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Day 1 of Orientation Weekend: Cortona & Arezzo, Toscana

This weekend, myself and my peers (all 180+ of us) hopped on four busses headed to Tuscany. Never in my entire life did I expect so much beauty condensed into three days of absolute perfection. We started off the weekend in Cortona a small village located on a Tuscan hilltop. As I walked through the village of amber colored plaster houses built along winding cobblestone roads, I couldn’t help but take in the warmth I was surrounded by. The soft amber color of the houses mixed with the sun’s golden reflection created a mood that rivaled even the most beautiful American sunset. Did I mention the view was amazing? Cortona was on the top of a huge hill, allowing us to see a magnificent view of rural Italy, one I will never forget.

After touring Cortona, we hopped on our bus and headed to Villa Petrischio for wine tasting and lunch, possibly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. Our Associate Dean of Students, Cynthia Bomben, really hooked us up with the location. As I ran around the villa with a group of friends, glasses of delicious red wine in tow, I couldn’t help but experience one of those “I can’t believe this is actually happening” moments.

Villa Petrischio

After an enormous lunch on the terrace of villa, we headed for Arezzo. For those of you who don’t know me, La Vita E Bella, directed by Roberto Benigni, is one of my favorite movies. When I learned that the movie was filmed in the town of Arezzo, I couldn’t help but feel like I accomplished something extraordinary. The town was beautiful, no doubt about it, but knowing that I was in the place where a movie that defined a generation was filmed really struck me. After another delicious dinner (did I mention that meals here consist of 5+ courses?) a few friends and I headed into the town’s center to check out some nightlife. One would think that a small town like Arezzo was fairly quiet, however, as I quickly learned after stumbling across the towns TWO piazzas, it was not. Believe it or not, Arezzo’s youth population is huge! The moment we entered the square, we were not tourists, but rather a part of Arezzo.


Day 2: Anghiari & Sansepolcro, Toscana

We got to sleep in on this day, and by sleeping in I mean we woke up at 9AM. We headed for Anghiari, another hilltop village in Tuscany. Here we had the opportunity to explore on our own. Anghiari was everything I thought a Tuscan village would be. While famous films and other forms of media create idealizations of these Tuscan cities, one never gets the full effect of these cities until actually there. This town was definitely chill; we only had 2 hours to explore, so we took it easy, starting off with some cappuccinos and zeppoles (Italian donuts) and then meandering through the city, entranced in its simplistic beauty.

The town of Sansepolcro, however, was my favorite of all the cities we visited. As a Peruvian citizen, I am used to culture of all forms getting thrown at me in all forms without my looking for it. Every time I go visit, I’m constantly surrounded by physical manifestations of Peru, whether it be the food, dance, music, etc. Coming to Rome I didn’t experience too much of that, surprisingly, but Sansepolocro was everything I wanted out of an Italian city. We went on a good day, because it was the start of the cross-bow competition, a local tradition dating back to the sixteenth century.

Fun story: I wandered through the city with Fathers Al & Ted, and we stopped at a small cafe for a coke when I was jolted by the sounds of trumpets and drums. When I turned around, one of the families competing in the crossbow competition was parading down one of the cobblestone laden streets, dressed in traditional Spanish medieval costumes. Breathtaking.

Back to the hotel, and another great night’s sleep.


Day 3: Lago Trasimeno

This day was the shortest of all three, but the most relaxing. After piling into our buses, we headed to Il Lago Trasimeno located in Umbria for a boat tour of the town of Tuoro. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really listen to the tour guide because the lake and the surrounding scenery was unlike any I’d ever seen. There was a good number of small islands with castles surrounded by thick woods. There really aren’t many words to describe how beautiful this was, so I’ll define the beauty in one picture:

Il Lago Trasimeno, in all its glory. Possibly my favorite picture that I’ve ever taken.

After the boat cruise, we headed to a local restaurant overlooking the lake. After some delicious Pro Secco, we gorged ourselves with an endless variety of Italian foods: pastas, vegetables, meats, and of course, wine. One of our teachers, Sanders Evers, gave an awesome toast celebrating everyone that had brought us here (it took almost 9 minutes). It was honestly the happiest I had been in a very long time.

The bus ride back was hysterical to say the least. Shout out to the Yellow Russ Bus & the beautiful Susanna Cavallo for never ending entertainment in the form of La Onda Latina and some serious salsa dancing. Cheers friends.

PS: Tomorrow I have my first on-site class. When I skyped my friends and told them I was having class at the Vatican tomorrow, I couldn’t help but smile a little.

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