STORY BY JASON GREEN, STAFF WRITER
PHOTOS BY TRACI GREEN
I started to gain interest in Italy after the Eurovision Song Contest. Before then, I was not enthusiastic about any European countries, but since returning from my winter vacation in Italy, I would immediately go back.
I left for Italy with my Mom on Dec. 31, 2023, and arrived on New Year’s Day. The first day was quite a struggle, everything was different. During my trip, I stayed in four cities including Rome, Florence, Venice, and Milan. I also visited the Vatican City and the Swiss Alps.
Seemingly, the best time to go to Italy is during the winter season because there are smaller crowds and the summer is known to be scorching hot. This trip was at the perfect time.
Here are my favorite moments and places from my trip.
In Rome, my favorite place was the Pantheon. The Pantheon used to be a Roman temple, but it eventually became a Catholic church. Walking inside the Pantheon was breathtaking. From the outside, a person wouldn’t notice how big it truly is on the inside. Sitting on a bench and looking around the building felt relaxing. I could have just sat there for hours.
People scattered across the Pantheon, viewing biblical statues placed around its interior.
Next to Rome is Vatican City, an independent city-state country that has the largest church in the world: St. Peter’s Basilica. While I loved the Pantheon, this church completely outshines it. It felt otherworldly. It amazed and utterly perplexed me that humans without any advanced technology made such ethereal craftsmanship.
People viewing the building decorations inside of St. Peter’s Basilica, filled with statues of saints, large arches made of marble and at the center, Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s St. Peter’s Baldachin.
Some of the materials that were used for building the church were marble. I saw a variety of statues and other art pieces including Michelangelo’s first sculpture, Madonna of the Steps.
I was lucky enough to attend Mass that same day. When the choir sang, the beauty of the Italian language was truly displayed.
After Rome, we headed towards Florence via train, which I previously learned was full of museums. My first activity in the city was entering the Accademia Gallery of Florence, and this was where I saw the iconic and recognizable statue of David. The statue exceeded my expectations by its gargantuan size.
The statue of David at the Accademia Gallery of Florence.
Initially, I thought that the statue was about the average height of a human, but it is massive. Not the size of a regular person. By then I had already glanced through many art pieces, but this was one of the few I stopped and tried to analyze.
Besides the places to visit and art pieces to see, food was also an important part of this trip. One pizza place I would recommend is LiVio Pizzeria in Florence. I had eaten at many different pizza spots on this trip, but this one was huge and one of the best I had tried in Italy.
After Florence we traveled to the city built on islands; the city of Venice was a bit disappointing to me. The city was difficult to travel in since traveling usually requires relying on a water bus, which is confusing to navigate because few signs to tell people where their stop is.
During my time in Venice, I was unfortunately sick. I probably had the flu.
One redeeming quality of the city that I vividly remember was the gondola ride. It felt peaceful traveling through such a small part of the city, although it was cold. My favorite part of the gondola ride was not the activity itself, but the people who sat alongside my mom and me.
Viewing buildings, including Santa Maria della Salute, while on a gondola ride in the Grand Canal.
There was this couple from Liverpool, England, that spoke to us extensively about their travels in Italy and how beautiful their city is. I love meeting new people, so I am glad I had the opportunity to speak with them.
My conversation with them was the most memorable moment in Venice, which I believe could have been a skippable city.
After leaving Venice, my mom and I headed for Milan, our last city in Italy, but we decided to rest first because we had a day tour of the Swiss Alps the next day. We left our hotel early on the next day to catch our tour bus to the Swiss Alps.
Once we arrived there, I was mesmerized by the snow in Switzerland because that was my first time seeing snow in person. Exiting the bus, our tour guide walked us near really expensive shops, which I promptly avoided.
View of the Swiss Alps engulfed in snow during the winter season.
I then ate at La Stalla Ristorante & Pizzeria where my favorite pizza of the trip was. It was a truffle pizza. I had never tried truffles before and hoped it was delicious because the price, when converted, was over $40. I was thrilled that it was my favorite.
As we headed back into Italy by train, the route we took granted us a stunning view of the Swiss Alps. I am not the biggest fan of nature, however, I now have a great appreciation for these mountains.
Once we made it back to the hotel, I slept, anticipating my last day in Italy.
The two biggest highlights of my last day in Italy consisted of going to see The Last Supper and visiting the top and inside of the Duomo of Milan.
I thought that The Last Supper was just an enormous painting, but it is a mural located in Santa Maria delle Grazie. The place is heavily secure with several doors that people must wait at to be opened. Security is strict with the amount of people that can view the painting, so visitors are allotted 15 minutes to look at the painting.
Similar to seeing the statue of David, I was astonished by its size, and I tried to analyze this mural with my faintest knowledge of art. I thought of different theories regarding the meaning of the mural, but nothing seemed to be accurate, which made me put lots of energy into observing it, which was warranted since I was standing in front of one of the most iconic art pieces.
Leonardo da Vinci’s mural, The Last Supper at Santa Maria delle Grazie.
Moving on from this iconic mural, I headed to the Duomo of Milan, one of the largest cathedrals in the world, where we first climbed up.
One lamentable part of walking up was not the amount of steps, but the graffiti that defaced the Duomo’s walls. From the top of the Duomo, I could see the city, but I could see all the tiny details put on top of the Duomo which was more exciting to see than the inside.
At this point on the trip, because of visiting many churches, the inside was quite bland; it looked like other churches, but in greater size, and that was exceptional. Going to the top of the cathedral was a unique experience.
At the top of the Duomo of Milan with arches in the background.
To end my last day, I ate pizza once again.
One thing that I would take away from this trip was that I should be more open about going to places even if, at first, I did not have a lot of interest in going before. I loved my trip way more than I expected.
If there is a way to take on the opportunity to travel, do it. I think people could learn from traveling to different places to gain experiences not available at home.
If someone wants to study abroad, Cypress College provides opportunities to do so. For 2024, Cypress and Fullerton College students can have their study abroad in Munich, Germany, summer of 2024; London, England, summer of 2024; and Kyoto, Japan, summer and fall of 2024.
For more information visit: https://studyabroad.fullcoll.edu/