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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Select Study Abroad June 2015: Week One! (Pisa, Lucca, Duomo & David)

Almost exactly two weeks ago some pretty incredible Alpha Delta Pi & Alpha Phi ladies showed up in Florence and took the city by storm. We have been so busy doing, well, EVERYTHING, we barely noticed how much we’ve already done. Here’s a look back at just some of the highlights from week one! We start off with our first few days in Chianti at the stunning Villa Saulina to catch some sun (and some sleep after the long flight), followed by a trip to Pisa for some tower pictures and Lucca for some bike riding and tower climbing. Up next is our first day exploring Florence with an end-of-day picnic in the gorgeous Boboli Gardens for some stunning views and our first group dinner in our new city. Then the epic Duomo/Cathedral day where we scaled the massive Dome of Florence for the best views of the city you can find, and finally, of course, we visited with Michelangelo’s David. Yes. All this is just one week. And that’s only the beginning. DSC00249 Continue reading…

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Ten Books to Read Before Coming to Florence

Saving_ItalyBooks have played a large role in my relationship with Florence, Italy and I wanted to share my some of my personal favorites. Here are ten books to read before coming to Florence, while you’re in Florence, if you miss Florence, or if you always wanted to go to Florence.
 
1. Saving Italy, Robert M. Edsel, 2013. By the author of the popular (and adapted for the big screen by Mr. Italy-loving George Clooney himself) Monuments Men. Saving Italy narrows his focus in this compelling read. He looks at the repercussions of war in a new way and pays respect to the unsung heroes who protected and saved Italy’s greatest artistic treasures during World War II.
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Highlights from Week Two: When in Rome…

Rome_Trip
Week two is always a special time. Classes are underway, jet lag has worn off, and Florence is starting to feel more and more like home. This always seems like a great time to shake things up by leaving our Tuscan home for a little southern Italy adventure. What other city could possibly give Florence a run for its money? Answer: Rome. However, we here at Select Study Abroad refuse to do Rome in a day (especially in the summer). That is a particularly awful form of torture reserved for one of Dante’s deepest levels of hell. We like to take our time. Over a three-day weekend we see as much of this gorgeous city as we can, we throw in a Pompeii visit, and we break it all up with gratuitous pizza and gelato stops. You know, when in Rome…

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