Day: May 16, 2013

Life, Food, and Travel

Taormina – My Favourite – by Alison McAllion

    One of the cities that I enjoyed most during my visit in Italy was Taormina. Though it is nearly impossible to choose a favourite, I remember loving a few specific things about Taormina that I did not experience anywhere else. Firstly, I really liked that we went to Taormina because it was a surprise; the itinerary never originally included visiting Sicily but in a change of schedule, I was delighted to find that I would get to see the beautiful island. One of the first things I noticed in Taormina was the cactuses. I never knew that cactuses grew in Italy, even though given the climate it isn’t surprising, and I never knew that so many could grow in one place or at such an angle as off the side of a mountain. I had a very memorable moment involving a cactus, when I noticed that people inscribed their names or initials into cactuses in the garden behind the amphitheatre in Taormina. I used a sharp rock to write M.A.M.A., the initials of my friends and I (Manny, Adriana, Maggie, and Alison). Speaking of gardens, another one of my favourite things about Taormina that I have never encountered anywhere else was breathing beautifully fresh air in a garden near a hidden pizzeria. My friends and I had lunch at a pizzeria that took a couple hundred stairs to get up to, but it was so pleasant it was worth it. While we were leaving, we knew we were late but I couldn’t help but stop to enjoy the wonderful fresh air in the garden. That experience convinced me I would have to go back. The other experiences that made Taormina so enjoyable for me were the way the people were so friendly and helpful when I didn’t know where to go and that Taormina was the place where I bought souvenirs for my friends and family so they could share in my memories. Overall, I could not decide on one favourite place we visited, but Taormina is definitely tied with other cities for my most enjoyed experience.

My expectations of this course and the trip were met and exceeded. I didn’t know I would be learning ancient history and mythology when I signed up and I really liked learning those units. If I were to do it again I would probably like to spend more time speaking Italian with classmates so I could be confident to use my language skills in Italy. I would also like to visit Venice, and perhaps not change hotels every night but use one or two hotels as bases and go on day trips to other cities instead. I would definitely want to keep the visits to Rome, Florence, Certosa, Taormina and especially the church of San Francesco di Paola.

Thank you for this amazing learning experience!

Life, Food, and Travel

Our Italy Trip – A Journal by Joseph Visconti


Although we didn’t spend much time in Bettolle I went into a small butcher’s shop with Sabrina, Adriano and Alex. While we were there we sampled different cured meats and sausages. It was all very good meat but my favorite part was experiencing the Italian culture. It was the first day we were in Italy and the owners were so friendly and proud of what they do. They were showing us pictures of the animals we were eating and I thought that was also a very interesting difference in culture. We (in Canada) prefer to separate ourselves from the meat preparing process but in Italy they are more in touch with where their food comes from.


My favourite part of Siena was when we got to the top of the bell tower. In Sienna I climbed the bell tower with Sabrina, Adriano and Alex. When we were at the top the view was amazing. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Just looking out over the Italian countryside with all the little villages sporadically nestled in the mountains was so picturesque. In my opinion, nothing is more beautiful than the Italian countryside and the bell tower in sienna was a great place to see it.


Florence is a beautiful city. There is so much history and so many priceless pieces of art but my favorite place in Florence is the Ponte Vecchio. Something about the feeling of being there, seeing all the shops on the sides and the beautiful scenery is truly a spectacular sight. I also really liked the part of the bridge where couples locked a padlock on the bridge so that they will be locked in love forever. While I was there I saw a couple lock a padlock together and I thought it was a very nice tradition. In Florence I also bought a purse from one of the street vendors. I actually really like buying things from street vendors because it really shows the Italian culture. Here we never haggle so I thought it was nice that we were able to experience that part of Italian culture


In Rome we saw so many nice things but my favorite part was when I bought gelato with Sabrina and Adriano. We had stopped for lunch in front of the Fontana di Trevi and I got “un gelato alla nocciola” gelato. It was such beautiful day outside and it was very enjoyable to just site on the side of the fountain and enjoy our gelato. There were many other very nice things in Rome as well. I really liked the seeing the Colloseo. I had been outside the Colloseo before but I had never been inside. I really liked being able to go inside and see where all the gladiators and animals fought. I also found it really interesting to be able to stand in the same place where so many people had stood before me. Emperors, peasants and so many other people had been where I was and I found that really interesting.


Although we didn’t stay in Paestum we saw Greek ruins. The Greek buildings were very well preserved. I found this really interesting because I didn’t know that there were those kinds of Greek ruins in Italy. I knew that there were some ruins from when the Greeks were in southern Italy however I never expected huge buildings that were very well preserved. I had never seen Greek ruins before so that really interested me.


Salerno is a really nice place and we went shopping and saw the beautiful Mediterranean Sea however my favorite part was goings swimming. Sabrina, Adriano, and I went swimming when we first arrived in Salerno. We had just spent the day driving and it felt really good to be able to just relax and go swimming. I also got a really nice shirt in Salerno and had a nice café at a little bar. At dinner I had the best tasting potatoes I’ve ever had. They were excellent.


I had never been to Pompeii before so being able to go there was a really nice experience. Seeing how well the whole city was preserved was amazing. Being able to see the expressions on the faces of the citizens was really amazing. Also, the fact that all the buildings were so were preserved was also amazing. Being able to look at a 1000 year old shop and tell what it sold is really cool so I really enjoyed that.


In Matera my favorite thing was the dance party we had with the American school after dinner. Mr. Femia got out Rosa (his original Calbarese “organetto”) and was playing the tarantella and other Italian songs and everyone was dancing and laughing and having a really good time. In Matera I also really liked going for the walk at night with the whole group and the Sassi were amazing. It was really interesting to see how the people lived so long ago and how they were able to carve their houses out of the rock.


Even though we didn’t stay in Paola and we just passed though it was my favorite part of the whole trip. The stories that Mr. Femia was telling us about his experiences there were really inspiring. Being able to drink that water and see the bomb that didn’t explode and pray in the church were all some of my favorite parts of the trip. The whole time I was there I felt like it was a really holy and sacred place. It was definitely my favorite part of the trip.


We didn’t spend much time in Amantea but I really liked going into the supermarket. I hadn’t been into an Italian supermarket yet in the trip and being in there and seeing the different foods that they were selling and the difference in prices was really interesting. I saw a five gallon bottle of wine for only five Euros. I really liked the supermarket.


Tropea was really cold and windy but it was still a beautiful town. I wasn’t feeling well in Tropea because the Calabrese roads had gotten the better of me however I was still able to really enjoy a piece of pizza from a little pizzeria. I also really liked the beautiful cliffs going down to the beach and I thought it was really funny when Alex picked a giant lemon off a tree.


Taormina was a beautiful city in Sicily. I really loved the amphitheatre. The sun was shining and thinking about all the people that had sat in that amphitheatre before me was really nice. On my way to Taormina I had a really good rice ball on the ferry. In Taormina we also bought some really good oranges that were really fresh and juicy.


My favorite part of Reggio was the gelato. I had the best gelato of the whole trip in Reggio. It was just a small gelato shop and it was really cold but I got a gelato and It was the best of the whole trip. The nocciola was so creamy and delicious. I also took a really nice walk along the promenade and saw the statue of Vittorio Emanuele. The Sea was also very beautiful there.

Serra San Bruno

We spent several days in Serra. Although when I first got there I was a little skeptical I ended up really liking it. My favorite thing that happened in Sera was being able to see my Zio Pasquale. I don’t get so see him much so I was so happy to be able to see him. I also really liked it when we went to the monastery and were able to say the rosary all together. Another thing I liked was the café. There were the most delicious cannoli and excellent espressos. The thing I liked most about Sera was the time that we had to spend with all the new friends that we had made. I know I made lots of new friendships that I have continued to keep up and will continue as well.

Italy was truly an unforgettable experience.

Life, Food, and Travel

The Most Memorable Place We Visited on Our Trip – Sabrina Mazzucco

For me, the most memorable place we visited in Italy was the city of Rome. This city attracted me the most primarily because of the many breath-taking sights we saw there. We began at the coliseum, although i had been to Italy twice before, and visited the coliseum both times I had never before been within it’s walls. I was stunned by the massive room sized bricks that were used to make this grand structure which had withstood the test of time. Touching those cold stone walls i could not even begin to imagine how people, without the aid of machinery managed to lift those bricks, not just into position, but also transport them from the surrounding mountains to the construction sight. Within the Coliseum, I marvelled and the endless arch ways, the numerous floors i never knew existed and the exposed underground area which was used in ancient times to hold slaves and animals alike. As well, it was interesting to learn that the coliseum was not given it’s name because of it’s size, but because of a massive statue of emperor Nero which was posted just out side of the coliseum, named the colossus.

Next we visited the monument of the Unknown Soldier. This building has to be one of my favourites in all of Italy, in my opinion; its architecture matches the story behind the monument perfectly. The clean white walls of the huge monument to symbolise the thankfulness of the soldiers and their families for the recognition of all those who never returned from battle or who were never found, juxtaposed by the dark, black statues of angels and soldiers on top, representing the sorrow that still remains for the loss of so many young men who could never be properly mourned as their bodies never returned home.

After, climbing to the top of the Monument for the Unknown Soldier we moved on to another of my absolute favourite spots in Italy, the Trevi fountain. The size of the fountain alone is enough to leave one speechless, but the ornate carvings of Poseidon and the clear blue rushing water truly makes the fountain one of a kind. But what really strikes me a special about the Trevi fountain is the atmosphere round it. To your left there’s an old man selling hot, roasted chest-nuts in brown paper cones, the delicious smell wafting towards you. To the right, fresh pressed sandwiches filled with proscuttio, or mortadella, boconccini cheese, sliced tomatoes, cured olives. And all around you people are smiling chatting; enjoying huge cones piled high with gelato, children and adults alike all tossing coins into the fountain, smiling at the promise of returning again to this unbelievable spot.

The day finished off at the Vatican. This held another memorable moment for me as I had never before climbed up all the steps to the top of the “cuopola”. I will never forget the view, looking over the top straight down to see the steep, sloped walls of the dome, and looking out on the city as the sun set in the distance behind the grey, blue mountains that seemed to line the circumference of the whole country.

And this is why our day in the city of Rome was the most memorable for me during our trip to Italy, not to mention it was also my birthday.

I greatly enjoyed this course mostly because I was given the chance to practise my Italian and learn more about my heritage, the history of Italy, where the city of Rome got its name from and as well as visit different cities in Italy which I had never seen before. The only aspect I would change in the future would be to read the whole book / story of Jason and the Golden Fleece, from the synopsis I read online of the story I found very interesting and would like to learn more about the myths of ancient Italy.