Highlights from Week One of Select Study Abroad!

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It’s that time again. Not just summer, but also the time where our world stops and we get to take some of the best students (ever!) around some of the best cities in one of the best countries, for an entire month. The first week is always a favorite. Everyone fights off the jet lag and tries to stay awake so as not to miss one precious moment. We were blessed with some breathtaking sunsets on our first week in Florence and some glorious Pisa-Leaning-Tower-photo-bomb-magic during our first weekend trip to Pisa and Lucca. Can I just say…it is already going too fast.
Check out the magic below.
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Photo of the Week: Holy Capri

Photo of the Week: Holy Capri

If I had not taken this photo myself I would think it was a fake; an island shot masterly blended with moonscapes and imagined places by some unknown artist. However unbelievable, this is a real place. It is the view from the highest point on the Island of Capri, Mount Solaro, looking out towards Sorrento. In the lower foreground is the city of Capri. To the right (out of the shot) would be the recognizable Faraglioni, a word meaning “stacks” and used to refer to the limestone crags that jut out of the water off the corner of the Island.
 
Want to recreate this stunning view for yourself? I don’t blame you. Getting to the top of the highest hill in Capri is not easy, but if I can do it, so can you. First things first, get to Capri. Easier said than done, I know. It took me ten years to get back there after my first visit way back in 2003, but I am so glad I did. While you will have to change your mode of transportation several times (in my case, five times), it’s well worth it. Pack light and get ready to be mobile (all you need a swimsuit anyway).
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Photo of the Week: Fiesole Walk

Photo of the Week: Fiesole Walk

Looking for a picturesque and doable walk into the hills around Florence, through some beautiful back roads, and with some award winning views? We’ve got you covered. In fact, thanks to our recent move out of the city center we’ve found the perfect 1-hour walk out of the clogged centro and up into the quiet and charming Tuscan hills. The walk leaves from Piazza delle Cure and takes you through some magical winding roads (with several fun stops on the way) to the main piazza of the gorgeous hilltop town of Fiesole. For those of you who are not interested in an uphill climb (which for the last 20 minutes can get a bit steep), but would still like to enjoy this lovely town, jump on Bus #7 (picks up in Piazza San Marco and drops you in Piazza Mino da Fiesole). For those of you who don’t mind the burn or are looking for an excuse to eat more pasta tonight, read on. Continue reading…

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Photo of the Week: Lucca & Alfredo Catalani

Photo of the Week: Lucca & Alfredo Catalani

While this may look like a dream, it is in fact a real place. A place that feels a little like a dream every time I go there. A place called Lucca. This photo was taken from atop the city’s 16th-century walls that are now home to a park/promenade that circles the city. A park on top of a wall, you ask? Well these are not just any walls. They are more than 10 meters (almost 33 feet) tall, and up to 30 meters (almost 100 feet) thick at the base. On top of all those fun measurements, this massive defensive structure is almost 2.5 miles long. There is a whole other world happening on top of these walls. You can walk on them, ride bikes around them, take a nap in the grass that grows on them, or just enjoy the view from 33 feet above the stunning city of Lucca.
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Photo of the Week: Chianti Countryside

Photo of the Week: Chianti Countryside

This is the breathtaking view looking out over the Tuscan hillside from the town of Panzano, located in the municipality of Greve, halfway between Florence and Siena. This quaint hilltop town is situated along the Chiantigiana, the famous road that runs through the heart of the Chianti Classico region. This particular image shows a rather unusual geological feature for this region: a wide, low valley, rather than what are more typically narrow and deep valleys. This particular example is the biggest and most famous of these features, known as the Conca d’Oro (The Golden Bowl). Aside from being maybe the most beautiful sight I have ever seen, the particular combination of soil, altitude, and temperature on these slopes are ideal for chianti grapes, making the Golden Bowl highly coveted wine territory.

Aside from its amazing wine and incredible views, Panzano has also been put on the map thanks to a certain local butcher. Yes, I said butcher. The Butcher of Panzano, Dario Cecchini. Think I’m joking? Ask Anthony Bourdain. I recently was lucky enough to take part in the weekly Sunday lunch at one of his three (yes, three) restaurants in Panzano. It was an unspeakable three-hour feast of all the most delicious cuts of meat you have ever tasted. Not to worry, I plan on blogging about that soon enough. I just have not recovered enough to talk about it yet.

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