Where you are from?” “The US,” I replied. “Where in the US? Let me guess: California.” HOW did he KNOW? I still am at a loss. Anyway, he told me again how beautiful I was and I thanked him before dashing away and dissolving into giggles. He was probably about five foot seven and pretty goofy. Very amusing. Now I have the icebreaker “I was once accosted by a Roman soldier” to bring out at parties.

The view of the top of the Pantheon! Rest assured that the building is a lot cooler than this photo can capture.

Soon, we were on the train to Florence. Gradually the view outside the window morphed from touristy and industrial to old worldy and charming. Ciao, Florence! We arrived at our hotel with barely an hour to spare before our Orientation Welcome Dinner. Talk about overwhelming!

I cannot neglect to mention the hotel room, though. Apparently a lot of people were set up with less than impressive digs, but somehow we got lucky. The room was large and had all the makings of a legit lodging place (such a change from Greece). But the real draw? THE BATHROOM! A real toilet substantial enough to take in toilet paper (in Greece I often got the heebie jeebies after requests to deposit the paper not into the toilet bowl but into the trash can because it just seemed wrong), two sinks, a bidet (uhhh, how do you use that?), and a shower fit for a king (or four girls who have been in Greece for ten days). I won’t go into too much detail, but it looked like a hyper chamber out of a sci-fi movie equipped with a magical dial, which, upon turning, makes your dreams come true. It was glorious.

Jackie, Claire and I on a high from laying eyes upon the fantastic hotel room!

Me and Alyssa!

Claire and me. :]

After dinner, some friends and I joined a walking tour that took us all around downtown Florence. I finally had time to think. I am home. This is home for the next few months. And you know what? I really love it. I miss my family, my Ethan, my friends, but I know, right now I am where I am supposed to be.

The next morning we had our first look at Villa Rossa, the hub of Syracuse University in Florence. It is absolutely charming! I won’t bother with all of the boring details of the meetings we had that day, but it was a good day nonetheless. Then it was back to the hotel for dinner and sleep. Morning came quickly…

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