Okay back to reality. So, can we just take a moment to acknowledge that in 3 days it’s JUNE?! Just call me Uncle Jesse because HAVE MERCY I’m not ready.

I’m four out of five exams in, and my head is already in summer mode, but one last exam is fast approaching (June 12th, to be specific). This doesn’t seem to daunting, as that’s over two weeks, but yah girl is going to Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Brussels before! Initially, by now I was already supposed to be done with all of them (and then I could really be in summer mode), but let me explain the sitch-ee-ation rn.

Okay so we left off last Wednesday in my cozy new room (cozy enough I didn’t leave my bed all day…), but had to wake up from my laziness for my 4th exam I took that Thursday and it was for our “Cibo” (food) class. If we’re being honest, I still don’t know the full name of the class…it’s about the history and impact of food through Italian history, including its relationship with society, politics, geography, culture, etc. but just calling it “food” is so much more fitting, don’t you think? I studied with Sarah (mom) at one of our favorite American-like restaurants in Bologna called “Zoo” and I got to indulge in this yummy looking vegan meal (I know, I know, it doesn’t sound good…but it was!) and study-udy-udy for my FINAL program course!

The class was taught by Massimo Montanari, a professor of Medieval History at the University of Bologna and a scholar in food studies, who is kind of a big deal in Italy! He’s written a WORLD of books, so if you have any interest in checking him out, here is a link to his Wikipedia page…and y’all are all smart you can go ahead and figure out the rest! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massimo_Montanari

After the exam, I had to immediately start studying for my Amministrazione e Politiche Pubbliche (Administration and Public Policy) final the next day, but, after conversations with my teacher, we decided I put it off until the June 12th opportunity. In Italy, you generally take exams weeks, sometimes even months apart, and if I had taken it that Friday I would have had four exams in 10 days…needless to say, I wouldn’t have done very well! So instead, I organized and hung out with Sarah, then we got some Chinese at an authentic Asian restaurant in the city. I ate a frightening amount of fried rice noodles but hey, treat yo self.

And because I moved my exam date, I was able to go on the Tuscany trip with my program, the last time most of us would be together at all! Because of this last-minute trip, I slept over at Sarah’s and we woke up bright and early to get to the auto-station to meet everyone else. I was frighteningly underprepared (12 hours before I wasn’t even going!), but I was ready to roll with the punches. My bus buddy Ashely kept me entertained for our long bus ride to our first stop: Monteriggioni! Monteriggioni is a very architecturally significant medieval village, known for its reference in Dante’s Divine Comedy. You can see on these maps where it is in Italy and in respect to Bologna, but for easier reference it’s in the province of Siena in the Tuscany region. To learn more about this photogenic place, check out its tourist page here: http://www.monteriggioniturismo.it/en/

After indulging in some coffee and gelato, we got back on the bus to head to the capital of the Siena province…Siena. Seems a bit repetitive, huh? Well let me tell you, studying this place in our art and society class didn’t do it JUSTICE. We got to walk around on our own, grab a lunch, and then had a tour with a sweet Italian women. Here is just a glimpse into the many, many things we saw (you can see where it is in respect to Monteriggioni, Bologna, and the entirety of the province of Siena as well!).

At one point, Aida, Dallas, and I even found a little playground and you already KNOW I was climbing all over everything! Plus, a little hop-scotch did me good.


We met up for our tour at the BEAUTIFUL Fonte Gaia, which was surprisingly so much smaller than I expected. But nothing was there to prepare us for the Duomo…I honestly didn’t think it was REAL when I was looking at it! The pure artistry and technological innovations over the entire facade was incredible. Our tour guide took as all around and showed us the cool ins and outs, with a lot of fun tidbits. And you KNOW we got those cute little bluetooth earbuds to use. And how cool is it to study something and then go visit it?! #StayInSchoolKids

We headed back to the bus after catching some more #views and took off for our next location: a former monastery, Sant’Anna in Camprena. BUT LOOK AT THE VIEWS!!!

Anyway, back to that monastery business. So our program has been taking kids to this place for the Tuscany trip for awhile and it’s where we got to spend the night! It’s called the Monastery of Saint Anna in Camprena (another area in the Siena province), and it’s now used for agri-tourism. The scenes and the sunlight were incredible, and yes we got to eat in that dining hall! Game of Thrones much?

Look at the views I woke up to…

After yet another night of no sleep, we took off again to the beautiful city Pienza, which I’m pretty sure is known for its cheese?? Don’t quote me on that one.

And we came at a great time! They had some type of casual festival weekend going on, and had performs in the main square! Got a little video of the oh-so-Italian scene.

But of course, my favorite (or least favorite?) part was finding the famous “Via Dell’Amore” (Love Street/Street of Love) and, as I was taking an appropriately-themed selfie, Ashely somehow captured pure photographic perfection. Feelings summed up perfectly.

So after the bitterness wore off, we took off yet again (we spent a lot of time on this bus, y’all) to the GORGEOUS city of Montalcino. Well, we only stopped at the Coop (their popular grocery store) and got some food before heading off to a winery, but it counts, right? Whatever, just check out the views.

But the winery/azienda (company) was so close to Montalcino that it’s definitely the same thing! After a mini tour of the outside vines and a little introduction/history into their brand, we got to taste two of their wines along with some bruschetta and wonderful conversation. Just look at our adorable wine man! It was also one of the girl’s birthday (Olivia’s), so what a better way to celebrate a 21st than with a wine tasting?! #soclassy

Afterwards, every was definitely ready for a little nap, but instead we headed off to a hike? It ended at a beautiful location of a still-active church, so it was definitely worth the walk, but boyyyyy did my sunburn and blisters not thank me the next day (tip: Converse are NOT for hills).

And at the end of the walk…TIME TO GO HOME! A great 3 hour bus ride awaited us, and we were all exhausted and sleep-deprived, so obviously we were ready to be in our beds. I got home, ordered more sushi than I could handle (#DontOrderHungry), and somehow still ended up staying up ’til 6 am watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Priorities, right? (Also if you haven’t seen this show yet WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?!?)

Having slept only 10 hours over two days, but also having done that much stuff in a mere 36 hours, I was obviously, AND not going to bed until 6 am, my tired booty woke up at 6 PM. WHOOPPPSS. I used the rest of Sunday and all of today to sleep a little more and gain back my strength because tomorrow I’m going to….BARCELONA! I’m actually going on my own, my first ever solo trip, so I’m really nervous but SUPER excited to really emerge myself in the awesome city! If you have any suggestions of what I should do there (shoutout to Hannah Midkiff with the dope to-do list already), definitely let me know!

Well, I’m supposed to be at the airport in 7 hours and I haven’t even packed, so I think it’s time for me to go to bed (read: watch one more episode of Drag Race and then go to bed…again, priorities). Sorry mom and dad!




– Alex