San Pellegrino Flower Festival

San Pellegrino Flower Festival

Today was such a great spring day in Viterbo. The weather got up to 80 degrees outside! I woke up, had breakfast and headed to my last Travel Writing class to hand in my portfolio and take my final exam. After class I met Henal and we went to the San Pellegrino Flower Festival, which … Read more

Today was such a great spring day in Viterbo. The weather got up to 80 degrees outside! I woke up, had breakfast and headed to my last Travel Writing class to hand in my portfolio and take my final exam. After class I met Henal and we went to the San Pellegrino Flower Festival, which is to celebrate the start of the season! It was absolutely beautiful and made me so happy! Every piazza and street we entered was filled with hundreds of different, colorful flowers. Whenever the wind blew you could smell the fresh flowers. Lauren’s favorite, hydrangeas, were everywhere! She would have loved it. I wish she could have came to the festival!

flowerfestival

After the festival I went to the new gelataria that I have been wanting to go to. It opened a few weeks back and I always kept telling myself “Oh, I’ll have to go soon!” However, I realized that “soon” I will be going home!!! I don’t know where the time went. It flew by so quickly. I can’t believe I only have three full days left in Viterbo. There are so many little spots left to explore and cute little restaurants to try and gelato flavors left to taste! While I have been missing my family so much at home, I all of a sudden wish I could stay for a few more months! Today I don’t want to leave at all.

flowerfestival2

At the gelateria, called Crema and Cioccolata, I ordered a crepe with cookie and mint flavored gelato. I was expecting a nutella crepe with a scoop of gelato on top, but instead they made the crepe and put the scoops of gelato inside and folded it up. While the gelato melted everywhere and was a big puddle, it was still delicious and refreshing after walking around in the hot sun!

crepes

After my yummy crepe I walked back to the apartment to pack for my trip to London and Amsterdam tomorrow! Then I grabbed my final projects that I have been working on and headed to art class to hand them in and show my teacher my portfolio.

I wish time would slow down and that the next 10 days would go by slowly, but at the same time I am anxious to be with my family and friends at home. This experience has been so amazing and I can’t wait to make even more memories and experience the world further within the next few days. I better go since I have an early wake-up call tomorrow to catch a train to the airport. London’s calling! Maybe we will see the Queen!

Shaffer Girls Take Italy: Rome

Shaffer Girls Take Italy: Rome

Wednesday: The last two days of our sister travels were spent in Rome. When we first got there, we checked into our hotel and headed to lunch. Laur and I shared pizza for lunch. The girls quickly realized that there were mainly two options in Italy: pizza or pasta. They were each on a rotating … Read more

Wednesday:
The last two days of our sister travels were spent in Rome. When we first got there, we checked into our hotel and headed to lunch. Laur and I shared pizza for lunch. The girls quickly realized that there were mainly two options in Italy: pizza or pasta. They were each on a rotating schedule, pizza one night, pasta the next, pizza the night after that… and so on. However, as mentioned before, we also broke up the pizza and pasta spree with nutella covered waffles and gelato for lunch on some days. One night I asked the girls if we could order bruschetta and Laur was iffy on whether or not she would like it since she doesn’t like tomatoes. However, after having it in Florence for the first time, she then ordered it two more times after that! I was so happy that she loved it!

The first afternoon in Rome was spent window shopping and walking around the city. We also made sure to visit the Trevi Fountain so that the girls could make their wishes and toss their coins in, ensuring them a return trip to Rome one day.

me

Our last day we went to the Colosseum! Although I have been there twice before, I never went inside since I wanted to experience it with my sisters. We all loved it! It was really interesting to walk around inside, especially knowing that there were actual fights to the death inside. After the Colosseum we headed to the Pantheon, doing some shopping along the way, and then made our way to the Sistine Chapel. Since I had already visited St.Peter’s Basilica, Linds suggested we see the Sistine Chapel instead. While we were all exhausted from walking around so much the past few days, it felt like it took years to finally reach the Sistine Chapel. However, it was worth seeing! The colors on the ceiling were so bright and it left me wondering how it could still be vibrant after all these years.

lindsnme

For our last meal together, it was a pasta night all around. After taking our time with dinner, we then headed to a gelateria that Linds and Val discovered by the Pantheon, called La Palma. It offers 150 flavors of gelato! As everyone knows how indecisive I am, it probably is no shock that it took me over 20 minutes to decide which flavor I wanted. I ended up with Kit Kat and Mars, a chocolate and caramel mixture. We cuddled up together on a bench inside the gelateria since it was cold out, enjoyed our last gelato together and each stated what our favorite part of our trip together was. Linds’ favorite was the duomo in Florence while Laur’s was the Colosseum, which is so funny considering Linds didn’t originally care to go to Florence and Laur didn’t have much interest in Rome. Val’s favorite was Cinque Terre and mine was the gondola ride in Venice. I love that each of our favorite memories happened in different places along our trip.

laurnme

I will never forget the week spent with my sisters and Val. While I am having the trip of a lifetime in Italy, every beautiful or amazing thing I see, I always wish that my family were there to experience it with me and that they had the opportunity to see it as well. I was so happy that my sisters were experiencing Italy right along with me. Laur and Linds are my best friends and this trip with them will forever be one of my favorite memories.

Why Hello, Spring!

Why Hello, Spring!

It is officially March and yesterday was the perfect spring day in Viterbo. It was about 55 degrees and there were no clouds in sight. I woke up Sunday morning and ran to the park, where there were kids playing soccer, moms pushing strollers and cute, old couples observing from benches nearby the fountains. It … Read more

It is officially March and yesterday was the perfect spring day in Viterbo. It was about 55 degrees and there were no clouds in sight. I woke up Sunday morning and ran to the park, where there were kids playing soccer, moms pushing strollers and cute, old couples observing from benches nearby the fountains. It was so nice to be able to run outside in the warmer weather and not have to wear a jacket! After my run I went back to the apartment to grab some homework, an apple and yogurt, and then made my way back to the park to do some reading in the sun.

winery

This past Friday we went on a field trip to Tre Botti Winery for wine tasting! While I do not care for the taste of wine, I made it my goal to find a wine that I liked while I was in Italy. What better place, right? However, I have now decided to accept that I am just not a wine fan. We were taken on an outside tour of the vineyards, mostly only seeing Jane (the vineyard donkey), since near everything was dead due to the winter weather. Then we were taken inside to have lunch and have a tasting of three wines. The winery family made us pumpkin soup, a tray of cold cuts, roasted potatoes and pecorino cheese with jam on top for lunch. I promised myself to be adventurous while I was abroad, so I tried a little bit of each. Surprisingly, the pumpkin soup was really good. However, I think the fact that it warmed me up from the freezing cold may have something to do with why I liked it so much. The cheese was another story. Although I am not sure if I will get the memory of the horrible taste out of my mind for another few weeks, I am glad that I tried it! We tasted a white wine and two red wines. I preferred the white wine the most. Italians LOVE their wine! We were told at the winery not to swallow it right away, but to leave it on your tongue to savor and appreciate the taste and quality.

orvieto

After the winery we were taken to a nearby town called Orvieto. We went to see “Underground Orvieto,” where there are old Etruscan caves. The cathedral in Orvieto was beautiful! I loved it. Inside there were many stained glass windows. Behind the altar there were four vertical rows of 11 stained glass windows each. Each window told a different story with characters, animals and settings. I wish I could show what it looked like, but we were not allowed to take pictures. After the caves and cathedral, we were allowed to explore a little before heading back to Viterbo. There were cute ceramic shops everywhere. I made sure to purchase a postcard since I am attempting to get one from each town/city that I visit!

bracciano castle

Saturday I went with Kevin, Henal and Tyler to another nearby town called Bracciano. In Bracciano there is a huge fairytale castle and the eighth largest lake in Italy. We saw that the weather was supposed to be nice so we decided to pack lunch and a blanket to have a picnic by the castle and lake! It was a great day and I fell in love with the little town. Signs of spring were everywhere. Henal and I came across a tree with pretty, pink flowers blooming, so we decided to take a few for our hair. However, springtime bees also come along with springtime flowers and I don’t think those bees were too happy with us for picking a few of the blossoms.

lake

We had quite a hike from the castle down to the lake, but when we got there we found the perfect picnic spot. Two white swans came and swam near us during our picnic! After lunch we went on a tour of the castle. Although the inside was pretty, the view from the top of the castle, looking out onto the town and lake, was my favorite. It was so pretty!

Castles, lakes, swans, picnics, flowers, friends, gelato (Oh yes, we got gelato too of course. This time I got Nutella flavored!) … it was a perfect day trip and successful weekend. I am so excited for the warm weather and am crossing my fingers that it’s all sunshine and springtime from here on out.

Firenze Forever

Firenze Forever

This weekend I discovered Italian chocolate. If you love American chocolate, boy are you in for a treat if you get the chance to taste chocolate in Europe. My entire weekend involved chocolate, and I loved every bit of it. This past Saturday morning my roommates and I decided to take a trip to Florence. … Read more


This weekend I discovered Italian chocolate. If you love American chocolate, boy are you in for a treat if you get the chance to taste chocolate in Europe. My entire weekend involved chocolate, and I loved every bit of it.

This past Saturday morning my roommates and I decided to take a trip to Florence. We woke up at 6 a.m. to catch the first train out of Viterbo. After the first train, we had a half hour layover until the next one, so we stopped in the train station’s café and ordered pastries for breakfast. Since my arrival in Italy, I’ve always chosen the fruit pastries, but I decided it was time to test out the chocolate. I picked out a croissant filled with half cream and half chocolate. It was so good! The chocolate just melts in your mouth. It is nothing like American chocolate.

After four hours of traveling, we finally reached Florence. Although I always heard good things about Florence, it was not at the top of my “must see” list. I did not have very high expectations for the city, since I heard it was mostly known for museums. Wow, was I wrong. Florence is absolutely beautiful. The pictures I took do not do it justice whatsoever. Unlike any other buildings I have seen in Italy, these buildings were not only decorated incredibly, but were also colored with light greens and pinks. I loved the colored details.

duomo

First we saw the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, the main church in Florence (also known at the Duomo) and decided to climb to the top! We got the work out of a lifetime while climbing all 463 stairs to the top and it was so worth it. The view of the city from the top was amazing. After the Duomo we went to a museum that held marble, gems and collections from the Medici family (the family who ruled Florence back in the day)! We grabbed sandwiches for lunch and then walked on the Ponte Vecchio Bridge. The bridge was lined with jewelry shops galore. Supposedly the Medici family owned it in the past and sold jewelry there. We then went to the Pitti Palace to see the Boboli Gardens! Unfortunately, we missed the last tour of the gardens by two minutes.

ponte vecchio

Since the sun was setting soon, my roommate Min (who has been to Florence previously) wanted to take us to Michelangelo Square, which is a very high hill top, in order to see the entire city of Florence. The hike there took a while. However, what was waiting for us was beyond worth it. The sun setting over Florence was literally breathtaking. At the top, there was a set of stairs and an Italian musician playing the guitar and singing. Being the sensitive girls that we are, my roommates and I all started crying while listening to Fabio (made up name) serenade us and watching the sun set over Florence. The tears were then followed by tons of laughter though, as we realized how emotional we were.

michealangelo hill

We then did a little window shopping and grabbed gelato at the cutest gelateria (I chose tiramisu and chocolate chip this time, on a chocolate waffle cone – my second taste of Italian chocolate).

The next morning we went back to the gelateria and ordered chocolate waffles for breakfast! So nutritional, I know. I also asked for a latte, expecting a glass of cold milk. However, I was brought a steaming glass of milk. Whoops. I will have to ask for “un latte freddo” next time. The waffle was delicious, but also made me miss mom and the strawberry waffles that she makes.

waffles

We did some more shopping since we saw so many sites the day before and then got gelato again, right before hopping on the train for home (attempting to try something new each time, I got mint gelato). On the train ride home, we taught Min some American slang words and phrases and in return she taught us a few Korean words. I think I am learning just as much about Korean culture as I am learning about Italian culture while living here.

We got home late Sunday night and, once again, we were all exhausted. However, it was nice to be “home.” Our program advisor told us upon our arrival that we would soon consider Viterbo “home,” but I didn’t really believe him. It’s funny how soon you can adapt and view someplace new as your home. While I thought there would never be any competition for my favorite city, I am now torn between the huge, magical city of Rome and the quaint, beautiful city of Florence. Firenze forever!