The Tuscan Life and the Final Stretch

Ooh, boy – are classes heating up! It’s hard to believe that we have a little over a month left in the semester; you can definitely tell by the amount of homework that’s piling on. I feel like group projects and final papers are being thrown at me left and right! However, it’s nothing I can’t handle – but it is hard to resist the rising temperatures and sun outside!

This past weekend, we escaped our work for a night with the API Tuscany Excursion. Every moment of the trip was beautiful – even the bus ride!

Tuscany Image 1

On our first day, we started in Siena, home of Palio horse race. The town was quite hilly and provided us a good leg workout while touring the cute little streets. I had heard about the Siena horse race before, but I never knew that it was a competition between different sections of the city. Our tour guide informed us that Siena is divided into seventeen contradas, or wards, each represented by a flag with the contrada’s colors and animal. Each contrada has one horse in the race, and whichever horse wins the 90-second sprint, the owning contrada earns control of the city for the next year.

After Siena, we stopped at a thermal bath – something I never expected to do while in Italy! The thermal baths we visited were used for rejuvenation by locals – including a lot of couples. Spa-goers could relax in the outdoor hot-pool for as long as they like, soaking in the sulfur-enriched water as well as the beautiful surrounding countryside.

Tuscany Image 2

Next stop was Castiglion Fiorentino, a small college town, where we spent the night after a nice hotel dinner.

The next morning we were off to Cortona: the small town on a cliff where “Under the Tuscan Sun” was filmed. My God, I have never seen such a cute town! Our walking tour took us through the quiet residential areas on the upper side of the hill that Cortona occupied and left us at the more touristy bottom of the town. We ended with a beautiful overlook of all of Tuscany – it was absolutely breathtaking!

Our final stop was at a vineyard located next to a castle. We started with a tour of the wine cellars and ended with a wine-tasting and light antipasto dinner. We learned the art of the swirl and sniff with two different red wines, or vini rossi. They were both quite good, and the wine tasting instructor even serenaded us as we sipped! It was a great end to an amazing trip.

Tuscany Image 3

Now it’s back to the books for me! At least I have the beautiful views of Cortona to dream of as I study the day away!

Ali Bozzuto is a student at Skidmore College and an official API Student Blogger.  Ali is studying with API in Florence, Italy.

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