Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tuscany: Part 1 (see? more chapter blogs)

Miss me? I know you did! So this blog post is going to function much like the one about Florence did: Multiple parts. When you spend so much time being awesome, it's hard to condense things into a single servings. So tough it out and read the chapter version.

Then again, if you want the "Spark Notes" version, I can't deny you that advantage. So here you go.

"Kelsey went to Tuscany. It was awesome."

The end.

See how boring that was? Cheaters never win.

Now that little bit is over, I'll actually tell you dedicated readers what went down this weekend. Why? Because you're awesome. So let's do that.

We left Friday morning-met all of the other SAI persons at the same Piazza that we met at for the farm adventure. To be clear, this was an adventure that was nearly entirely paid for by the study abroad program (there will likely be a separate post about that which is not covered) that I'm with.  So that's pretty sweet.

So we load up on the buses, luggage and all, and head out to the town of Bolsena. This is the sight of the largest volcanically formed crater lake in Europe. So we stopped, and had a little bit of lunch right on the lake (pretty!), then went over to the actual boat tour there.  Jump in a boat (I'm on a boat!) and take a little tour of the massive lake. This is not only huge, but it has two 'private islands' (Bisentina and Martana) (aren't you impressed I know this? Just kidding. I looked it up again), and some pretty spectacular scenery. So props to you Lake Bolsena.

We then jumped off the boat (on to land. No matter how many times I really wanted to jump into the water and sing 'Under the Sea'.) and walked around the town which included a tour of the local basilica and the catacombs. This basilica is founded for the Saint Christina. This is the paraphrased/mostly right history of the basilica: Christina lived in the middle ages and the town was worshiping Roman gods, but she was a practicing Christian. Her family got mad and tried to kill her in various ways including tying a very large rock around her neck and throwing her into the pretty lake that we all just had a dandy time on. Well instead of dragging her to the bottom, the rock miraculously held her afloat by letting her stand on it. This rock is now in part of the church and there are two very distinct little foot prints on it. She was eventually killed, but her body is entombed in the catacombs now. The second miracle of this church is that when a priest was kind of doubtful about the whole 'body and blood of Christ' in the Eucharist bit, when he was serving mass, he broke the bread and blood poured out of the host. The Pope showed up and said, hey, this must be a miracle, and established a feast day. The rocks of the alter that were stained by the blood are also on display in the church. What a nifty little history lesson. So we looked around there (remind me, at some point to post a little mini rant about how you should and should not treat artwork in a religious space... or any space for that matter. It can go under the filing: things people shouldn't do.) and eventually headed to the catacombs.

Now if you're creeped out by the whole dead thing, then maybe this isn't the gig for you. For those of you who are morbidly fascinated, come on down.  In this particular catacomb, there's evidence of more than 1,000 burials-most of which have been excavated. Now they just look like empty shelves with very narrow walkways between things. So the floor's a little uneven, and the air's a little damp, what do you mean you were always scared in Indiana Jones? (Anything but snakes. Which was a real question at one point this weekend.) But it was still awesome right? Right.

Then we all came back up to the surface and headed to the bus so that we could finally make it to our resort/hotel/where we were staying place.

HOLY CRAP. This place was gorgeous. None of what I say is an understatement. We're talking built practically into the hill with dozens of little condo/houses and all leading down to the natural mineral hot springs that are naturally heated by the volcanic activity underneath. Winner. (More on all of that later-like tomorrow).  So we unload our stuff, hang out, eat at the church on property (4 courses and good) (there were cakes), and back to the room to chill. Being out away from all the light pollution, the country girl in me got going and I demanded that we all go outside in sweatshirts (they were actually needed-yay!) and look at the stars.

Probably the best part of that day. Seeing 2 shooting stars, doing cartwheels with Molly, and laughing with friends. It was absolutely amazing. I can't make this kind of bliss up. Not humanly possible. It's just not. But we laughed until we couldn't stand the chill and then went inside and went to bed. All full of dreams about tomorrow and horseback riding.

Yep, that's what we like to call a cliff hanger. So tune in tomorrow to figure out what the perfect day in Tuscany looks like! I'll try and post pictures soon too.

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