Amo L'Italia!

Castel Gandolfo Lake

After a busy weekend in Athens, I decided to stay in Italy and see more of my home country. On Saturday, I woke up early and caught a 7:50AM train to the country hillside town of Assisi, about two hours outside of Rome. On my train ride there, I woke up to see that I was sitting with two young men. They were Israeli and had just finished their service in the IDF, so they were now spending the year traveling around Europe. They chose to go to Assisi because they heard it was peaceful and stunning – similar to my reasons. We had a pleasant ride together and talked about politics and our studies.

Armed with another Rick Steves podcast tour and a map of the city, I spent the day walking around and seeing the magnificent churches that Assisi has to offer. Filled with rich history, there were plenty of visitors the day I was there. Something about it felt different than a typical tourist-town. It was much more as though the city was filled with pilgrims going to see a meaningful place. The weather was sunny, the air warm, the views expansive over the Tuscan hillside. I felt so lucky to be there.

One of my professors lives in Assisi and she gave me several recommendations for things to do while I was there. For lunch, I ate a delicious pizza at Il Menestrello. I sent a photo to my dad – back at home, he and I are going to the top 25 best pizza places in New Jersey together. Il Menestrello’s pepperoni pie deserves an honorary spot on our list. I also bought some gifts for family members who I am sure will be very pleased to have things from the incredible town of Assisi to hang in their homes. Standing in the woods, overlooking the mountains to see endless fields of green, I felt full and free. It was refreshing to take a solo day trip and spend time on my own, especially as finals are quickly approaching and I know that things will get a lot busier back home.

Leaving Assisi was difficult for me and I was sorry to say goodbye. On my train ride home, I ran into the same two travelers from my morning ride. We sat together while we napped, all exhausted from our days of walking. I checked my steps on my phone, and I walked over 34,000 steps! I went home and got ready to go on my day trip to Castel Gandolfo with my friend Emmet the next morning.

We woke up slightly less early (thankfully) and caught a 8:30AM train to the small lake town about 45 minutes outside of Rome. It was a sleepy Sunday so we walked around and then found ourselves lounging by the lake for several hours. We listened to music while I read and Emmet wrote in his journal. It was pleasant out and we got plenty of hiking in – the city is way up on a hill! I loved the views and it was fun to see what life is like in a small village like that, just a short ride from the big city. For less than three euros each way, I was able to get a brand new slice of life and some relaxation in nature.

Italy has been an amazing country to study abroad in because it’s so easy to travel around. Well situated in Europe, it’s been very easy for me to fly all over the continent for reasonable prices. Within the country, the train system runs efficiently and inexpensively (if you buy tickets reasonably ahead of time). I am so glad that I chose to study abroad here – not to mention my love affair with Rome! I look forward to next weekend when I do some more in-Italy traveling and see more new parts of the country.

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Audrey Hertzberg

I’m a Jersey girl raised on lasagna and The Godfather. I’ve always liked learning about Old Italy and I’m excited to experience it this spring. I study Political Science and History at George Washington University, and I’m still on the hunt for the best cannoli in D.C. Talk to me about reading, running, and The West Wing!

Destination:
Term:
2017 Spring
Home university:
George Washington University, The
Major:
Political Science
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