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Why You Should Spend Your Spring Break in Italy

by Gracie Koch
Why You Should Spend Your Spring Break Exploring Italy | AIFS Study Abroad

As if studying abroad isn’t already enough of an adventure in and of itself, spring break offers a plethora of exciting possibilities. With ten days off and the world at your fingertips, it is a tough choice on where to go. Do you stay in your host city and discover all of the hidden gems? Do you pick one city to really dive into? Do you plan an entire route around a country (or two)? You can’t go wrong with any choice, but I decided to make the most of my lengthy time to hop, skip, and eat my way through the boot of Italy.

With Italy being full of so many amazing cities, it felt like the perfect choice for a spring break.  To limit our stress of finding flights, trains, and accommodations between each city, we decided to plan our trip through Weekend Student Adventures, a student travel company. WSA came to our school (Richmond – the American International School in London) and gave a talk on all their different trips, so we knew they were a legitimate company. WSA offers a local guide with knowledge of all the authentic hubs in each city, and you can make friends with other student travelers! However, if you’re feeling confident, you can of course plan a similar route on your own.

We started our ten-day trek in Venice, the classic Italian postcard city. With its wobbly architecture, cascading bridges, and floating gondolas, it’s a definite must-see! Venice is a city where cars do not exist, so spend your time wandering via boat or hop over one bridge to the next on foot. A day and a half in Venice was the perfect amount of time to explore this quaint city.

One place I did not originally plan on visiting was Cinque Terre, but it ended up being my absolute favorite! Cinque Terre literally means “Five Lands” and is made up of five towns: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. They are perfectly perched atop seaside hills and we were able to see all five towns in one day with our daily train pass. However, if you are feeling a little more adventurous, you can even hike between them! Not only is Cinque Terre pleasing to the eye, but it’s also pleasing to the taste buds.  Known as being home to focaccia, pesto, and lemon-flavored everything, make sure to eat your way through this area! Visiting during the off-season meant we could really see how the locals lived. I could have easily spent more than a day and a half in this scenic little region, but we had to move onto the next stop on our Italian adventure!

Taking the train from Cinque Terre to Florence meant passing through Pisa, so obviously we had to make a pit stop for the classic Leaning Tower of Pisa photo! Perhaps more entertaining than seeing the Leaning Tower itself was watching all of the tourists standing around with their hands in the air, trying to get that perfect shot. Pisa is quite small and easily conquerable in a few hours, so make a stop for lunch and a photo op on your way to the next city!

The train from Pisa to Florence was a quick one, so we were ready to explore right away. Florence is rich with history, especially for all you art-lovers out there! Some highlights are Michelangelo’s David and Botticelli’s Primavera and Birth of Venus. Florence is a very walkable city, meaning you can check out the leather markets, see the iconic Duomo, and stroll along the Ponte Vecchio all in the same day. For some amazing panoramic views over the city, make sure to take the short hike up to Piazzale Michelangelo! Two days gave the perfect glimpse into all the hotspots of the city.

Of course the last stop on our Italian adventure was Rome!  Full of amazing history (and amazing pizza), we spent our two and a half days soaking up all the Roman culture. The Colosseum, Saint Peter’s Basilica, Spanish Steps, and the Pantheon are some of the many classic spots you can find in Rome.  Make sure to also stop by the Trevi Fountain and throw a coin in to ensure your return to this beautiful city! Being a larger city, make sure to plan some extra time here and utilize their public transportation system to check all the historic places off your list!

If you are trying to plan your perfect spring break and want to see as much as you can, I would highly recommend planning a route around Italy, as there are so many beautiful places to see. Spending a couple of days in each city is the perfect amount of time to take a glimpse at the local culture, see the classic sights, and of course eat all of the incredible food. Whatever route you plan to take for your break, it’s sure to be one to remember!

This post was contributed by Gracie Koch, who is spending her spring semester studying abroad with AIFS in London, England.

Why You Should Spend Your Spring Break Exploring Italy | AIFS Study Abroad

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