Sunday, February 26, 2012

Roma take two!

I spent the past 3 days in Roma, Italia. I've been to Rome before in December 2008 for a quick trip. Rome was exactly what I remembered it to be.. gorgeous and very big. Very big compared to Florence at least.

Our program API sponsored this weekend trip, and the hotel they booked for us was so nice! It was located right next to the Ponte Sisto, which is one of the bridges that cross the Tiber river.

We spent Friday touring the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, and many piazzas.

I threw in 2 coins into the Trevi Fountain, hoping to get engaged in the future. Lol. 1 coin means that you'll return to Rome, 2 means you'll be engaged, 3..married...4..divorced.

We also saw the Pantheon! Inside, you can see the hole in the ceiling, which lets light in.

On Saturday, we went to the Castel San'Angelo and climbed our way to the top!
"Castel San'Angelo was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. The building was later used by the popes as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum."

Halfway to the top!

We went to St. Peter's Basilica afterwards. It is the most beautiful church I have ever seen! This was my favorite part of the trip.

Sunday we took an hour bus tour through the city and also visited the Colosseum. We got to see the inside which was amazing! Although the seats have been taken out, I was able to see the "underground" area and learn about the history. A lot of the colosseum has been restored today.

I am so exhausted. We walked everywhere and got such an intense workout from it. My legs have never been so sore. It's so good to be back in Florence!

I posted up more pictures on Facebook, so feel free to take a look at them! :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Piazza Michelangelo

Today I went to the chocolate festival (second day in a row) with Josephine and we just walked around, trying to pick what kind of chocolate to buy from the many vendors. The festival is at Piazza Republica and will be there for 2 more days! (YES!)
I ended up getting these 3 pieces: Caffe, Cinnamon, and Hazelnut. My go-to flavors. Also bought a fudge-like "black and white" block and a dark chocolate with hazelnut bar.

Chocolate iPhones

Then Alli, Josephine and I decided to throw on some sneakers and go to the Piazza Michelangelo. This place is supposed to be one of the best spots to capture a panoramic view of Florence! Yup, people were right! We climbed many, many stairs to get to the top. Once we got there, it was breathtaking! It was a better view, than the one from the Duomo. Take a look!

After all that, we went back home to chill out and get ready for dinner. We tried out another aperitivo at Oibo. It's so nice getting a chilled glass of white wine and eating a variety of foods for only 8 Euro! We topped the night off with gelato at Gelateria dei Neri! I've heard such great things about this place and it being everyone's favorite. It has become my new fave too! :)
I got a cookies n cream and a ricotta n fig gelato. The cookies n cream is my all time fave at home with the oreos...however, cookies here are more "biscotti" like and have a sweet cookie dough taste to it.

The weather has been warming up here...hitting the low 50s. I'm hoping it keeps getting warmer so I can no longer wear gloves and a jacket!
Tomorrow, the three of us plan to go to Boboli gardens and go to the Uffizi art museum! Also eat at one of our favorites Gusta Pizza.

I think that's all for now. CIAO TUTTI! xo

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day

Happy belated V-Day!

Started the day feeling really tired...but was instantly rejuvenated at yoga! I signed up for the yoga club at school that meets every week. That's the least I can do :) I need to fight off some calories from my recent gelato-addiction.

Went to Gusta Pizza with Josephine and Alli and got a classic Margherita pizza... in a heart shape, of course! It was delicious!

Met up with Alexis, my sorority sister who is visiting from Riva. It was so good seeing her! The girls and I went out for a drink at Fish Pub. I ended up going to Red Garter, a popular bar all the American students go to...(Tues night= beer pong night). As I was walking home with my friends, I ran into one of the guys who sell roses. If you don't know what I'm talking about- there are guys who sell roses for a living, walking into restaurants, bars, and along the streets trying to get people to buy them. Anyway- I ran into the guy who's always at the Fish Pub. He recognized me from our frequent run-ins at the Fish Pub. He ended up giving me a free rose! Hahaha

That made my night. My V-Day was wonderful! I hope everyone enjoyed their Valentine's day! :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Booze on Booze in Belgium

First stop: Pisa! Pisa is the main departure point from Florence. It is easily accessible by taking an hour-long bus for 6 Euros, roundtrip for 10 Euros. My roommates Brittany and Alli accompanied me on my trip to Brussels, Belgium.
I’ve always wanted to go to Belgium, because I’m a huge fan of beer and chocolate.

We left on Friday late afternoon from Florence and arrived in Brussels around midnight. We had to take a total of 1 flight, 2 buses, and 1 cab to get to our hotel, Beau Site. Of course, I pronounced it incorrectly, it’s SEAT, not site. Please pardon my French….

Brussels also surprised us with its snowy roads and freezing weather. I think the thermostat read -7 degrees Celsius. Brrrr..

Early Saturday morning, we ventured out to Grand-Place. We attempted to find the local bus that would take us there, since we were about 10 minutes away. However, we had no idea where this “Bus 71” picked up. We managed to walk halfway and then we hopped into a cab. We couldn’t feel our toes. After 2 minutes, we were there!

At Grote Market, we went into a chocolate store called “Bruyere.” Immediately, I chose several truffles: Irish Crème, Tiramisu, White Chocolate….and a few others.

We went to the Chocolate Museum, where we learned about the history and saw a demonstration.

Craved a burger and fries, so we went to a place called “Manneken Frites” I knew that Frites had to be fries. There we tried our first Belgium beer “Jupiler.”

Stopped by Manneken Pis (little peeing boy) along the way and bought more chocolate pralines at Neuhaus.

We went on an amazing beer tour that lasted for 4 hours. We started off at a pub, learning about trappists. There I had a blonde trappist called Westmalle. Afterwards, we headed to the only beer brewery left in Brussels called “Cantillon.” We learned that beer is made with four important ingredients: water, grains, hops, and yeast. We tried two different kinds there, Gueuze and Kriek .

Last stop of our beer tour, the 2nd best bar in the city with over 40 different kinds of ales on tap: Chez Moeder Lambic Fontainas. Simply Amazing.

The beer tour was SO worth the 35 euros. We learned so much (information overload at times) and now have an appreciation for different ales. We ended the evening at a Thai restaurant with some new friends we made at the beer tour. Topped the night off with a delicious Nutella and strawberry waffle on the streets!

This is Brussels in a nutshell. Such an amazing city! I would go back in a heartbeat. We can home Sunday, and made a pit stop at the leaning tower of Pisa. Stay tuned!