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Italy Study Abroad Trip 2011 - Matthew Melcher


July 5th, 2011

Sicily was a lot of fun.  We saw an open market and went to the theater/opera house, which had a really cool echo in one room.  We also explored the Duomo and went to a museum.  Dinner was at Vincenzo’s restaurant, and included some fresh octopus and swordfish from the market. After Sicily we took a scenic 5 hour bus ride from Rome to Paestum.  The hotel we stayed at was very nice and secluded.  Two tasty group dinners were included there, both with plenty of wine.  From Paestum we went on to Pompeii to see the ruins; there was a brothel there with pictures of “services offered” on the wall.  We stopped by the Greek temples on our way home, then went back to Rome for one more afternoon and night before heading back to the States.  It was an amazing trip and I could definitely see myself coming back some day!

St. Jimmy John’s

July 5th, 2011

San Gimignano was my second favorite city of the entire trip.  It was a small, cozy town surrounded by miles of green hills.  We climbed a tower (of course) and visited a torture museum, which I didn’t enjoy a whole lot because it was pretty gruesome.  The night we got there, we had an amazing dinner with four courses and some good wine.  We bought a couple bottles of the organic wine grown there another night and saved some of it for the next town.

In Sienna, we climbed the tower in the main piazza and got to see where they hold the horse races.  Apparently they are a pretty big deal there, as we saw multiple flags for different countries to represent their colors during the races.  We also climbed the unfinished cathedral.  Then we went to Assisi, where we saw a few churches and the tomb of St. Francis.

A Flurry of Activity

June 21st, 2011

Looking at my journal, I see I only wrote a few short highlights from some of the cities we passed through this week, so I will try to fill in more details as I go.  In Milan, it was extremely hot and there were nice shops and nicely dressed people all over the place.  We saw their cathedral, which was very impressive with its gothic architecture, and also heard lectures from the Polytechnic school there.  When we went to see the Last Supper, Big Steve tried to take a picture but forgot to turn his flash off.  A security woman yelled, “NO FOTO!” and ran after him and forced him to delete it.  I tried to sneak one on my iPod, but they came after me too.  At least it was good entertainment for everyone who saw.

The next stop was Venice.  We went here on our free days, so it was a little less packed with activities than when we were with the group, but we still did a lot.  We went to the beach (Lido) and got pretty burnt.  Our hotel was very nice, and was right next to a canal with gondolas passing through every once in a while.  Venice is also known as the city of masks and it definitely lived up to its nickname.  In St. Mark’s square, there was live music and people dancing, some wearing masks and some on their way to buy a mask from one of the many stores nearby.  It was pretty quiet after ten there, so we got a good night’s sleep before a day of shopping, gondola rides, and our bus ride to Pisa.  While we were in Pisa, we saw the leaning tower and (of course) took some touristy pictures of it.  I also took a video on my iPod of a guy singing in the Baptistry dome.  It echoed like crazy, creating a really cool effect. Then it was on to San Gimignano!

From Florence

June 21st, 2011

My posts are mainly coming/going to come from things I wrote myself in emails or in my journal, with a few more memories added as I think of them.

We took the train to Florence this morning after another great night in Campo di Fiori in Rome.  I immediately liked Florence more than Rome; it’s a little smaller, cleaner, cheaper, less crowded, and more homey.  After we arrived, we saw Galileo’s museum and Brunelleschi’s dome.  There were over 400 steps to the top so it was quite a climb, but once we got to the top we were rewarded with an amazing view of the city.  Il Duomo (the dome) was the biggest of its time, surpassing even the Pantheon.

The next day we went to Piazza Michelangelo and had another good view of the city.  It was there that I haggled for some gifts for my siblings (but I won’t say how much they cost on here). We also saw a couple of the members of Jersey Shore before departing for Milan.


June 21st, 2011

The punctuation and capitalization in this post are off because the Italian keyboards are much different than the ones in the US, and what follows is another email I wrote myself from Italy. Enjoy.

within the past two days we have toured through the colosseum, the piazza navona, and the spanish steps. we learned that the colosseum was built for the roman people on top of the site of nero’s former residence, which he allegedly created just for himself. the colosseum is so much bigger in real life than you would think just by looking at a picture. i did my presentation on the piazza navona today, so i already knew most of the history about that. the spanish steps were pretty neat, but the girls thought the area around it was even better. they had louie vitton, prada, armani, and a bunch of other designer stores all right next to each other. we went into one sunglasses store and the lady working there said bongornio to me.  i said it back and emily thought i said it with a very american accent and teased me about it, so i just started saying digornio for the rest of the day.

Here we go…

June 21st, 2011

So here is the first entry describing my Italy trip, and oh what a trip it was.  I suppose the best way to do this would be to copy what I wrote myself in an email after our first day:

Today was a good first day. The flight was long but we arrived safe and thankfully made it through the airport with all our things. We were a little worried about customs (did we need our passports out? etc) until we made our way through, and discovered all we had to do was walk through an open door. Effie was quite taken with the buses, even though they looked none different than those in the US, and Emily thought the trees were very interesting. Liz just wanted to open the big doors all day and have the wind blow her hair and the curtains back.
We had pizza for 2 euros for lunch, I bought a new SD card for my camera since mine did not work for some reason, and I discovered that my camera takes terrible night time photos.  Everything in Rome is huge, as far as the monuments go.  The shops are all tiny and right next to the monuments, but most of the restaurants have very authentic Italian food. It is much different than Olive Garden back at home.  We numbered off before bed, remember I am number 6!

Hello world!

May 20th, 2011

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