Beautiful fashion, men and seashores

I have a serious case of pre-spring-break-itis, BUT my Macbook came back to life, so I should probably catch up on this thing in case I lose her again.

I’m still not sure what happened. First, the screen died; then, the computer did. I freaked out for about 10 days, tried to suppress the stress while my parents were here and figured out the bus/train schedule to get to the closest Apple store. I wasn’t too concerned about the laptop itself, but I was crushed that I might lose every photo I’ve taken over here. (Moral: Don’t leave your external hard drive 4,500 miles away!) The day I planned to take it to the store in I Gigli, Lydia told me to try turning it on one last time. I said no, I’d already tried every day for a week, and she shouldn’t get my hopes up. Well, we all know what happened next. I pressed the power button, whispered “please, please, please” with all the optimism I could manage, and sure enough, it started chugging away — whirling and working its little laptop butt off to turn on. It was kinky and slow for a day, and the trackpad didn’t work for a few days, but now it’s totally fine. My parents brought me my external hard drive, so I backed it up immediately. I’m hoping it just needed a really long nap.

Meanwhile, I took day-cations to Milan and Cinque Terre.

Friday in Milan was one of our three CCI class field trips. We went with Fabio and Francesca (two of our professors) and Marzio Fatucchi (an Italian newspaper journalist who visited our class). After taking a subway into the city center, Marzio took us to breakfast — the standard Italian quick gulp of caffé — and gave us a tour of Corriere della Sera, which is like the New York Times of Italy. I was struck by the quality of journalism, especially the displays of photojournalism. Another professor, who is also a local broadcast journalist, has made comments about American journalism being better than Italian journalism, so I had low expectations. I was happy to be wrong.

I even spoke to Fabio, Francesca and Marzio about internship possibilities. Two problems: my Italian is mediocre at best, and paid internships don’t exist in Italy. I want so badly to stay through the summer, and I was even getting into the process (I received an offer from an English paper in Florence and found a family to live with), but I would have to take out a loan to afford another three months, and that seems too irresponsible when I have a paid offer in the States. Part of me wants to say, “screw it; you only live once,” but another part of me is poor. I’m beginning to make those grown-up decisions and sacrifices based on money, and it kind of breaks my heart because I’m such an advocate for forgetting the paycheck and doing what makes you happy. I guess I’ll just have to come back. I know so many people say that and never do, but I also know I really will. Best case scenario: my job will fund my travels. 🙂

After Corriere della Sera, we visited Libreria Feltrinelli, which is like the Barnes & Noble of Italy. A woman from corporate lectured us for about an hour. She had the best intentions, but she was so, so boring. We were all itching to escape and return to shopping in the fashion capital of Italy, but by the time she was finished, we had to hurry to catch our train.

We were able to shop and sight-see during our lunch break between the two visits, but I wish we had more time! I tried on some beautiful outfits at a few local stores, and then felt silly for not going to play in Gucci or Prada. I also saw dozens of the most beautiful and well-dressed men I’ve ever seen in my life. I might return with Kate and her parents the Sunday after my birthday, but I’m scared I’ll blow the rest of my money. Somehow I managed to spend less than €20 while I was there.

Duomo di Milano (notice the H&M ad on the side)

City center shopping

Editors’ meeting room of Corriere della Sera

Famous front pages

I was bummed that Milan was such a quick trip, but I guess it was a blessing in disguise because I spent Saturday in the most stunning Italian cities yet: Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre means five lands. It’s an area on the coastline west of Florence, made up of five tiny towns connected by foot paths and two-minute train rides. Unfortunately, all but one foot paths were closed because of damage from October mudslides. Fortunately, that one was the famous and scenic Via dell’Amore, or Walk of Love.

I must have a thing for rocks because I got the same giddy, “this can’t be real” feelings I had in Interlaken. I was happy to be with Erika (for the first trip since Interlaken) because, like me, she wanted to break rules, hop a few fences and climb as many rocks as possible. Yelena is afraid of heights, so she snapped photos from the sidelines.

We walked, climbed and admired thousands of notes and trinkets left by lovers. We saw beautiful beaches and breathtaking cliffs spotted with pink, yellow and green homes. It was a pure, simple and happy day. The sun was even warm enough for me to take off my jacket for the first time.

Along Via dell’Amore

There were thousands of “locks of love” and other trinkets left by lovers along the length of the path.

Of course, we had to stop here for a glass of wine.

Sweet raisin wine of Cinque Terre (this tiny glass cost €8… because they can)

We signed our names on a “graffiti wall” along the path. It was more like a graffiti cave, and there were thousands of drawings and names. I took pictures of every “Jessica” I saw (which ended up being a dozen) as well as funny phrases and names of my friends. I even found a “Jessica W,” which was in a heart with “Chris M.” Foreshadowing…?

Here, I was having another one of those “wow” moments. The more I travel, the more normal it becomes. Tickets, train rides, hostels and itineraries become part of a routine, and sometimes I lose sight of where I am — and how amazing it is that I’m here. I love having moments that snap me out of it — or into it, really. Although all of this has become normal in a way, I still can’t quite grasp the reality of it all. I have new moments of disbelief but gratefulness with each new place.

I always wonder if the people who live in these places feel the same way.


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