Tag Archives: study abroad italy

Viareggio Carnevale 2015

One of the highlights of any spring semester in Italy is getting to experience the atmosphere of Carnevale.  One of our NCSAC student ambassadors, Kendra G., details her Sunday spent in Viareggio amongst the crowds of people:

“Just last week I went on the AIFS day trip to Viareggio for Carnevale, and I am so happy I did. I never really believed people when they told me how huge it was, and let me just say; its crazy. The parade was a blast, with the floats standing taller than the buildings and all the insane costumes. It was unlike anything I have seen. The best part; we all know the huge difference in space between the U.S. and Italy. Pedestrians and cars will cross each other all the time without even flinching. Well the parade is just the same. You can stand in the way of these towering beautifully made floats just before it rolls over your toes, allowing you to get the best pictures and videos ever.  Here is a compilation of the footage I got during the parade, enjoy…”
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Day Trip to Siena & San Gimignano

One of the most popular day trips from Florence is a visit to the beautiful countryside towns of Siena and San Gimignano.  Located about an hour and a half south of Florence, it’s not only easy to reach Siena or San Gimignano but also incredibly rewarding–just check out the view!

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Last week, our students from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette made the trip out to these two Tuscan towns for a day filled with beautiful scenery, historic tradition & a taste of the world’s best gelato.

The first part of our morning was spent wandering up and down the hilly streets of Siena as our lovely tour guide Cristina gave us a brief history of the famous contrade, or neighborhoods, of Siena and also a look into the life of Saint Catherine, the city’s patron saint.  After quickly ducking into the Church of San Domenico to view the relics of Saint Catherine, it was off to explore the rest of the city’s treasures!

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Our tour guide Cristina talking to the group about Siena’s patron saint Catherine outside the Church of San Domenico.
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Hiking up one of Siena’s hilly streets towards the Duomo.

 

The beautiful Duomo of Siena!
The ornate Duomo of Siena!

After visiting St. Catherine’s house, the Duomo, and the world famous music institute Accademia Chigiana, it was time to end the tour in the shell-shaped Piazza del Campo, home of the famous Palio di Siena horse race.  While it was a bit too early in the year to catch a glimpse of the race preparations, we all enjoyed the sunshine in the square until it was time to head off to the next Tuscan town on our itinerary.

One short bus ride later and we were pulling up to the imposing gate of Porta San Giovanni, located at the base of San Gimignano.  Upon arrival it was time for a quick lunch before everybody’s favorite part of the day–a visit to the world-famous Gelateria Dondoli (also known as Gelateria della Piazza) for a tasty afternoon snack!

 

Blackberry and Lavender--the perfect combination!
Blackberry and Lavender–the perfect combination!
A few of San Gimignano's imposing towers
A few of San Gimignano’s imposing towers.

Visiting the Cinque Terre

Photographs by: Elizabeth M.

Cooking Classes in Florence

Written by: Fiona O.

Hello!

I’ve been wildly busy; my days are filled with schoolwork, friends, food, some sleep, skyping my mom and boyfriend, photography and blogging, weekend trips, and Florence. I’ve finished blogging about Rome! I have Switzerland left, Vinci, Bologna and Prague, as well as the second soccer game, San Gimignano and Siena. I pour my heart and hours of time into my blog, which is why the posts are flowing
s l o w  and steady.

Anyway, today I had my second cooking class at In Tavola! So much fun!!Here’s the link to my first cooking class.

Ingredients! (Those are gluten-free cookies, an adjustment made just for me  ).

My classmates with one of the chefs (the guy on the very right).
My Nor-Cal people: (L-R) Katerina S., Elizabeth M., Kaitlin J., Cameron F., and that one chef-guy. On the left are some of the So-Cal girls also studying abroad with AIFS.
Preparing the eggplant Caprese salad ingredients.

Mixing the gluten-free gnocchi at my table.

Then rolling them out into strips and chopping them up into little pieces!
Fun fact: the gluten-free gnocchi won’t stick to each other like the regular pieces will.
Our instructor Francesco instructing.

The gluten-free gnocchi and eggplant Caprese at my table!!

Elizabeth M. and Cameron F.’s hand trying to ruin her gnocchi-modelling.
Potato Gnocchi in Sugo al’Aglione (Tomato & Garlic Pasta Sauce).
Francesco demonstrating how to roll up the chocolatey dessert mix that is called “Sweet ‘Salami’.”
(It’s made of sugar, egg yolks, butter, bitter cocoa powder, sweet liquor, and crumbled cookies. They substituted the cookies for gluten-free ones!).
It’s wrapped up in foil, and its shape resembled a piece of salami. It is typically frozen for about 2 hours (but in the restaurant’s super-powerful freezer it only took 20 minutes).
My gluten-free “Sweet Salami” !!
It tasted really good! I had Elizabeth M. taste-test the difference between my gluten-free sweet salami and the regular one — mine tasted chocolatier and she liked it better.
The brave, gluten-free-Italian-cooking AIFS classmates at my table, including Katelyn C., Katie G., Carly B., Jackie P., and Ayla B.
Kaitlin J., Katerina S. and Elizabeth M., my dinner buddies!
I really like the AIFS cooking classes, and the efforts the restaurant (In Tavola) made to adjust to my food-needs was really awesome. I had a great, gluten-free vegetarian dinner with my AIFS people.
The restaurant did remarkably well tolerating me poking into every group to snap pictures and following Francesco about to listen to his instructions to other groups. We ate dinner below the restaurant like last time (see the previous Italian cooking class post here). We even all received little recipe menus afterward, just like last time 🙂
It’s a fun experience — I definitely recommend taking an Italian cooking class, especially through AIFS! Just let AIFS/your program know before-hand if you have any dietary-restrictions 🙂
Tips for Italian cooking classes:
  • Definitely take one!
  • Don’t wear black/clothes you’re worried about getting dirty. It’s unlikely, but it could happen.
  • Don’t walk home alone afterward if it ends late in the evening!!! Have someone walk you. I walked with some AIFS girls that live near my house this time.
  • Bring a jacket for when it gets cold on the way home.