Sightseeing in Italy

Sightseeing in Italy

I am OFFICIALLY half way through my time here in Italy! My host family keeps trying to convince me that I just haven’t done much yet and that I really must get out more… but I keep assuring them that I have seen so much more than many people ever will. One overriding fact with all of this is simply that I am able to say that I *LIVE* in Italy. I’m not just on a week vacation, rushing around to the biggest tourist sites; I quite literally wake up six hours ahead of my friends and family on a daily basis in a foreign country, because that’s my life.

Now, to prove my host family wrong, I’ll go through a few other the places I’ve been able to visit:

Saluzzo is a city near my hometown of Savigliano. It is half a medieval city and half very modern (so, basically just like every place in Italy). Some of the buildings and streets are even from the early 12th Century, and most of it is still lived in and used today. The woman who showed me around (one of the teachers I work with) actually grew up in the older section and told me stories of how the children would play games around these ancient structures and paintings. I constantly have to explain that there really are no places like this in America, because there were simply no Europeans even on the continent during this time period.

Torino (Turin) will be discussed when I can get more time to actually look around. Usually, this is where I meet up with the other expats here teaching English through Greenheart Travel and WEP. It’s a beautiful city with plenty to do! My host mother works at the university as a mathematics professor, so one day I will go with her to look around some of the more famous spots and museums. For now, I’ve only had a chance to explore some night life and go to the top of the Mole Antonelliana (now the National Cinema Museum and the tallest museum in the world) to look out over the city and stare at the Alps.

Milano (Milan) needs no introduction really. My schools’ third years went on a trip to visit the science museum and I was allowed to go. Admittedly, I did not get to shop, but it’s not like I’d have the money to buy something at any of these places anyway. So I *saw* many things, but I did not get to *do* much. Instead, we toured some ancient churches with some incredible artwork. I cannot tell you too much, since the tours were in Italian, but it all looked very beautiful. We ended the trip at the Museum of Science and Technology, dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci – the students went there own way and I wandered the museum on my own.

ImageVenezia (Venice) for the one and only Carnevale!! I went to New Orleans last year for Mardi Gras, and I wanted another incredible experience this year for the same holiday, just different style. I made plenty of memories… but, unfortunately, they are all dampened with the obscene amount of rain and hail we experienced in two days. I don’t think I have ever been more wet without jumping in a pool! We entered the Doge’s Palace to escape the rain, and I’m still in awe of the artistry that people lived with if they were royal enough. Maybe the rain affects my opinion, but Venice did not impress me much. I still would want to go back in the sunshine, but only for a day.

Padova (Padua) is the setting of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew (which I actually just finished reading the same day I am writing this post), and it is beautiful! We visited here just after Venice, and the sun finally came out! While there are many things to see (including the beautiful Padua University and the Basilica of St. Anthony, with his tomb and relics), my favorite will always be the Prato della Valle, one of the largest piazzas in Europe. It is surrounded by a moat of water, which is then lined with almost 100 statues of famous residents. Even though we visited many other places, we always found ourselves wandering back to this green just to relax and eat some kebab.

Verona. I’m an English teacher after all and could not pass up the chance to see Juliet’s Balcony (a complete tourist trap built onto a home in the 1920s). The iconic statue was gone for restoration, but I still found it interesting the marks people must leave in this area. The gates were crowded with padlocks and the walls were full of graffiti, love notes, and heart-shaped chewed gum… The rest of the city (including the Roman Arena, the view from the top of Lamberti’s Tower, the Verona Cathedral, an ancient Roman theater, etc.) makes it for my favorite location in Italy.
Aside from these famous cities, I’ve had the chance to hike in the Alps and walk along a pier at the Mediterranean Sea; I’ve seen castles and vineyards; I’ve tasted famous wines and eaten traditional Piemontese meals… And this is only half of my time in Italy. How can anyone tell me that I simply haven’t seen much?

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