Trovare  (verb):  To find

also: to locate, to uncover

Unlike many Italian words which I have to look up over and over again in order to remember, trovare has always been easy. It reminds me of the word trove, as in treasure trove, which evokes the image of a treasure chest, and what does one do with a treasure if not find it?

Some weeks back, I published this post about my upcoming summer trip to Italy, and how, beyond touring and traveling, I was looking for something specific from this particular journey:

“Next year is the year that the stars should align in that, if all goes according to plan, Older and Younger Sons will both be at university, while Daughter will be in sixth grade which, for various reasons, is a transitional year for her (translation: a good year to travel or even possibly, be home-schooled.) It was some years back when I realized this, and my dream of spending a self-created “semester abroad” in Italy took hold. Husband, who encourages actions over dreams, was on board immediately. Which is great because he’s one of the three students in my study abroad program.

At first I pictured us in Florence, which comes as no surprise to any of you readers. But after my trip to Florence in 2014, I thought maybe I might want a quieter life, just for a little while. I imagine us strolling through a cobblestone piazza in a crumbly Tuscan town, preferably not too far from Florence and with easy train access. Is there such a place?”

So, in early July, Husband, Daughter and I backed our bags and passports and set off to find our home base for our Semester Abroad 2017.

Did I find what I was looking for on this trip? Yes, and more.

I found that my love for Florence is deep, and real, and  truly unexplainable. To be specific, it’s that darn Duomo which I love so much, and I just cannot figure out why. I don’t know a thing about architecture. Engineering is a complete mystery to me. I have no background in art history (although with every trip to Italy I become a little more savvy in this area).  Yet, if I did nothing but fly to Italy just to stare at the Duomo from morning til night and did nothing else, I would return happy, and satisfied. So it seems I need to be in Florence, or Fiesole, where I can keep the Duomo within close view.


Will my “semester abroad” dream become a reality next year? Maybe not, but also, quite possibly. What I know right now is that I had quite a wonderful adventure searching for a location for our extended stay, and joy in finding what I knew all along: Florence is etched on my heart.

With 932 pictures taken and 143 miles walked, I have plenty to share with you all in the coming months. I’ll start you off with a very extended version of Snapshots from Italy, a sampling of what we experienced trekking the country from top to bottom. Enjoy!

Bellagio and Lake Como Area

Unbelievably gorgeous, like something out of a storybook. The first photo was taken from our room (yes, you read that right) at Hotel Florence in Bellagio — possibly my favorite hotel I’ve stayed at in Italy. I highly recommend it!





I did not expect to be so moved by Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, but it was powerful. The other wonderful part of Milan was meeting cousins whom we have not been able to see on past trips.



Arezzo is where Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful was filmed, and the birthplace of Renaissance artist and art historian Giorgio Vasari. I loved wandering the slanted streets of this medieval town, and relaxing in the park (Il Prato) in the evenings with Daughter. A shout out to Barbara and her darling boutique B&B AnticheMura, and Melissa at Studentessa Matta for the recommendation! (Want to go to Arezzo with Melissa next month? Details here!)





In a country which is extremely picturesque, little Certaldo stands tall as a most photogenic medieval hamlet. Daughter and I enjoyed taking the funicular up to Certaldo Alto, the historic part of town, and I was thrilled to catch a glimpse of San Gimignano from Certaldo’s vantage point. Look far off in the distance at the picture below — can you see why San Gimignano is called the “Medieval Manhattan”?





An easy 1.5 hour train ride from Florence is gorgeous Verona, a possible option for our Semester Abroad. I fell in love with this city instantly, and spent a most lovely day here with my dear friend.





It just takes a quick bus ride (#7 bus from Piazza San Marco, or even the hop on/off tour bus!) to find yourself overlooking all of Florence from Fiesole. Daughter and I had a wonderful morning exploring the Roman theater and ruins, and then lunching at a favorite spot in the main piazza. I love this little town more with every visit. Can you spot the Duomo in photo #2?







We almost missed Rome this trip but changed our plans in order to connect with cousins. What fun we had together, and I found that, after four visits, Rome is growing on me at last. First photo taken from the window of our room at Hotel Forum — another exquisite boutique hotel.




Could never miss Puglia on a visit to Italy, as that’s where the cugini are based! Among other wonderful things, we had a lovely day at the sea, which was an especially welcome break for Daughter.



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Stay tuned for plenty more Italian-themed posts in the coming months, and for updates if my Semester Abroad dream becomes reality.

Alla prossima, Italia, quando ti trovo di nuovo… 

Until next time, Italy, when I find you again…<3

This unsponsored post first appeared on Prayers and Piazzas.  All photos by Stacy di Anna Pollard. Thank you for being here with me, and I invite you to join me on Facebook too.








4 Comments Add yours

  1. Speriamo che tutto va bene! I hope your semester abroad works out. Firenze or Roma would be amazing! In bocca al lupo, Cristina

  2. Kalyn Franke says:

    This post has given me extreme wanderlust and I feel like I should head to Italy ASAP! I’m not sure if I’ve read your previous thoughts on Rome, but you mentioned it was growing on you — were you not impressed before?

    I visited Rome a few years ago and while I did like it because, you know, it was Rome, I really didn’t love it as much as the other Italian city we visited (Venice) and thought it was a bit colorless. Just wondering what your take is! Should I try again?

    1. I hope you get to feed your wanderlust soon! I suggest Italy in late Sept/early October, still good weather but without the oppressive heat (and crowds!) As for Rome, I felt just like you — you have to appreciate it, but colorless is a good description. And it’s just so hectic. That first picture of mine was taken from my hotel room (!) so I felt like I could escape while still enjoying Rome. Also, I was with Italian cousins, so it was fun to explore the city and feel less like a tourist. So, I would suggest Rome again if it’s convenient to your itinerary, (try Hotel Forum) but there are so many other places to discover, like Verona (close to Venice) which is exquisite! Italian cities are all so different, so it depends on what you’re craving from your travels. Ancient = Rome, Renaissance = Florence, Middle Ages = Siena, Disneyland storybook = Bellagio. 🙂 Can’t wait to hear where you end up! 🙂

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