Ciao again from Tuscany! I'm sitting out in front of Il Castello, a beautiful, ivy coated hotel at the end of the main cobblestoned street in Certaldo Alto. Jazz music is trickling from the open doors, and my cappuccino sits beside me, enjoying the leisurely morning perhaps as much as I am. Life is a slow, wonderful pace here. No one is in a rush- their life and their health revolves around their rituals of caffe, community, and good food. I love it.
We just returned from two days in Cinque Terre, which are a set of 5 (cinque) seaside towns on the upper west coast of Italy. Connected by train, the tiny towns are built into the side of nearly sheer rock faces that jut proudly from the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean. The bright colors and friendly residents draw vacationers not only from abroad, but from within Italy- it is one of the most beloved places to go enjoy the beach, and I can certainly understand why. Between the commercial beaches where you can rent a kayak or paddle board for as little as €5, to the hidden stony shores that you can only access by hiking, Cinque Terre is a glorious treasure trove of picturesque adventures.
I celebrated my 22nd birthday on Monday- thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday! I was so touched by the love extended across the ocean to me. I adore living in Italy, but it does ache a bit when holidays come along and I don't get to spend them with my family. My dear roommate made up for it, though. Between snorkeling through the Mediterranean, attempting (and failing miserably) to do yoga on a paddle board, spending far too much money on cute clothes in a Tom and Donna "treat yo self" rampage, and sampling signature Italian liqueur, I had very little time available to pine away for my friends and family back in the states. It was a wonderful day, and I was blown away again by how blessed I am to live the life I do. Every day I get to wake up and look out over terra-cotta rooftops and see the sun light up the Tuscan landscape. I get to walk the cobblestoned streets and drink coffee (that's significantly better and less expensive than the swill Starbucks peddles back home). I get to sit in on amazing classes like Italian, yoga, book arts, metal design... I get to hang out with students and see the excitement and awe in their eyes as they experience Italy for the first time. My life is really an absolute dream, and I pray every day that I never take for granted the unique privilege I have to live the adventure I do.
We head to Lucca next, but we have a few days in Certaldo to soak up the town and rest from our two weeks of traveling. Boccaccesca, a celebration honoring the Italian writer Boccaccio who lived in Certaldo, is next weekend, and I can't wait to wander around the many food and wine stands that will line the streets of Certaldo Alto. Until then, I think I'll finish my coffee and enjoy the quiet.
PS. I just booked tickets for a 4 day adventure through England and Scotland for our fall break. If anyone has any tips for where I should go in the Edinburgh/Glasgow area, please let me know!!