“Good Morning passengers. On behalf of the Delta Sky Team Alliance, we would like to welcome you to Leonardo da Vinci Airport. The time is now 7:35 AM. We appreciate your service and look forward to you flying with Delta again.“ My second international adventure was to Italy.  In Italy, I was on another study abroad trip with Ferris State University.  Unlike South Korea, this program was only three weeks long, traveling around numerous cities in Italy.

I remembered when I walked off the plane, I spun around to get a 360 view of the well-sculpted airport. It was breathtaking. I maneuvered myself through the airport,  and tried to mimic the Italian style and walk as though I were a native or in a music video, even though my pink Hollister shirt and Aeropostale khaki shorts clearly said otherwise.

We had a fairly small group on this adventure, which means, bonds are going to form, or we’re just going to hate each other lol. I’m happy to say, we all got along nicely.  Dave, Luke, and Chris were the other three guys on the trip. We checked into our first hotel in Rome. The guys and I had a room, while the girls had a separate room. The décor was contemporary with elegant Italian details, from fresh red roses in the rooms, to fine art covering the spiral stairways. The marble and mosaic bathroom made us feel like royalty. After an hour of horsing around, we snapped out of it to prepare for our first journey into the heart of Italy. We were heading out to see the great symbol of the Eternity City: the Roman Colosseum.

 

The hidden nerdy side of me, Googled some fun fact about the Colosseum prior to arriving.  I learned that the Colosseum was the largest Amphitheatre in the world, with the capacity of holding 50,000 to 80,000 spectators. The original name was not the Colosseum, originally it was called, but the Amphitheatre Flavio. Tens of thousands of animals and gladiators died in that arena. As the group and I toured the facility, the powerful history of what had transpired hundred of years ago drew me into its mystery. It was difficult to imagine myself living in that era. What would I have been like then? Could I have been one of the gladiators myself?   Well, duh! I would’ve been a badass gladiator.


The next day we visited the Sistine Chapel.

 

It was  surrounded by the most beautiful paintings in the world. Coming from a guy who doesn’t really appreciate art and nature, it was purely amazing.  In order to enter the chapel we had to obey the strict dress code: no shorts or sleeveless tops were allowed. Knees and shoulders had to be covered by both men and women. Pictures without a flash were allowed inside the Vatican museum, but no pictures were allowed inside the Sistine Chapel at all.

There were guards everywhere, and they weren’t shy about kicking you out if you snagged a picture or were being too loud. Soaking in the majesty of the historical masterpiece was not taken lightly.  After exploring the museum for almost four hours, we ended the night in Rome indulging at a nearby restaurant where we pounded lemoncello shots and an endless supply of Pasta :) 

Off to Florence!!!

We arrived in Florence before sunset. The view of the city was beyond enchanting. We took a short walk along the streets of Florence, looking at the steps to Piazzale Michelangiolo, and basking in the twinkling of the Arno River. Our hotel had a wonderful mixture of a romantic/modern feel. The brick walls and the open area on the ground level felt more like an upscale Old World college environment. Our only schedule on the Florence itinerary was to visit San Miniato al Monte, one of the highest points in the city. This was a basilica, a church with marble-paved aisles and mosaic windows, probably dating back to the 13th century. Our group wandered in silence, goo-goo eyed over the awesomeness that lay before us.

Florence was amazing, but I was mostly excited to explore Capri. Capri is a small island off the Bay of Naples filled with upscale hotels and shopping outlets. The stores were filled with designer fashions, including handmade accessories like pure leather sandals.  In order to get to Capri, we had to catch a ferry from Sorrento’s Marina Piccola port. From the port, we sailed twenty-five minutes over the Tyrrhenian sea. Now i’m feeling alive! The sense of adventure and traveling into the unknown is an amazing sensation.

We reached to the port of Capri, Maria Grande, a little after noon.

Rather than spending time within the tourist destination, we rode the small compact bus up the mountain to Anacapri, where our stay will be for the next five days. The roads swerved in a spiral on a terrifyingly tight space that would normally be a one-way street in the U.S. Vehicles drove in both directions hugging the edge of the road. I looked out over the valley, praying the driver wouldn’t jerk the wheel and tip us over the edge.

Once we reached the top we piled out of the bus and walked through narrow trails made for hiking or possibly a scooter. After about five minutes we arrived at our villa, which was beautiful. It was very large and had many rooms. A massive pool, and a lookout of the bright blue sea was below. White archways and exotic plants and trees sprouted up everywhere.

While the others spent the day exploring our new home, I decided to explore Anacapri with an easy forty to fifty-minute run. I took off onto a road, making random turns where it felt right, and also memorizing landmarks to get back the way I’d came. As I swiftly ran over the bumpy road, I noted that Anacpari had a more laid-back, tranquil feel to it. The environment was vibrant, and there were many quiet alleys, which allowed me to take more turns. After about twenty minutes, I passed about four people, all of which gave me weird looks as I ran shirtless. The village-like atmosphere and beauty of the island had me in some sort of trance. In a strange way I felt my body become one with the historic city.

Up ahead, about 3 miles in, I saw a group of people huddled together. I moved towards them with curiosity and noticed that they were all looking to their left. As I maneuvered my way around the well-dressed crowd, I saw a beautiful bride with her groom. They looked like I’d startled them, as I ran past shirtless and sweating. I felt horrible and screamed out, “Mi dispiace. Complimenti!” which means I’m sorry, and congratulations in English. I ran back to the villa with my heart racing.

I was huffing and puffing and told one of the guys, “I think I may be in an Italian wedding photo album.”  lol good time.

The second day we took a trip to the Blue Grotto. The Blue Grotto is a natural sea cave about sixty meters long. It’s one of several sea caves around the world that fills with brilliant blue or emerald light. As sunlight passes through the low cave, light shines through the seawater. It creates a sparkling blue reflection that illuminates the cavern.

The group and I were separated onto a few rocking boats, and as we went to enter the cave we were instructed to lay down flat to fit through the hole. Once inside the Grotto, I sat up, and it was then that I remembered why blue was my favorite color. This blue was otherworldly, like light coming from the heavens, casting a divine glow. It was so astonishing, it was almost overwhelming.

We spent the remaining days hiking, sailing the open water, swimming, and enjoying each other company. 

 

Carlvin out! 

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