Last summer, I traveled to Central and Northern Italy for a month. It was quite exciting coming from where I am (Middle-Of-Nowhere, West Virginia), and opportunities like that didn’t roll around every summer. So, Friday night before leaving, I was deciding what to pack for a month away-a whole entire blog entry- and watching my last few English TV shows. It was hard to imagine I was even going to be away for a whole month in a foreign country with no one I knew. I had only been on a plane for two and half hours before, so a Trans-Atlantic flight was new.
I left Charleston at six on Saturday evening and flew to Charlotte, North Carolina before hopping onto my flight to Europe. I was excited and nervous all at the same time. Eight hours later, I landed in Germany the next morning, and awaited my plane to Italy with only two and a half hours to Bologna!
Over the course of four weeks, I went to Bologna three times and each a completely different purpose.
- The first week, we traveled by train-which was new to me and considerably cheap to go such a long distance. We walked to the Piazza del Nettuno, where we visited a very beautiful cathedral and snapped pictures with the statue of Neptune in the piazza. Tip: While visiting cathedrals, don’t wear shorts or tank tops. I had to buy a one euro kimono to go inside. We also walked by the Duo Torri, which are one and a half medieval towers still standing- which was a total historical nerdy moment for myself. They’re amazing.
Italy was so exciting from the start. I visited multiple cities, towns, and rural retreats that you need to visit as well.
- The second week, I went to Bologna and went down Via dell’Indipendenza. They have pretty much every store along this road. From H&M to Pull and Bear to Bershka to Nike to Kiko to Scout.
- The third week, my tour guide was my future camp leader. He was a university student and knew Bologna very well. We went shopping down Via dell’Indipendenza again before taking us to an upper-end side of Bologna where they had stores like Giorgio Armani, Tiffany & Co., and Miu Miu.
LAGO DI GARDA
Again, I visited the lake three times. It was beautiful and each time, I was at a different location. A big tip about the lake is that it is a popular destination for northern Europeans to visit.
- Torri del Benaco – This was the first location I saw the beautiful lake on the eastern side. We dropped one of my young host sisters to a camp at the top of a mountain, and a week later picked her up. Before we dropped her off, we walked around, enjoyed a gelato, looked in the stores, and finally trekked up the mountain to drop off the daughter. The scenery was amazing, indescribable until you’re actually there seeing it for yourself. The day we picked her up, we swam in the water, which was surprisingly cold for how hot it was. That day, we also ate at a restaurant where you could eat on a dock over the water. It was awesome, and totally must-do. Just enjoy a day to walk around the town and swim.
Almost every sign is in German first, then Italian, and finally English, including menus.
- Salo – The third week, we visited my host family’s grandparent’s house on the western part of the lake. They had a wonderful pool. It was the typical Italian day. We visited the beach to eat and then travelled north to Tresomine. It was on the top of a mountain and it was such an interesting excursion due to the fact that the road was so curvy and narrow. The views from the overhang was amazing.
- Sirmione – The fourth week, we visited Sirmione with the Lion’s Club camp. Sirmione is on a peninsula in the southern part of the lake. It’s very tropical-like with a castle and palm trees. AMAZING. Just walk through the streets, take a dip in the lake, and bask in the sun.