Farewell to Italy

June 18, 2016
Altavilla, Italy

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Ashley Montaquila, Senior Marketing major, Hometown: Greenville NC

Last night we had our farewell dinner at CUOA. I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun. It’s hard to believe that our time in Altavilla has come and gone so fast! Before it was time to head to Milan, I took a taxi to Creazzo to get in one last workout at Crossfit Never Stop, a gym I spent a lot of time in during my stay in Italy. The people there, though most did not speak English, were some of the nicest and most accommodating individuals I have ever met. It’s amazing how the universal language of exercise can bring people together. I shared many smiles and a lot of sweat between burpees and power cleans with the many friends that I made. I might have even shed a tear or two when I found out that they brought in a cake to share with me after my last workout there. I am so thankful to have been surrounded by some incredible people that I will never forget, but all good things must come to an end.

Bags packed, I started my journey to Milan. We made it to the city by noon, leaving us all afternoon to explore. Being known for its couture, I decided to spend the afternoon shopping and sight seeing. I walked the streets until I was face to face with the Duomo di Milano. What an incredible structure. In awe of its sheer beauty, I decided to have lunch on an outdoor terrace ashley banks hikinhoverlooking the piazza. After lunch, I spent some more time hopping from store to store. As the evening set in, I took in one last tramonto italiano (Italian sunset), had one last scoop of Gelato, and spent one last night with an incredible group of students who have come to feel like family. Even though our time in Milan had come to an end, and in the morning we would be catching planes back home; I knew that our journey didn’t stop here. There’s an entire World out there waiting for us, and our friendships have no expiration date. Though our trip has come to an end, this is just the beginning.

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Memories in Milan

June 18, 2016
Milan, Italy

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Alex Walsh, Senior Accounting major, Hometown: Wolcott CT

 

Today is our very last day in Italy. Five weeks came and went in the blink of an eye, but I guess you could attribute that to all the good times, lasting memories, and life lessons that this trip has instilled in me. As we all boarded our bus at 8:30 heading for Milan, it became all too real. In twenty-four hours I would board my direct flight back to the United States. I look back on my time in Italy as one of the greatest joys in my life so far. Everyday was a new journey with my new friends and each journey left me with a new tale to look back on. I could tell a continual story of my time in Italy and each day, but that could turn this blog into a novel, so I will tell you of our time in Milan.

The bus rolled up to Hotel Teco at approximately 11 a.m. From there, there was a team discussion of “where are we going to eat?”.  The cuisine that Italy has to offer is outstanding and has left my taste buds joyous from the meals I have been dining on for the last five weeks. To say that our next move from the Hotel was to go to one of these exquisite places would be a lie. The portions in Italy are not the size I am accustomed to in the U.S., so I, as well as others, wanted to eat as much food as we could so we chose to go the best buffet in Milan. After filling our appetite it was time to explore Milan. As we exited the buffet and into the streets, we separated into groups depending on what you wanted to do, my group set our sites on visiting the Milan Cathedral. Getting lost is as part of adventuring through Italy, as is anything else.

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Small streets and no cellular data is a recipe for disaster. After about thirty-five minutes of getting lost and turning around we made it.  As you walk up to this massive 14thcentury masterpiece, you are filled with awe and questions. How did they create this before cranes? How did they move all that marble from wherever to here with no trucks? But you just look up and appreciate what is in front of your eyes. We walked around the piazza and grabbed little souvenirs for some time till we decided that our next stop was Castello Sforzesco and Parco Sempione.  As we walked there, we visited shops and boutiques picking up last gifts for family members and friends. Talking about our time and stories from our adventures made the walk a quick one. As we entered the castle, there was a gorgeous fountain that greeted us. The castle had seen its days, and was now more of a standing barrier between the inside green yards and the bustling world of Milan. Once through the castle you are met with Parco Sempione, there we would spend several hours just sitting in a field overlooking the pond.

 

alex walsh churchThat night fourteen of us would go and enjoy our final meal at Brasserie Ristorante Mediterranea. Dining on lobster, carbanarra, tagliata, and our final glasses of fine Italian wine, we talked and laughed about how we had evolved as friends and family through our five-week journey in the beautiful landscape of northern Italy.

 

Last Day in Italy

June 15, 2016
Altavilla, Italy

Zachary Leonard

Zachary Leonard; Marketing major

Today is our last day in Altavilla. After typing that sentence and staring at the screen for five minutes, it just now hit me- I am coming home to North Carolina after five weeks in Italy. So much has happened in the past five weeks. To give you an idea of how much I enjoyed this trip, it would not be possible to capture the unforgettable moments and memories I have created in 500 words. So, in an effort to save time and precious room on the computer screen, I am going to tell you all what today has consisted of. To kick things off, we had finals this morning. We are in a foreign country but “finals” is a term we all know too well from being students at East Carolina.

After spending countless days in the classroom and intermittent Wi-Fi, it was time to show our professors everything we have learned from their online courses. It should czachary leonard dinner 1ome as no surprise, even though we are in a new country, our study habits do not change. With that being said, many of my classmates, including myself, stayed up in until the late hours of the night relearning the material. Good news for us, the hotel management did not seem to mind all of us scattered around the inside of the building. If you were to enter the area from the entrance, you would see college students nesting around the closet outlet like it was a fountain of knowledge. I do not know how late everyone stayed up until, but I went to bed past midnight. As morning rolled around, we were all eagerly set to get our last assignments and exams out of the way. The moment when we all finished our exams was when everyone breathed a sigh of relief. No more worrying about schoolwork, deadlines and extensions. No more spotty Internet connection too. We were finally done.

Shortly after rejoicing, I found myself on the way out to eat to lunch with some of my friends. We had chosen a quaint restaurant on the hill of Altavilla and consequently we dubbed the title of restaurant as, “The Hill”. It was a nice feeling not having to worry about czachary leonard dinner 2lasses anymore. Conversations seemed to flow more naturally too, maybe because the stress we all carried was nonexistent anymore. Much laughing and smiling was ensured at lunch. No doubt in my mind, I had met a special group of people. While waiting for our food, we passed the time sharing our favorite memories of the trip. Everyone had so much to say, we could’ve stayed at “The Hill” the rest of the day if we wanted to. On the same subject of spending time with all my friends, we got quieter as our food came out. Between the gaps of silence from eating our meal, it was obvious we were all thinking the same thing, leaving Italy.

All Work and Some Play

June 14, 2016
Altavilla, Italy

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Mackenzie King; Senior Marketing major; Hometown: Charlotte NC

Choosing to study abroad these past couple weeks has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Every day has consisted of a new adventure since our arrival in Italy. In the few short weeks I’ve been here in Italy I’ve explored and seen more than I ever could have imagined. Within the past couple weeks I’ve traveled to Florence, Rome, Venice, Verona, and multiple other cities that have left me speechless and amazed. Like I said, those are our usual days here in Italy, today though happened to be a little different than the rest. Since our time in Italy is coming to an end in a few short days, my classmates and I have been preparing for our final exams that we are taking at the end of this week. Unlike our usual adventurous days where we go out and explore, today we all stayed inside the hotel and dedicated the day to studying and getting our course work done.

Unfortunately I didn’t start off my day by hopping on a train headed to Rome or a bus going to Florence like I have the previous weeks. Instead I woke up, got ready, ate breakfast and arrived promptly to my lecture hall at 9am, there a guest lecturer was in the room preparing to give us a lecture. At first I was scared this was going to be a long and tedious four hours, but to my surprise it turned out to be the complete oMackenzie King guest speakerpposite. The guest lecturer, Diego Campagnolo, taught us about entrepreneurship and innovation, throughout his lecture he engaged my classmates and I by asking us questions and giving us activities to do. I would go into more detail about the lecture but I still have more to say about the rest of my day! Directly after the lecture ended, some of my classmates presented their projects in front of us. We listened to their individual presentations for an hour about the Italian marble industry and the Italian economic system.  When their presentations were done I continued my day by studying for my English and Management exam for the next 5 hours until dinner time.

Finally my favorite part of the day, dinner time! In Altavilla there are very few places to eat, although there aren’t many Mackenzie King Dinnerplaces to choose from luckily they all taste good! My friends and I have a favorite restaurant here, we don’t exactly know the name but we refer to it as “the place on the hill”. It is a family owned restaurant and we have been there frequently so all the workers know us, although they don’t speak any English and we don’t speak any Italian we still try to socialize with them the best we can by trying to speak their language and crack jokes with them, we can tell they really appreciate it! Every time our server gives us free food and gives us a discount on our bill. When it comes time to leave the restaurant, we are normally the last people there, if that’s the case the workers will drop everything they’re doing, move the tables around, and turn the music up all the way and start dancing with us! It’s funny how close we’ve gotten to the workers in such a short period of time especially with the burden of the language barrier. When we leave Italy in a few days there’s so many things I’m going to miss, even the “boring study days”. This summer I’ve made unforgettable memories and I am extremely grateful I had the opportunity to study abroad in Italy.

Rewarding Work Day

June 13, 2016
Altavilla, Italy

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David Hubble, Junior Management major, Hometown: Winston-Salem NC

Today began the first day of the very last week here in Italy. As I pondered and reflected upon the experience I gained from the past five weeks, I began to realize how incredible this opportunity has really been. I have met so many people, gained so many friends, and learned so many things. Of course today was filled with a seemingly formidable workload, however; the random reflections of my time here served as the nostalgic mental break I needed in between each task. Having taken two classes in the five weeks here in Italy, I’ve come to realize that for today and for the rest of the week, time management is essential towards my desired grades. And while I wish I had just enough free time to spend the day as I’d like, I know that the feeling of getting my work done will be rewarding enough to enjoy the rest of the week. So, I made the decision to dedicate the rest of the day towards my work with the attempt and hopes of completing everything I needed to get done.

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Time was lost pretty easily as I found myself distracted by the hard work that lay ahead for the day. In fact, the time flew by faster than I had actually expected. Eventually, dinnertime rolled around and the friends I was surrounded by decided that we would go out to dinner together and try a restaurant that has been highly regarded with great ratings. Besides the couple of welcome dinners we’ve had and a few others on the optional trips, this dinner was by far one of the best.  Accompanied by a group of friends, we dined and toasted to our last week here in Italy together and as the night wound down, I knew that every part of this trip had been worth it.

Shopping Local

June 12, 2016
Florence, Italy

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Selena De Alva; Senior Management major Hometown: Wake Forest NC

It is the end to our weekend in Florence and also our last full weekend here in Italy. Four weeks down and one to go meaning many, including myself, had to catch up on shopping. Now I am not usually one to be very fond of having to shop, but when is the next time that I will be able to “shop until I drop” in Florence? After checking out at 11 am this morning from the hotel, a small group of us went to a local leather store to get some gifts for the family. Before we even made it in to the store, we were overwhelmed with the smell of leather. It is not uncommon for you to walk down the street and get a whiff of fresh leather at every corner. As much as I enjoy the smell, I think I have had enough exposure to it for quite some time. On the top of my shopping list, was a nice but simple leather wallet for my grandpa which I know will be a great gift for Father’s day next weekend. Luckily, the shop that we stopped at covered all of our needs. It also helped that the owners of the shop were extremely nice, talkative and willing to help. They had a large variety of merchandise to choose from. It ranged from large bags, purses, wallets, gloves to even bookmarks with all sorts of colors. We honestly could have spent the whole day there, but we knew there was still so much more to get done before we had to leave at 5pm.
Once we were done there, we continued walking along the busy streets of Florence. One thing I did notice is that a little rain did not phase the crowds. Today’s weather was off and on storms. Out of nowhere dark clouds would move in, stay for 10-15 minutes and then just pass. This happened at least twice while we were out and about. Even with the rain coming down, people were still out walking or standing in line to get into Blog 1 (1)the local attractions. The local street artists would stay out too, they just found a place to take shelter for the time being. Since Florence is known to be “The City of Art” I was really excited to take a look at and buy some local artwork. So many artists had absolutely beautiful works and it was hard to choose which ones to buy, but I was able to pick out a few that I liked. For example, I chose one of the Duomo which was one of the first buildings I was able to familiarize myself with this weekend. I mean it was really hard to miss this massive building from anywhere in the city. Then there was another of the Ponte Vecchio which was a bridge over the river, this area was most beautiful at sunset. We saw so many different types and interpretations of the city through each artist’s work and it was absolutely amazing.
After viewing the art, we walked around, grabbed a cup of the best gelato in town and looked around for the typical tourist souvenirs to take back. By this time, it was Blog 2getting close to the time that we needed to grab our luggage and catch the bus back to Altavilla. As we were on the way back to the hotel, another storm was passing over us so we rushed back to ensure we did not get poured on. Once everyone made it back to the hotel, we all packed the bus and prepared for roughly the three hour bus ride back.
Overall, I had a wonderful time in Florence and I am sure all those who were there would agree. As I have observed in each of the cities we have visited thus far, each area has its own unique “personality.” Each area has its similarities, but at the same time they all have different kinds of marvels and beauties that leave those who visit in awe. Still at the end of our fourth week, I am amazed at all that Italy has to offer.

8 Things to Know Before Traveling to Italy

June 12, 2016
Altavilla, Italy

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Taylor Hilliard Hometown: Quakertown PA

  1. When you are trying to figure out what to pack, plan to bring pants! If your goal is to try to fit in in Italy, the first step is to dress similarly and your safest bet is to wear pants. Jeans are key but prepare to dress them up fairly nice.
  2. Italians like to stare. This goes along with the dressing like Italians, if you can’t stand people making long awkward eye contact, dressing similarly will reduce your chances. Regardless, you’ll get some looks so embrace it now.
  3. If you don’t like pigeons, Italy is not the place for you. There are pigeons EVERYWHERE! My husband had one hit him in the face.
  4. You won’t understand now but there’s a string hanging from the wall in every bathroom/shower, don’t pull it unless it’s an emergency! Funny story: I was in the bathroom at a train station in the first week and could not get the button to flush the toilet. So, I
    pulled the string thinking maybe that would do the trick, I did not notice anything at first so I gave up and walked out of the stall to wash my hands. Suddenly, a bunch of the workers rushed in and started checking my stall and I noticed the red flashing light above the stall. They continued to check all of the stalls and I shrugged pretending I knew nothing.
  5. It is a common misconception that Italians don’t wear running sneakers, it’s a complete lie! When trying to figure out what to bring on the trip, all of my research had led me to believe that Europeans absolutely never wear running sneakers unless they are running. Maybe it will be different in other European countries but not in Italy. Especially for men, trying to wear nicer shoes almost made you stand out more because you’re the only one not wearing sneakers. Sneakers are acceptable with any outfit in Italy, with a dress, with a suit, anything.
  6. You’ll realize very quickly that all Italians smoke cigarettes. Often restaurants and public places  will have designated areas for smokers. However if you don’t want to eat your dinner with smoke blowing in your face, your safest bet is to eat inside.
  7. The transportation system is fantastic so take advantage of it! From planes to
    trains to buses, you can get anywhere very easily. I invested in a Eurail pass and it has allowed me to ride just about any train for free. It will also significantly reduce the cost of traveling on the fast trains. If you keep an eye on flights, you can easily get one for under $100!
  8. Given the transportation system, consider using your free time for traveling! Given your location, it is super easy to go wherever in Europe and the surrounding areas. I took advantage of this and visited a castle in Austria!
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Hochosterwitz Castle in Austria

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Pirate Nation in Florence

June 11, 2016
Florence, Italy

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Thomas Craft

On Saturday June 11th, I started my day in Florence at the Bargello museum. After the Bargello, we went to the Duomo. The Duomo was probably my favorite part of Florence. I believe that it is the biggest rotunda in the world, but I am not sure. The inside is even more impressive than the outside. The inside is massive. The whole structure is marble including some of the inside. The rotunda has a beautiful painting around it. Then I went to the popular central/leather market with eleven other Pirates. I tried some fried shrimp and zucchini at the central market, and they were delicious. I also ate some chicken nuggets, if I had to compare them to other nuggets, it was similar to Chik Fill A’s nuggets. After the central market, Drew and I met Alex at the Academia.

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On the way to the Academia, I stopped in the central market and got some jewelry made in Italy for my mother. We saw the real Statue of David at the Academia. I did not realize that David was that big of a sculpture. There are other frescoes and paintings inside, but David is the most popular thing to see. After the Academia, we met Blake outside and we went back to the Duomo since they had not been inside yet. This time we thought about going up to the top but we did not because we did not want to pay twenty euros. Then we walked to Eduardo’s, which has the best gelato in Florence, maybe top five in the world. It was a twenty minute wait the night before, this time we walked right in. They make the freshest cones and have the best fruit flavors. I got blueberry and cherry in a crunchy cone bowl, and it was delicious.

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After that, we walked to a bridge and sat on the ledge and chilled. We quoted movies and took a break from walking on the bridge. Then on the way back to the hotel, we ran into a parade. It was a historic parade with soldiers and drummers. Then we went to the best restaurant in Florence. We had to make reservations the night before and we are glad we did, because two people tried to eat there and was booked until 10. I split a meat platter with Drew. The platter had rabbit, duck, pork, sausage, and steak. After that, we watched England vs Russia in the Euro cup.  That was a wild game, the locals and us went nuts when Russia tied because we wanted England to win. After the game, we celebrated a classmate’s birthday. It was a good time and we met an ECU alum. We did not stay out too long because I went to Pisa the next day and the rest stayed in Florence.

Enjoying Florence

June 11, 2016
Altavilla, Italy

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Blake Coddington Hometown: Highland, MD

After four amazing weeks on the college of business trip in Italy, I am doing my best to savor the last week. Friday, June 10th, I woke up frantically thinking I missed the bus to Florence for our weekend trip. I checked the time and realized I had woken up with time to spare for once. I packed some clothes into a suitcase and then walked upstairs for the usual breakfast provided from CUOA in Altavilla Vicentina. Shortly, I realized I was feeling a tad under the weather, four weeks of minimal sleep and non-stop action had finally caught up with my body. Regardless, I was not going to let a cold hold me back from enjoying Florence. At 8:30 am the majority of the students on the trip boarded a coach bus and departed for Florence. We all arrived around noon and checked into Hotel Boccaccio. Based off prior weekend trips, the size and layout of your room will vary between fellow classmates’ rooms. Alex Walsh and I lucked out and scored a large balcony attached to our room. Our neighbor, Dr. Dellana, seemed to have wished he acquired the balcony, but these room assignments are just luck of the draw. After getting settled, five others and I explored the nearby streets and stopped for lunch. I was extremely satisfied with my order of cannelloni, which is a pasta stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese. After only being in the city for a little over an hour it became evident to look both ways before crossing the streets. Almost every street in Florence seemed to be extremely narrow, but that did not stop smart cars and street bikes from whipping around corners. After lunch, Dr. Dellana accompanied myself and few other students to view the famed leather market.

The small outdoor setups sold wallets, belts, jackets, suitcases, purses, and anything else leather had a stylish purpose for. The dynamic I found most intriguingblake coddington ks was the aspect of bargaining. Every one of these vendors would jack the price up as much as possible, which I could not blame them for. After some negotiating, I would end up at a reasonable price. Next, I would ask for five to ten euros lower then that reasonable price and walk away after he or she said no. Now, my tactics were rarely successful, but in this instance they were. I got a stylish black leather belt for twenty-eight euros. The belt was usually sold for thirty euros, so I took my two leftover euros to Edoardo’s Gelato. The gelato is delicious anywhere, but based off research and other friends who had spent time in Florence before, this was the spot to go. The store was located across the street from the Duomo (Florence Cathedral). The line was out the door and across the street and my friends and I were willing to wait. After about a forty-five minute wait I ordered a scoop of blueberry and peach gelato. It was delicious and I understood why so many Italians were willing to wait that long.

To end the night, a few other students and I sat down in a small restaurant and watched UEFA Euro match between France and Romania. Soccer is highly valued by Italians and wherever one is watching the game the surrounding atmosphere is entertaining. It was an intriguing game and France scored a game-clinching goal in the 88th minute to beat Romania two to one. A solid portion of this day was spent traveling so everyone decided to go to bed early in order to wake up with plenty of time to shop and sight see. Just like many of my days in Italy, I appreciated the leisure speed Italians live by. It is no wonder their life expectancies are much longer then Americans. Not to mention, I enjoyed writing this blog on my spacious balcony overlooking the city streets of Florence. The Italian style of living is something I could get used to.

Cooking in Italy

May 30, 2016
Altavilla, Italy

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Andrew Wall

Mondays are supposed to be the worst day of the week, but it’s hard to complain when you’re waking up for class in Italy. Waking up early is still not my favorite thing but it’s definitely worth the experience I’m getting here. Starting the day off with the classic Italian hotel breakfast took some getting used to. Back home I would start my day off with a huge plate of scrambled eggs with bacon and toast. Here they eat more simple foods and start off with a selection of croissants, meats and cheeses, and yogurts. After I got used to the change, I’ve come to love the different breakfast. It’s quicker, lighter and a lot simpler.

After our light breakfast it was time for class.  Today we didn’t have a tour or guest lecture so it was a very normal laid back day.  We had to spread out in our daily struggle to get the Wi-Fi to work but once everyone found a spot, it was back to work like usual.  We worked until 12:30 and then it was lunchtime, which is also pretty different in comparison to America.  We have a few different options around us in Altavilla from sandwich shops, pizzerias, the hotel restaurant, and the grocery store. Today I chose to go t
andrew wall hillo the grocery store.  The store here is an experience in itself. To start off, unlike the U.S. where the enter and exit doors are a mere suggestion, they take it very seriously and some doors wont even open if you try to go the wrong way.  Next, exploring any store in a foreign language is a challenge, luckily in the grocery store, you can see what things are or pretty easily guess from pictures on boxes.  A few classmates and I decided to go to the deli and get some fresh prosciutto and mozzarella.  After conversing in some part English, part Italian, and utilizing hand gestures, we were able to get ourselves
the meat and cheese.  We picked up some fresh ripe tomatoes and freshly baked bread to complete the sandwiches.After a short walk we made it back to our lovely hotel and went to the back patio to assemble our sandwich. Borrowing silverware from the hotel restaurant, we were able to cut up the tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.  Between the sunshine, sandwiches, crackers and cheese, it made for one of the best lunches I’ve ever had.

A bunch of classmates and I hung out on the patio for hours until the sun went down just listening to music and hanging out.  After that we were forced to go inside and finish up whatever homework we had due.  Everyone slowly headed up from the basement classroom and went to bed, ending the slow relaxed Monday and preparing for the guest lecture and factory tour the following day.