Day 5 Festivities

Today we learned more about Tuscan culture as we visited Panzano and Chianti. These towns are way more rural and “old-timey” than Florence. There is one large market in the middle of town where the locals do their shopping for clothes, groceries, and household things. I bought these comfy linen red pants for only €10! Lining the outside streets of the market are handmade ceramics and beautiful flowers. Once we passed the market we made our way up the hill to lunch. At II Vescovino we have the most beautiful view overlooking the vineyards and enjoyed a traditional meal of meats, bolognese, and panna cotta. The atmosphere of this place brought me back to a more simple time and I’m glad we got to experience it.

Day 7 — Mercato Centrale

We were on a mission, today was dedicated to shopping and only shopping.

We started our day with a “quick” brunch near the leather market, and from then it was game on. We stopped by the first floor of the market to buy some authentic spices and gifts. It’s so different to know this is where locals come to by most of their ingredients, and not usually a supermarket per say. We headed outside to look for some good prices on bags, T-shirts, and souvenirs to bring back home. By then we were all famished and began looking for a small restaurant that met our needs. I ordered a pasta with octopus and mussels and it was delightful!

We went back to the hotel for a quick nap before we started getting ready for our final family dinner.

Most the day was mainly spent avoided market vendors and roaming the streets one last time.

Italy 6.17.18

Simple food, simple life.

Today we made pizza and gelato in a cooking class and I must say, I did a pretty good job making my pizza. By myself. Well, mostly. I might have had a little help from the Italian teacher as well as Regina who turns out to be a dough making professional. Surprisingly, it was pretty easy to make everything and it did not take super long. In addition, it was better than most pizzas I’ve had back at home.

We were given a small recipe book too so who knows, maybe I’ll actually try to cook for myself more often! Thanks for the motivation to live healthier, more adventurously and to take on new challenges, Florence!

Officially Certified to Make a Half Decent Pizza – Day 6

Day 6 of our journey was bittersweet, bitter to say goodbye to Ingrid and realizing we’re nearing the end of our time here, and sweet because we got to cook. After a late start, we went to a few different stores to do some shopping before meeting up down town to go to our pizza and gelato cooking class. The instructor showed us step by step how to make the dough for our pizzas, how to cook them, and then how to make the gelato as well. I even got to go up in front of the class and work with the instructor on the gelato!

My pizza had a lot of cheese, some ham, zucchini, onions, and pepperoni and was not too shabby for a first timer. The chocolate gelato was delightful and I gave myself a nice pat on the back for not screwing it up for everyone. After we had finished our class we had to say goodbye to Ingrid as she left on another journey.

A bitter end to a sweet day for sure.



Regina’s perfect masterpiece

# of dogs seen today: 31

Wine and Dine Me, Italy – Day 5

Another successful day in Italy is now in the books. We were given a bus tour out of Florence and then into Chianti in the heart of Tuscany. We got to stop at a street market where vendors were selling clothes, food, and other goods. I was able to buy a pair of sandals that complimented that days outfit perfectly!

We then got back on the bus and were taken to lunch. We were brought onto the back terrace of the restaurant and my jaw hit the floor. The view we had was unlike anything i had seen before. All you could see where rolling hills and valleys, villas and vineyards everywhere. I took so many pictures but none of them can do the view justice. Lunch consisted of a meat platter followed by pici bolognese that was to die for and finished off with a raspberry panna cotta. It was a tough scene to have to leave, but leaving it meant we were one step closer to the vineyard tour and wine tasting.

Our view at lunch

After lunch we got back on the bus and were taken to the vineyard. The woman giving us our tour and tasting was very kind and showed us what goes into making each bottle of wine. We got to see all of the different pieces of equipment they would use and then got to try some of the wines. It’s incredible, the process they have to go through to make wine. I never really think about the steps that need to be taken to produce these products. Nine times out of ten they’re usually more complex than we think.

The first wine we got to try was a white wine, followed by four reds that slowly went up in strength in terms of taste. Each one was smooth and so delicious. Just about each one of us left with a bottle of wine to bring home to our families and friends in hopes of making them even more jealous of this trip we’re on.

# of dogs seen today: 59 + 2 ferrets being walked on leashes so I’m counting the two of them as one dog, making the total 60

Day 6 — Pizza Chefs

Now that I am a certified Italian chef, I would like to make it aware that making pizza from scratch is a lot more complicated than it looks.

We were greeted by our chef Niccolo outside the Apple Store where he guided us and a few more tourists to the Academy of Food and Wine where we dived right into the art of making pizza and gelato! We went through the steps, first making the dough and letting it sit, then stretching it, how to make authentic Italian pizza sauce, and then we individually decorated our pizzas! My pizza may have stuck to the table so, in the end, it came out a little squished but it was so rewarded to have created the pizza and have been able to eat it. YUM! I will definitely be having pizza parties when I get back to Lowell.

After the cooking class, we took our final stroll to Ponte Vecchio and ended the day with some more gelato!

Italy 6.16.18

I love wine. Enough said.

But in all seriousness, I’m happy to have had my first winery tour abroad in Italy. The country side was beautiful, almost too perfect for my mind to comprehend that it’s real.

Everything here, from food to buildings to clothing to the wine seems vibrant, fresh and full of color. I feel as though I’m seeing things through a filter that makes everything more colorful and full of life.

I think the strawberries I bought at a market in a quaint little town will be the best I’ll ever taste.

Italy 6.15.18

Choosing to go to Venice on our free day was the best decision I’ve made in a while.

I think it’s hard to judge a culture or experience a culture fully based off of one city or town. It was eye opening to go from walking through the busy streets of Florence to taking a boat from destination to destination in Venice to strolling through the quaint island of Morono where there were several glass stores and museums.

I have to say, I think Venice has been my favorite place so far. I’m glad to have visited before it gets lost to the ocean.

Exploring new lands


Today we toured the Chianti region in central Italy. We stopped at a few little towns along the way and learned about their trades, practices, and traditions.

The hillsides seemed to resemble a quilt; complicated, cross-hatched patches of wineries covered the landscape. You could see grape vines and olive trees for miles.

The area in which we toured is renowned for their wine, olive oil, and pottery. Every gift shop boasted a vast array of kitchen wares and food, often all locally produced. The first town we stopped in had an open air market in their main square, where we were able to purchase anything from food to clothes to toiletries.

Seeing these humble little towns with their modest stone churches and cobblestone streets felt a bit nostalgic, as if I was walking through the pages of a history book. I was completely floored when I saw the view at lunch: a countryside so green and perfect and untouched that it looked eerily like the backdrop of a sound stage.

Freebie (Day 4)

Water canals and gondolas fill in for the city streets and there is beautiful Murano glass at every store front. As soon as I arrived to the Piazza San Marco I realized It’s truly a city like no other– words can’t even describe the experience I had so here are some pictures (that don’t even do it justice) and if you ever have the chance to go to Venice- GO!!