Although being in Florence is amazing in itself, students usually want to experience other parts of Italy when they’re studying abroad. AIFS offers optional excursions to Venice and Rome, but I chose to travel on my own. There are so many beautiful places in Italy and it’s really hard to choose just a few destinations since you only have two weekends to travel. The great thing about Italy is that it’s a fairly small country and you are able to get to many places by train in just a few hours. I took advantage of this with one of my roommates and I went to some extraordinary places. I’m so happy that I was able to experience these places and I highly suggest these destinations to anyone else who studies abroad in Italy.
I only went to Venice for a day, but I fell in love with it. It was amazing to me that the locals really travel everywhere by boat through the Grand Canal. I even saw people moving furniture by boat! Venice is famous for the Venetian masks and I loved going into each store and looking at all of the hand made masks. Each one is so intricate and different; they really are works of art. I have heard mixed reviews about Venice and it made me hesitant to go, but it’s actually one of my favorite places that I have been in Italy. I’ve never seen anything like it and I probably never will. The train ride to and from Venice is just two short hours each way.
Siena is not somewhere that I would have ever thought to visit, but since it’s so close to Florence, I decided to give it a try. I was absolutely shocked by its beauty and I’m so happy that I decided to go. Siena is filled with many, many churches and also many piazzas that you can sit in and just admire the beauty. Home to the famous palio race, you can also sit in the huge main square where the race is held each year and take in the scene. There are also various monuments that you can climb and get amazing aerial views of the city, like the Torre del Mangia in the main square. Siena is an hour and a half train ride from Florence and only costs €8.70 each way!
Not many people have even heard of Perugia, but when I was in Italy this summer and travelled to Assisi, I was told that the city of Perugia was definitely worth a visit. This was true. Perugia is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Since the city is located on top of a huge hill, there are many places that you can go and get “panorama views.” Perugia had some of the best food that I have tasted thus far in Italy. Also, Perugia is famous for its chocolate. There are many chocolate stores and they have so many different kinds of chocolate ranging from truffles to dark chocolate covered cranberries and oranges. And there is a chocolate factory in Perugia that offers tours Monday through Friday, but unfortunately I was there on the weekend. Everywhere you turn in this historic city, you spot something else that catches your eye. Believe me when I tell you that no camera can capture the true beauty of Perugia. It’s something that you just need to experience for yourself. Perugia is two hours away from Florence by train and only cost €13.75 each way!