Pirate Nation in Florence

June 11, 2016
Florence, Italy

thomas craft headshot

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.

thomas Craft gelato

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.

thomas craft church

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

Blake Coddington headshot

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.

Day Trip to Murano

June 10, 2016
Murano, Italy

Pamela Baldwin heashot

Pamela Baldwin, Management major; Hometown: San Antonio, Texas

Every day after class, we are allowed a bit of free time.  A few of us decided to take a break from our studies and travel to Venice for the first time.  The forecast called for rain; however, this did little to deter us from our intended journey.  Some of us will be returning home at the end of next week.  Who knows if we will ever return to Italy, so why not take advantage of the opportunity? My expectations of Venice were pre-filled with images of gondolas, tourists, familiar landmarks from Hollywood film, and vintage postcards.  My main purpose for traveling to that specific region was to catch up on shopping for gifts for family and friends; and to visit Murano, a tiny island just off the Venetian coast.  Murano is famous for its hand-blown glass products.  You may have seen a few in the form of glass menageries, colorful paperweights, vases, abstract sculptures, or jewelry that resemble strung sea glass.  I was hunting for the latter.  There are different styles: millefiori, crystalline, and enameled.  I prefer the millefiori, which means “thousand-flowers”.  The style reminds me of fimo beads I used to collect for jewelry making and other craft projects.

pamela baldwin jewelry

We traveled by train from Altavilla-Tavernelle, the town where the Academia is located.  Upon arrival, the city did not disappoint.  It was beautiful, even despite the cold and wet weather that tried to ruin our moods.  We took a water taxi to Murano, which is basically a boat that travels the wider canals, ferrying people to various drop-offs throughout the city.  When we arrived at Murano, we headed straight to one of the small workshops connected to the storefronts that sell the end products to eager tourists.  It was exciting to watch the artists at work.  A master artisan and his assistant quickly shaped the molten glass into horses, a vase, and a tropical fish.  They made it look so easy.  Some of us were invited to try our hand at blowing glass bubbles, while the rest of us cheered and took pictures.  We visited the studio afterward and emptied our pockets of euros in exchange for the colorful glass adornments.

pamela baldwin canalVenice was beautiful.  The shopping, the eateries, the rush of tourists throughout Piazza San Marco in the city center, was a bit overwhelming.  Although Murano is much smaller, much slower paced, and maybe not as exciting for some, it was a wonderful place I am glad to have had a chance to visit.

Cooking in Italy

May 30, 2016
Altavilla, Italy

andrew wall headshot 2

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.


Sightseeing in Rome

June 8, 2016
Rome, Italy

Luke Paulson; Senior Construction Management major Hometown: Wilmington NC

Yesterday, at approximately 4:30 p.m. we arrived at the train station in Rome. Immediately, I was overwhelmed with the inner city rush hour. Coming out of the train station, we were thrilled to see the sun creeping out of the clouds that enhanced our initial views of the Roman architecture. After our day of travels, we decided to rest up and start the next day fresh. I woke up this morning at around nine and showered and met the gang down in the lobby. At this point in the trip, we understood there was no way all twenty of us could eat at the same location or see everything we wanted to see with such a large group. After breaking up into groups, my convoy found a quaint cafe in the heart of Rome. We were so excited to discover that they served omlettes. While we have enjoyed our complementary breakfast at CUOA, we needed a fix of an all American breakfast. Unfortunately, these omelets weren’t as hardy as anticipated. However, they held us over. With an additional shot of espresso, we were ready to hit the sights.

luke paulson church

The first sight we adventured to  was the coliseum. Maneuvering through the crowd, we got to the front of the remarkable structure. Although we did not go inside, I can assume it was breath taking. Words cannot
describe the realization of history that was before my eyes. The architecture and rich history within its walls were breathtaking to say the least.

After visiluke paulsonting the coliseum, we headed to the Pantheon. At first we didn’t realize we could access the inside because of the external beauty. Upon further investigation, we found that there was a line that looked like it could wrap around the entire city. After what felt like hours, we began to feel impatient, but we stayed nonetheless. I am confident that the wait was 100 percent worth the experience. We walked in, doing a complete circle and laps to trying to capture every bit of beauty within its walls. Needless to say, I alone couldn’t check everything out. After the trip, we decided to go to a restaurant close to the hotel due to an exhausting day of sight seeing. It was the perfect spot if you were in the mood for a quaint yet modest meal. The food was wonderful, to say the least. It was the ideal dinner to top off our first full day in the city of Rome. I cannot wait to explore the city tomorrow and indulge in its rich history.

Boating in Verona

June 6, 2016
Verona, Italy

sydney trout heashot

Sydney Trout

Studying abroad in Italy has been one of the best experiences of my life. I have met many new faces but also had the chance to share my time here with old friends. However, yesterday was one of the most eventful days of my entire life. After having class in the morning, a group of us decided to take a trip to Verona and go boating on Lake Grada. Luckily I chose to get on the boat that had a little more horsepower than the other. Even though it was an overcast day, we still had a great time. We rented out two boats and cruised up and down the lake for a couple hours. Surprisingly, the water was not cold at all. If anything, it was actually very refreshing and we had an beautiful view. Everyone was jumping off the boat and doing flips into the water. I attempted a front flip but unfortunately landed on by back; it was painful. However, I did not let that stop me from having a good time. We had music playing as we were all in the lake and had a big dance party on our boats.

Eventually, it was time to head back to shore and get on the train to Altsydney trout swanavilla. This is when the day took a drastic turn. While purchasing my ticket for the train, I turned around and noticed something was off. I saw one of our classmates on the ground clenching his hand and a pool of blood surrounding him. Everyone was panicking and was not quite sure what had just happened. One of my other classmates took his shirt and applied pressure to stop the bleeding. We frantically looked for someone who had service to assist us in calling for help. Shortly after, an ambulance arrived and picked up our wounded friend. His hand had a severe gash and we later found out that he had torn a ligament and needed surgery.


Just when I thought the day was over, after everything that had happened we found out that we had missed the last train. We thought that we were not going to be back in time in order to meet ousydney trout watert 11 PM curfew and decided to get a cab ride back to our hotel. It was pretty expensive but in the end we were all glad that our classmate was okay and in good hands.  Despite the tragic event that occurred during the end of our trip I was glad I had the opportunity to spend most of my day on the lake.  It was a breathtaking site and I definitely want
to go back again before we leave to go home. Italy has surprised me in so many ways and continues to everyday. Pictures do not do most of the sites I have seen any justice.  I am glad I have been given the opportunity to experience life in a different culture for 5 weeks. It has been a trip I will never forget.

Italian Heritage

June 7, 2016
Altavilla, Italy

Gregory Nardo headshot

Greg Nardo; Management major Hometown: Swansboro NC

I come from Italian lineage; my paternal great grandparents made the voyage from Italy through Ellis Island in the early 1900’s and settled in South Philadelphia.  Growing up I was close to my paternal grandparents and spent a lot of time around them.  With this being the case, it is rather evident that the Italian culture, mannerisms, and history are important to me.  My grandfather always promised he would take me back to his “homeland” and, additionally, he is my greatest role model.  So it goes without saying that studying abroad in Italy for these 16 days are an incredible experience to me.


To this dategreg nardo rome, the 7th day of June, 2016 I have walked the streets of Rome, I have been inside Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Pantheon, walked the steps of Capital Hill, and experienced the Ice Bar Roma.  I have ridden the Frecciarossa through the beautiful landscape of the Italian countryside from Rome to Vicenza, then to AltaVilla.  I toured the original Ducati plant, Borgo Panigale, in Bologna and then came back to our quaint village that same night to the most delectable homemade Italian meal in th
e hillside—the views were breathtaking.  It is only my fourth day here in Italia, but I already have enough memories of this amazing place and my incredible classmates to last a life time.  In the next two weeks my feet will touch the grounds of Florence, Cinque Ter
re and it’s accompanying islands, Milan, and hopefully Venice.  Today I, along
with some of my closest friends here, are renting boats on Lake Garda.  Needless to say I will enjoy some local wine from the Veneto region we are living in as we ride.


The only detracting fgreg nardo rome 2actor of this trip is the poor Wi-Fi—but I can live without that.  Trips to the local grocery store and small sandwich shop across from the college are experiences in themselves.  I have to thank my mother and father for their financial support for this trip; they are incredible.  My father is 100% Italian and even he hasn’t yet experienced his second home.  I wish I could literally pour all of my emotions and feelings into this writing so another could experience the effects this trip is having on my soul.  Italy is amazing; a beautiful country with beautiful people and beautiful style of life.  I will close this blog with the Italian word for beautiful; bello.

Surprise in Vatican City

June 5, 2016
Altavilla, Italy

jessma thomas

Jessma Thomas; Senior Accounting Major Hometown: Morrisville, NC

Today was special. Last night, my roommate and I researched and found out that mass was going to be served in St. Peter’s Square. One of our friends had gotten tickets for this mass earlier but we weren’t able to get any because it was too late. Nonetheless, we figured that we would still go because it would be amazing to attend mass in St. Peter’s. We woke up early in the morning on Sunday and took a bus to the Vatican. We then walked to St. Peter’s Square, went through security and saw that there was a huge crowd right in front of the St. Peter’s Basilica. We were a bit late but I was taken back by the number of people there trying to attend the mass. To my surprise, Pope Francis was the one saying mass today. I knew that there was going to be a Sunday mass and the Pope was going to bless the crowd but had no idea that it was going to be the Pope serving mass today. I was absolutely in awe at the fact that I looking at the Pope with my own two eyes. To say the least, this experience made my entire Rome trip worth it.


jessma thomas pope 1

The motorcade of Pope Francis

jessma pope 2

St. Peter’s Square










Soon after the mass was done, the crowd started getting wild. I was confused on what they were all getting so excited about but it turned out that Pope Francis was going to be going down the aisle to greet the people. At this point, I couldn’t hold in the excitement myself. In fact, my face was starting to hurt from smiling so much. Moments later, it happened. It was absolutely one of the best moments of my entire life. Pope Francis drove by me and I am 99% sure that we made eye contact as he waved to the crowd. He actually drove by pretty close to me because I had a good spot by the railing. I will never forget this special moment.Looking back, I realize how incredible it was for other people who were able to share this unforgettable experience with me. There were thousands of people from all over the world who were there for the same reason as me, united regardless of the language we speak or color of our skin; united under our faith. Today was a blessing.

Rome’s Treasures

June 4, 2016
Rome, Italy

Jacob Souva

Jake Souva; MBA student

I freely admit, I can’t keep up with the undergrads as well as I used to be able to. In case any of you are wondering, your body peaks at twenty, and the decline is rapid. Rome is an amazing place, but it will kick your butt (and feet, for that matter). A little background on me: My name is Jacob Souva (Jake), and I’m a 23 year old MBA student with the study abroad program in Italy for five weeks. By the morning of the 4th, I had slept about twelve hours in the past three days, but I was ecstatic that I had gotten a solid five hours the night before, and had walked around fifteen miles in the previous day. Needless to say, my energy levels were comically low.To start the morning, Patrick Umberger and I had booked advance tickets to tour the Vatican Museum at 11:30, so we met up at ten and took a cab to there rather than trying to figure out the bus system before espresso. Patrick and I went to get some breakfast outside the museum before our reservation since we were running early, and after 3 weeks here, I finally had a warm breakfast of bacon and eggs. I’ve noticed that as I study abroad, we all seek some form of reminders of home, and while the Italians haven’t quite figured out how to do hash browns, this was perfect.

Jacob Souva food

We progressed to our reservation at 11:30, and ran into our classmates at the entrance to the exhibits and joined up for the remainder of the visit.  The Vatican museum was absolutely incredible. The exhibits of ancient artifacts were stunning, and ranged from marble statues, to paintings, a mummy, and even tapestries. While walking through it, one cannot help but first notice the building itself and the rooms are perhaps the most breathtaking of all.Towards the end of the museum, we arrived at the Sistine Chapel. I’m not an artsy man, but you cannot help but to stand in awe at the magnificence of it. I cannot begin to explain the impact it has upon you, nor will I attempt to butcher the experience, except to say that it almost brought me to tears.

While the rest of the group I was with went to see St. Peter’s Basilica, I  left the group in favor of spending time in the hotel to rest and take care of homework. As a note to other students reading this and looking at potentially considering this trip in the future, do NOT take an online class separate from the study abroad program. The deadlines do not always line up well with your schedule, but also the Wi-Fi abroad is lacking at best. After dinner, we came across an establishment that was explicitly for students, and catered to English speaking students in particular. The overwhelming feeling was that this was preferable, not for the specials or how lively it could become, but rather to be surrounded by the familiarity of those who spoke your own language. Many students there were with groups that were not directly from American universities, and one girl was ecstatic because nobody in her study abroad program spoke English. Five weeks away from your loved ones and the comforts of home is rough, but the little things, like an American breakfast, are what make it bearable.

When in Rome

June 2, 2016
Rome, Italy

Stephanie Pares headshot

Stephanie Pares

Yesterday morning, I woke up extra excited because it was finally the day that we were all traveling to Rome! It was a holiday in Italy so my two classmates and I, along with one of our professors, woke up at six in the morning in order to catch the bus because it was on a different schedule. We then made it to the train station in Vicenza and made our way to our first stop, Padova, and then soon boarded the high-speed train to make the three hour ride to Rome.Once we arrived in Rome, we had the challenge of locating our hotel while also carrying all our luggage through the streets and being cautious of the many people who pick pocket the entire way. We were lucky enough to have a hotel provided for us that was on a main street with many restaurants and shops and was in the center of all the famous tourist sites. Once we made it to the hotel, we were able to check in to our rooms and freshen up before we headed out to explore the streets of Rome.

Since we took an earlier train, we arrived before the majority of the other students so my classmates and I ventured off to see more of the city we would be calling home for the next three days. Our first stop was a café that offered Wi-Fi so that we could fuel up and plan our next move. We were excited for all the shopping Rome had to offer so we walked up and down the streets browsing all the many European clothing stores. Through all the long walking, we found ourselves amongst a giant crowd of people at the Trevi fountain. It has always been my dream to see the beautiful fountain and toss a coin in after making a wish and after yesterday, I was finally able to cross that off my bucket list.

stephanie pares fountain

Trevi fountain in Rome, Italy.

After all the walking and familiarizing ourselves with the city, we decided to walk back to the hotel to get some rest and charge our phones. We made it back to the hotel and were surprised to see that the rest of our classmates had finally arrived! We were all so excited to be able to experience Rome, so we quickly made it back out on the streets to go looking for a restaurant where we could all eat and share our traveling adventures from that day. The restaurants in Rome are much smaller, so we had to split up since no one could accommodate all 28 of us at once; however, the food definitely made up for it. Once dinner was over, we all made our way back to the hotel and joined each other on the balcony of the top floor where we hung out and enjoyed the amazing views of the city at night. We all just stood in silence while we took it all in realized how lucky we were to have this opportunity of traveling to Rome.

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