Itinerary: San Gimignano, Siena, Lucca, and Pisa also known as Tuscany
Friday February 17
We leave nice and early at 7 am for our first stop San Gimignano. We head out to our buses that were split up based on what floor we live on. It was a nice system because then it meant one bus did not have alot more people than the other did. We also had this unspoken rule of you sit in the same seat every time we get on the bus which was nice. We get to San Gimignano where we begin our tour of the city. This trip is an academic excursion that Duquesne is sponsoring which means that whatever we learn on the trip we can be quizzed on. For my Christian art and architecture class, what we will be seeing this trip applies directly to our class so we are all assigned in the group that is with our professor. It is nice because she is an amazing tour guide but also sucks because rather than just taking in the cities we visit we have to be actively taking notes. Our tour starts at La Collegiate which is a church and also goes to the Chapel of Santa Fina. There were some amazing fresco paintings inside and it was cool being able to see how art differs in the different regions we visit. After the tour we have free time to get lunch and explore around the city. For lunch they don't provide us with it but they did give us 10 Euros to by lunch with. I can get used to Duquesne handing me money! We go off and find a pizza shop where we can get a huge slice for only 1.5 Euro! More money for gelato after! We get our pizza and eat it while walking around the city taking pictures. We then get some gelato and eat it while walking around and taking pictures. We wander in and out of stores and then it is time to go. Off to our next stop; Siena.
In Siena we continue our tour with my professor and visit the Palazzo Public and Battistero and Duomo of Siena. These were amazing churches, Baptistry and museum in Siena. We even took a whole school group picture after we finished our tours. By the time the tours were over it was time to head to our hotel and check in. We were exhausted after a day of traveling and touring. We get to the hotel and are assigned our rooms. We got to choose our roommates and I end up in a room that has one twin bed and one full. I end up sharing the full with another person which honestly was not that bad. We head out to find dinner around the city after we drop our stuff off and head out to find dinner. We all go in our separate ways to find a spot. I started in a group of 8 and then we broke into two groups of 4 going our separate ways. Somehow, both our groups ended up at the same restaurant. And then after we were discussing how funny it was another group of 5 showed up. And then half way through dinner another group of 6 showed up. It was so funny how literally a third of the student on the trip all ended up at the same restaurant in some back alley that had nothing special about it. The food ended up being really good and then we headed back to the hotel to shower and get some sleep. Tomorrow was another early day.
Saturday February 18
We wake up to the random sounds of the phone ringing that no one could figure out how to turn off. It turns out the school set up a wake up call but did not tell us so we weren't expecting it. I looked around on my table next to me and couldn't find the phone so I yelled out someone pick up the phone and put it down to make it stop. Luckily we eventually found the phone so we could hang it up. After that abrupt awaking we got dressed and headed down to breakfast. Breakfast was pretty good. There were lots of pastries, yogurt, fruit and coffee (or hot chocolate for me). I then headed out with one of my friends to go find postcards because we didn't get them the night before. After our adventure we headed back to the hotel to grab our suitcases and get back on the bus. We headed out to Lucca.
In Lucca it was the one city where we didn't have to learn anything so we had the time all to ourselves. I spent the time walking around with one of my friends. We spent the time wandering in and out of stores, looking at the amazing scenery, snacking and buying postcards. We also headed right outside the city to go to the church of my friends patron saint so she could see it. Lucca was really pretty and after lunch it was time to head to the hotel to check in.
We get to the hotel and it turns out I didn't sign up to live with the same people from the night before. We all got assigned to random rooms but I lucked out and got assigned to a room with 2 of my other friends. When we get into the room I was surprised to see three single beds. We all immediately collapse down on them. After struggling to get the wifi to work for a while I ended up taking a quick nap and then doing some homework. It was then time to get ready to go out. We had the option to go to mass or to walk around Lucca while mass was happening. I ended up walking around Lucca and it was interesting seeing it at night. After an hour we headed back to the church to meet up with our school before our group dinner. I was so excited for this dinner.
We get to dinner and sit down to amazingly set tables. Its interesting because every time we go to a group dinner they differentiate the vegetarians a different way. This time it was a laminated card that had my name and the work vegetarian. In addition, the servers made a seating chart indicating where the vegetarians were sitting. I really appreciated this. We were then all poured a glass of prosecco. They also placed a bottle of red and white wine on the table for only about 6 of us. Guess we will have plenty to drink! After toasting our meal begins. We ended up getting served 5 courses and they were all amazing. I left stuffed and remembering why I love going to eat with Duquesne. We headed back to the hotel and that was the end of the night.
Sunday February 19
Our morning starts out the same way as the day before but this time we were ready for the wake up call. We immediately grab the phone when it rings and hang it up. Turns out breakfast today was even better. There were scrambled eggs! Everyone was so excited to see something that we would normally have for breakfast. It is now time to head to Pisa! Sadly this was another academic city so we went on a tour of the Camposanto, cathedral, and baptistry. They were all pretty cool. At one point in the baptistry to prove how it was constructed to have perfect proportions and acoustics a woman started to sing and it was amazing to hear how it echoed around the building. It was such a cool experience that I am glad I did not miss. After our "class" ended we were given free time to take pictures in front of the leaning tower of Pisa, climb the tower or get lunch. I did not end up climbing the tower but I did enjoy watching people when they came down feeling sick because of the lean of the tower.
After this it was time to head back to Duquesne. It was an amazing weekend but tiring. I was glad to be back in my bed and not have to live out of a suitcase. It was also cool being able to get to see all these cities in Italy that I otherwise may not have seen.
I'm Sabrina Kirsch a sophmore physical therapy student at Duquesne University. I will be spending the spring semester of 2017 in Rome, Italy where I will eat my way through all the gelato and pasta they offer. My goal is to see everything possible and visit as many countries as possible.