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Italy Study Abroad Trip 2011 - Ryan Schrack

Italy Study Abroad Trip

July 15th, 2011

Day 1 – May 12, 2011

  • Today I arrived at about 12 after our flight was delayed. There was a large party of about 30 Italians going back to Italy who all knew each other on the plane. We already felt out of place just being on the plane with mostly Italians returning home. We took a taxi with a man who knew almost nothing when it came to English.  That was a very interesting experience. Upon getting to the hotel, we couldn’t check in until 2 so we sat around with four of the other students who were on the trip and were here early. We ended up going to get pizza up the street.  The lady working handed me something with a number on it and I had no idea what she was saying so I claim that she gave me her number. Upon getting back we met up with Dr. Erdogomus and decided to take a nap before dinner. We ended up taking a long walk into the center of Rome seeing many places such as the coliseum, the pantheon, the piazza novella, and the trevi fountain among other things along the path. Wearing Sperry’s today was a bad choice as my feet are definitely already feeling the pain. Now to catch up on some sleep and hope to get back on track for sleeping schedule.

Day 2 – May 13, 2011

  • Today was our first full day in Rome. We spent the day once again walking around downtown Rome. This time we took a closer look at the Pantheon. We also headed over to the Tiber River and walked along it. It isn’t a very clean river… we even saw people throwing trash into it. The graffiti along it is also sad as they don’t want to paint over it and ruin the bricks. We continued along the river until going off the path to the piazza del fiuri. This was a very populated square and had a lot going on. We got a large bowl of fresh fruit here to tide us over for lunch. The group split here for a while and Amanda and I ended up wandering into what looked like an old convent. It had a very nice square in the middle of it with priests wandering around. After meeting back up with the group we continued to wander through some of downtown Rome until we got back to the hotel. We than took another break, which meant another nap, until dinner time where I had a very good pork steak. I also found out that water is very expensive at restaurants, and that they usually prefer carbonated water. We than went on to have a very exciting nightlife.

Day 3 – May 14, 2011

  • We got woken up at 9 after getting home at 3, it was a really bad day, we went to mass. Than we went out to group dinner, than went to bed.

Day 4 – May 15, 2011

  • Today was our first real day of the trip. We got up bright and early to go to the coliseum and be sure we were the first ones in line. This proved to be a good idea as the line was packed when we ended up leaving. The coliseum was massive. We spent two hours exploring its levels. I also performed my first sketch of a tunnel view of the coliseum. We than left and talked about the arch of Constantine. We than continued on to the Roman Forum. This seemed like a massive garden of ancient ruins. It was very interesting to see things such as the basilicas there. This was a very full day, which ended with a group dinner. It was the first four-course meal I have had here, and the first one I have had in awhile. We than went out, topped our last night out, and met even more people, some from Utah, one from Australia, some from South Carolina, and even some from Nebraska.

Day 5 – May 16, 2011

  • Today we went to the Piazza Navona again. It was very interesting to see that fountain of the four rivers by Bernini that I read about in Angels and Demons. We than later went and stopped by the Spanish steps and wandered around the area to do some shopping at all the really expensive stores on the street. After, we split up and some of us walked around and took a look at the capital building, went and saw the castle of saint Angelo, and than returned to Navona to sketch another drawing. We than went out to eat at a little place we found near our hotel and cae back and pretty much just went to bed.

Day 6 – May 17, 2011

  • Today we got up and headed straight for the piazza del poppolo on the metro train. We looked around at this church and than tried to go to the Da Vinci museum but we were not able to make it there. We than went to the Trevi fountain and the pantheon. These were two of my favorite places we have seen so far. After the, we had a quick lunch and went on to see the museum at the top of Michelangelo’s steps. I don’t remember the plaza name, but the museum had a ton of statues of random people and emperors. After that stop, we checked out the large white building and got a view of the city and returned home.

Day 7 – May 18, 2011

  • Today we got up decently early and headed straight over to the Vatican to make the reservation that we had. We went through the Vatican museums for about 4 hours. It took up the vast majority of the morning. We saw many interesting paintings in there and even some works by Da Vinci and Bernini. We than went to the Sistine chapel. It was pretty amazing how Michelangelo did all of it. It was probably one of the most interesting rooms I have been in in Rome so far. After that we had lunch and headed off to the Basilica, where we found that it was way to crowded and decided to come back the next day. We than went to the Castle of Saint Angelo. I really enjoyed this castle as it was very realistic and it had one of the best views of Rome I have seen yet. We than went back to the Spanish steps where I gave my presentation for the trip. After, we continued over to Da Vinci’s museum. It was a very interesting place as he is definitely one of my favorite engineers and artists. We than arrived home at 7 that night after a very long day.

Day 8 – May 19, 2011

  • This was our last day in Rome. We started the day by going to St. Peters basilica early in the morning so that we would actually be able to get in this time. It was super huge and already very crowded. It was very interesting to see some of the tombs of different popes. We than started our scavenger hunt which lead us to the piazza del fiori, the pantheon, Trajan’s column, and the coliseum. After this, we stayed in for dinner, and than went to the university of Rome. Their campus was huge and they told us they had 112,000 students. After the tour, we went out for our last night in Rome.

Day 9 – May 20, 2011

  • We woke up bright and early to start heading to Florence. The train we took was very fast and was a nice ride. We got here and went straight to the hotel. It is definitely a lot worse than the last one we were at but the location is nice because it is in the middle of downtown. The shower and the toilet are also right on top of each other in the bathroom. We went and explored the city a little, seeing Galileo’s science museum, and than going through the large building in the center. We climbed the 460 some steps to the top of the dome to get a very great view of the city. It was definitely quite the experience. After, we had an American dinner of cheeseburgers, which was a wonderful change to actually eat meat.

Day 10 – May 21, 2011

  • Today we went to the Accademia first. Michelangelo’s David  was here. It was quite amazing and probably one of my favorite pieces of art that we have seen so far. We than toured the three cathedrals Santa Croce, the Basilica Di S. Lorenzo, and Santa Maria Novella. Santa Croce contained tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo. Than we went through the Uffizi Gallery with the Birth of Venus painting. There were also some works by da Vinci. We weren’t able to take very many pictures. We had dinner up on the terrace of the hotel overlooking the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral. The picnic had food from the local markets.

Day 11- May 22, 2011

  • Today was one of the shorter days for our trip. We started with an early morning hike up to a hill on the outskirt of the town in order to get an amazing view of the town. Florence is definitely a much better looking city than Rome in my opinion. I really like their way of life a lot more too. After this hike, we went to a museum that had various other statues. After this museum we split for lunch and then headed to the market to shop around. After shopping for awhile we went to mass at 6. On the way to mass, we met some girls from Virginia and ended up seeing jersey shore while trying to find our way in. The mass was Italian but it was in the dome so it was very interesting. We then came back and headed out for the night to stroll around and explore.

Day 12 – May 23, 2011

  • Today we got up somewhat early in order to head out of Florence and straight to Milan! It was a very fast ride being only about an hour and a half, and one that we played cards the whole time on. Milan is definitely different then both Rome and Florence, but is more similar to Rome, especially in size. It definitely has a unique fashion to it also. We than took a quick lunch, had our first mcdonalds of the trip, and headed to the dome here. We climbed to the top and got a great view of the massive city of Milan. After this we headed home, ate dinner on a boat for Liz’s birthday, and then went out for the night with Dr. E and Jeff.

Day 13 – May 24, 2011

  • Today we went without breakfast. It was pretty rough. We headed to the university and listened to lectures from Italian teachers on structural analysis and non destructive techniques. The first two lectures were pretty interesting, but the last one was really boring and hard to stay awake in. It was definitely like being in school in that we were being taught for about 5 hours that day, and ate lunch in the plaza with all the student. We were stared at because of the fact that we stood out and ate much more then they all do. There aren’t many obese people over there.  We also saw the structural analysis lab at the universities and some of the techniques they use. We then headed to another museum and saw more paintings. After the long day, we headed home and made dinner for everyone. It was a taco meal, and a nice change of pace. The rest of the night was spent planning our two day trips currently being Venice and an unplanned day.

Day 14 – May 25, 2011

  • A very full day today. We started out with the National Museum of Scien and Technology of Leonardo da Vinci.  The museum was one of my favorites as it was da Vinci. The second museum was the Teatro alla Scala, which was a theatre museum of a world renowned opera house. We decided against going to the opera due to lack of time even though we had a great deal available. The three cathedrals of the day included San Lorenzo, Castello Sforzesco, and Santa Maria delle Grazie. Santa Maria was the location of da Vinci’s infamous the last supper. A group of us home-cooked a meal of pasta and meat sauce back at the hostel for a nice cheap dinner.

Day 15 – May 26, 2011

  • Today was the first day of our free day. We spent it by heading off to Venice. It was a very nice train ride and we arrived in about two and a half hours. The city was definitely amazing. It is quite different than any place I have seen and was nice to not have as many sounds as a city. We explored and went to San Marcos Basillica and the markets of many different types of glass. We than took a taxi over to Ludi, an island, and hung out at the beach for about two and a half hours. It was wonderful to relax and the beach was very nice. I also learned that most men wear speedos and many women go topless, so it was a very interesting experience to say the least. The water was not super clean, but was very warm, and it was just great to see the ocean. We headed back, going to dinner, and then made our train at 7:50 to head home. We then had a movie night to finish off the night.

Day 16 – May 27, 2011

  • This was our second free day. Today we mostly slept in, hung out at the hotel, and played a lot of cards. It was a nice day to be off our feet and recover from all the walking we had previously been doing. We took this time to also get ready for all the traveling we would soon be doing. We went out this night before we left Milan. I came to the conclusion that I don’t really like Milan as a city.

Day 17 – May 28, 2011

  • In the morning, we left bright and early for Pisa. It was about a 4 hour drive to get there. We than took a shuttle from the town, into the tourist part of pisa with the tower. It was crazy to see how much the tower is actually leaning. We ended up going in the church there, the baptistery, and climbing the leaning tower itself. It was definitely very interesting to climb as it was at a very awkward slope. After going through everything at Pisa, we left for San Giamagno. This was definitely one of my favorite towns so far. It was a small castle like city on top of a hill that had one of the greatest views I have seen so far. Even our hotel view was awesome. We had an amazing dinner here that night as a group and ate some of the best cheesecake I have had in awhile. We than wandered around the city at night and went up on to some of the terraces.

Day 18 – May 29, 2011

  • This morning started in San Giamagno by touring some of the churches and castles. They really weren’t anything different than a lot of the stuff we have seen. We than went to an interesting torture museum. After walking through the town a bit more and getting some world famous gelato, we left for Sienna. It really amazed me that by the time we left Giamagno, we had located 3 different tortures museums in the somewhat small city. In Sienna we wandered around the plaza and climbed its unfinished cathedral and the cities bell tower. Both provided wonderful views of the city. Leaving Sienna, we arrived in Asissi for the night.

Day 19 – May 30, 2011

  • Three churches in Assisi: the Basilica de St. Francis and monastery, Santa Marie Sopra Minerva, and San Rufino. We then took the bus to the airport and flew to the island of Sicily.

Day 20 – May 31, 2011

  • Today started off bright and early to walk around Palermo. We started walking south and ended up going into a local market to see just how fresh all the fish in this area was. They had many types of fish to see displayed in a scant ally way that smelled quite horribly. We went onward until we went to a castle in the area and also visited a church. The castle had a small church in it that was different than many I had seen due to the fact that it was made of all mosaics. It was definitely unique. After visiting these places, we got lunch and headed for the rocky shore by the porch where we all jumped on large rocks and messed around for about an hour. I did some yoga on the rocks and made a spear out of bamboo. We left for the opera house but it had just closed when we got there so we are going to go tomorrow. We had some free time so we tried to walk to the real beach, guided by me, but it was a complete failure. I went the right way but the distance was much farther than I guessed and we didn’t even have time to make it. Oh well. We than had a 5 course meal at one of Jeff’s friends restaurants. It was full of new things like octopus, swordfish, and ice cream made without milk and amoretto. It was probably easily the best meal we have had. We went into the kitchen and met everyone working there too. They then started us on our bar crawl for the night. Both the owners, and Dr. E and Jeff came out with us. It was definitely a good night.

Day 21 – June 1, 2011

  • This morning we got up early to head to the opera house in Palermo because we weren’t able to go yesterday. The tour was in Italian so we weren’t able to get a lot from it, but the opera house was definitely pretty neat. It apparently has one of the biggest stages in the country. It also had this very cool acoustic room where you could hear yourself really loud in the center. After the opera, we left on a plane back for Rome. It was much nicer than the plane there and was quite uneventful. We than took a 7 hour bus ride that was only supposed to be 4 hours due to traffic. It was a very enjoyable ride though and I had a lot of fun. We arrived at Paestum late and had a very nice 3-course meal before playing cards for the rest of the night.

Day 22 – June 2, 2011

  • Today was also one of our more filled days. We started by getting up around 8 to drive over to Pompei. This was definitely an interesting site and the town of ruins was massive. It was interesting to hear the story of hour Mount Vesuvius just wiped it out. After wandering the city for awhile, we headed back to Paestun to visit our last thing of the trip. They were the greek temples. It was really cool to see a different style of temple in Italy and made for a nice ending walk. After going back home, we had the last group dinner together. It was a very good group dinner and I really enjoyed everyone sharing all their stories together. We ended the night by playing nerts and going for a midnight swim. It is sad that we only have one day left.

Day 23 – June 3, 2011

  • This was our last day of the trip. We left Paestum after and 8:30 dinner to head back to Rome on a bus. We were upgraded to a new closer hotel downtown because ours experienced some water problems. This was really nice as we were able to actually walk downtown pretty fast. We did a lot more shopping this day to finish every thing up. I still didn’t find anything I though was worth buying unfortunately. We ended the night by going out for the last time with everyone at Sloppy’s. It was definitely a great night with only a few speed bumps along the way. It was very sad to say goodbyes to everyone as I realized I wouldn’t see them in the morning. It was definitely an amazing trip.

Day 24 – June 4, 2011

  • By the time I was awake at ten, everyone was already gone except Sara, Katherine, and Dr. E. I went to breakfast and moved all of my stuff into Katherines room. I spent a good portion of the day walking around to see almost all of my favorite places. It was a really nice 3 and a half hour walk and was great to get one extra look at some amazing sites. I also got an extra wish in at the Trevi. I got back to the hotel after getting some dinner with Sara before she left and than waited for my sleeper train.