Select Study Abroad June 2015: Week 2 (cooking, gardening, jewelry-ing galore!)

Week two was jam-packed people. We started with a visit to the stunning and not-to-be-missed Medici Chapel, designed and sculpted by none other than Michelangelo. We explored, tested, and perhaps purchased some of the amazing products from one of the oldest pharmacies in the world, Farmacia Santa Maria Novella (in existence for almost 800 years and open to the public for over 400 years!). Then we had back-to-back cooking classes where our budding students made chicken cacciatore, spinach and ricotta gnudi, and olive oil cookies (all gluten free and heart healthy!). We spent the afternoon with one of our favorite artisans, the amazing jewelry maker Giuliano Ricchi. We had a fantastic tasting where we tried several different kinds of Tuscan olive oil and balsamic vinegar along with several traditional Tuscan meats. Finally, our fabulous Alpha Phi ladies spent their first afternoon at the awesome Orto Dipinti (a community run and managed garden in the center of Florence) where we watered and pruned and learned about the gardens amazing herbal salt combinations (packing a tasty punch so cooking requires much less salt) and paper seed coins. As if we haven’t done enough already, next up: Venice!
The Medici Chapel
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Select Study Abroad June 2015: Rome & Tivoli!

Our weekend trip to the Eternal City was epic! Rome is a must on any Italy itinerary. But we don’t just see Rome, we LIVE IT! We spend our first evening in Vatican City. We begin with a visit the gorgeous and enormous Saint Peter’s Basilica to relish in its massive architecture and also pay homage to the amazing Pietà by Michelangelo. We follow that up with a special (and MUCH less crowded) nighttime tour of the Vatican museums, including the Sistine Chapel! Saturday afternoon we headed out for a tour of some of downtown Rome’s best sites, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, and the famous Caffè Sant’Eustachio. Saturday night we ended with a bang, a private evening tour of the colosseum, which included visiting the subterranean tunnels of the amphitheater. Everything is better at night, but this was a dream come true for us. We can’t imagine seeing that amazing structure any other way. We ended the evening as any self-respecting Roman would, with a massive pasta dinner. Sunday we headed out of Rome to the nearby town of Tivoli to visit one of the most extensive Renaissance gardens in Italy, the Villa d’Este! We may or may not have also brought along some useful props. I am sure Renaissance ladies had parasols JUST like ours. What a trip. Still dreaming of the colosseum and the Villa waterfalls.
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