By: Sarah Schwartz
After last weekend, I never thought a trip could come close to comparing, but this weekend did. It was so different, yet still amazing. It was filled with making daily stops at gelaterias and exploring the beautiful wonders of northern Italy. Our long weekend started on Wednesday when we were given the opportunity to see L’Aquila, a city hit by an earthquake and is still destroyed seven years later. It was devastating to see a city that once had beautiful architecture and views to be in ruins. So many families lost everything and still are displaced, unable to return home. Walking through the streets of the red zone was traumatic; you saw homes cut in half with family belongings still there. We also passed by a university and dormitory and that is where it hit home because the civilians that died were around our age. I think it is amazing to be able to work with the organization Shoot4Change who made such a difference in this city. It gives us the chance to see the world in a different perspective and see how other people live differently around the world.
After the moving day in L’Aquila, we had a short stay back in Rome and then headed off to Florence. I love not looking at pictures before I go to the next destination so it leaves me with an open mind, not having any expectations. Once I stepped off of the train platform and onto the grounds of Florence, I knew this would be my favorite city. Its unique character made it feel like home and I will live there one day. I don’t know when, but the day will come! The cool weather made it even better because we didn’t have to deal with the extremely hot climate that Florence usually has. The vibe in Florence felt so lively and relaxed, where you couldn’t be anything but happy. The entire weekend we spent our nights walking around and looking for the best views to overlook while we ate our gelato. Also, Florence is the home of my favorite gelato. Thanks to Jordan, our bus2alps tour guide, we were able to taste heaven on earth from Gelateria del Neri.
On Saturday, we hopped back onto the train and headed over to Venice! Venice was so much fun; we visited the Murano glass factory and we were able to see a live demonstration of glass blowing. It was fascinating to see how within minutes sand could transform into a glass vase. I think I could sit there all day and watch the glassmaker make different items. Venice was filled with good food and getting lost in the streets, which I call mazes. It wasn’t my favorite place, but it was definitely an experience, especially with the square filled with pigeons…I am not a bird person. I’m sure there are pictures of me with a look of terror on my face. But don’t get me wrong, it was an awesome time and the boat ride filled with singalongs was the best way to end a perfect day. Next stop, Tuscany! On Sunday we spent the day shopping, eating delicious lasagna, gelato once again and learning about different wines. My favorite part of that day was being in the barn with all of the cows overlooking the beautiful landscapes. The different shades of green contrasting against the blue sky brought the hills alive. It was definitely a beautiful place to visit and I would love to go back!
Overall, this weekend was just what we needed. It was a time where we could just take a break and relax with a breath of fresh air. I can’t believe this was our last weekend trip as a group, but the fun doesn’t stop here, there is more to come. Once again, these amazing trips wouldn’t be possible without our Professors and bus2alps tour guides, Jordan and Shields.