Adventure of a Lifetime

Before coming to Italy I never imagined I could have gotten as much as I have from this experience. Not only have I grown as a student but found out so much about myself. Not to toot my own horn but, I am very impressed. Not only do I truly enjoy and appreciate art and history but I am much more independent and stronger than I ever realized. I never would have believed that in three weeks I would develop a true passion for all types of art, attend and enjoy an Opera and feel an earthquake.

I would recommend this trip to anyone especially if it is your first trip to Europe. There really is no better way!  We definitely had the best experience by having basically a personal tour guide for Milan and Florence and then the freedom to explore and do things on our own on the weekends. I learned so much about different forms of art and the quality of art. There is no comparison to what I have learned in these three weeks to what I could learn in a year in the classroom back home. I can say with confidence that I can go to an art gallery and say something about a piece of artwork and tell if it is quality.  And of course the food—It has been beyond amazing!

I pity my family and friends as I will be talking about everything I have seen, done and eaten for a very long time! However, if I am to be completely honest I must say that I haven’t gotten a little homesick. The bright side was I could always count on the class instruction to pick me up and give me something to look forward to. Who would have thought going to class would be the easiest and comforting part about this adventure.  We were so lucky to have these educated Milan women teach our class and show us the best of the best of places to go.  They both have an incredible amount of knowledge and patience that has made this trip unforgettable.   I really will miss them the next 12 days as my friends and I travel alone to Cinque Terre and Rome.

Another treasure I will return with is lifelong friendships. I have made so many wonderful memories with my group that will never be forgotten. Although we are all very different our personalities really complemented each other. Each of them are fun, kind, intelligent and I knew they always had my back!  I hope Dr. Snow, Juliana, and Monica can say that we set the bar high this year.

I must close by thanking Juliana and Monica for opening my eyes and heart to their beautiful city.  No one could have done a better job of educating this little Southern Girl to art, architecture and the Italian spirit.  Thank you Dr. Snow for leading the group and especially taking me to my first Opera.  It was amazing!  There is no doubt that Italy will always have a special place in my heart. Molte grazie!

Amazing Friends

Amazing Friends

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Great times, Good people & Lifelong memories!

It’s hard to believe today is the last day! Italy for me, has been very life changing. If I had never came, I wouldn’t have made life long friendships with my group. We had 9 people that came on this trip and now this people are called my “Italian Family”. Its crazy how 9 strangers came together and now are so close. We all share something special that we will ALL remember for the rest of our lives. At times we would have little fusses but we always had each others back and looked out for one another. Getting around Europe was extremely difficult at times but also very easy at others. Surprisingly, there are tons of English speakers and also several Americans.  This world is so big but it quickly becomes  small when you run into people from Clemson! Sounds crazy I know, but it really did happen. Living in the big city of Milan taught us all several things. I learned to always carry your metro pass because without it, you can not get around the city. Second, your in ITALY so don’t let little problems get to you because your only here for a short amount of time.. Live it up! Third, don’t let the fact that your feet hurt or being tired get in the way of stopping you from going out and exploring on your on because remember, 3 weeks fly by!
Our Italian teachers were absolutely amazing at their jobs. These two women seemed as if they knew everything in the world. You could ask them almost anything about a piece of artwork and they could tell you everything. They were both interesting at all times and seemed to truly care about us. In the down time from walking to site to site, they would sometimes have personal conversations to try to get to know you better. My favorite adventure with them was when we all went on top of the Duomo in Milan. When you reach this top you get this feeling of amazement that only you can experience. Our group was very lucky to have Monica and Juliana. Without them I would not appreciate art as much as I do now.
Overall this experience was amazing. I honestly could type for days and tell you how much I learned or how much fun we had. Now that we are all going our separate ways I look back and have no regrets. We all have learned so much about art and about ourselves. I learned how to push myself when needed to be pushed, help others out in time of need, never get angry or mad because this is your family while you’re here, stay positive, always smile and last but not least is.. Have fun because this is a trip you will never forget!


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Final Thoughts

This trip has been absolutely life changing, in the best possible way. Since I’ve been here I’ve made friends that I most likely would have not made otherwise. We all have this bond of having traveled to a foreign country and only having ourselves and each other to rely on, and that’s something that’s hard to emulate. I’ve realized that it really is a small world, after all. We’ve met plenty of people from South Carolina, which is really strange, and comforting at the same time. I’ve also learned that it’s a big world as well. There are so many people in the world that are different from you. They have different backgrounds. Different hopes, dreams and lives. I also learned that my problems really are significant when it comes to the grand scheme of things. We don’t have the same level of poverty, at least in South Carolina, as what we saw in Milan, (which still isn’t much, but still, seeing it just on the steps of the metro is a culture shock compared to where we’re from.) It’s strange being in Italy and checking your email or going on Facebook and seeing someone else talk about their little problems, when you realize you’re halfway across the world and there are so many important things going on. Italy doesn’t even have a political government at the moment, and in America, we’re worried about whether or not to legalize gay marriage. It just shows you a totally different side of the world, literally. If I’d known what this trip would have given me in terms of life experience, I wouldn’t have worried so much about the stress of getting my passport or making sure I had the right power adapter. You have to learn that the world is so much bigger than you and the circle of people you associate yourself with back at home. In Florence I learned that as Americans, we’re really lucky to have a language that is spoken by so many across the world. I don’t know what I would have done, had that not been the case. In a way, it affords us a sense of entitlement that many times, we take advantage of without really thinking about before we utilize it. Looking back on this trip, I just know I’m happy to have been a part of it and wouldn’t have shared it it with anyone else than those who I shared it with. It’s been a blast.

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Last weekend in Italy spent in ROME! / What I’ve learned

Sadly this was my last weekend in Italy. So we spent it the best way possible in ROME!

Friday morning Laura, Brandon, Ashley R., and I got up early and hopped on a train headed to Rome. When we bought our tickets we decided to take the slow train because the price was SOOO much cheaper. Well the slow train took 6 hours to get us there but it really wasn’t that bad. We had plenty of leg room and we all chatted for a while and took naps.

We arrived in Rome around 1:30 or so and headed straight to the hotel to check in and drop off our luggage. The hotel was great! It was in the perfect place near the Spanish steps and the Trevi Fountain! After dropping off our stuff we headed out and grabbed a bite to eat then got on the metro going toward the Colosseum! We took good ol’ Rick’s advise and got the ROMA PASS! Best decision ever!

The Roma Pass let us completely skip the line at the Colosseum. And boy was it worth it! The Colosseum is so much more amazing in person than in pictures! There is nothing in this world like it! It is so ginormous! Words truly cannot describe hope epic it was to see!

After that we saw the Arch of Constantine. I just can’t comprehend how the Roman’s built all of this stuff! Everything is just so massive! Including the remains in the Roman Forum where we went next. I could have spent an entire day there! Its so big and had great views of the city! However, daylight was waning and we had more to see so we moved forward on our journey!

Next stop the Pantheon! But first gelato time! Sadly gelato time took just a few minutes too long and we arrived 20 minutes after they closed. lol. No worries though. We still got to see the outside and all of its amazingness!

From there we decided we should start heading back towards our hotel and stop by the Trevi Fountain on the way. We made our way to the fountain with no problem (actually making it around Rome was pretty simple). However, once we arrived at the fountain there was 10million people there! Well maybe not that many but it felt like it! BUT we did get our picture there and made a wish. Then had some extra time so we dropped by the Spanish steps!

The next day we headed to the Vatican! Nun watch was on there! When we arrived we just happened to see the Pope himself! It was pretty cool I must admit! Then we headed into the Museum and made a bee line for the Sistine Chapel! Holy cow that first of all there were tons of people. Second of all that place what so big! and Completely covered! Its a lot different from what I expected but so much better than I could have ever imaged! Then we made another bee-line to the “School of Athens” (mind you we had to go all the way back through the museum to get to it because it was the one part we had skipped over. Which makes for a rather funny story).

Finally we grabbed a bite to eat and headed back to Milan, on another slow train. But we had a lot of fun on the train. Really got to know each other and talked about our trip and all the fun we had and just about everything.

I think this entire trip has been just amazing! We have seen so much and done so much! At times it was overwhelming but well worth it! I wouldn’t have changed a thing! I had a great roommate and group. All the sights we saw were well worth all the walking we did. And most of all the Nutella! That might have been my favorite part of the trip! haha just kidding. but really the Nutella is better over here!

I was pretty much forced to come by my fiancé who took this trip with Rachael Snow and a group two years before this, and I am ever so glad I came. It really has changed my life! I look at the world a lot differently now. I am excited and want to learn a new language now. whereas before I just took class and never really cared about being able to actually speak another language. I want to travel so much more now and see the world! I have so much more respect for a lot of things and I really appreciate things in America (especially where I’m from in South Carolina) that we take for granted like tap water. lol.

I highly recommend everyone to taking a trip abroad! Especially for art students to travel to Italy! I have seen so much historical art and also a lot of contemporary art that has really inspired me as an artist! And I’ve already made contacts over here that will hopefully help in my future career! Do it!

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Last week of class!

Sorry this took a few days to get to its been a very busy week!

Monday was not the best of days for me. It rained all day and I am just not a fan of rain at al! However, the contemporary art museum we visited was extremely impressive! I really loved it! It was probably my favorite museums we went to this entire time. After that we got some great gelato then headed to visit another church!

Tuesday was a lot better because it was sunny outside and warm. We visited the Accademia. This place was so cool. Its a “college” campus. They have a really nice and really big museum. It was amazing to see a campus for art students with so much history at their disposal. We stayed and visited this place for a while and even ate lunch on their campus.

Wednesday the Sant’Ambrogio church. I enjoyed touring this church because of all its history that Monica was telling us about. After that we saw the second part of Marina Abramovic exhibit. Everyone should look up her work it is truly amazing.

Thursday was a bittersweet day. It was our last day of class. We visited the castle. Gah! This place was huge! and spectacular! We visited 3 museums here. It made for a long day but it was worth seeing everything there and experiencing it!

Overall the best trip of my life!

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All Good Things Come to an End

It finally came! Our trip to Rome! I think Rome was officially my favorite city of all that I have visited in Italy. Hannah, Ashley, Brandon, and I were back in action again and were ready to explore the city of Rome! Our hotel was located about 10 minutes from the Trevi fountain, which served a perfect location for all the places we wanted to visit. We checked into our hotel when we got there and then headed for some food. We found a little café to eat at and ordered some pizza. After eating, we headed to the Coliseum. We bought the “Roma Pass” at the metro station, which was probably the best decision of our trip. This pass got us into the Coliseum with no wait what-so-ever! It was unbelievable. The “Roma Pass” included two free entries to participating sites, with skip-the-line passes, discounts to other sites, and even a metro pass which was good for three days. I was so excited to go to the Coliseum because it was the number one thing that I wanted to see while I was in Italy. I think I had a slight panic attack when we entered because I was so excited. It was everything I had imagined and more, but it was so amazing to see it in person! We walked around the Coliseum for a while and took many pictures and then walked over to the Roman Forum, which was also pretty amazing. We also visited the Trevi Fountain and threw a coin in for a wish and good luck to return to Rome. Our last site for the day was the Spanish Stairs. After walking around all day, we decided we were hungry and wanted to go eat. We stopped at this sandwich/pizza shop, which apparently turned into a bar at night. We saw some pretty interesting things while we were there eating and enjoying a few drinks.

Saturday was our second and last day in Rome. Our plan for the day was to go to Vatican City all day and see everything they had there. As we walk in, there is music playing in this huge plaza with people singing, clapping, and waving flags and balloons and getting excited. We took some pictures and checked everything out a little and had no idea what was going on. We started thinking that maybe the Pope would be here and that’s why all the people were around. Sure enough, this Pope himself comes strolling into the plaza on a cart. It was pretty awesome. After that, we headed to the Vatican museum where we saw “The School of Athens”. The museum leads to the Sistine Chapel where there were also many famous art works. It was so amazing to see this in person, because it was another one of those places that I had only seen in books before. After visiting all these places, we got back on our train to head back to Milan.

Sunday was a “chill day”. Hannah and I slept till noon and went out to Navigli to check out an antique market. I bought a few more souvenirs there and it was amazing to see all the unique antiques. We headed over to the Duomo Square to find that there was some kind of bicycle race. We joked that it was probably the Tour de Italy haha. It was cool to see all the fans getting pumped up. It reminded me of marathons and got me thinking that I really need to do one soon! We headed back to the dorms and I finished my booklet and we made dinner and packed for our long trip home the next day.

This has been such an unforgettable trip and I have had the most amazing time while being here in Italy. My favorite part of the trip would definitely have t be my trip to Rome. Thinking of Italy, the first thought that comes to mind is the Colosseum. Maybe it’s the athlete in me, but I have always wanted to see that. It was the most amazing place I had ever seen. I can imagine all of the excitement that went on in that place. All of the architecture in Rome was simply breathtaking and so detailed. I could go back there ten times and still be just as amazed. The town had a friendly feel of Florence, but the bustling feel of Milan, which I loved the mix of.

“All good things come to an end.” That is definitely true for this trip. I have had such an amazing time while being here in Italy and it’s not just because of all of the great places I have visited or all of the great pieces of artwork I saw, but mostly because of the people on the trip. I feel like the small group of nine students is somewhat of a small family. We each had each others’ back to make sure everyone was safe, and having a great time as well. I want to think the whole group of 8 other students who were on the trip with me for everything they have done. I have gotten to know each and every one of you on such a personal level and I am so glad we had this opportunity. I would especially like to thank my roomie, Hannah for making sure I didn’t get lost/kidnapped throughout the whole trip because I would have been lost every day without her. Thanks to Brandon for putting up with all 8 of us girls every day and being the “Dad” of the group and always making sure us girls were safe at all times. A HUGE thanks goes to Giuliana, Monica, Rachel Snow and her husband Kevin for educating the whole group and to also help us with any other daily questions/troubles we had. Most of all, I would like to thank my parents for making this whole trip possible, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I am glad I got to take. How many people can say they went to Italy for a month and see all of the things I have seen. Deciding to go on this trip is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Maybe my coin in the Trevi fountain will bring me luck and I’ll be back in Italy again someday.


p.s. Things I’ll miss about Italy:

1. Gelato (everyday)
2. My Italian family/professors (Thanks again to everyone)
3. Seeing beautiful architecture everyday everywhere
4. Awesome pizza and pasta (Let’s just say I taste-tested alot)
5. Nutella, EVERYWHERE haha (mostly in my room because Hannah was obsessed)
6. Public transportation (saves you money on gas and better for the environment!)
7. Having access to amazing museums filled with famous works of art
8. Not being able to understand people (It’s a good and bad thing haha sometimes you don’t want to know what people are saying)
9. Watching mopeds driving around like crazy and beeping at you when you don’t cross the street fast enough haha
10. And laughing at all the tiny cars that park where ever the heck they feel like parking!

OH! And don’t forget to check out my photos on Facebook from Rome this weekend! The link is in my about me right under this blog post.

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Last Weekend

There’s something about being the only person you know in a foreign city that just makes you feel so tiny and vulnerable. That’s how I felt Friday and today. Everyone but me was either in Rome, Barcelona, or Como. The upside to this situation however, was that I could sleep as late as I wanted, or take a taxi whenever I wanted, or really do anything I wanted, whenever I wanted, and who doesn’t love that? Friday, I went back the Navigli neighborhood to get some dinner and maybe do a little shopping. I ended up getting some Japanese food (of course) and picking up a few souvenirs, (jewelry is a girl’s best friend). Unfortunately, my adventures were cut short by some unplanned thunder and lightning. I am proud to say that I did get on and off of the bus at the right stops with out ending up in Switzerland, which I thought was quite an accomplishment. Today, I slept in again, and then decided to start my exploration at the Duomo. I started to notice that shops look the most appealing when you’re with a group and can’t go in. I was able to pick up  a few last minute souvenirs for people, which took off a little stress, but the fact that the entire area was more crowded than I’d ever seen it was a bit of a turn off. It was nice to be able to see the area at my own pace and just bask in my situation. I ate dinner in the Galleria, at a restaurant that I’d eaten at with Stephanie before. It was quick and cheap, which was handy, because I was really ready to get to get out of there so I could start packing, and endeavor that I am definitely not looking forward to.

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Last Week!

I can’t believe this is our last week in Italy! It has absolutely flown by. On Monday, which was horribly rainy and dreary, we visited the Church of San Satiro. We’d actually passed it a few times coming from the Duomo, but no one had really said anything about it. It’s much bigger than it seems at first glance. We got there earlier than the church was open, so, naturally, we went to get gelato at a really popular gelateria in the area. Afterwards, we did go into the church, which due to the weather was really dark. The most interesting thing was the ceiling of the nave, which for those of you that are no so art history inclined, is the area behind the altar. At San Satiro, it’s flat, so Bramante was able to create an illusion of depth in the wall and ceiling behind the altar that creates a pretty trippy effect, especially when sitting to the side of the altar. Later, we visited the Museo del Novecento, which was much bigger on the inside than it seemed on the outside. Somehow the architecture on the outside didn’t seem to match the art within, at least in my opinion. I did discover I found that I liked the Arte Povera movement, which I’d never even heard of before, but I found a lot of the art really interesting, considering I’m not a huge fan of a lot of modern art.

Tuesday we visited Brera, and the museum there had a lot of fine art from the Renaissance and earlier, which is more in my area of interest. There was a lot of work by Mantegna and the Bellini brothers. Saint Mark Preacing in Alexandria by Giovanni Bellini was particularly remarkable for its Venetian and Egyptian imagery. We also visited some of the classrooms where students were creating costumes for plays or creating copies of Classical sculptures.

Wednesday, we visted the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, only 3 metro stops away from our apartments.  It was a beautiful church, both inside and outside. Even the crypt was beautiful, as odd as that may sound. I think the features of this church had to be the mosaic ceiling and the altar. Some of the ceiling was restored after WWII, but some of it was still the original. The altar was pure gold though. It was absolutely unbelievable. The church also had a small museum attached to it that was done in the Baroque style. It had a lot of different religious artifacts in it, which I found very interesting. Later, we were able to see part two of the Marina Abramović exhibition, which I found interesting, if a little underwhelming, considering some of her other work that we’ve seen.

Today, Thursday, we visted the Castello Sforzeco which was so different compared to anything so many of us have seen before, because, well, it’s a castle. We got to learn about the restoration and the history of the castle as well as see some great exhibits, including Bramante’s painting and the tapestries for the 12 months. My favorite part was Michelangelo’s last work, the Rodanini Pieta.

Afterwards, we all said our last goodbyes to Monica. It was certainly bittersweet, but we’re not going home just yet!

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Last week of class!

Our last week of class has come rather quickly. It seems like just yesterday that we were getting off the plane here in Milan and now it’s almost time to go back. This past week has been great, and I have learned so much from the places we have visited thanks to Monica and her great deal of knowledge.

Monday started out as a terrible day. I woke up to it raining, and not just a slight drizzle, but an absolute downpour. Hannah had to meet up with someone and give them something from the states, so we embarked in an adventure out in the rain. We were to meet the woman at 10, so we got up and got ready and took the metro to the stop we were supposed to meet her at. By this point, our jeans and shoes were already soaked from the rain. We walked into Bar Italiano where the woman told us to meet her. This was interesting because when we tried to order breakfast, we had to pay for it first and then get what we wanted. That sounds all good and fine, but we’re used to pointing at what we want and then paying for it, so this time we had to remember what we wanted and order it at the register. It wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be. I ordered a cream filled brioche, which is a croissant. It was delicious! We met up with the woman and gave her the books Hannah was supposed to give her and talked to her for a few minutes. It was interesting to see what brought her to Italy from the states. After meeting up, we took the metro back to our stop for the dorms and decided we needed to go to the grocery store since it was closed Sunday when we tried to go. The walk back to the grocery store was miserable. Since it had been raining so hard and so long, the puddles were rather high next to the curbs along the sidewalks. Our shoes became more and more wet as we got back to the dorms. Even though we were soaked, we were glad to have some food back in the kitchen to eat for lunch. Class started a little late Monday so we were able to get those things done before class. Class was very interesting to me Monday because we went to a contemporary art museum, and I always enjoy those. We also stopped for a gelato break during class at a place called Groom and it was the best gelato I’ve had, and believe me, I’ve tried a lot! We later went to a church and it was different than a lot of other churches we visited because it had a faux apse at the alter. The way it was made, looked like it extended backwards like a dome, but it was actually flat. I was amazed at the illusion it created.

Tuesday was a long, but short day at the same time. We started the day by going to the National Pinacoteca museum with a lot of old artworks. We spent about 2 and a half hours there going through all the important works because there were so many and the museum was very large. After the museum, we toured around the Academia, which is basically, and art school. We even walked in a few classes and ate lunch at their campus café. Their art school seemed a little more intense than the art classes at Upstate. Later that night, most of our group was going to the Opera. For the four of us who decided not to go to the Opera, we wanted to do something fun, so we decided to go out to eat. We went to a Japanese restaurant over by Navigli that we passed a hundred times.  Morgan and I are picky eaters, so we just ordered some teriyaki chicken and rice, while Hannah and Ashley like sushi, so they ordered a “no stop” meal, which was all-you-can-eat off of a certain menu for only 18 euro! It was a great deal for them, especially since they like sushi. My teriyaki chicken was some of the best I had ever had. I took my turn ordering a few little things off of Hannah’s all-you-can-eat menu and tried some fried chicken, which was also delicious. We waited for our check for a while and it never came. These people did not speak a word of English so it was a little hard to communicate with them. They finally brought us fruit for desert and the server told Hannah and Ashley they had to eat all of their sushi or they would have to pay extra for it. Unaware of this at the time of ordering, they had not planned to eat everything. They were already stuffed and had to scarf down all the rest of their sushi. We couldn’t help but laugh at the whole situation. Morgan was stuffing food in her purse while Hannah and Ashley continued to eat their sushi rolls and squish some other ones under two plates. We had such a great time together at dinner, and it was probably one of the highlights of my trip.

Wednesday, Brandon and I embarked on an adventure to find a post office. We walked 15 minutes over by our metro stop to a place we thought was a post office, and when we went inside, we got crazy looks when we asked for stamps. Luckily the one guy that worked there knew a little English and pointed us in the direction of a post office. We had to ask a few people for directions along the way to find it, and once we did, it was literally 5 minutes from our dorms. We made a complete circle from when we left our dorms. We walked inside and had to get a ticket like the old’en days at the deli counter. When our number finally came up, we tried to explain to the woman that we needed stamps. We finally figured it our, and when I mean “we” I mean Brandon haha. So long story short, my post cards are FINALLY in the mail! Yay! After our little adventure, we went back and ate lunch in about five minutes before we left for class. We went to a church to start out our day of class. After visiting the church we went to another part of Marina Abramovic’s exhibition. The day of class went by rather quickly.

Thursday was our last day of class. I still can’t believe how quickly it came. For our last day of class we went to the Sforza Castle and museums. The castle was huge and the museums were also large and had a great collection of artworks. My favorite part of the museum was the ceilings in the different rooms. They were always so decorative and detailed. After class, Hannah and I did a little more souvenir shopping around before heading back to the dorms. The rest of the night was spent cooking dinner, working on my booklet for credit for this course, and getting ready for our weekend plans, Rome! I am very excited to go to Rome and can’t wait to share my experiences and pictures from my visit!

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Museum + Opera = A Very Tired Girl

Although I am completely exhausted this has been a really fun day.  Today we went to the Museum, Pinacoteca di Brera. It had different classrooms with students working on different types of work. The museum was very interesting because it had a lot of work from famous artist but had a lot of death and dark colors in the paintings. This was a bit disturbing after the weekend I have had in Bologna experiencing the earthquake.  However, the classrooms were a really nice experience becasue it was a chance to see what different students were working on and the setup of their classroom. I was very impressed by their work and their opportunities to use different materials in their education.

Tonight we went to the Opera. The show was amazing as well as the building and the stage. The Opera House looks much smaller on the outside than it does on the inside. This building seats 2,000 people and has a very large stage as well as a bar to get concessions. Luckily we had Kevin with us to explain and answer questions about the show. He was very intelligent about catching on to many details and underlying messages that made the opera so amazing. I am so glad I got the opportunity to go to this show in Italy and experience a whole new world.

On our way to the Opera!

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