- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.TPW7o39F.dpuf Lishy Lishy: March 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Locarno and Lake Como

Traveling through Europe in a semester is incredible.  Study abroad is a once in a life time opportunity, and I am thankful for every moment.  Study abroad is also similar to a marathon.  To combat fatigue, a few of us decided to stay in Lugano for the weekend.  Instead of an overnight adventure, we took small day trips to learn more about the area of Europe in which we live.

On Friday, we headed to Locarno, Switzerland, a lake town similar to Lugano, but located an hour west.  Locarno was quiet and laid back, and we loved wondering through the streets without a map.

We took advantage of the beautiful weather and ate lunch al fresco.

Swiss chocolate is so photogenic. 



On Saturday, we ventured an hour south into Italy to experience Lake Como.  Rumor has it that George Clooney once owned a home near the lake, so we wanted to experience the Hollywood-worthy town.  
Lake Como was beautiful and overall very similar to Lugano.


Saturday turned out to be an incredible day to visit Como, because markets pop up all over the city on the weekends.  
 
I loved the whimsy of this little lake town.


Como's Duomo

You know you're in Italy when there are cute, narrow streets everywhere.



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tour of Tuscany

On Saturday we pulled a Diane Lane and went on a bus tour of Tuscany.  Throughout our day under the Tuscan sun we visited San Gimignano, Siena, Monteriggioni, and Chianti.  



Our first stop, San Gimignano, was a small town surrounded by walls.  I loved the quiet streets and quaint leather shops.


The town also provided great views of the Italian countryside.


Our next stop was the hilly but beautiful Siena.



 A friend recommended Nonno Mede's pizza so we decided to take a lunch break there.  The pizza was definitely some of the best I have had so far on the trip.


 I was so surprised by this grand square in the middle of Siena. 


The tiny town of Monteriggioni only has 58 residents, but I loved exploring the streets.  I also had some amazing blood orange juice in a cafe there. 


We ended the tour with an incredible olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting in Chianti.



Florence

Florence was amazing.  I loved the old world charm, laid back lifestyle, and rows of leather stores.  I also really enjoyed exploring the whole city on foot.  Most importantly, however, the shops in Florence ended up having the most incredible gift items.

I've seen a lot of churches throughout my European adventures, but the Duomo in Florence was still able to surprise me.

During a tiring search for our apartment, we took refuge in a cafe in order to relax and to ask for directions.  The cappuccino was one of the best I've had, and the staff was so incredibly nice. I had not even ordered yet, and they had already answered my questions, and provided me with the wifi password.  They even called the phone number for us so that they could point us in the right direction.  We were so thankful, and returned every day after that for breakfast and snacks. 


The iconic Ponte Vecchio bridge exceeded my expectations.  Aside from providing beautiful scenery, my favorite leather shop, Mannelli, was located on the bridge. 

My favorite Mannelli purchase was this floral Florentine leather wallet. 


There's something so romantic about seeing an entire city at sunset. I just loved this view from Piazzale Michelangelo. 

No trip to Italy would be complete without a plate of pasta bolognese.  

Barcelona



For the second break, we headed to Barcelona to soak in the sun and the Spanish culture. The architecture throughout the city, especially Gaudi's, was intriguing.  The sun and the sand also gave me a nice little glimpse of summer, regardless of the fact that it did not get above seventy degrees.


Our hostel was perfectly located near Pla├ža de Catalunya and La Rambla.

La Bouqueria, the renowned fresh food market, was super cool.  I loved getting lost in the rows of fresh fruit, fish, meat, and sweet stands.  Some of the best food that I ate during the week was purchased at the market.  My fresh coconut/pineapple smoothie was especially tasty.

The weather on Tuesday spoiled us.  I desperately wanted to break out my sun dresses.  

I loved seeing sculptures on the beach.


The rain on Wednesday provided a gloomy backdrop for Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia church.  

 I was so inspired by Gaudi's Casa Battlo (House of Bones).  We got there right as it was getting dark, and I loved seeing the mosaics gleam in the lights.  The picture honestly can not even begin to capture how interesting this building is.  I really regret not paying the sixteen euros to go inside.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Rome

With Rome being such a tourist hot spot to begin with, I thought that the city would be especially crowded because of the recent happenings at the Vatican.  Other than news vans outside of St. Peter's Basilica, I surprisingly never noticed a commotion.  After a long weekend soaking in the sites, I now know why it is one of the most popular tourist spots in Europe.  Between ancient ruins, pretty piazzas, sweeping views, and crazy good cuisine, Rome has something for everyone.

St. Peter's Basilica is the gateway to Vatican City for good reason.  I was blown away by the amount of detail throughout the stunning interior.


We walked down the cutest cobblestone road on the way to Piazza Navona.


I had the most incredible spaghetti bolognese for lunch at a quaint and classy eatery.


We stumbled upon a gourmet gelato shop, tucked away in a courtyard, that just so happened to be featured in Lonely Planet and the LA Times.  The apple cinnamon sorbetto was like eating a fresh baked apple pie.

The Trevi Fountain was enchanting.


Since Romans like to eat late, some restaurants offer a dinner happy hour before seven.  We found an indoor/outdoor restaurant, and were able to people watch and enjoy our 5 euro meal al fresco.


After a while, some of the ruins started to blend together, but the Colosseum caught my attention and left me speechless.  

Close to sundown, we headed over to Trastevere and made our way to the highest point in central Rome, Janiculum Hill.  The breathtaking view at sunset was well worth the steep climb.


For my last meal in Rome, I ordered bruschetta and another plate of spaghetti bolognese.