The Great Tastes of Tuscany !

Today we took a trip to Tuscany for a wine tasting, vineyard and wine cellar tour! We started out the trip at the beautiful city of Montepulciano,Tuscany. The first stop on the tour was a winery called Citta’s Sotterranea which translates to  Citta’s Underground in English. The name is fitting for a wine cellar but this place is much more than that. We learned that the building used to be a torture chamber for criminals and they would often torture them and make them produce the wine as well.


After the tour we went to the wine tasting area where we sampled four types of red wines, three types of pecorino cheese and two types of salami. I learned that I’m not a red wine person. It wasn’t bad but not my forte. The cheeses, however, were beyond amazing! It was so good I had to buy a wheel of the pecorino cheese to take back to the states with me!


After the wine tasting we walked around the neighborhood. There were a lot of small shops which sold antiques, clothes and souvenirs. I managed to buy a few good souvenirs for my family and friends. The town was on a hill and at the top of it was a beautiful view of Tuscany. We took a few photos and headed back down the hill. On our way down we found a cute little store which sold sandwiches with the locally made cheeses and meats. I got a sandwich( or hoagie as we call it in Jersey ) with pecorino cheese, salami and prosciutto . Of course it was delicious!


The next place we went to was a vineyard in Montalcino, Tuscany. This wine tasting took place on a private estate with an adjacent vineyard and cellar. We went on a tour of the cellar and vineyard and learned more about the production of wine. After the tour we sampled four types of red wine that was produced there. They were okay, but again, I’m not really a fan of red wine. After the tasting we walked around the estate and took pictures of the beautiful view.


Although I’m not a wine fanatic, The trip to Tuscany was great! I ate good food and saw beautiful views! It was truly a great experience!


4th of July in Rome

This is the first time I have ever spent the 4th of July outside of the US, or any holiday for  that matter. Leading up to the fourth I didn’t put much thought into what I would do to celebrate the holiday. I didn’t think I would feel any type of way about not being home for the holiday, but I was wrong.

When I woke up this morning the first thing I saw when I got on Instagram was a video of Fireworks from the night before. I also saw a post about how excited someone was to eat BBQ food today. Then it hit me, what heck was I going to do to entertain myself and celebrate this holiday when I’m thousands of miles away from home!

 Immediately I started to crave all of the traditional BBQ foods (ribs, chicken, hot dogs, burgers, salads etc. ) At that point I decided that I would try my best to whip up some sort of BBQ . We went to the market to see what we could find. We found chicken wings, pork chops, and fresh corn on the cob! The last thing we needed was some BBQ sauce. We searched the entire store and found NOTHING! We decided we’d check at the other grocery store on the way home and if they didn’t have it we’d buy a bottle from a local spot called T-Bone which sells all types of American foods including BBQ sauce. The second grocery store had no sauce either and T-Bone was CLOSED! Today of all days! Our BBQ was ruined but we still had this food that needed to  be cooked! We went home to season it to allow it marinate while we were out site seeing.. The chicken gave us yet another surprise!  Apparently they don’t divide the chicken in portions the way we do in the states. Instead of a 6 pack of wings, we actually bought two sets of wings with the tail ends still connected! Our BBQ had turned into a major catastrophe!


We went to the Pantheon which was absolutely amazing! Outside there was a group of people who seemed to be American singing opera. They sang the US National Anthem which I thought was weird but I guess it was in the spirit of the holiday. There was also some dancers performing to the beat of Drums. They were really good as well.


After the Pantheon went to the Trevi Fountain where we got to throw in a coin and make a wish. As soon as we got there it started to rain so we had to hurry and take photos and run for cover.


We ended up in a McDonald’s! Since we were there we figured we’d try the food since we heard it was different from the US but was good. The prices were about the same but they had a few different things on the menu. I got a chicken wrap and something they have called Crisp chips. They were like potatoes cut like crinkled potato chips and they were AMAZING! While we were in McDonald’s I came up with a bright idea! We could buy a bunch of BBQ sauce packs and use it for our dinner! It sounded crazy but we were desperate!


We came home and cooked the food. We were a little skeptical, but low and behold the food came out AMAZING! We were all in shock ! Who would have thought that McDonald’s BBQ nugget sauce would make the perfect sauce for chicken and pork chops!

Lesson of the Day:  WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY!

My 4th of July in Rome turned out to be a really great day !

Mcdonalds BBQ

The initial shock is over.. The semester has begun

So the initial shock is over! I’m pretty comfortable with Roman life now and reality has set in that I am in fact here. I know how to get home from almost any angle of the city as long as i don’t venture out too far which is good! We did a tour of Trastevere today which helped with my navigation and taught me a few historical facts about this neighborhood as well!

Classes started today and they went really well ! I’m taking a pinhole photography class which i knew nothing about until i stepped foot into the classroom today. I signed up for it because it sounded interesting from the syllabus and I was right ! Today we made a camera from wooden box, photo paper and the reflection of the sun! Crazy right?! Yeaa I so didn’t know it was possible to do that! I’m still not sure the science behind it but as long as it works i’m okay with it! The rest of the semester seems like it’s going to be pretty good. We will be taking pictures using the homemade cameras around the city and developing them in a dark room which I’ve always wanted to learn how to do!


My other class is Business Communications which from what I can tell will be a bird course for me since it will cover mostly what i have already learned in my Human Resource Management class! We had homework on the first day which kind of sucks but luckily it was easy so its all good !

I had my first Italian cappuccino today which was pretty interesting. It was pretty but tasted much different than expected. It was bitter and didn’t have any sugar which seemed odd to me but I still drank it ! I won a free cappuccino for  week from a raffle that my school did so I’m going to have to suck it up and learn to like it because i’d be an idiot to pass up something free.. especially since I NEVER win anything I figure i should savor this moment!


We booked a trip to Tuscany this weekend which I am super excited for ! Wine tasting in an Italian vineyard is something you see on movies but I’ll be doing it on Friday! WOOP WOOP!

My first full day of exploring Rome

Today was the first day of orientation at JCU. It was different from any other orientation I have ever had because it mostly focused on helping us to get acquainted with the city  and the culture.  We toured the campus and went over the basics rules of the university. Once orientation was over we were free to roam and explore.

We didn’t really know where to begin so we figured we’d find a nice restaurant for dinner. We’d heard so many good things about a local place in Trastevere called Tony’s or Hostaria del Moro da Tony, so we figured that would be the best place to go.The restaurant was exactly what I imagined an authentic Italian restaurant would be like. There were red and white tablecloths and excessive amounts of bread and wine. I was very surprised by the service though. I didn’t expect it to be bad service but I was pleasantly surprised when the owner Tony came over to our table to take care of us. He talked to us for a long while and told us about his time in the US. He was super excited when I told him that I was from New Jersey because he said that  it was his favorite state in the US. The dinner was amazing! The restaurant gives free desert with every meal so we all got a cup of lemon sorbet. We also got a free plate of watermelon and lemoncello shots sent to our table compliments of the owner Tony! Before we left the restaurant  he came to our table and told us that he enjoyed our conversation and  that we should come back again. He gave me a free t-shirt with the restaurant’s logo because he said I reminded him of the good times he had in New Jersey!  IMG_2346[1]IMG_2354[1]

After we ate we decided to got to the local festival located on the banks of the Tiber River. I was surprised how crowded it was for it to be so late at night , it was a good mixture of Italians and tourists ( mostly American). The festival was like a fancy version of a US Flea market. It had many stands where they sold clothes, handbags, and shoes and some other stands that sold random electronics and gadgets.  The only difference was that there were many bars and lounges that were in between the stands.   Rome is beautiful during the day but it is even better at night. The only thing I don’t recall seeing tonight is the moon or stars. I’m sure they are there but I don’t recall seeing them. I’ll be putting ” look up at the sky at night on my to do list”! lol


Traveling to the Eternal City

I have been dreaming about the day i’d be boarding the plane to Rome for study abroad for over a year. Since the time I boarded the plane I’ve literally pinched myself about twenty times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming! But I am in fact here! I am in Rome studying abroad at John Cabot University and I plan to have best five weeks of my life while i’m here.

When everything was set and my plans for the trip were finalized I was SUPER excited! The only thing I worried about was the flight. I’m not afraid of flying but it’s not one of my favorite things to do, especially alone. I wrote on the JCU Facebook group multiple times before I left to see if anyone was on my flight but no such luck. I was somewhat disappointed because so many other people found flight buddies using that method but i was going to have t tough it out alone.

When I got to the airport the two hour wait seemed to fly by. While I was waiting I saw a girl at my terminal who resembled someone I saw on the JCU Facebook group, but I didn’t want to be a creep and ask her just in case it wasn’t the right person. Lol  We ended up sitting next to each other in the terminal and after a few minutes she asked me if I was going to Rome to attend JCU. We started to talk and I found out she was thinking the same thing I was, she recognized me from the Facebook group as well and almost didn’t ask for the same reason i didn’t.

Luckily we found each other though, because the journey through the Roman airport would have sucked if I were alone! The airport was huge and required us to take a train to get to the baggage claim area. While some of the signs were in English most of them were in Italian. I’m sure I would have panicked after a few minutes if I was alone but we worked together to figure out how to get to the area where the school would pick us up.


The shuttle ride to the school was the first lesson of many! The traffic and the way people drive here are crazy! Imagine traffic in NY but with a bunch of people on Vespas weaving in and out of traffic!  The scenery en route to my apartment was beautiful! When I got here  I met so many people. Everyone seems really nice and super excited to meet people and hang out . If that’s any indication of how the rest of the semester will be, I’m sure I have a lot of good times to look forward to.

After we settled in, we walked around the town. I got my first slice of  authentic Italian pizza and a g  elato which was delish!





So Far Rome has been everything I expected it to be!