Saturday, October 31, 2009

Thank you Doty for missing your flight to Amsterdam

This weekend was made better in the strangest of ways, Andrew Doty missed his bus to Pisa, which meant that he missed his flight to Amsterdam. His parents gave him an ultimatum to make the best of his weekend in Florence and he took us along for the ride. Although we didn't get the earliest of starts on Saturday we made the most out of the time we had.

We were showered and out by noon and it was off to the Uffizi to get the Amici degli Uffizi card. This card is worth every penny if you plan on spending more than a few days in Florence, it allows you to get in to major museums in Florence for free and without having to wait in line, and we got our 40 euro out of it on the first day. After the Uffizi we went to La Spada for lunch I had half a chicken and potatoes, we ate on a bridge overlooking the Arno. From there we went to the Palazzo Pitti or the Pitti Palace. The Pitti Palace is known for the the Boboli Gardens and its art collections. We were not allowed to take any photos of the art bot I made up for it in the garden, we spent more time in the gardens than we did anywhere else that day. the gardens felt like they went on forever, and we didn't even get to see the whole garden, in fact I might go back next weekend to look around more. From there we went to get gelato from a place that is a little to far to walk to normally. After gelato we went to the Uffizi to see the works by Botticelli. We hurried through the Uffizi because we didn't have enough time to slowly look at everything and we wanted to get a chance to see the David at the Accademia. That was our last stop on the whirlwind tour, we were the last people into the Accademia and we rushed to see the David and then called it a night.

View of the Boboli Gardens

Beautiful fall Colors

View from the edge of the Boboli Gardens

Doty found the Secret Garden

Me and a giant face

Doty and Kepfer acting out a Statue

Rows of trees

The David

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Today will go down in history as one of the best day trips I have gone on while in Florence. To get to Perugia and all other non-chocolate related expenses only cost me 25 euro, included in that is the five euro chococard that entitles the holder to many freebies and free samples at all the booths at the festival. My first stop was right off the escalator, there was a booth for Droste of Holland, I was ready to make my first purchase, to much of a lekkerbek not to buy the Dutch chocolate. After that it was straight to a stand that was selling European hot chocolate, which is basically the texture of pudding but super hot, you have to drink it with a spoon and hope that it doesn't cool to the point of becoming solid again. From that point we went on a mission to get as many free samples and freebies as we could before we left, of course we took a lunch break (slice of pizza for 1.35), we got to almost every freebie and had tons of samples.

As we were walking we ran into another group of students who mentioned a must, two kinds of chocolate beer, I made that my #1 priority. We found the stand, they had a chocolate stout on tap and Old Tom Chocolate Ale bottles, I got a glass of the stout and a bottle of the chocolate ale, I'm saving the ale for later. I have been spoiled by Iron Horse Brewery in Ellensburg, WA. They make a beer called Mocha Death, an ale that tastes of chocolate and coffee, and the stout came no where close to matching that, I haven't tried the ale but I hope that it fares better. After that it was time to stop for a chocolate covered apple which I just at while writing... no guilt, its a fruit. After that it was time to catch the bus to the train station and head home.

Droste of Holland and Me

Doty, Steph, and Me

Beer and chocolate

Chocolate Stout and Me

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ferragamo Museum

Today was an optional field trip to the Ferragamo Museum. Ferragamo is a shoe maker known for his custom made shoes for the stars. I was not looking forward to this field trip and if the school wasn't covering the cost I probably would have gone. That would have been disappointing because I actually enjoyed the tour.

Ferragamo Museum

Color Wheel and Me

Marilyn Monroe's Shoe from Some like it Hot

Nicole Kidman's foot model for the movie Austrailia

Monday, October 19, 2009

Amalfi Coast

This past weekend was the school trip to the Amalfi Coast. We left Thursday at 4 pm for what was supposed to be a five hour trip down to the town of Sorrento, the trip ended up taking seven hours. We got to the campground where we were staying at 11 pm. We were scheduled to eat dinner at 9 pm at the Campground Restaurant. Lucky for us they're willing to wait for a group of 130 people who will makeup the largest single group they've seen probably since Gonzaga was there last. the dinner was actually much better that I was expecting considering that we were to hours late to a "campground" restaurant, actually it was good enough that I decided to go back to them for dinner the next night. We weren't able to move in to our cabin until 1am. The campground had been smart and turned on the heater before we moved in, but with the recent temperature drop and the thin walls of our cabin we were still quite cold on our first night.

On the first day that I was in Sorrento, I went with a group of people around the Amalfi Coast. We took the bus all the way to the city of Amalfi. While in Amalfi we hiked up to a lemon grove and went to the local church and saw a collection of their religious historical items. After we left Amalfi, we went to the small town of Positano for lunch, we found a nice place just off the main street that seemed inviting enough, I had the quattro formaggi pizza, again, it has become one of my favorites. After that it was time for the hour long bus ride back to Sorrento. We took a little longer than we planned so we didn't get to see to much of Sorrento but it is not as quaint of a town as the other two. For dinner we stayed at the campground restaurant, it had been delicious the night before and was very reasonably priced so we tried it again. After that it was time to call it a night, it was quite a walk back into town so we just stayed in.

On Saturday I went to the island of Capri, it is a beautiful island famous for it's Blue Grotto. We didn't get to go to the Blue Grotto while we were on the island because the weather was just to bad for the boats to try to get close to the grotto. The bad weather included rain, which shut down the only other major attraction on the island, besides shopping of course, the chair lift to the top of the Monte Solarno. From the top you can see the entire island, it was closed most of the day, but I was one of the few who was able to go up the chair lift and get to see the entire island from that vantage point. There were only a limited number of ferries to get off the island, we ended up having to wait 'til 6:15 to catch the last one back to the main land. After that we took the advise of one of the other students and went to a restaurant called Bufalito, and I had pasta with Water Buffalo meat. After that it was off to the Irish Pub to watch college football and celebrate Kepfer's 21st birthday, we ended up at a karaoke bar singing Grease and Journey.

On our way back on Sunday we stopped at Pompeii and had a tour of the ancient city. The drive back took as long if not longer. I was supposed to meet some of mom's work friends who were in Italy for dinner or gelato but I wasn't back until 9 and didn't have a chance, but that is okay because the entire pensione ordered Il Panda, the best/cheapest Chinese food in Florence, and I worked on my Italian homework.

PS: I got my flu shot so you don't have to worry anymore.

In the church in Amalfi

Peeking through a relic

View from the chair lift

Guys at the top

Father Brian and I at the top

Whole Group at the top

Us in Positano

Karaoke bar for Kepfer's Birthday

Mass at Pompeii

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

GROM: Best gelato in Florence

Florence is famous for it's gelato and of all the places I've been told to go, GROM is the best, I go there atleast once a week. GROM uses only fresh ingredients with only natural flavor and colors. Every few months they rotate their seasonal flavors, at the start of October they rotated in Pear, Apple and Carmel. They also have some flavors that they can make fresh year round, Pistachio, Chocolate, Coffee, and some other cream based flavors. They are famous for their signature flavor, Creme de Grom, which is almost impossible to describe. It is a sweet cream with pieces of dark chocolate and their own gram cracker cookies mixed in, it is amazing. Although GROM's quality is head and shoulders above the rest, they still keep their prices low. It is located one block southeast of the Duomo, so if you are ever in Florence you know where to go.


Kepfer and his Gelato

Kepfer's cone: Nougat, Creme de Grom, and Pistachio

Monday, October 5, 2009

Tour of where I'm living

I have had requests for a tour of where I'm living and Gonzaga-in-Florence's campus.

Gonzaga-in-Florence campus

Hallway in Gonzaga-in-Florence

I live in the white building

Dining Room with Tim, Emily, Claire, Matt Allison, Erin, and Katherine

Overflow table with Allison, Kepfer, and Doty

Not pictured: Spencer, he was late to lunch.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Cinque Terre

This weekend was the first trip that Gonzaga had planned for us, it was an excursion to Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre is a group of five villages along the Italian coast. We took a bus to the largest village of the Cinque Terre, Monterosso, it was a three hour trip from Florence and by the time we got to Monterosso all I wanted was some food. Cinque Terre is the birthplace of pesto so for the first night we figured that pesto pizzas for everyone would be the best choice, it was a good call.

Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Herritage site that I would label as a worth while stop on any trip through Italy. The name translates to 'five lands' and the best way to explore them is on foot, with a beautiful (but difficult) trail connecting all five of the villages it is a great way to spend the first half of a day, but be ready for a tough couple of miles between Monterosso, Vernazza, and Corniglia. The rest of the hike is more of a walk, between Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore the path is level and paved. After the hike you have two choices to get back you can take the train which is quick but no view or you can take the ferry back which gives you great views of the villages and it only takes half an hour from end to end. I took the ferry back and had myself a little nap time before dinner. Dinner was an amazing experience, the staff took us to arguably the best restaurant in all of Cinque Terre, Ristorante Belvedere in Monterosso, it was one of the best meals I've ever had. They served us homemade pasta with pesto sauce, it was amazing, I had four servings. Then they served us veal with potatoes and green beans. For dessert they had homemade tiramisu that was quite good. After dinner we all went out to a bar for drinks, I had a mojito, only because mom had mentioned that she wanted to try one this summer (it was good).

Went home early, the trip was supposed to last until Sunday but by lunch on Saturday I had seen enough of Cinque Terre. So Tim and I got tickets to La Spezia and from there we got tickets to Pisa and from Pisa we went to Florence. I didn't stop and see the Leaning Tower but Pisa is only an hour away by train so I will go back, maybe even next weekend.

Start of the hike

View of the Terraces

Apparently lovers are supposed to lock up their love then throw the key into the ocean
(also done at the Ponte Vecchio and somewhere in Venice)

Two views of the Villages

Ferry that carried me home