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Ole Abroad (Carmen & Katie): Wine tasting and sight-seeing in Italy

Ciao Tutti,
It is hard to believe that this is our last week in Italy! Where has the time gone?  As much as we are excited for the adventures we will encounter in London, we are sad to leave this beautiful country.
On Friday, we went on a class wine-tasting trip. The morning started out at a small Franciscan convent. Following St. Francis of Assisi’s teachings, the friars have taken a vow of penitence, poverty, prayer, and preaching. They are devoted to Mary of the Immaculate Conception and all that they do is for her. For example, they do not wear socks with their sandals (not even in the winter). When people ask them why they would put themselves through such discomfort, they explain that it is for the Immaculate Conception.
After leaving the convent, we visited a Medici Villa in the small town of Paggio a Caiano. The Medici family was an influential banking family in Florence during the late 14th century. The Villa was spacious and very beautifully adorned! We wish we could have that as our summer home!

We then went to visit a family-owned olive oil and wine vineyard. The Cappezana family is nobility. It was a real treat that the daughter (a countess!) gave us a tour of the family wine cellar! The cellar was enormous and it smelled so delicious! The wine kept in the cellar dated back to 1920!  After the tour, we tasted three different types of red wine.  So delicious! We were a bit sleepy after the wine tasting though.

On Saturday, a group of around seven of us decided to visit The Boboli Gardens behind the Pitti Palace. This formal 16th century garden was originally laid out for Eleonora di Toledo, the wife of Cosimo I de’ Medici. The gardens extend 11 acres and provide an amazing view of the city. On a sunny day, it is common to spot couples having picnics on the grass. A few weeks ago, I (Katie) even saw a pregnant cat in the gardens! After stumbling upon a sunny clearing, Carmen encouraged us all to play Ring around the Rosie!

After reliving our childhoods and spending a beautiful hour or two in the gardens, we went our separate ways during the afternoon. I (Katie) did a little souvenir shopping and also bought a new light spring jacket. Although I look a bit like I just popped out of an 80s work out video, the new jacket is very euro chic!

Later in the afternoon, we met up with two friends and went to Mass at the Duomo! Every Saturday there is a mass said in English at 5 p.m. The Mass was very different from what I expected. There was no music involved, and there was no wine served during communion. The Mass was also very quick, and the four of us were in and out within 45 minutes! It was very exciting to have the opportunity to attend Mass at one of the greatest Cathedrals in Italy.
As we start our last week in Italy, we have mixed emotions. Although we are ready to start our new adventure in London, our Italian experience will be sorely missed. Before we arrive in London on March 25th, we are both embarking on weeklong spring break trips!

I (Carmen) am traveling to Barcelona and Berlin, while I (Katie) am traveling to Madrid and Barcelona. We are both very excited to fill you in on our spring break experiences when we get to London!
A Dopo!

XOXO Carmen and Katie

*Katie Caffrey is a junior psychology major with a linguistics concentration from Oak Park, IL. She is currently splitting her semester abroad between Florence and London where she is studying both art history and theatre.
*Carmen Stubblefield is studying abroad in Italy and England on the ACM Arts in Context Program. She is a junior psychology major from Oregon, her favorite foods are pizza and ice-cream.

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