Monday, May 7, 2012

What a "Yummy Yummy" Life

Lemons from the Island... Some as big as a basketball
This last month has been quite a whirlwind of travel and fun. What I can't believe is already 2 weekends ago,  Natalie, Adair, and I traveled to the Amalfi coast to meet my parents. How spoiled I am to have them visit me twice! I am so glad they did because it was by far my favorite weekend of my abroad experience and can really only be described as "Yummy Yummy".

The weather was absolutely perfect, 80 and sunny. We spent Friday and Saturday on the black beach of Positano, the town where we stayed and my favorite of the different villages there. Our beach time was filled with people watching, delicious lunch breaks for the best eggplant Parmesan I've ever eaten, and of course lemon slushies. And when we weren't on the beach we were in the sandal shops where a little man sat and made custom made sandals all day long... Pretty sure we gave him enough business in one weekend to pay his yearly rent.

Sunday afternoon we traveled to Amalfi and then to Rivello, where we went to hands down the most beautiful hotel I've ever seen to have a drink looking out over the picturesque unbeatable view of the coast. I could not have been happier cheersing a drink with my parents and my roommates on top of the world.

As if our drinks weren't enough for the night, we continued on to a family run Trattoria in Rivello where I laughed harder than I have in a long long time. "Auntie Netta", clad in her frilly plaid apron, awful mustard sweater, knee high nude stockings, and a big blue flower in her hair, along with her family loved messing with our table, and of course my dad loved nothing more than to mess right back. After an evening of messing with her as my father refused to eat an artichoke, and her throwing cake onto our table after us turning down dessert saying "You want it you eat it, you don't want it then just don't eat it" my dad felt it necessary to have a picture with Auntie Netta. As my mom struggled to figure out the camera Auntie Netta stood right up close to dad gripping around his waist, squeezing his side saying "Yummy Yummy" over and over again into his ear... lets just say none of us will ever thing of anything as "yummy" the same again.
Yummy Yummy... Look at that grip
As if the trip couldn't get better after that evening we set off to Capri Monday, with the 5 of us in a rubber boat, and a driver who looked about 17 with no chance of saving any of us if we were to drown. The tour around the coast was amazing, as we zoomed wayyy too fast into little caves along the exterior of Capri where the water glowed blue and the electric coral peaked in and out as the waves crashed against the rocks. It was so beautiful.
Rocks of Capri
Our last stop before our final destination in the Capri port was the Blue Grotto where we all 5 climbed in a rickety, way too small for all of us magenta wooden boat to row into the Grotto. As our driver sang at the top of his lungs we all layed down like packed sardines to avoid skinning our heads as we catapulted into the grotto where the water literally glowed blue. It was unreal. Pictures can't even do the image justice.
Blue Grotto

Skeptical of the wooden row boat
Capri was a beautiful jetset island, and very cool to see. Once we hiked up the way longer than anticipated trail in our flip flops to the elevated part of town, we wandered through all the streets packed with people and shops.

We returned to Positano where we had another beautiful evening of drinking mojito's overlooking the village at sunset and an amazing dinner in beautiful gardens, followed by the happiest moment of the entire weekend....

 Sitting at dinner, Ellie tried to reach dad and I multiple times regarding checking messages on our home phone. After getting in touch with her we learned that she was told by someone from UVa to be expecting a call. We did some research and figured out that waitlist acceptances were starting early, and phone calls would be going out that day!!!.... Well that prompted round one of the tears as we sat at the table in the middle of the restaurant all crying and eager with anticipation, causing a scene. Unable to go up to our rooms we set out to occupy the time until hearing from her. We settled for Music on the Rocks, the club in town to get a drink where we found an empty room with no one but a very out of context family... 2 parents and a break-dancing 3 year old... the perfect setting to lighten our mood/ suspense. We sat with our drinks, phones in hand waiting for Ellie's call when it finally came.... ELLIE GOT INTO UVA!!!!! Instantly we all burst into tears sharing excitement and hugs. It was by far the happiest moment of my semester. I couldn't be more proud of her and happier to say that I go to the same school. She wanted that so badly and I am so fortunate to have been able to have been with my parents to celebrate looking out over the beautiful moonlit Mediterranean sea. I don't think the reality of it has quite set in cause I still almost start crying when I think about it. But regardless it could not have been a more perfect way to end such a wonderful weekend, life just doesn't get more "yummy yummy" than that.
Little celebratory dance by the 3 year old for Ellie!


Monday, April 23, 2012

I Say A Little Prayer

This past weekend was a weekend filled with little prayers.

It started circa last Monday when Nat and I sat on our computers trying to figure out a "Plan B" for the weekend... somewhere in Europe without rain. Our "Plan A"- Portofino and Cinque Terre forecast was 100% chance of rain the ENTIRE weekend. After aimlessly google searching for a few hours, and typing in every destination Ryanair offered from Florence we gave in. Deciding that we'd say a little prayer and hope for the best and maybe a glimpse or 2 of sunshine.

Well wow was our little prayer answered. Natalie, Mrs. Brickman and I arrived in rain jackets and rainboots prepared for the worst to find beautiful blue skies, perfect 65 degree weather and sunshine.

We spent Friday and Saturday in Portofino where we were mesmerized by the brightly painted buildings and the tiny turquoise cove filled with little fishermen's boats, as we drooled over all the designer stores and ate our weight in the infamous foccacia bread there (it was Jackie O's favorite that she had to get every time she went to Portofino... so it couldn't be that bad right?). We spent the evenings drinking too much red wine on the top of a hill, gazing over the most surreal view of the Mediterranean as the supposedly gay hotel server shameless flirted with Mrs. Brickman when he wasn't singing along with his piano playing lover fully dressed in his purple sequin coat.

Saturday we spent laying by the pool, continuing to take in the beauty. Saturday night we returned for our too addicting wine which we decided to limit to one bottle for the night, and dinner. After dinner upon our exit, Antonio the flirtatious server, quickly ushered Natalie and I over to his, this time, Turquoise jacket dressed pianist to sing a song for the not so enthused crowd before we left. Without choice, we held the microphone staring out at the mundane group of people staring up at us from the bar area as Mrs. Brickman videoed and laughed in the back. Natalie and I definitely did our "we're really awkward so we'll just laugh" laugh the whole time as we both held the tiny microphone not sure what else to do with our hands, as the pianist cranked up the background beat and starting in on "I Say a Little Prayer"- My Best Friend's Wedding style. He belted the song pushing the microphone closer to our mouths every few seconds after we'd slowly lowered it to keep from everyone going def in the room. Wasn't really aware that that song played the chorus about 10 times... but after about 5 minutes still going strong I decided it must have been the special edition. Nevertheless we sang our hearts out until the end, laughing the whole way through, really wishing the 2 bottle of wine night had been that one and not the night before. It was definitely a moment I will never forget.

Sunday we traveled to Cinque Terre for the final leg of our amazing unforgettable trip. We hiked a bit and relaxed to the sound of the ocean crashing on the rocks.

Today before leaving Nat and I got up early to hike 2 of the towns before heading back, and wow was it worth it. The little fishermen towns burst with color and contrast beautifully against the turquoise sea. As we walked down "Lover's Way" together, reflecting back on what an amazing experience we've had as our time is winding down, I could not be more thankful for this weekend, our friendship, the treat of having Mrs. Brickman as my second mama this past week, and all the wonderful memories we're sharing here that we will never forget.... All things definitely worth saying a little prayer for.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rain rain go away...

Come again once we leave in May.

Well my fashion design teacher told me last week if it rains April 3rd then it will rain for 40 days.... despite my skepticism, she was definitely right. For the past 2 weeks it has done nothing but rain and if you look at the 10 day forecast for Florence there are still 10 lovely little rain cloud pictures that cover the screen.... good thing I accidentally sent home my raincoat with my parents, and have already broken 2 umbrellas I've attempted to use... woops.

This past weekend Adair and I decided to stay in Florence (our last full weekend here :( so crazy how time flies) and needless to say it was quite the honeymooners weekend getaway. We're convinced the rain sent us into retail and food therapy mode for a solid 4 days.

Friday Adair, Josephine (one of our friends in Florence) and I set out to a town about an hour away solely to visit a famous butcher and have lunch. The tour of the town consisted of getting off the bus, finding the restaurant, then getting back on the bus to return. While most people might find it a little excessive to take a 2 hour bus trip for a meal, I'm not even the littlest bit ashamed.. It was soo worth it! It made up for all the meat that's been replaced by pasta and pizza for the past 3 months here.

The infamous butcher

 Amongst our other activities we took a trip to "The Mall", the famous high end designer outlets... just us and a bunch of Asians, but an experience non the less. We discovered that FROZEN YOGURT has come to Florence..a very exciting find- (Christina of course I thought of you immediately).

Sunday we had a glimpse of sun which we took full advantage of, and went to an Antique Market held once a month in Florence. It was so cool and very local.

Antique Market

Monday we finally went to the Ferragamo Museum. It was amazing to see all of Ferragamo's work. He truly was so beyond his years. His innovations and creativity completely changed shoe design. I would wear every shoe that was on display from 1920 to today.

Ferragamo Shoe

It was a wonderful weekend with lots of shopping, eating delicious meals some out and some cooked by ourselves, watching some solid chick flicks and relaxing. Considering I'll be traveling the next 3 weekends, then it finals and I'm home, it was the perfect way to spend a relaxing, last full weekend in Firenze.


Monday, April 9, 2012

We are family... I got all my sistas with me

What a whirlwind of a week I think I've finally recovered from. Really more like a whirlwind of a month... March has flown by with lots of visitors, traveling and fun all of which I've failed to blog about so bear with me... my blog posts are about to be super out of order and all over the place.

For now I'm going to blog about hands down the best week of my abroad experience, a week of getting to share all the incredible adventures of Italy with my FAMILY!!!!

It started out in Venice with just the girls, before my dad met us back in Florence a few day later. Venice was filled with lots of delicious fish, boat rides, gelato searches through the windy streets and canals, naps, and moments of giggles and delirium from everyone's exhaustion....

We had a great tour during which we went to the beautiful church in San Marc square where the apostle Mark himself is buried- pretty cool. Followed by our cute little Venetian tour guide leading us through all the secret local passageways to avoid tourists and see amazing views of canals.

 The day ended with a lovely gondola ride.

 We met my dad and our driver, Massimo, in Florence Sunday to set out into Tuscany for a couple of days. First stop for the Crosby family was obviously the World Champion of Gelato. That's right... WORLD CHAMPION. It's located in the center of San Gimingiano, a hill town outside of Siena with middle age towers and beautiful views.

Here is a view of San Gimingiano from a vineyard outside the town. The village looks just like Duloc, the village in Shrek... which is reason 2 it had to be our first stop in Tuscany.
 After Shrek town we went to Siena and then to our hotel out in the middle of the beautiful Tuscan hills. This is just one of the endless beautiful views.

 If you've seen Letter's to Juliet, this hotel is the place where they stay in the movie... so naturally our cheesy romantic comedy loving selves had to go and reinact all the scenes... 1. lying in the grass looking up at the stars. Along with visiting the room where Amanda Seyfried stayed and eating dinner at the same table where they ate in the movie.

The next day after some tennis playing and Maggie's first and very interesting massage experience :) we headed out on our day 2 of Tuscan adventures stopping at many lookout points, taking lots of pictures, and seeing many quaint little hill towns.

 If any friends who came to visit us are reading this... the vineyard with the house in the background to the left of Ellie is Vigna Maggio, the vineyard we visited when y'all were here. When I told the driver we walked there from Greve he died laughing....

 After our Tuscan escape we came back to Florence for a few days where we essentially stuffed our faces with every favorite meal I've had in Florence condensed into a 3 day period. Lots of sightseeing, scarf buying, stair climbing, and gelato eating.

We concluded the trip with an AMAZING trip to Rome. While Rome wasn't built in a day, we surely saw it ALL in one. Though it meant starting the day at a lovely time of 7:15 in the morning, the early rise was definitely worth it. We were of the first 10 people allowed into the Vatican, and one of the few to get a full experience of the Sistine Chapel before it opened to the public. It was definitely an experience I will never forget.
View of St. Peters from inside the Vatican
 After the Vatican, St Peters, the Sistine Chapel, and some replenishment with the best bread I have ever eaten/ probably ever will eat- Pizza Bianca.. (who knew flour, olive oil, and salt could taste so good) we went to peak through the famous keyhole....

After the keyhole we went to what was the highlight of my day if its possible to have one, the Coliseum where we got private access to areas where no one else could go. Getting to stand out on the gladiator stage made us all feel slightly famous and if you know my dad then you know he took full advantage of that... practicing his Pope wave and showing off his super athletic skills to all the crowd looking down at us.

Hours and many other sight seeing stops later we ended the day with a visit to the Trevi fountain where we tossed in our coins and made our wishes. Finding it hard to find anything else I could possibly wish for after this special time with my family, it was a perfect way to end a perfect week. How blessed I am!

Ciao and Happy Easter!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Still Alive

Soo as evident, I am really slacking on the blog posts but I have to much to share that will come very soon!

Today we are headed off to Paris and Barcelona for the week. We will be returning Monday. Until then, here is a little glimpse of the subliminal beauty and peacefulness I experienced this past weekend to kick off our Spring Break week with Christina and Natalie out in the middle of Tuscany. It was one of the best weekends of my life...



Thursday, February 23, 2012

How Sweet It Is...

Life is sweet right now. Just purely, wonderfully sweet. Today we FINALLY had beautiful weather...60 and sunny!! I think I reached a state of pure bliss when I was able to eat lunch outside... a moment I've long been waiting for.  And if that wasn't enough, this afternoon we went on a walking food tour of Florence in cooking class.

Our first stop was Il Re Gelateria, our teacher's personal favorite, where we got to watch a world renown gelato master/creator make gelato from scratch to finish right before our eyes. I never want to go to another gelato place again after seeing how fresh and pure his gelato was... Strawberry gelato which consisted of only fresh strawberries and simple syrup. THAT'S IT. I was amazed, and it was so delicious! This is how fresh he makes all of his flavors. He was telling us all about how he loves experimenting and has made every flavor from mozzarella to olive oil... so strange I know, but he said they were a success!
Gelato machine

World renown gelato maker
Final presentation
As if the gelato demo and tasting wasn't enough we then proceeded on our tour to a little hole in the wall vino e spuntini (wine and snacks) place where we were served the most delicious spread of food. The crostinis were amazing. Natalie and I will definitely be their new regulars.

Selection of Tuscan Salami and Bread
Crostini with sausage and stracchino cheese
Crostini with fennel, Gorgonzola and honey, and crostini with mild cheese, sundried tomatoes, and eggplant
Life really doesn't get much sweeter than this.