Italy Recap (Part 2): Concamarise + Northern Adventures

As I prepare to leave for school next week, I'm still looking back on pictures from my Italy trip and wondering how it could be possible that just a week ago I was sitting in an arena watching "Madame Butterfly" in Verona. While Rome was beautiful, there's something about being in the countryside that gives you a totally new perspective.

Here's a quick recap on my week in the Northern Italian countryside:

The Villa: Our villa was located in the tiny town of Concamarise, just a 40 minute drive outside of Verona. And when I say tiny, I mean tiny. The one major restaurant there was a Mexican place. We went on our first night just to check it out, and it was absolutely hopping. I swear the entire town was at the restaurant. The food was OK, but nothing compared to the tex-mex you can get in the states.

The villa itself was arguably the biggest building in the whole town. In fact, the town revolves around the dairy farm that the villa was located on. That being said, we legitimately had cows on our property. And cats. And peacocks. Pretty crazy stuff. But this villa was no farmhouse- it was a beautiful, old building filled with antiques. My favorite part? The pool. I loved eating breakfast there every morning.

Venice: A vacation in Italy wouldn't be complete without a day-trip to Venice of course! The endless crowds and ridiculously priced souvenirs aside, Venice really is a beautiful place. We had great weather for visiting the city- sunny and nearly 80 degrees! First, we visited St. Marks basilica and skipped the line, of course! It was truly a stunning space (tip: if you're planning to visit any place of worship in Italy, always bring a shawl to cover your bare shoulders if you're a woman- it's required).

After a quick look inside and some shopping, we did the super-touristy thing and took a gondola ride! I thought it would have been cheesy, but it was incredibly fun. Plus, the gondolier gave us a little history lesson, too! If you're planning on going on a Gondola ride in Venice, the best thing to do is get on in a one of the side canals and ask the gondolier to bring you along the quieter routes. That way, you won't have to deal with the crazy crowds.     

Soave: Easily one of the best parts of the entire trip. We visited Cantina di Soave, a winery in the town of Soave, and went on a very informative tour followed by a fantastic wine tasting. Shout out to our amazing tour guide, Marco, who taught me everything I need to know about wine- this was my first wine tour being of age! We took the tour and tasting with a family from the Netherlands who were also on vacation. Five glasses of wine and many snacks later, everyone was best friends. The wine was seriously tasty- especially the dessert wine.

Padua: Basically the Italian version of Cambridge, Padua is a thriving college-centric city. We visited with my mom's penpal and her husband whose daughter went to the University there for a year. We visited a few churches and did a lot of wandering around. Padua was definitely one of my favorite cities. The architecture was just brilliant and the city was so lively. The best part? Stopping for drinks in the big square- apperol spritz for me, of course!

Verona:  Out of any city we visited, Verona was the one we spent the most time in. Yes, there's a replica of Juliette's balcony (though I suppose it's not a replica since she really didn't exist), but the famous romance of Romeo and Juliette isn't the only reason to see fair Verona. Verona has a lot to offer in terms of food- there are many non-touristy places to eat. But it also has a large marketplace, great shopping, and tons of good people-watching spots. I met up with two friends from home in the city. Together, we window-shopped, ate apricots straight out of the box, and enjoyed some cocktails. Seeing friends in foreign countries is the best!

Oh, and let's not forget about the opera! My mom was very gung-ho about seeing the opera at the big stadium- think, the Colosseum in its glory days. We saw "Madame Butterfly," which was beautiful, but also a bit strange, since it's an opera about Americans and Japanese and is sung in Italian. Talk about a melting pot. Here's a good tip if you ever find yourself at the opera in Verona- buy the seat pads and read the synopsis beforehand!

Now it's just a few more days until I finally leave. Home feels a bit lonely now that all of my friends are gone away to college, so I think it's about time that I head off.

Until next time!

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