On Tuesday last week we went to Florence with our economics professor Valentina. She is absolutely precious and I am totally in love with her. She has to be the nicest human being ever! As we had all been to Florence the past weekend, she tried to switch our trip but wasn’t able to. However, it worked out perfect for me because we went to the Uffizi Museum and I had chosen to not go last weekend. Kat was my tour guide and gave me the low down on all the pictures. Since she was there the previous week, she knew exactly where to go and I saw all there was to see including the Birth of Venus. Afterwards Valentina let us do what whatever we wanted since we had been to all the sights already so we hit up the same sandwich shop again because it was just that good. We wandered through the markets again before heading home. It was probably the most fun I’ve had in a field trip yet so far, albeit maybe not the most educational. It was cool to be in Florence again and know exactly how to get around and where to go.
On Thursday we went to Spoleto for our last field trip for our history class. Spoleto is in the region of Umbria, just off the Via Flaminia (which as I learned in my econ class was one of the 2 roads built by the Roman empire – and cool enough it actually has just been renovated from the original road the Roman’s built). We started the trip by walking over the Ponte della Torri, the bridge of towers, which is this huge bridge that was originally an aqueduct. It originally was a Roman structure but was rebuilt in the Medieval times on top of the old structure. There is one tower of the two original remaining and overall I have to say it was one impressive bridge. Afterwards we climbed to a fort on the top that had been converted to a prison and then is now used as a museum. It was nice but the best part had to be the view from the top – the countryside is absolutely stunning here! We went to the Cathedral and it started to pour on the way. Guess we couldn’t have all sunny, amazing days for our field trips. Afterwards we hit up a smaller church and we went to the crypt in the basement. It was really cool because it had originally been a Roman temple but had been converted into a church. I guess this is pretty common and when they do this they reverse the side of the entrance. So the steps down to the crypt had originally been the steps into the temple. Random fun fact for ya! After that we went for lunch and found a delicious pizza place to chill at and avoid the rain!
Our last field trip was yesterday and it was to Siena which is in the region of Tuscany. It was really pretty there and definitely had a lot taller buildings than what I’ve gotten used to here (albeit tall is like 5 stories). The Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, is the oldest surviving bank in the world, and apparently has spent in past years over 100 million euros a year on events and building restoration. As my professor informed us, since their bailout in 2013 they have severely cut funding, so more than likely in the next 10 years the city is going to start looking a lot less picturesque than it does now. We started the day by going to the Palazzo del Campo, which is one of Europe’s best medieval squares, where the horse races are held. The center of the square is a seashell with 9 divisions, one for each of the neighborhoods, and it’s slanted downward to allow for water to drain. Afterwards we went to the Pubblico Palace and saw a bunch of frescoes, including the first one displaying civic scenes. In it is depicted the effects of having a good versus a bad government in power. Once we were finished there we broke for lunch and had the most amazing sandwich ever at a place called Gino Cacino di Angelo. I had roasted pork sandwich with cheese, eggplant with rosemary and a honey mustard sauce and a parmesan truffle sauce. It was seriously heaven on earth – soooooo good! We finished off the day by going to the Duomo there and I have to say it is one of the most impressive churches I’ve ever seen. I personally like the outside of Orvieto’s duomo better but the inside of this one was insane. Just so much detail and huge mosaics on the floor. Plus there was the Libreria Piccolomini, which was a library of these huge, elaborately illustrated books. I was so caught up with the books I almost forgot to look up at the amazingly painted ceiling. By the end of the day my neck was so sore from looking up!