Trying to not break the bank on all of the weekend trips you can take around Europe during your study abroad experience? Me too.
Before coming to study abroad, everyone will probably tell you to take advantage of the cheap travel throughout Europe. Although it is less expensive than traveling from (or often throughout) the United States, it can still add up — especially for college students.
However, try not to get so wrapped up in traveling internationally when there is so much to see in your host country — in my case, Italy! I recently took a day trip to Lucca from my home base of Florence, which is an hour and a half train ride away for around €15.
Lucca is a small Tuscan village filled with lively shops and locals. My favorite thing to do during my time there was riding bikes along the city wall that encompasses the village. After living in a city like Florence for a while, it was nice to get outside and bike on the path through the park’s trees. Be sure to bring a blanket to sit on so you can soak up the sun and fresh air on the grass!
A walk through Lucca feels like a fairytale. I find the village is more quaint than Florence — you get the picturesque Italian architecture without an abundance of tourists.
There are so many different squares with restaurants and places to get snacks. One local specialty to try is Lucca’s famous bread, Buccellato. This is a sweet bread with raisins sprinkled throughout and made specifically in Lucca. I find the best way to eat it is to warm it up when you get back home and put butter on it. I would not recommend it if you do not like the taste of fennel.
After the day of exploring, I recommend that you relax at any of the local restaurants with an aperitivo for a couple of hours before catching the train back to Florence, or whichever Italian city you call home.
Italy is a special country because there are so many little towns, like Lucca, that are hidden gems and have their own personality. To spare your wallet, don’t forget to add these to your itinerary when planning weekend trips so that you get the full Italian experience!