Imagine a place with lush rolling hills of green trees surrounding small towns lined with fortresses and churches from medieval times. This is Umbria in a nutshell. Despite being one of the coolest places I’ve ever been to, I might have not visited the region if it weren’t for IES Abroad’ built-in overnight trips in the program tuition.
For the IES Abroad program in Rome, once you commit to studying abroad with IES Abroad you are able to sign up for one of three designated overnight trips pre-planned by the program. For the fall semester, the choices were between Umbria, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast and Tuscany. My first choice was Umbria, but there’s really no bad option here. The costs are included in the tuition of the program, so even though you are paying for the trip, IES Abroad makes the most of the two days you spend in your destination.
For my Umbria trip, we all met at the IES Abroad Center at 9 a.m. and boarded the bus by 9:30 a.m. Once we arrived around 11:30 a.m., we did a small hike to the Marmore Waterfalls. This waterfall was made by the ancient Romans and its beauty resembles a fairytale. We did all get a little sprayed with mist, but it felt really good after hiking up a good set of stairs to get to the scenic point!
After spending some time at the waterfalls we went to lunch at I Fiocchi where we were treated to a four-course meal consisting of a delicious antipasto spread, a mushroom pasta, porchetta and potatoes and a generous slice of tiramisu. We did as the Italians do and spent almost three hours chatting and eating, but were exhausted by the end of our food marathon!
We then traveled to Spoleto where we spent the rest of the night and explored the town. Packed with history, Spoleto is a small city with a lot to offer. A highlight was visiting the Cathedral of Spoleto. After walking around with our tour guide we ate more delicious food at a local restaurant. This three-course meal consisted of a ravioli stuffed with ricotta to start, a second plate of beef and an arugula salad and an apple dessert to finish. And, of course, all of this was accompanied with a few bottles of red and white wine!
The next day, we woke up early and traveled an hour by bus to Assisi, one of my favorite towns that I’ve been to in Italy. We spent most of the day walking around and visiting the St. Francis Basilica. This site is particularly important in Catholic pilgrimages as it is where St. Francis of Assisi is buried. The church is decorated with frescoes by Giotto and I even spotted some that I previously studied!
At around 3 p.m. we bid farewell to Umbria and headed back to Rome. After two days, I was exhausted, but extremely fulfilled. It’s cool to travel anywhere in Italy, but doing it with new people from IES Abroad was really cool. I’m really grateful to the IES Abroad staff who put this trip together. To anyone studying abroad in Rome, be sure to make it out to the Umbria region when you get the chance—you won’t regret it!
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Hi! My name is Mia and I'm a junior at Occidental College studying Sociology and Art History. I’m from Kailua, Hawaiʻi and love to surf, practice yoga, roller-skate and listen to music! I’m so excited to be studying abroad in Rome for the Fall 2022 semester and can’t wait to experience life in Italy. I’ve got a passion for writing about culture, art and style and can’t wait to explore these interests during my time abroad.