Italy: Individual and Group Exploring

Submitted by Jennifer Ptak on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Italy sponsored by the Department of English…

I made it to my last week in Italy. I have really come to love the country and all that it has to offer. Any worries and concerns I may have had before arrival have dissipated as I went day by day traveling to Rome, Florence, Tivoli, Pisa, San Gimignano, and Siena. I was able to explore so many places with our weekday group activities and free weekends. The group activities focused more on the larger museums, galleries, and landmarks. They were great to have in the program because it made navigating large tourist spots easy and convenient, such as our excursions to the busy Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Uffizi Gallery. The tour guides would always get our tickets ready and take us through the locations efficiently while providing information about them. During free time, I decided to do some exploring with a small group of other students, whether it be thoroughly exploring the city we were already in or taking a day trip through Tuscany. This gave me a different perspective of Italy outside of the regularly scheduled tours. Both aspects were great and provided a more comprehensive understanding of the country.

However, I realized the importance of doing a bit of exploring entirely on my own. Seeing the city with friends is a lot of fun, but there is something about roaming the streets of Florence on your own for an hour or two that really immerses you in the experience. Rather than chatting with friends, you are focused solely on your surroundings—the people, the stores and restaurants, the constant flurry of activity passing by. Plus, there is a certain freedom to do whatever you please when exploring a city alone. When I did this, I did not wander far from the hotel, but took side streets that I passed many times. but never went down. Once I did, I realized just how much I had been missing out. I found a phenomenal restaurant with delicious homemade pasta and a gelato place a few doors down that shaped the treat into a flower and topped it off with a macaroon. I enjoyed all of my experiences in Italy and I believe they all showed me different sides of the country. The end of this three-week journey makes me want to come back again, as well as explore other countries soon. This winter session is definitely the most memorable part of my senior year at UD.

Inside St. Peter’s Basilica
Amorino Gelato