This is going to be a monster of a post so I apologize ahead of time!
Courtney and I got up and went for a run which was really nice and a great way to start the weekend. Since I knew I wasn't going to be able to go for a run this past weekend, I wanted to make sure that I went with her. After our run, we got a sandwich for lunch because we knew it would end up being a long time before we were able to eat on the excursion. I got a sandwich with tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese. When we got back to the apartment I put the rest of my prosciutto and salami that I had left from the week onto the sandwich and started packing for our weekend.
We made our way to where the group was meeting and waited for the bus. Once on the bus, I passed the time with teaching a few friends how to play crazy 8's, that helped the three hours to pass by a little easier. We made it to the hotel which was in a city that looked like a Californian beach town and it was very quaint. The single story, stucco houses and the side of the road restaurants would have made you swear you were in California.
After dropping off our stuff at the hotel and getting a little settled, we went to a beach town about 30 minutes away from the hotel called Talamone. It was one of the most beautiful places that I have been. We explored the little town and walked along the city streets in awe of what was around us. Between the sun setting and the yachts on the water, this town was breath taking.
We went back to the hotel after about two hours and had dinner and that was delicious. We had many courses and they were all equally scrumptious. First was orzo with shrimp, then split pea soup (gross, but actually kind of delicious, don't tell my parents I said that), gnocchi with a cheese sauce, fish, eggplant and pepper, pork and potatoes, and finished the dinner off with tiramisu. After dinner, I walked around the little town with a few friends and talked for a while. It was very fun and relaxing.
Woke up and had some delicious granola and espresso, great way to start my morning. We all loaded onto the bus to go to an Etruscan town called Populonia and looked at the tombs that they had found during the first world war when they were digging for more iron. An interesting thing about the beach and the soil there is that because there is still iron in it, it looks as though it is covered in glitter, it is gorgeous.
We spent about an hour at the tombs and then about five hours at the beach. It was a very nice and relaxing day. When we finished with the beach we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. Before dinner, a few of us girls went to get gelato at the near by place because we had heard it was delicious and we knew we wouldn't be able to get any later that night because we were going to be at the dinner for a very long time. I got stracciatella and frutti di bosco which were both delicious. We went to a town called Porto Santo and went to a ristorante named "Il Bottegone" which was a really cute family owned restaurant. See if you notice any similarity between this dinner and the previous night's dinner. We had orzo with shrimp, fish with eggplant and peppers, and tiramisu for dessert. It was good, but not nearly as good as the night before. We went back to the hotel and went straight to bed. Everyone was so exhausted from being out in the sun all day.
We got up for breakfast where I had delicious granola again and two cups of espresso, so delicious. Loaded the buses once again and made our way to a town called Fattoria which is in the Maremma region located in the hills of Tuscany. It was breath taking. Want to know what it looked like? Go watch Under the Tuscan Sun, seriously. Once we were there we watched an equestrian show about how their culture goes about branding the cattle they have on their organic farm by lassoing it and the hog tying it. We didn't watch them actually brand the cattle, but it was very interesting watching the process of how their culture does things. Even though it seemed very hurtful to the cattle, I still can't help but feel that they were nicer to their animals than American farmers. I'm not trying to start anything so please don't take it that way, I am simply just saying my opinion. After the cattle round up, we watched them play a game on the horses in which they have a rose attached to their arms and are divided into two teams. The teams try to steal the other team's roses and whoever's team captures all the opponents roses first, wins. It was quite amusing to watch big, Italian men on horses trying to steal roses.
After watching the game we went and had an organic lunch that was created on the farm where we were. The best meal I have had here in Italy. Our first course was a type of ricotta cheese thing (I am great with descriptions), turkey with a gravy and potatoes, and for dessert we had a pastry with either a custard or a peach jam. Obviously, I had both. The meal was delicious and the farm's villa was gorgeous. I want to go back again, but it was very expensive. One thing that I am very thankful for is that this program I am going through has a lot of included excursions in the tuition price. The past two excursions are both things that I would have never thought of doing and so it is really great that they have these trips planned out and that they are included in the program cost. There have been a lot of pros and cons to the SAI program that I am going through, but this has definitely been one of the pluses.
We took the bus back to Florence which for some reason seemed to take five hours to get back when it only took us three hours to get to our first destination. The time we traveled didn't make much sense to me but it isn't too big of a deal because I made it back. Once we got back my roommates and a few girls we met this weekend went out to dinner. I had a mixed salad and Fettecini pasta Bolognese style. Amazing dinner.
Went back to the apartment and started laundry right away. Even though we have only been here for a few weeks, after being gone all weekend, it was nice to feel as though you made it "home"
Con amore, Ciao!