All in all, the week was brilliant. Prior to this trip I had only visited Italy once when I was 15, where I only visited Venice and a vineyard in the countryside surrounding Verona. On this original trip, I had little interest in Italian culture, had never studied the history and didn't speak a word of the language. I was just a young lad who took everything I saw at face value. Oh how times change.
This time in Italy, I went over with much more passion about the country, much more historical knowledge with which to put everything I saw into context, allowing me to make much more sense of it all, seeing the country on a much more intellectual level. Being a university trip, it was probably the most academic and cultured holiday I had been on. It helped that the guy who took us over, our Italian teacher Giuseppe, was from Italy which allowed him to recommend us all the right 'proper Italian' food and places to go.
The trip was very mind broadening and really opened my eyes to the world of art, giving me much more of an appreciation of art and architecture than I originally had, and allowing me to get a feel for what kind of art and architecture styles came from what eras. Additionally, the trip really put everything we had learned in Italian history into perspective and context. It's one thing reading a book about Victor Emmanuel II, but actually seeing his tomb really makes the words in the dusty old textbooks into a reality.
That isn't to say it was all art and cathedrals, however. We got time to go shopping, roam around on our own and see the towns for ourselves and, of course, drink lots of wine. Wine and coffee are another cultural element of Italy that are so much better than over here. There's nothing quite like an espresso machiato to give you that energy boost to keep you going on your cultural jaunts through Rome.
I spoke so much Italian over there as well and really feel that my Italian has improved over the mere week that I was there, which poses the question of how it will improve if I go there for longer. Not everybody in the group spoke Italian however, which was a bit disappointing. Their choice I guess.
I won't bore you with the details on every single place I visited, for which the reasons are two-fold. One, I can't remember all the places I visited and two, it would take a lot more than this one post to explain it all. I've tried to be concise, after all.
Now, I include some photos to give a brief overview of some of the things I saw. I took A LOT of photos of things rather than people because there was just so much interesting stuff around. I found photography a bit of a problem on the trip due to the sheer scale and immensity of the things I was trying to capture on camera. It was difficult to really do a lot of it justice with a photo. The rest will be uploaded on my facebook but these will just give a bit of a flavour of what I did. Call it the highlights if you will.
By the Trevi Fountain
St. Peter's square, Vatican City
Vatican Museums, Vatican City
Victor Emmanuel II monument
The tower that needs no introduction
Basilica and Tower
Me and my mate David
Our gorgeous Villa in the Tuscany countryside
One of the many bridges in Venice
The camera was in a very dangerous place at this point on self-timer
Saint Mark's Cathedral
The kind of beautiful canal that is round every corner in this wonderful city
Chiesa di San Rocco
In all these cities, I found the small little side streets in areas unspoiled by tourists to be particularly charming in so much as they were perfectly flawed in their rustic beauty. Fair enough the paintwork might be a bit chipped on the houses but I wouldn't have it any other way.
Wishing you all a happy Easter,