This past weekend, I went on the IES Abroad led trip to Cremona, Parma and Modena. And let me tell you that IES Abroad did not disappoint!!!
We started at 8am on Friday morning... which meant I had to get up and leave an hour before to make it to the bus in time. I was two minutes late, but in Italian time, that is actually early. The bus left about 30 minutes later, and off we went. Cremona was the first stop and we visited their Duomo (cathedral). I've been inside so many churches in the past few months and each time I am speechless by the beauty that awaits inside. We then made our way to the violin museum which housed Stradivari violins and stringed instruments. Some of them were worth millions. Afterwards we made our way to a parmesan cheese factory outside of Parma. I got to witness a worker take a wheel off of their shelves and open one and then got to try it. I mean, come on!!! I got to eat "fresh" parmesan cheese in PARMA, ITALY. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. We made our way into Parma to our hotel and then headed out for dinner. Antipasti, pasta, more pasta, pasta with a side of pasta and then some chocolate mousse. If you are considering travel abroad, I would recommend coming to Italy for the food alone. They do not play around!!! That night I literally (not really) rolled back to the hotel. This was just Friday.
Onto Saturday, we woke up for a guided tour of the Duomo, baptistery and local castle of Parma. The limit does not exist for the number of ceilings pictures I have and will continue to take. Nothing like getting a history lesson in Italian culture at 10 in the morning. I was LIVING! After the tour ended, my friend Samantha and I decided to get lunch, mind you we were going to a big dinner later that night, but go big or go home; am I right? Yes. We even got gelato... I mean here's where the trip gets predictable. They tell us we are going to a vineyard and will get to learn about the role of wine in Italian culture. While at the vineyard, we got to taste and try some wines made from grapes harvested in 2013. Wine is like water in Italian culture. It's sometimes cheaper than water. After the tasting and tour of the facilities, you guessed it: another insane dinner. I think this night will go down as one of my favorites from the semester. I was seated at the end of a table across from my friends literally watched the sunset through the window while eating typical Italian cuisine accompanied by wines chosen specifically for the meal. That night at the hotel, everyone was exhausted after the long day that was planned for us. I enjoyed all of it.
On Sunday morning, we drove about an hour to Modena, and stopped at Acetaia Serena. The property comprised of a vineyard, balsamic vinegar factory and family owned restaurant. Again, we toured the facilities and tasted all different types of balsamic vinegar. Nothing like a shot of vinegar at 11am to wake you up. Some of the vinegar had been aged for almost 90 years. My favorite part was the barrels in the cellar of the factory. They were all stamped with different names and we were told that a new barrel was started for every important event in the family's lives. Our guide showed us his line of barrels celebrating his birth and his graduation from high school. This vinegar was no joke, it had to be aged for so many years and some bottles sold at the gift shop had gold and precious stones on the labels. Afterwards we went onto lunch and again, ate until we could no longer feel shameful. I had this wonderful bread called “tigelle” which is special to the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and it reminded me so much of oven bread that my grandmother used to make in the wooden stove. I felt at home even though I am 5000 miles away. Insane that a piece of bread could have that impact, but nonetheless it did. We left the vineyard and headed back for Milan. I was thankful to get back to my own bed, and to finally have a break from food. Never thought I would ever write that sentence down.
As the last day of the semester approaches, I am starting to appreciate Milan and Italy so much more. I never want to leave this place. I have been thinking more and more about my future, and I absolutely see myself returning to live here at some point in my life or another. In the meantime, I'll enjoy my last 3 weeks here. Fino alla prossima volta! (Until next time!)
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<p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-top:2.35pt; margin-right:10.6pt; margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin-left:5.0pt"><span style="line-height:115%">I am a Junior Vocal Performance major with an interest in history, romance languages and the art of recitals and opera. My hobbies include practicing new music, listening to operas, playing volleyball and hanging out and cooking with my friends. I love travelling and exploring new places, especially art museums. I am fond of history and music, and the way they intertwine is fascinating to me.</span></p>