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Hayley Travels

Bonjorno Rome!

ITALY | Sunday, 17 July 2016 | Views [365]

Normally I keep my posts upbeat, but I wanted to start this one off with a little bit about the Nice tragedy. Some of y'all may have seen my Facebook post so you know that I was in Nice in the same location as the attack just seventy two hours earlier. You also know how close I came to actually being there that night. But it was weird finding out about it. I heard about just five or so minutes after it happened. I was in my room at the hostel in Genoa, where I was just staying for that night. There was another girl in the room with me and we had been talking earlier but had gone back to doing our own thing. All of a sudden she just exclaims, "Holy shit!" I asked her what was up and she told me that she had been talking on FaceTime with her brother, who works on a boat in Cannes (which is right by Nice), and he had been watching the fireworks and he had told her what just happened. At first, I just felt shock, you know? Like, I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that I had just been in that exact spot three days prior. And then I came to realize how I was almost in Nice that night and how undoubtedly I would have gone to the beach to watch the fireworks. Then I realized that three days earlier I had seen a sign about the festivities for Bastille Day and had wished that I was going to be there for them. The night I found out about the attack, I honestly didn't think much of it, as terrible as that sounds. At the time there were no numbers of the dead and wounded and it was unclear if the attack was malicious or if someone had had too much to drink and got behind the wheel of a car. It wasn't until I was on the bus the next morning and reading about the attack that it really sunk in and then I couldn't get it out of my mind. I am so grateful that I was not there, but knowing how close I came to experiencing the horror firsthand makes me grieve those who died that much harder.

ANYWAY, on to happier, more fun things! I have spent the past week in Northern Italy. It's absolutely gorgeous, but also expensive. I hope one day to be able to come back and do Northern Italy right: wine tastings, going into the mountains, Lake Como, Cinque Terre (not really Northern Italy, but since I'm including Florence in the region, Cinque Terre can be included), gondola ride in Venice, Milan shopping. But, since I am on a budget I had to limit my time in the area.


TURIN

I had so much fun in Turin! This city, while large, is not as well known as many of the other cities in Italy. My dad has done business with a company here and one of the people he knows, Monica, offered to let me stay at her house. It was so great! The first night she made a homemade dinner (please picture the heart eyes emoji here). She made carbonara, chicken, and grilled eggplant with oil and Parmesan. We also had Russian salad, figs grown in their backyard, wine, and ice cream. It was amazing.

She has a daughter that is Shelby's age (20). Sara, her daughter, spent the two days I was there showing me around. It was so awesome being shown around by someone who really knows and loves the city. Since I didn't have anything I really wanted to see or do, we went to the places Sara thought I should see.

The first day I took a bus from Nice to Turin. I met Monica and Sara at the bus station. Monica took my bags and Sara and I set off to see Turin. We walked all over the place. We mostly walked around the main square and that area. At one point we met up with one of her friends. Between the two of them, I got a lot of really interesting history and information on the different squares, statues, and buildings we passed. After awhile we naturally went for gelato. The place we went had really interesting flavors. I got two flavors: lemon with basil and mango with ginger. It was super refreshing. Not long after that Sara and I needed to catch the bus back to her town (they live in a small town about 45 minutes outside of Turin).

The second day we slept in and took the later morning bus into Turin. We met up with her boyfriend and went to this really interesting sandwich shop. The sandwiches are made in a bunch of different ingredient combinations. They're actually half-sandwiches: a slice of bread is cut diagonally and filled with various ingredients. They have a meal special where you can pick two. I got a standard ham, tomato, and lettuce. Then I got one with ham, mozzarella, and oregano. Side note: the sandwich was made with fresh mozzarella, not the mozzarella you probably get if you buy it shredded or in a block or in string cheese form from the grocery store - it tastes so much better than that. With the meal we also got a bottle of water and these crunchy sweet cookie snacks. We took our lunches to a nearby park and found a bench near the river.

Afterwards we went to the Egyptian Museum. I heard from multiple sources that this is the second best Egyptian museum in the world, behind the one that's actually in Egypt. It was fantastic. All of the signs are in both Italian and English. Plus, you get an audio guide with your ticket and there are at least a dozen language options. Everything was well displayed and informative. The real show stopper is at the end: The Gallery of Kings. It's dark and imposing and breathtaking. I can't really adequately describe it but I did include a picture in my album to sort of give you a sense of what it looks like.

When we finished with the Egyptian Museum, Sara's boyfriend had to leave but we continued on. We then went to the National Cinema Museum, which I probably wouldn't have gone to if I had visited Turin on my own, but I'm glad I went! It's very interactive and interesting. We probably spent a couple of hours pressing buttons and looking into cameras and learning about the history and process of cinema. This museum is housed under the Mole, which is a recognizable symbol of the city. At the end of our museum exploration we took the lift to the top of the Mole. You can just buy a ticket for the lift if you don't want to go to the museum (I'm pretty sure). Go up to the top of the Mole. Seriously. The views are gorgeous. You can see the whole city and the river and the mountains.

We left the museum right before it closed and met Sara's boyfriend and another of her friends for pizza. Oh. My. Goodness. It was sooooooo good. I technically got focaccia which doesn't have tomato sauce (and come to think of it, I don't think it had cheese). It was called Focaccia Bruschetta. It had fresh tomatoes, basil, oregano, oil, and sea salt. We finished the evening by going to get gelato. This time I had lemon (not with basil this time) and peach.

I was sad to leave, but I needed to continue on. I had planned on going to Milan next but because I wasn't sure how long I was going to be in Turin, I didn't start looking for a hostel until midnight the day I was leaving. And because of that, I only found a couple of hostels that were pretty expensive. Since there wasn't anything in Milan I really wanted to do, I just decided to skip it. But it wasn't going to work for me to go straight to Venice, which was the next stop after Milan. I found a cheap train to Genoa and a fairly cheap hostel and spent one night there before moving on to Venice.

 

 

VENICE

I only actually spent one night in Venice because hostels are super duper expensive, but unlike Milan, I actually wanted to see Venice. My bus drives around 4:30 in the afternoon and I had to take a boat to my hostel because it was on an island across the Grand Canal from Venice. Obviously in Venice proper, you can drive around, but honestly the easiest way to navigate the area is by boat. You can take a water taxi that holds maybe half a dozen people or you can ride a vaporetto which is kind of like their city bus only in boat form. There was a stop like two blocks from my hostel so I needed to take it anyway but decided it would be easier to take to the main area, walk around a little bit, and then go to my hostel. The trip through the Grand Canal is not particularly short (expect it to take at least half an hour depending on where you get on and off) but you get to see all of the main buildings and the views are beautiful. I spent probably two or three hours riding the boat and walking around a little bit along the canal.

 


FLORENCE

I only had one full day in Florence, which is unfortunate. The major thing I did there was go to the Galleria dell'Accademia. Normally I'm not a big fan of art museums but this museum houses one of the most famous sculptures in the world: Michelangelo's David. That's literally the only reason I went. If you like Renaissance art, this is a great museum for you, but I don't particularly care one way or the other so I was in the museum for a grand total of twenty minutes. Even with buying my tickets online (which makes the wait shorter) I waited to get in longer than I was actually in the museum. But, with that being said, David was very impressive. I don't know why but I didn't expect him to be so...large. Get your mind out of the gutter! That's not what I meant. Well, not entirely. The statue was so much taller than I thought it was going to be and with its prominent display, it's definitely eye catching and worth the entrance fee.

Walk then minutes away from the Galleria and you'll come across the Duomo. In fact you'll see it long before you come upon it. I didn't go inside but the exterior is exquisite. It's huge and ornate and gorgeous. I spent most of my time in Florence walking around that general area because that's where my hostel was. There are tons of shops and restaurant and cafes.

I ate quite well in Florence. I had gelato a couple of times, of course. I highly recommend you go to the gelato place I went to. It's in Piazza de San Marco, the square right by the Galleria dell'Accademia. It only has a sign that says "Gelateria" and I included a picture of the sign since I can't give you more details about its name. They have limoncello gelato and their peach gelato tastes exactly like you're eating a peach. I also went to this French fry place a couple of times. I've seen similar shops several times in Italy. All they sell are French fries and beverages. You pick the size of the order of French fries you want and what sauce you want on top. I had barbecue one time and curry sauce one time. The second time I went my French fries came with a side order of being asked out. So that happened....

I also stumbled upon the Magnum ice cream store. The best part is you can customize your own ice cream bar. You start by choosing whether you want a vanilla or chocolate ice cream bar. I chose you can choose up to three toppings. I chose caramel popcorn pieces, pretzel pieces, and brownie bites. Then they dip the ice cream bar in your choice of white, milk, or dark chocolate (I chose dark) and they top your dipped ice cream with your chosen toppings. Finally you can choose which of the three types of chocolate you want your bar drizzled in. I chose milk chocolate. It was fantastic!


My time in Northern Italy was a lot of fun! Italy is a gorgeous, amazing country with delicious food. I am so excited to see what Rome and Naples have in store for me!

 

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