The Heart of Perugia, Italia

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My apartment building felt like it was out of some vintage Italian film. [Via Bartolo]
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Some of the best afternoons were spent exploring with my camera.
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I fell in love with the details of Perugia, especially the flower pots from the balconies.

I’ve been meaning to write some love about my beautiful city for a while now. When I mean a while, I mean for months. I’ve put it off because I don’t really know how to give this city justice…but I sure as hell can try.

I believe each city has its own personality; Perugia really makes you fall in love so effortlessly. I love how the city feeds off of the energy of the people. It’s not just a beautiful city. It’s medieval history is vividly shown through this epic ‘underground world’ that reminds me of something out of Harry Potter. The heart–or the core of Perugia is in it’s authenticity. Its found everywhere– in every restaurant, the always tempting goodies at pasticceria Sandri on display while walking Corso Vanucci, and freshly made cannolis that always run out before lunch time from that cafe that I still don’t know the actual name of. Because food is such an essential part of culture and travel, I had to share a few of my favorites in Perugia.

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This photo was taken as the last (for now) time at my favorite spot
when my family came to visit after my backpacking trip.
Taken during our first week, roommate out for lunch at Pizza Med for our first time
Taken during our first week, roommates out for lunch at Pizza Med for our first time.
They are the best.

Pizza Mediterranea  Better Neaopolitain pizza than I had in Napoli. These brick-oven crafted personal pizzas will raise your standards for pizza, forever. Just trust me. My friends made fun of me because I literally ALWAYS wanted to go here. I have no shame because it’s the best. We even had an accidental tradition of getting Pizza Mediterranea after weekends of traveling because it was a comfort of coming back home to Perugia. On warm days, you’ll see locals taking their pizza to-go and enjoying it on the steps near Fontana Maggiore.  Best for causal lunch/dinner date [Piazza Piccinino 11/12 Da Antonio]

This nook pizzeria is perfect for a quick slice of pizza.

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La Taverna Try the truffle ravioli, a house specialty and Umbrian dish that made me not only like, but love truffles. Each table is treated with complementary champagne, a veggie appetizer, and their homemade chocolate liquor.  I can’t recommend this restaurant enough–it’s a true Perugian experience. Best for impressing your family and your hot date. [Via delle Streghe]

Caffe Morlacchi This coffee shop is usually filled with Italian university students quickly taking their 1/7 espresso by the bar. My roommate Sammi discovered this place the first week or so and it easily became my go-to space to study or meet up place for a pastry and espresso macchiato. The prices are student-budget friendly and they have live music every week.[Piazza Morlacchi 6/8]

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No need for any excuses to sit, relax, laugh, eat, and drink on the steps–
it’s just what you do in Perugia.

Internationally, Perugia is known for Umbria Jazz, a festival held in July in the center of the city (just near my old apartment) and Eurochocolate, the chocolate festival held in the fall. Baci is Perugia’s most iconic hazelnut chocolate that is hard to miss while traveling throughout Italy. I even spotted it in “Little Italy” in San Francisco and instantly felt that Perugian love. The best part is that Perugian chocolate isn’t the sweetest part of the city…it’s the insanely beautiful views from the hilltop city that make it unforgettable.

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I was so blessed to have my favorite view of Perugia just up the stairs from my old apartment.
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A view of Via Appia, one of the most photographed parts of Perugia.
A vintage postcard I found in CA a year before I came to Perugia. Took this photo the last day I left as a reminder of how far I've come to get to where I am today.
A vintage postcard I found in CA a year before I came to Perugia.
Took this photo the last day I left as a reminder of how far I’ve come to get to where I am today.

Huge thanks to the talented Stephen Doyle for creating this video, gives me goosebumps every time.

I make a little appearance presenting research from my semester internship!

For more about my program, check out the Umbra Institute website or feel free to leave me a comment!

“The Little Blue” is a blog created by two awesome friends/staff members all on Perugia. Early in the semester, I started collaborating with them by updating photos.

4 Months Later

Four months ago I sat anxiously in the car as my dad drove me to the San Francisco airport.

It was 3 in the morning.

This is when I knew I was about to experience something life changing. My stomach started to have that aching feeling like when you’re about to go on a roller coaster or about to have an important interview. Leaving behind expectations and the familiarity of home, I was ready for an experience that would change me forever.

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It’s now my last night in the apartment; my friends have now left Perugia, some back to the States, others traveling with their family. I really don’t know what was more difficult: not knowing when I’d see them again, or the realization that our adventures in Europe have come to an end.

My bed in our vintage apartment.
My bed, we said our apartment looked like a cute grandmother lived here before us

And to be honest, I can’t find the right words to describe the past few months, or how strange it feels that my time in Perugia is ending so abruptly. I wish I could accurately describe how incredible it feels when you experience a country for the first time, the exhilaration of feeling like anything is possible, and the heart-warming comfort of Perugia after a long week of traveling.

I am cognizant of the over-whelming appreciation I have felt literally everyday– towards my supporting family and friends back at home, as well as the friends that I like to call family here in Perugia.

Even though my time in Perugia is over for now, I am comforted knowing this simple truthif life is the adventure, then the adventure never really ends. 

“Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.” -Jack Kerouac

Here’s to living fearlessly, with every intention of discovering something new. Off on my backpacking adventure.

Travel lust: Where I’m headed

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese

One of my favorite parts of studying abroad is how I have the freedom and luxury in creating my own experience. It’s this unique opportunity where fantasies can spark into your reality. Most people don’t realize this though because they believe it’s too expensive/unrealistic, and the truth is that there’s definitely a strategy in booking flights, where to stay, and how to save your money. Living on a student budget has taught me that I need very little in my daily life (I can thank my trip to Honduras in high school for that as well). You need to be open for trading comfort sometimes in order to ultimately do what you want. Plus, better stories come from the times I’ve felt unsure of my personal comfort (my first hostel experience) and making mistakes along the way (my first solo-traveling experience in Cortona).  I’ve learned to get creative so that I can make the most out of my time abroad. Most weekend trips in Italia are spontaneous (mainly depending on the weather), because the Italian train system is so easy and relatively affordable.

With only a month left of my study abroad program (scary how quickly time passes), I am narrowing down my priorities, and trying to figure out how to spend the 13 days– between my program ending and having to leave my apartment, before meeting up with my family mid-May.

If you had 13 days to go anywhere in Europe, where would you go?

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Well, here’s my travel plans, including a few at the bottom that have not been officially booked yet. Let’s see where life takes me.

Where I’m Headed:

Sevilla, Spain

Prague, Czech Republic

Naples, Sorrento, Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast, Capri, Italia

Istanbul, Turkey

Porto, Portugal

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Venice, Italia

The Cinque Terre, Italia

Belgrade, Serbia

Split, Croatia

Santorini, Greece

Where I’ve Been:

Perugia, Italia

Budapest, Hungary

Gubbio, Italia

Roma, Italia

Firenze, Italia

Siena, Italia

Paris, France

Barcelona, Spain

Marrakech, Morocco

Bologna, Italia

Cortona, Italia

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I have no idea where I’ll be a year from now, let alone 2 months from now, but I find beauty in not knowing who I’ll meet, where I’ll be sleeping, or what I’ll be eating. Let the adventures continue…

Weekend trip to Bologna, Italia

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Chiara and Meg
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Thinking of our friend Frida at this adorable floral shop
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Falling in love with these gorgeous flowers in particular
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I brought back asparagus to Perugia, all the fresh produce looked amazing
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One of many outdoor bands playing in the center square
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fresh, home-made for sale at a local shop

Known in Italia as a popular college town, Bologna has great shopping, outdoor musicians, and classic Bolognese pasta dishes of course. It reminded me of a larger Perugia. Our original “plan” was to eat our way through Bologna, stay the night, and leave for Verona the next day. We ended up staying in Bologna– we had to take advantage of the beautiful weather and keep eating pasta and drinking wine for 2 and half  hours (rough life, I know). My favorite area to explore is the market alley-way off of albergo delle drapperie, you can’t walk past the fresh produce and markets without feeling tempted to buy something.

After aperitivo (Italian tradition of pre-meal drinks and snacks), we met a group of friendly Italians from Milano celebrating their friend’s 23rd birthday at the table next to ours. We laughed when I got showered with gifts of a red rose and light-up mini mouse ears while we ate our dinner. Because they were some of the most sincere, non-creepy guys we’ve met this semester, we went out dancing after dinner and got a feel of the night life in Bologna. I know when I look back on this trip, I’ll be reminded of how this city brings out the fun and carefree side of it’s vistors.

Roaming around Roma

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Pretty outdoor lights above a glass bead shop
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vintage inspired postcards
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Spanish steps with Meg
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The second gelato of the day
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Witnessing The Notebook roma edition 😉

A day trip to Roma from Perugia means the plan is no plan. I went to wander the city in the sun and fell in love with the romance, history, and sweets of the eternal city.

il dolce far niente, the sweetness of doing nothing…

 

A Glimpse of Firenze and Siena

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Sampling at a market in Florence

A weekend in Florence (Firenze) for travelers means shopping at the leather market, standing starstruck admiring the details of the Duomo, trying not to stare too much at Michelangelo’s David, & exploring Ponte Vecchio in the afternoon. I did all of this, minus seeing the David. I know, I know. But I’ll be back.

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I had the best gelato in Siena, even though this photo was taken in Florence. When traveling in Florence & Rome, you need to get away from the tourist attractions in order to 1. Get an authentic Italian meal, 2. Not get ripped off & feel like an idiot. A general rule should be: if the menu includes hot dogs, hamburgers, or a Greek salad–run away fast and find a place with the menu in Italian. That’s what’s going to reassure you that your meal isn’t on the same quality as a frozen hot pocket. I highly recommend trying La Martinica on Via del Sole. Get the house specialty of spinach & ricotta stuffed ravioli in a lemon cream sauce. Trust me, it’s still my favorite pasta dish I’ve tried, & that’s saying a lot for the amount of pasta I eat.

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Laundry out to dry at a local home in Siena

Siena is a small & charming authentic city in the Tuscany region that reminded me of Perugia. The locals would greet one another kindly and I hardly ever heard English– unlike my visit to Rome and Florence. The friendliness of people really depends on which region you’re in. The most interesting part of Siena is their contrades. The city is divided into 17 districts & they compete against each other twice a year during a horse race that occurs in the center of city called Di Palio. The Sienese take it very seriously since it’s rooted in medieval history & it’s a time that gives sentimental value to their culture. My class on Contemporary Italian culture had the opportunity to see a behind-the-scenes look at the “Eagle”contrada which was especially unique.

The Duomo di Siena
The Duomo di Siena
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The silk flag of the winning district
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“I guess I should say ‘ciao!’ since I just took his photo…”

Exciting new travels coming up in the next week or so, feeling beyond blessed for the opportunities. Shout out to my family and friends who have been incredibly supportive and thoughtful –you’re always on my heart.

Secrets of the city

Perugia

I’ve been living in Europe for a little over a month now. I’m learning to tune out the comfort of falling into a routine–I want to keep my wanderlust boundless. Granted, I have classes Mondays through Thursdays, but I believe that studying abroad is unique in comparison to traveling from place to place. It’s a luxury of  living the culture, rather than just seeing it. The lingering smell of Nutella-filled sugar donuts from the “illegal bakery” at midnight as I walk to my friend’s apartment is not a tourist attraction (it should be), but it makes me feel like I actually live in Perugia. Simply seeing a beautiful landmark and taking a photo of it is drastically different from knowing which crannies of cobblestone alleyways take you there. It’s the smile from the owner of my favorite pizzeria I visit religiously that reminds me that choosing a small town like Perugia was the right decision.

It’s easy to see the beauty of a city–it’s harder to seek out the hidden treasures, because it usually requires a dose of courage and spontaneity. And so far, that’s when my experiences get especially memorable.

Perugia, Italia

Love letters from Perugia

Perugia is known for its hazelnut chocolate called Baci, translates into ‘kiss’ in Italiano. A love saying is wrapped tightly around each individually wrapped chocolate. Here’s one of my favorites: “Launch your heart before you and run after it”

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It’s the small idiosyncrasies of life in Perugia that makes you fall in love with this città.

Sending all my love from Italia!

Day trip to Gubbio, Italia

Gubbio, italy

Gubbio, Italy

Gubbio

Gubbio

Photo credit: Mike Spagnoli, the Californian-solo-traveler we picked up off the streets and invited to dinner. Instant friends! Any fear of heights had to be put on pause for the lift to see the gorgeous view of the city… we all felt a little more adventurous after the ride down (especially Meg) 🙂 The unexpected hike in wedges was enough to remind me I can do anything…

Gubbio, Italy, Nature

 

Gubbio, Cafe

Chiara and one of my roommates, Sammi, relaxing at a local caffè after taking the lift down the mountain to catch a priceless view of the city (highlight of the trip). Gubbio is rich in 15th century history; we even had the opportunity to experience it for the first time with Chiara to visit her family’s homeland.  A quick 45 minute, 9 euro bus ride from Perugia, Gubbio is a fun day trip and another beautiful Umbrian city to appreciate.

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