I haven’t posted in awhile, but now that I’m currently studying abroad in Perugia, Italy, I think this is the perfect time to blog. I’m meeting so many new people, exploring new places and experiencing everything and anything that I possibly can. I only have until mid-December here and I know it’ll fly by so, so fast. It’s only been my fourth night in Italy and I feel like I’ve been here for weeks– that’s how you know I’m experiencing a lot already and really taking advantage of my days here. If you’re interested in my adventures in Europe, check back here for my updates!
At first, I really wanted to make my travel posts deep and meaningful (Hannah Brencher style) but I think my journey will speak for itself. I’m sure this post is going to be long enough, so I’ll cut right to the chase: when I arrived to my apartment, which is right next to the main square in Perugia. Let me just tell you, I was NOT expecting my apartment to be as amazing as it is. It has such old Italian charm: big windows with shutters, three quaint yet spacious bedrooms, a beautiful terrace with a beautiful view, old bookcases, the tallest ceilings, huge armoires… the list goes on.
Not to be bias or anything, but I think my roommates and I were one of the lucky ones. Amanda and I were especially lucky because we have two truly awesome roommates to share this beautiful apartment with. Not many students at the Umbra Institute were blessed with as nice and spacious of apartments as we were. I was literally jumping up and down when I saw where I was living. After I collected myself, I opened up the grand doors out to our terrace, took a deep breath and took it all in. I really couldn’t believe this was going to be my life for the next four months. How did I get so lucky?
After some orientation things I don’t want to bore you with, it was time to finally get to know Perugia a little better. Luckily my school provided all of the students with our first Italian pizza dinner at Merlin’s Pizza, which was as good as you think it is. We had limited choices, but I ordered pizza with ham on it and a glass of chilled white vino. Not sure if you guys know this, but Italy is so cool you don’t even have to tip your waiters. They don’t expect it because it’s not common at all, and they truly want you to enjoy your dining experience so much that it doesn’t even matter to them. You also have to ask your waiters for the check because they don’t want to make you feel rushed, ever. Why can’t America be this chill????
After dinner my roommates and I got ready for our first night out on the town! We had a small pregame (sorry, Mom and Dad) in our room with the other Quinnipiac students I traveled with and their roommates. I must say, I have a pretty solid group here. We all bonded so quickly, it’s weird to think I met them only four days ago. Our group first went to a little bar called Dempsey’s and get this… it’s owned by a young guy, Andreas, who is from New Jersey!!! It was really refreshing to meet someone here who could relate to my home.
After a drink at that bar we made our way to a place called the Luna Bar, which is more like a mini Italian Toad’s– for the Quinnipiac students reading this, I’m sure you have a good idea of what I’m talking about. I honestly had such a good time here!! The bartender even gave us a round of free shots because we were the first ones to arrive. Apparently Italians go out really late, which we weren’t exactly aware of at the time. But anyway, my friends and I danced so much and had a lot of fun. We will definitely be visiting this place again soon. There’s even a pizzeria right outside of the bar for (drunken) people that I’m pretty sure is open up late… it’s like my calling.
The next day was a bit of a late start for everyone, so we began meandering around Perugia a little after 11:30 AM. At the end of August each year, Perugia has a huge sale at all of the shops with little carts set up outside each store. It was so cute and had a great feel to it. I personally didn’t buy anything, but I was really tempted. I mean, every store was 50% off or higher. My friends and I also walked to the end of the squares and got a great view of the rest of Perugia. The views are amazing here. Perugia is a hilly town with ancient, yet beautiful sights. What more could you ask for?
After that, we stopped by a smaller market with jewelry, paintings and other antiques and knick knacks. We then explored something that’s basically considered the underground fortress of Perugia, which was a little spooky but really awesome at the same time. Amanda and I had lunch at the same pizzeria that Umbra took us to. I had the Quattro Stagioni pizza that had artichoke, spicy salami, mushrooms and ham on it. It was soooo good. We met a really sweet and cute Italian waiter there named Zach who really wants to learn English. We talked about dogs and Perugia… it was a great convo. I see him around town a lot and he always greets us with a smile! I also had my first craft beer ever at this local pub called Elfo’s in the late afternoon. It’s Perugia’s oldest pub and there’s so many craft beers, I had to have someone choose one for me. Also because I have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to craft beer. We watched the Roma vs. Juventus futbol game there and to be honest, I felt a little bit like a local.
We had dinner at a little pasta place later on in the night. I had fresh Umbricelli pasta with sausage and truffles, an Umbrian speciality. Perfetto! Tomorrow meant the beginning of our week of intensive Italian to really get the ball rolling on this beautiful language.
After four hours of intensive Italian, my program affiliate (CIS Abroad) hosted a dinner at a little trattoria called Wine Bartolo for CIS students. We had a four course meal that included four dishes that are special to the Umbra region. Our first course was an Umbrian meat carpaccio that was prepared perfectly. The second course was a strangozzi pasta dish cooked with white wine that had a different meat in it. I didn’t really know what type of meat was used, but it was tasty and the pasta was so homemade and fresh that I didn’t care. Our third course was a Chianina cattle meat dish with sautéed potatoes. Apparently Chianina is one of the most prized meats in the world; I could see that, because the dish was so tasty and tender. I got food snobbery from my mom so I guess you could say I really, really appreciate good food when I eat it. Our final dish was a flourless chocolate cake made with Perugia chocolate and fresh peaches. So. Freaking. Good. During dinner I sat next to our CIS advisor, Romina, who is the sweetest lady. We exchanged stories and she gave us little tips to help us with our stay in Italy. I’m looking forward to seeing her again real soon!
CIS Dinner at Wine Bartolo
After dinner, my friends and I went to an Irish pub called Shamrock’s. On Monday nights, they have karaoke. Not to mention one euro shots and two euro glasses of Sangria. The Umbra students had our own little space near the karaoke station and everyone was having so much fun making complete fools of ourselves in front of the Italians, dancing on tables and such. It was a pretty funny night.
The next day was another long day of intensive Italian and a meeting with the U.S. Embassy, which entailed true horror stories of American study abroad students, of course. It’s safe to say most of us are experts on how to deal with safety in Europe. After class, we relaxed for a bit and went to aperitivo at a cute little ristorante/bar on a legit cliff. Aperitivo is a time every day usually between 6:30-9 PM where Italians go to grab drinks and in return, get a bunch of plates of FREE finger-foods. It’s supposed to make you hungry for dinner since dinner time in Italy is around 9 PM. Except we all got too full and ended up not even getting dinner. Although we did get gelato, because there’s always room for gelato.
My friends and I at aperitivo!
After aperitivo, we had to be those Americans in Perugia. We just had to. So we traveled down the road from my apartment to where Amanda Knox once lived. It’s actually pretty creepy down there. Like, I think even before that whole thing happened the area was still spooky. Or maybe it was just because it was nighttime and we were just freaking ourselves out… I’m not sure. But regardless, still creepy. We didn’t find the exact apartment, which was number seven, but I know we saw it without knowing which one it exactly was. There was no number seven apartment, but there was every other number 1-10, so my guess is the town took the number off? But don’t quote me on that. I’m just assuming a lot of people go down there to check out the area, so maybe they didn’t want to draw attention to that specific apartment since new people probably live there now.
Street that Amanda Knox lived on
Again, today was another four hours of intensive Italian. I’m not sure what tonight’s plans will be, but that’s the amazing part of studying abroad. You can pretty much do and go wherever you want. Italy is exactly how I pictured it: walking around staring up constantly because the views are to die for, grabbing paninis on the way back to your apartment, wishing you were on a vespa 24/7 and practicing spontaneity at every turn, among other things. Arrivederci for now, amici. I’ll be posting again soon!
“Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.’” –Lisa St. Aubin de Terán