When I was eleven years old I read a book called The Thief Lord. This book was set in Venice and I knew from that moment on that my dream was to visit this place that captured my heart because of this book that I read. Out of all of the trips that I have taken through Italy, Venice was my top destination. It did not disappoint. When I first got to Venice and took the water taxi to Piazza San Marco I leaned my head out of the window of the boat and felt the sun and sea breeze on my face. As we disembarked and started walking the streets of the city it was overpopulated with tourists like I expected it to be. It did not deter me though from seeing the sights of the city built on water. Coming from Siena and spending time in the Piazza Del Campo where people have the opportunity to sit and talk the vast and emptiness of the Piazza San Marco disappointed me at first. I realized after though that with the narrow streets, hundreds of bridges, and canals throughout the city this gives people an open space to breathe. After walking through the shops we took the water taxi to the island of Murano where the famous and well-known glass of Murano is made. I was excited to see the glass blowing process. Unfortunately though, we went on Liberation day which is a public holiday in Italy and many people were off for work. Liberation day was great as people in Venice celebrated with champagne and flowers but I was slightly disappointed that I wasn’t able to see the glass blowing.
After traveling to Murano we were trying to decide whether or not we wanted to take a Gondola ride. One of the gondoliers came up to us and could see our hesitation and only charged us 25 euros for a gondola ride. In Venice that is a very good deal so we took him up on his offer. I can without a doubt say that was my favorite part of the trip. The gondolier’s name was Massimo and he was a fourth generation gondolier. He took us around the city and pointed out many historical buildings such as Marco Polo’s house. He re-created history for us in his stories and took us around his beloved city. Being in the gondola I realized that the true Venice was mean to be seen in the water. After the gondola ride was over, we had dinner and then decided to take the water taxi around to the various parts of the island and see Venice from the water. As the city lit up at night and the glow reflected in the water the breath taking beauty of the city took my breath away. Venice is a city of romance and for the weekend it was the object of my affection.
As the semester is starting to wind down the Siena School takes all of the students on a weekend trip through Tuscany. We started the trip out bright and early Friday morning and traveled to San Galgano an Abbey near Siena. It is now abandoned and we were able to explore the inside of it as Roberto, one of the teachers at the school, re-created with his vast amount of knowledge what life was like when the Abbey was active. After San Galgano we hiked up to Spannochia, an agriturismo that focuses on organic agriculture. Once we finally made it to the top the estate was absolutely beautiful. It stayed true to its Tuscan heritage as the views from the hillside portrayed the green luscious rolling hills of Tuscany. We had lunch outside and then toured the grounds. After, we took a hike to a nearby abandoned castle. The castle was 8 kilometers away and was in the middle of nowhere. Roberto joked and said that it was the “Castle that only God and the saints know about.” After seeing its remote destination I could understand why he said this. The castle was amazing because the structure was still intact and most of the stairs were still in good condition for how old it was. It was a hidden treasure that we were lucky to see.
After coming back from the castle there was an impromptu photo shoot that happened with myself and some of the girls as we couldn’t afford to pass up the beautiful scenery around us. After many pictures, giggles, and hurting cheeks we went inside for the Aperitivio tasting wine from the Tuscan area. Dinner was served after and was made with organic food from the farm.
The next day we went to Scorgiano where we had a wine tasting that was made on the estate. It was a beautiful place where many weddings are held and we toured the estate and surrounding village. Like so many places, it has rich history and is still in the family after many years. After Scorgiano, our last destination was Monteriggioni a quaint little town that has developed from its origins of being a castle community. The castle walls are still intact and people can climb the walls and see how the village was protected from outsiders.
Since I have been traveling so much lately I have unfortunately forgotten how beautiful and rare a place like Tuscany. In my opinion, it truly is the best region in Italy. After weekends like that when we could see the picture perfect view of the rolling hills, taste the wine and the produce, and smell the flowers growing all around in the spring time it makes me not want leave Italy ever. It was a beautiful weekend with the people as well as different classmates were able to bond and spend time with people that we normally don’t have the opportunity to.