SEPTEMBER 2018 JAMS

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From now on, I’ll be plopping a playlist on here every month to keep you updated on what I’ve been listening to. I haven’t had a ton of time to get into new stuff due to the crazy whirlwind of the past month, but I’ve been really loving the chance I’ve gotten to revisit old favorites. Only really new song on here is the new Dua Lipa song because come on, it’s just SO good. Comment below if any of my favorites are your favorites, and if you find a new song that you like from here, let me know!!!!

xx

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/dufffs/playlist/1JvHr162JHdW58FEoEILNu

FLORENCE FILE #006 (sort of): CINQUE TERRE

Florence Files

Today’s Florence file comes with an apology on my end. Chronologically speaking, I’ve missed a post on my day trip to Modena, but that will be coming later this week, along with my Pisa and Lucca canyon posts. But I really couldn’t pass up writing about this trip first.

This past Sunday, a group of friends and I woke up at an ungodly hour to venture to the legendary Instagram goldmine of a beach destination that is Cinque Terre. We arrived bright and early at 6:15 am to our bus stop, where we met our Smart Trip tour group who, unbeknownst to us, was full of our friends! As students in Florence, we book so many weekend trips that we often don’t coordinate schedules with some of our other friends, and due to the beautiful weather and popularity of Cinque Terre, we gladly joined up to explore together for the day.

Cinque Terre is a particularly rugged portion of the Italian Riviera coastline consisting of five remote sister villages, connected mainly by train. These colorful little villages are notorious for their stunning beaches, colorful little hillside houses, and their reputation as the birthplace of pesto.

Our bus arrived about two hours after leaving Florence in the only village with a parking lot, Manarola. Although it is tiny, Manarola really set the tone for what was to come; technicolor buildings stacked along cobblestone paths, boats strewn about on the sidewalk as if they were parked bikes, and the unmistakable smell of fresh seafood. We continued down the path to the waterfront, only to find several rock formations in the shallows with ledges carved out for sunbathing locals. A little launch assisted many tiny boats in making their way into the calm Mediterranean, as many younger boys headed out for the day to work and play on the sea. Since Manarola is so tiny, we continued on to the next village shortly after our arrival.

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A 5-minute train ride took us to the slightly bigger village of Riomaggiore, where our tour guide was eager to show us his favorite place to eat; a Mamma Mia! themed seafood restaurant that apparently was home to the best pesto pizza and fried calamari around. I wasn’t hungry enough to buy anything, but I did have a bite of Kelly’s pesto pizza and gladly relieved Oliver of a giant calamari he was too squeamish to eat, and I can attest that it was definitely worth the hype. Once again, the rocky shoreline proved to be ideal for jumping off rocks into the crystal clear water, and after some swimming and basking in the sun, we headed off to our final destination, Monterosso al Mare.

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Monterosso is the largest village in Cinque Terre and attracts the most tourists due to its stunning beach, which is where we spent the bulk of our day. Our tour guide insisted we follow him to a great spot, and since he wasn’t wrong about the pesto pizza place, we were inclined to follow him. After about a thirty second walk from the train station, we arrived at a bar that looked like it would fit in better in Hawaii, not Italy, but still, we continued. The bar, Colpi di Timone, was famous for its drunk buckets- huge frozen mixed drinks that came in big plastic buckets, perfect for when you want a cold drink on the beach that will last you all day so you don’t have to keep going back. The crowd favorite drink was the Miami Vice, a bucket that was half strawberry daiquiri, half piƱa colada, but I opted for the margarona, a frozen lemon-lime margarita topped off with an ice cold Corona.

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We hauled our giant buckets down to the crowded beach and squeezed our towels together into a tiny piece of unclaimed beach, dropping our belongings and making a beeline for the water. While the beach is rocky and a bit painful to walk on, the water makes it well worth it. The water was so unbelievably warm and clear that it was impossible to get us to leave. The extra salinity of the Mediterranean came in handy by allowing us to simply float all afternoon long, laughing, talking, and taking in the stunning mountains and colorful buildings around us. A few people in our group wanted to stay on the shore and tan, which was definitely a relief because the New Yorker in me was not about to just let my bag sit out unguarded on a busy beach!

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After about three hours of enjoying the beach, it was time for us to head back home, but first, we changed out of our suits and grabbed some food for our drive home. I opted for the focaccia with goat cheese, arugula, and tomato, which was so pretty but was devoured before I could even think to get a picture. Unfortunately, while trying to juggle all of my sandy belongings while paying for my food, I dropped my phone, shattering the bottom part of the screen. My little black case from the Apple store has protected me countless times in the past, but was just no match for the Tuscan cobblestone. Regardless, it was an awesome day and definitely one of my new favorite places. Now I’m doing whatever it takes to get back onto a beach, including telling my dad to look into sailboat charter places on the Italian Riviera.

As I mentioned in the beginning, I’ve totally been slacking on getting these up on time, so expect a ton of posts this week as I get ready to head to Oktoberfest this Friday, and then Paris and Ireland the following week.

xx

FLORENCE FILE #004: SAN GIMIGNANO AND SIENA

Florence Files

Let the weekend trips begin!!

This past Sunday, I went with a group of my friends and classmates on a day trip to the Tuscan hillside cities of San Gimignano and Siena. I was very excited to explore more of Tuscany and see what they had to offer. San Gimignano is about an hour outside of Florence by bus, and the drive itself was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I’m so accustomed to cities like New York and Los Angeles, where the suburbs sprawl far beyond the city limits, a model that does not hold true in Florence. After crossing the bridge and getting through the other side of the city, there really were not many towns to speak of, save for the occasional villa or group of homes.

Upon arrival in San Gimignano, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I couldn’t see into the city because it is completely surrounded by a 13th-century wall and lies at the very top of a particularly steep hill. Nearly every building in San Gimignano seems as though it has not been altered since its creation centuries ago. Our professors, who served as tour guides for the day, led us up the hill and through the town to a tower in the castle courtyard, where we got our first true panoramic glimpse of the Tuscan countryside. After taking in the views, we were given some time to explore the small artisan shops and beautiful little streets. San Gim is also home to Gelateria Dondoli, one of the most critically acclaimed gelaterias in the world. I, of course, had to have some for breakfast, and after taking a good fifteen minutes to decide, settled for the venere nera, a blend of summer blackberry and Tuscan lavender. It was definitely worth the hype and I think I got about half of the other students on the tour to also try the flavor.

The little shops of San Gimignano were also a definite highlight. I couldn’t help myself from going into nearly every store on the street, including the Tuscan lavender stores, wineries, and leather workshops. There are many similar stores in Florence, but instead of seeming like tourist traps, the off-the-beaten-path nature of San Gim made everything seem so much more approachable.

An hour long bus ride through countless vineyards took us to our next stop, Siena. Siena is much larger than San Gimgnano, but still smaller than Florence. As soon as we left the bus, we entered the Basilica of San Domenico, home of the shrine of St. Catherine of Siena. The shrine is beautiful and incredibly ornate, but the centerpiece was not really something I was expecting; the real, disembodied, 600-year-old head of St. Catherine of Siena, complete with her Dominican habit. Not far from the basilica was the home of St. Catherine herself, now transformed into a sanctuary and tribute to the city’s beloved patron saint. The chapel was small but extravagant, housing the crucifix from which St. Catherine of Siena received her stigmata.

Walking in Siena was a workout all on its own, so if you’re going to visit, your shoes should be able to withstand something like the Appalachian Trail or an Everest summit attempt. I kid, but there was a girl in heels in our group and she was constantly behind everyone. Perhaps the most treacherous segment of Siena is the stunning Piazza Del Campo, a shell shaped Piazza that funneled downwards towards the Palazzo Publico, a giant town hall with a medieval tower. Our professors educated us about the Palio di Siena, an event that occurs at the beginning and the end of every summer in which the seventeen wards/neighborhoods of Siena race horses around the perimeter of the Piazza del Campo. If that’s not medieval tradition, I don’t know what is.

At this point, we were getting pretty hungry, so we stopped at an osteria on a side street for some classic Tuscan food. What I’ve come to admire about Italy is that food remains very regional; Italian restaurants will only serve what they’re good at, if you’re in the mountains, you’ll never be served seafood. I chose the pici al ragu Toscano, a pasta dish consisting of pici (a thicker variation of spaghetti native to Siena) with a Tuscan pork and veal meat sauce. It definitely paid off to get the local classic, because it was so flavorful and fresh.

After lunch, we headed to our final stop, the Siena Cathedral. Due to our time crunch we were unable to go inside, but the outside was definitely beautiful enough to keep us interested. Completed in the 14th century, the black-and-white striped cathedral is like nothing I’d seen before, completely different from its high Renaissance Italian counterparts. When you think of a medieval cathedral, you don’t necessarily think of a beautiful facade, but the Siena red embellishments really make the front stand out.

Both San Gimignano and Siena are great day trips for someone looking to venture outside of Florence, especially if you have any interest in history or food!! This is going up a little late so my post on pecorino romano and balsamic vinegar in Modena should be up within the next few days, and then it’s off to Cinque Terre and Pisa on the ninth and the tenth.

Since I haven’t been able to successfully get my very Italian wifi to work as fast as I’d like in my apartment, I’ll once again include all photos in a separate photo diary. Ciao!!

xx

FLORENCE FILE #002: Murphy’s Law

Florence Files, Uncategorized

Yes, you’re reading this, which means I’m alive, but just know that that was not a guarantee after the events of the first few days.

I left New York on Monday night, equipped with nothing but three bags worth of personal belongings, a passport, a four-year-old learner’s permit, an emergency replacement debit card, and a handful of euros. Some might say that this arsenal is less than sufficient, and I’d agree. Never would I ever leave for another country with no credit card, had it not been for the events of Saturday night. Due to a series of unfortunate events, I, who has never misplaced a single credit card or ID in her life, lost my whole wallet during a goodbye dinner with a friend. Before you ask, yes, I retraced my steps, turned my room upside down, cancelled the cards, and ordered replacements.

This left me a bit rattled, but I still boarded that Air France flight with three of my friends and a sense of excitement. As I landed in Florence and saw my first view of the city, I had completely come to terms with the hand I was dealt, and the long overnight flight and chaotic layover instantly seemed worth it. The plane flew over the green mountains and down into the valley, revealing the sight of the sun coming up, illuminating the Duomo peeking out of the thick layer of fog. A next road bump came in the form of a missing fleet of suitcases, our checked bags lost in the scuffle of our layover. Had this come at any other time, I probably wouldn’t have cared so much, but anyone who has been awake for far too long and has dealt with human beings in airports will probably understand just how poorly I took this information. Nevertheless, we left the Amerigo Vespucci airport ready to catch up on some sleep and explore our new city. Our bags arrived at the hostel in the midst of our deep nap, and we instantly freed ourselves from our black leggings and comfy tees in exchange for our featherweight sundresses, since the blazing heat was brand new for us.

The next few days consisted of orientation all day, sleep all night. Temperatures were in the high 90s every day, with frequent thunderstorms due to the ridiculous humidity. According to fitbit, we walked an average of around 15,000 steps a day, collapsing as soon as we got back to the hostel. We began apartment hunting on Thursday, coincidentally the hottest day of them all, and after a long, hard day, we found a great little three bedroom apartment, within spitting distance of the Arno River and the Palazzo Vecchio. We’ve since had the chance to get our bearings, check out our local restaurants, and partake in the Florentine nightlife, which is, funnily enough, saturated with American college students.

Photos from my first week will be in a photo diary that I’ll post in a bit, as well as my San Gimignano and Siena visit this weekend.

xx

FLORENCE FILE #001: THE WICKED WITCH GOES WEST

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Let’s chat.

I started this blog with the intention of encouraging myself to write creatively, a skill that I overuse academically, causing me to dread it recreationally. Thanks to a fabulous professor this past semester, I nurtured my blog for the sake of class assignments, exploring the different ways that fashion journalism can be presented. I grew to love blogging, but could never quite find the right subject matter. Thankfully, life has since provided me with much to talk about.

For the next two semesters, I’ll be studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Naturally, I plan to document this amazing opportunity, for the sake of sharing it with my loved ones at home and for my own posterity’s sake. In preparation for this trip, I’ve been reading up in the Library of Alexandria of travel; Pinterest. So many people have shared such great tips and tricks in the form of their own blog posts that I feel that it’s only right to pay it forward and share my knowledge and experience with you all as it occurs to me.

I intend to revamp my blog not only with travel content, but also with the beauty, fashion, and lifestyle that I originally intended to fill my blog with. If you’re just following along for the pasta pictures and museum recommendations, you can follow along here. If you’re brave enough to stick around for the rest of my ramblings, thanks!

I fly to Florence on Monday, August 20th, so if there is a Florence File #002, know that I’ve made it.

xx