Firenze, Torino, + Italy’s 150th Anniversary

Let me just say, I should probably not be spreading this on the internet… but Florence has an amazing and delicious secret. If possible, you must stay awake until 2:00am and take a walk (accompanied with some friends) and follow your nose! Near Santa Croce, bakeries open their doors to sell tasty treats just as they come out of the oven. JC and I ventured out one night and smelled our way to heavenly and freshly baked pane con cioccolato (like a chocolate croissant). They were so fresh, I burned the roof of my mouth.
Yum! I can still taste it!

4 October 2011: Tuesday

Today is the Feast of San Francesco! Sar was so excited because a special mass, led by the Cardinal Archbishop of Florence, was held in honor of San Francesco at the Basilica Santa Croce. San Francesco’s robes and shoes were even brought to Firenze for this occasion.

15+16 October: Saturday + Sunday

Saturday.

It’s time for another school trip! Up early to start the 5-hour bus ride to Torino. We drove through the Carrara Mountains (they look just like the Alps, just mini) known for the quarrying of the beautiful and white carrara marble. We made a pit stop in the seaside town of Santa Margarita. After looking on the map, Santa Margarita is just north of the Cinque Terre.

We visited Torino to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification. It is amazing to think how young of a country Italy actually is while it has such an ancient history. Our major stop of the day was just outside of Torino. La Reggia di Venaria was the palace of the Savoy family and later the home of King Victor Emmanuel II, who later became the king of the united Italy. King Victor Emmanuel II’s close ties to Torino made it the first capital of Italy. Later the capital moved to Florence and finally to Rome. The Reggia di Venaria was very beautiful palace with many similarities to Versailles in Paris. It had the a similar looking (but smaller) garden with long boulevards and winding paths. The palace itself was very interesting because the exterior shows how the palace was enlarged. The original building was covered in white stone, while the addition shows off the brick building materials. There is a definite line between the two parts. During the wars, the changing governments, and the grounds used as a military base, the palace was left in ruins. As of a few years ago, palace has been restored. The palace has a beautiful, baroque gallery and chapel

After a nice dinner at our hotel, we took the metro to visit some of our Cal Poly Architecture friends who are currently studying in Torino. As you may know, the 2006 winter Olympics were held in Torino and they installed a state of the art, computer driven metro. I was able to sit in the very front of the train and it felt like I was on the Star Tours ride at Disneyland. I was waiting for an automated voice to announce “Thank you for traveling the Endor Express.”

Have your volume up for the video!

Sunday.

Up early today for a walking tour of Torino. A guide took us by the city hall, many museums, and the chapel where the shroud of Turin is kept. The architecture is very interesting. Unlike Firenze or Venice, much of the architecture does not hold much of its ancient history. Torino was a major city during Mussolini’s Fascist take over and that is reflected in the cold and undecorated, yet monumental architecture. During our free time, a group of us visited the Mole. The Mole (pronounced “moe+lea) was designed as a synagogue, but is now used as Torino’s Cinema Museum. We took an elevator to the top of the Mole for an amazing view of the city and a glimpse of the Alps. The architecture of the museum was very cool because of a winding ramp that travels up to the top of the dome.

Our last stop of the day was Eatily (Eat+Italy). Located next to the former FIAT (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino) automobile factory, Eatily sells locally made and delicious foods. Part of the slow food movement, they are thinking of opening and Eatily here in Firenze. I had some tasty bread, Italian soda, and desert, all made near Torino!

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the pilot episode

My 4th year of Cal Poly architecture is beginning earlier than usual. Instead of starting end of September, I am heading to Europe on August 15! The unique thing about majoring in Architecture is that we are highly encouraged to “see the world” and experience the buildings that shape the places we live in. I have the best opportunity ever! 24 students from my architecture year are heading to Florence, Italy to live, study, and explore.

My plan is for this blog to help me remember my adventures and what I learn during my travels.
In the words of my favorite travel writer, Anthony Bourdain:
“I write, I travel, I eat; and I am hungry for more.”

First, I am traveling with my Aunt to Bavaria (southern germany) to visit the land of my ancestors. Then come August 25, I am on my own. With just my suitcases and a bit of Italian, I am off to find my way to Florence.

For more information about my study abroad program, follow this link:
CSU Firenze Website