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International Center

University of Missouri

Home again

Filed in Blog, France, Italy by on March 11, 2013

I’m back in Perugia after 10 days of spring break. It was awesome and exciting, but it’s nice to be home. I went to four amazing cities over break: London, which I posted about already, and then Paris, Venice and Verona.

Paris was a beautiful city. I spent three days there with one of the other girls from Umbra, and we hit all the major sites. Monday we did the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa, Victory at Samothrace, the Venus di Milo and many other paintings and sculptures. I don’t know very much about paintings, but I really enjoyed the ancient art exhibits, with Greek, Roman and Mesopotamian pieces. I have been learning a lot about ancient and medieval art, particularly religious art, this semester in a couple of my classes, and seeing the pieces really added context for me. Of course, the Mona Lisa was intriguing — her eyes really do follow you. I wish I could study her a bit more, but even on a chilly day in February there were plenty of people who wanted to see her. The next day we hit up Notre Dame (cue Disney music), Les Invalides (where Napoleon is buried), Ste. Chapelle (a church with amazing stained glass windows), Rue Cler (where I bought a picnic lunch, complete with baguette and French cheese!) and then, finally, the Eiffel Tower. I can definitely say Paris is worth visiting just for that. We also stopped by Opera Garnier, the opera house where “Phantom of the Opera” was set (cue more theme music!). The next day we went to Chateau de Versailles. It was beautiful — we saw Marie Antoinette’s bedroom and the famous Hall of Mirrors, as well as thousands of paintings, statues and gilded gold. It was definitely worth the day it took, but I see why people visit in the summer — no beautiful gardens or fountains were going while we were there, and I wish I could have seen that. (Obviously this just means I’ll have to go back to Paris!)

I was feeling pretty ambiguous about Paris, though, until after dinner when we saw the Eiffel Tower at night. That was what really made the trip for me, and made me see why people fall in love with the City of Lights. Paris has a beauty to it, but it’s sort of aloof, distant, a of-course-you-love-me attitude you get from the city. But the Eiffel Tower at night was spectacular. One of my personal observations was that the French weren’t rude. I speak about three words of French, so I felt really ridiculous pointing at what I wanted in shops and never knowing how much money I owed, but no one was ever rude; certainly not any more so than service I’ve gotten anywhere else (including the U.S.). In fact, one nice monsieur at the train station really helped me out — though he could probably tell I was rather distraught by the fact I couldn’t purchase a train ticket. He really helped his countrymen out though, because now if someone says the French are rude, I’m going to tell that story to prove they aren’t.

Then I headed to Venice. It’s a fairy tale city. You can hardly believe what your seeing when you get off the bus or train — a city without cars, with rivers as streets. It’s amazing and beautiful. I spent the beautiful day wandering, finally making it to Piazza di San Marco. Don’t bother trying to use a map in Venice, it will only get you lost. Just wander, and follow the yellow signs, and you’ll eventually get to where you want to go. There were masquerade masks in every shop, on every cart, everywhere. The next day I went to Murano, where they make glass of all kinds, and watched a glassblowing demonstration. You could get a glass anything, from beads and figurines to an entire orchestra or chess set made of glass. I also went to Burano, where they traditionally made lace. They also have colorfully painted houses lining the streets. My last day I went back to St. Marks, and went inside the basilica. It was heavily influenced by Eastern culture (Venice was the main trading port between East and West, after all). The gold mosaics covering the ceiling are the most impressive part of the basilica. I also went to the Doge’s Palace, where the seat of government of the Venetian republic was for centuries. It had history and art in every room, as well as the dungeons — I crossed the Bridge of Sighs (prisoner’s would sigh at their last sight of the lagoon and sunshine) and saw all the cells, covered in graffiti.

My last day of break I spent many hours on trains, but a few lovely hours in Verona, of Romeo and Juliet fame. They have their own little mini Colesseum, which was used for gladiator battles, but now hosts concerts when the weather is nice. I also saw Juliet’s house, with locks on the gate of all the lovers who came before, and notes in every language on the walls.

While I enjoyed every moment of my break, I’m glad to be back in Perugia. Traveling is exciting and fun, but also a little chaotic and, no matter how great you plan, something will probably not go quite right. Luckily for me, it was only minor details — like the trouble with the train ticket, or walking past the campo where my hostel was in Venice or missing my train home. A little research goes a long way, too — grab a guidebook or get a city app for your phone. It’s much more interesting to visit places when you have a little context or history to guide you, even in the form of a Wikipedia paragraph.

My next post will be the photo highlights from my trip, so get excited!

Comments (2)

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  1. Nicole Odom says:

    Laura! Hope you are having an excellent time abroad 🙂 Love seeing your beautiful photos, you have such a great eye for photography. Can’t wait to hear more of your stories when you get home!

  2. Samantha Ackerman says:

    A snapcup for you!!! 🙂 Glad you’re having fun in Italy! Seeing all those pictures makes me so jealous. Stay beautiful as always and come home soon! 🙂