Guest Blogger: An Italian Scrapbook Masterpiece

We are accustomed to keeping business cards, tickets, napkins and every imaginable scrap from our travels. Some of our favorite finds we unearthed thanks to this extensive collection. But our efforts pale in comparison to those of our Guest Blogger, Jane’s. After spending the summer in Florence with Select Study Abroad, she put together what is nothing less than a work of art; a visual explosion of all the amazing memories from our summer together. Now, because we asked very very nicely, she has been so kind as to let us display this masterpiece. Below, see some of the amazing pages from her scrapbook with descriptions of the themes that inspired each one. Keep in mind that we are only seeing a small portion of what she made. It is a testament to an absolutely amazing summer that, thanks to her generosity, we can now enjoy as well! Thank you Jane!
Let the preview begin!

One of my favorite things about Italy is that beauty is simple, and simply everywhere. I was very taken by the doorways in some of the hill towns I explored, as they seem to be a work of art themselves in their simplicity and elegance. I compiled a selection of favorite doorways from the Tuscan hill towns Civita, Siena, Montepulciano, Montalcino (famous for their Brunello wine, the best in the world, which is seen in almost every doorway), Florence, Vaggio Savernano, and others, and from Vernazza, Monterosso, Manerola, and Corniglia.
Our home in Florence was the wonderful Croce di Malta. Having had such a fabulous experience there, I wanted a page to commemorate it, and to make sure I never forgot what a phenomenal apartment we had for the month. Although after returning to the States, I resented how it made me forget how to make my own bed.
One of my very favorite Florentine spots is the Mercato Centrale. I went almost every single day to get a caffè shakerato [Italian equivalent of an iced coffee], practice my conversational Italian (a great deal of which I learned within these walls), stock up on some dried fruits and nuts and those exquisite flat Sicilian peaches. Also to pretend that I had never tasted truffle paste or olive oil so I could sample it over, and over, and over again. This page shows some of the scenes from around the market, from the fresh fruit, to the shimmering fish, to oils and pastes, to questionable meats.
I made one of these pages for every single class with the brilliant cooking instructor Marco – so there are 16 pages, each with pictures of the four to five courses we created, along with the recipes. While definitely some of the most tedious pages to produce, these are completely invaluable to me. Having a visual and written record of every cooking class will help me and my cooking for the rest of my life.
This page shows the final day of class in my Fashion Illustration course. Everyone pinned their semester’s work on the board and presented their mood board (a page of inspiration pulled from magazines and print ads, and filled out with fabric swatches or other similar adornments to illustrate the concept for the line), a customer profile (a description of what your target client is like and why he or she would be interested in the line), and then of course, the sketches of the line itself – 6+ outfits all unified by a concept. I particularly loved this class because it was so small, and because my classmates were from Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Lebanon, and the Dominican Republic – it was an incredible opportunity to hear all about different corners of the earth.
This page is a compilation of a few business cards and shots from some of the group dinners. My favorite meals had whole pages to themselves, but I didn’t want to forget a single tasty dinner!
Cesarino. Holy gelato. This is the best restaurant in which I have ever had the distinct pleasure of dining. When I returned to Italy, I went straight to Cesarino and ate there three nights in a row. Davide, the generous, kind culinary genius creates a delectable feast that leaves you bursting at the seams and inexpressibly happy. Course after course after course of delicacies, rarities, and handcrafted brilliance.
My Roma page captures some of the wonderful things we got to see in Rome, and the title is created from the map I used to navigate the magical and ancient city.
I was spoiled rotten all summer getting to cook with Marco in my cooking class – so I was thrilled when our whole group had an evening activity where we donned aprons, absorbed some cooking wisdom, and cooked ourselves a four course feast. The only thing better than being with friends in Italy is cooking there with them.
The “Dome o’ the Duomo” climb is one of the best things to do in Firenze – I recommend doing it when you first arrive, as you get to see the entire city laid out at your feet – and again once you’ve gotten to know the city as a second home. Climbing up high and looking out, spotting the hotel, seeing your walk to class from above, recognizing shops and churches and favorite corners – it is one big visually tasty treat.
Monterosso, one of my favorite Cinque Terra spots, holds the recipe to a perfect afternoon: swimming in warm, bright blue waters, a shop full of limitless samples (garlic pastes, pestos, honeys, tapenades, and plenty of “limoncino,” the local version of lemoncello, made with the signature Monterosso lemons), restaurants brimming with creative pasta and seafood dishes, and endless stretches of scenic coastline.
As part of my fashion illustration course, we took a walk around the city of Florence to soak in some of the most incredible fashion sights. I snuck pictures in the incredible Costume Museum (a huge collection of incredible fashions, some from as early as the 1500’s, all the way up through the 20th century – a delicious spread for fashion lovers!), and marveled at this cloth shop right near the Duomo, where Royals from all over Europe order their silks and satins for Royal weddings and balls.
From glass blowing demonstrations to gondola rides, exploring Venice (a sort of Disneyland for adults) with my friends made for a pretty exceptional weekend.
I am loathe to admit it, but the gelato spoons lined up as a boarder on this page are unfortunately not the only gelato spoons I acquired during my time in Florence. Though some came from asking for “Un assaggio, per favore?” (“a taste, please?”) these spoons represent just a sampling (pun intended) of my gelato adventures. I made sure to grab business cards at favorite places, from the tiny locals-only spot our bus driver recommended on the way home from Lucca, to the famous Vivoli, or my personal favorite, Perché no!… (where one can buy the most luscious watermelon granita…). They say the best gelato in the whole world is in Florence. Only, I have a page full of cards and spoons to prove that narrowing it down any further is an impossible task.
The last page in my scrapbook, with boarding passes and plane tickets, shows the view over Italy and the States, and the deep blue link between them.

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