Continuing onward following my Venice trip, my friends and I headed back to Rome early because we needed to catch up on classwork. Since we were obsessed with Eataly, we scouted out all of the locations in Italy and found out there is one right outside the train station in Rome, so that’s where we went for dinner that first night back!
The next morning, we decided to do some shopping in Rome! I ended up buying a few things at Zara: a raincoat and gold metallic Mary Jane block heels. I didn’t think I’d need either but the raincoat has actually proven to be incredibly useful in Barcelona and Paris. After shopping, we went to Cul de Sac, a highly recommended Italian restaurant. Y’all, the hype is real, and our expectations were indeed met! I got a citrus ravioli and it’s one of the best pasta I’ve ever had in my life. Then we got some gelato at my now favorite gelateria, Frigidarium. This gelato place is unique because once you get your gelato scooped, they drip the gelato with chocolate so it hardens and becomes a chocolate shell (think chocolate-covered strawberries!). So, so delicious.
Later in the evening, my two roommates and I headed back to Trastevere because we heard there was a beautiful park at the top of a hill. It was quite the hill indeed, but on the way up, we were walking on the side of a road and probably 50+ Fiats passed us consecutively! They were so cute and colorful, and all the drivers were honking and waving at us as they passed. It was so bizarre but memorable. The park was beautiful, and there were actually people exercising! It was our first time seeing people in Rome working out. I read on my Kindle a little bit before we had to get back to study.
The next day, our entire program headed to Galleria Borghese. I’ve learned that I love museums and looking at things, but I pretty much tune out the audio guides. I can’t help it, I’m not an auditory learner! Then we had our group dinner at Ai Bozzi da Giovanni, where they served, again, a 4-course meal and we were stuffed afterward.
After the group dinner, we went to the same park in Trastevere but turned a different corner for a cool lookout. I’d compare it to Seattle’s Kerry Park lookout! Then we headed down to the Tiber River and walked alongside the tents, where the nightlife is actually quite lively.
The next day, our program headed to our next company visit. The company was Certified Origins, and they are located in the countryside of Tuscany, more specifically, near Grosetto. We took a charter bus and made a pit stop at a mini mart. A ton of the students bought paprika Pringles because you guys, that stuff is good and they don’t sell it in the states!
Once we got to Grosetto, we were met with the lovely host of the agriturismo of Santa Genoveffa and the beautiful countryside. This countryside is like no other; my breath was taken away! You can see the hills and fields for miles. Whatever your image of the Tuscan countryside is – that’s exactly it.
The best part of the agriturismo? There was a pool! We all excitedly got ready for a pool day. We found out that we had to wear swim caps to prevent hair fallout and such in the pool, but we happily obliged because we looked so silly. It was so fun swimming, sunbathing, lounging around, and taking silly photos.
They also had bikes for us to ride around so of course I had to do that! Julia and I grabbed bikes and rode around the farm. We ended up going down a really rocky hill and she sort of tumbled down. Coming out with only a few scratches, she laughed it off and we opted to take a more scenic and flat ride. The bike ride was amazing: it felt so liberating and just seeing the vineyard at sunset nearly brought tears to my eyes. We made it back just in time for our group dinner. The long dinner table was laden with a red gingham cloth, and we had the view of the beautiful hills and the setting sun. Y’all, it was a dream. The food was absolutely delicious (with a few interruptions of bees freaking us out!).
The next morning, I got up bright and early for the complimentary breakfast. I was the first one down and ate more than my fair share of croissants + a cappuccino! Then we made our way to Certified Origins, where we got to see them make the different types of olive oil (including the Kirkland brand!) in the factory and listen to their values in producing the oil. Our lunch was provided with lots of bruschetta, meats, and of course, olive oil.
That’s it for the Tuscan countryside – off to Florence after!