Monday, March 13, 2017

A Whirlwind Week in Italy...

I spent a whirlwind week in Italy for work last week. That is such an odd sentence. I never would have dreamed by work would have me traveling with three colleagues to prepare to take a group of students to Italy this summer.

After a plane, a taxi, a train, and a bus, we walked to our home away from home for the week. We stayed in a little four room hotel above a restaurant:
 My room became our classroom since I had a sofa. We would gather here to plan for the next day and the courses we would be teaching our students.
 I returned to journaling this trip--writing purely for myself. The leather journal, Tuscan wine, and antique key for my room made it a lovely experience.
 This was our breakfast at the hotel every morning:
 Add a cappucino to that and life just doesn't get much better.

We spent the first part of the week in Sansepolcro, where we have our palazzo that will be our home and classroom with students. Tucked behind this door is our own little Italian campus:
 The first night we "just" had pizza, although it was quite amazing. The second night we ate at the restaurant below our hotel, where I had an amazing lamb stew and Tuscan white beans:
 And here is Sansepolcro:
 All of the streets are charming, and after a few days I found my way around quite easily.

After a couple of days orienting ourselves to Sansepolcro and Italian culture, we ventured out to the towns we will introduce our students to. The first was Anghiari, where we toured the Busotti linen factory:
 Their "newest" loom is 107 years old, and the linens they produce are gorgeous. The views from the town over than Tuscan valley are pretty amazing, too:
 And here is the town itself, with its medieval walls:
 From there we traveled to Arrezo:
 We explored the fort that dates back to the 1100s, and enjoyed the sculpture that graces the town:
 We also explored beautiful churches and their art, including the 10 panel fresco The Legends of the True Cross. That night, we returned home for dinner where I had the best gnocci of my life!
 The next day, we journeyed to Florence, which didn't disappoint:
 The cathedral is stunning:
 And the bridges are truly amazing feats of architecture:
 While there, we toured the Ufizzi, an art museum housed in a Medici castle. The art did not disappoint:

 We also enjoyed coffee on its rooftop overlooking the city. We made our way home for one last dinner at Al Cocco, a restaurant owned and staffed by all women. It was a phenominal meal and a lovely way to end our stay before leaving early the next morning for Rome.

We stayed in the same hotel I will enjoy with my students:

 But it was the hotel courtyard that took my breath away:
 We made wishes on coins in Trevvi Fountain:

 And explored the city. I fell in love with the Pantheon, but a picture just can't do it justice. We crossed the Tiber to see the old castle:

 And the Vaticcan:

 We had a final amazing meal in Rome, which ended with the best tiramisu I have ever had:
 We began the adventure back on Saturday, and I was so glad to see my people on Saturday night. The best husband in the world held down the fort with a little Nana back-up, and the board was proof:
I had left the big picture, and he filled in the rest.

I have fallen in love with Italy. The pace of life and the emphasis on people is enchanting, and I really can't wait to introduce my students to her.

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