Ciao everyone and welcome back to my blog! I have absolutely loved writing about my experiences in Italy these past several months and find it so hard to believe that this weekend will mark the end of my semester abroad! Although we Mount Study Abroad students have limited days left, we have definitely been making the most of our remaining time here. It has been an incredibly action-packed, educational, and relaxing two weeks that have enabled us to cross so many things off our bucket lists! Spending a weekend in Sorrento, visiting the beautiful island of Capri, climbing a volcano, celebrating Easter in Italy, traveling to Assisi for the day, and taking a class trip to see Michelangelo’s David have made my last weeks in Italy extremely eventful and has given me much to reflect on to distract myself from the fact that the next few days will be my final in Florence…for now at least!
The hot weather that we’ve been having here in Italy lately inspired my friends and me to finally make our way down to the Amalfi Coast, where we had ourselves a super fun girls’ weekend by the water! We kicked off our trip by catching a ferry that took us to the incredible and luxurious island of Capri, where we spent the day walking through gorgeous gardens and hiking cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean. After immersing ourselves in the beauty of this island, we booked a two-hour boat cruise around the rocky shore, which allowed us to admire it from afar!
While our first two days in Sorrento were very relaxing and laid-back, the last day was much more adventurous, as we visited one of the most famous archeological sites in southern Italy: Pompeii! Before exploring the ruins of this ancient city, my friends and I climbed to the top of the volcano that destroyed it almost two thousand years ago. The views from Mount Vesuvius, one of Europe’s most active volcanoes, were unreal, as it rises extraordinarily high above the bay of Naples. After our trek to the top, we traveled back down to see the city that was burned alive by this explosive volcano. Venturing through the cobblestone streets that hold the preserved sights of Pompeii made it feel like we took a time machine back to the tragic day that took the lives of the entire population. Attempting to piece together the history of the town and imagining what it looked like before the catastrophic eruption was an extremely cool experience that I’m glad we got to share! The entire excursion was absolutely incredible and a fantastic way to round out our weekend travels around Italy!
The following Friday, two friends and I took a day trip to the Umbria region, which is home to the magnificent medieval and religious town of Assisi! We couldn’t think of a better place to go on Good Friday than to the birthplace of two major saints in the Catholic Church! As a fellow lover of nature and animals, St. Francis has always been my mom’s favorite saint and his hometown is at the top of my list of spots that I hope I get to show her one day! It is one of the most peaceful places I have ever been and is without a doubt worth the visit!
After arriving back in Florence, my friends and I continued celebrating Holy Week together by attending an Easter Vigil service at one of the oldest churches in the city, where I got to lector and altar serve my first Mass in Italy! Helping out with Mass is something that I love doing at the Mount and have been missing very much during my time abroad, which is why I was so grateful for the opportunity to do so last weekend. Easter Sunday was just as special, as I got to witness a famous folk tradition in Florence known as Scoppio del Carro, or “Explosion of the Cart”, during which a fake dove flies from the inside of the altar of the Duomo to a cart parked outside, igniting it and sending fireworks up into the air! This is such a cool way for Florentine citizens to begin Easter Sunday and is making me want to come back to Italy for this joyous holiday again next year!
These past two weeks in Italy have been nothing but amazing, which is going to make saying goodbye this weekend even more bittersweet. My time in Italy really flew, and in a few short days, I will be flying back to the States! While I will be incredibly sad to leave this outstanding country, I become overcome with excitement every time I remind myself that very soon, I will be reuniting with my friends and family back home and at the Mount. My countdown of days left in Florence has turned into a countdown until I see their faces in person instead of over the phone, which is definitely making my departure from this beautiful place a lot less disheartening. I feel so insanely lucky to have people in my life that give me something to look forward to as I leave Italy. To those of you reading, I cannot wait to see you and to share this experience with you in person:)
To everyone reading, I want to thank you for joining me on my journey around Europe thus far. Although I will be busy adjusting to life in America again for the next few days, I invite you to join me in two weeks for my final blog post, where I will be reflecting on all of the things I have learned from my semester abroad! In the meantime, I will be soaking in my remaining moments in Florence and calling to mind all of the amazing memories that I have made here over the past few months. Until next time…!