Update: Study Abroad Italy

Ciao a tutti! 

Before leaving for my long-planned “study abroad” adventure in Italy, I had every intention of sharing a daily photo here on the site, but being a student, tourist and traveler turned out to be a full-time job!

Now that I’m on “summer break” (currently reporting from Sorrento), I have a little time to catch you up. So grab a caffè or glass of vino and enjoy these photos from bella Italia.


Flying into Milan and starting our adventure in Liguria was absolutely the right choice. I find it a great way to ease into Italy and I highly recommend this option for travelers.

I wrote about our home base of Santa Margherita Ligure and our day trip to Camogli. We also spent a day in Portofino (loved), and Cinque Terre (beautiful, but overhyped in my opinion). The joy was truly in the journey for us. We decided to take a private boat (Portofino Taxi Boat), so even though Cinque Terre (“5T”) was a tad disappointing for me, the day was still amazing.


Above: Portofino. The scrumptious plate of pasta is trofie al pesto, a traditional Ligurian dish. Below: Vernazza in Cinque Terre, photos of Santa Margherita di Antiochia church.




Language school (above left “first day of school” photo!) and a month to wander Florence. Despite the throngs of tourists and rain nearly every day, we were able to see all that we wanted to AND discover some new favorite restaurants and the best gelato in town! (Da Angelo, in the Oltrarno area, worth crossing the Ponte Vecchio for!)

Montalcino, Tuscany


We rented a car from Florence and drove less that two hours to quaint little Montalcino, which struck me as that perfect little Tuscan town for which I have long been searching. This region is famous for their Brunello di Montalcino wine, and we really enjoyed tasting the Brunellos (Brunelli?) from various producers at Enotecha La Fortezza. We ate especially well at Bacchus and San Giorgio, and we were very happy at our well-situated, 11-room inn Hotel Vecchia Oliviera. (Photo on the bottom right is the view from our room.)

Montalcino is an easy drive to some Tuscan “celebrities” (see below), and well-placed for visiting Pienza and Montepulciano. We didn’t actually make it to Montepulciano and if I may share an honest opinion, Pienza, while pretty, seemed more of a tourist attraction, compared to the more authentic Montalcino. I would make time for Pienza only for the stunning view it affords of the Val d’Orcia.


Left: Sant’Antimo Abbey, near Montalcino. Right: Cappella della Madonna Vitaleta, near Pienza.

Scarperia, Tuscany

Golf resort + Medici Villa = Scarperia Love!

Needing to escape the crowds of Florence and wanting to find some golf for Husband, we ended up in Scarperia, about an hour away. It was such a perfect combination for our family! We stayed at the beautiful and peaceful resort Una Poggio dei Medici, which has both a golf course AND a Medici villa from the 1500s. The town center has its own mini Palazzo Vecchio (Palazzo dei Vicari), which we spotted from the golf course.

We had an especially delicious and affordable dinner at Il Rustico, and, as always, our most enjoyable experiences come from interacting with local residents. Above you will see Giulia, in her shop Coltellerie Giglio, which has been in her family for 500 years (!). She spoke beautiful English and also spoke in slow Italian to me to for quite a long time, which felt like a language win! Not only did we leave with some new cutlery (the Mugello Valley area is known for its knives), but also, wonderful memories and what felt like a new friend.

Lucerne, Switzerland


Husband had a business meeting in Switzerland, and we took the opportunity to hunker down in Lucerne for a long weekend. We enjoyed the completely different scenery, culture, language, and food. It’s fascinating how you can be in what feels like a whole new world with just a short plane flight or train trip.



I have purposely skipped Venice several times due to not having the best impression from my first and only visit 34 years ago, but I am so glad we did not miss it this time! We were well prepared for crowds and heat, both of which were not as bad as expected. Plus, the city is just so pretty and photogenic! Above photos from Venice, photo below from Burano, captured by Daughter.



We even made it to the Libreria Acqua Alta, a funky used bookstore which I have read about for many years!



Wanting to be closer to the sea after our time in Florence, we took the train to Naples and then made our way to Sorrento, a cliffside town overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. My workspace for the past couple of days has been from the rooftop of our hotel, with a view of the Bay of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius, so battling slow wifi hasn’t been all that bad. 🙂

Allora, you are caught up! Tante belle cose a tutti – wishing you all many beautiful things.

Leave me a note if you have any travel questions about the places mentioned here. A presto!

This post is unsponsored, all opinions and photos are my own. ©PrayersandPiazzas 2018



21 Comments Add yours

  1. I’m currently posting my old logs from when I studied in Italy! Miss it.

    1. Enjoy reliving the memories as you work on your posts, and welcome to the P&P community here!

  2. beautiful photos!! I’m currently in Florence and planning some day trips to get away from the city for a while, so this post was especially helpful! I’m definitely looking forward to visiting Libreria Acqua Alta!

    1. Thank you for letting me know! I’m so happy to hear that you found this post helpful! I hope you get to everything on your wishlist. Buon Viaggio!

  3. Lovely pictures…I studied abroad there many years ago. Beautiful memories. I hope you make many beautiful memories also!

    1. What a wonderful experience for you to study abroad! Thank you for being here with me!

      1. Yes…warm thoughts sent your way!

  4. Gorgeous towns. I have always wanted to visit Montalcino! Next trip! Enjoy your time in Sorrento Stacy. Xx

    1. Thank you! I hope you get to Montalcino some day!

  5. rachel says:

    Ahhh Stacy what an amazing snapshot of all you have seen and done! your photos are so beautiful, it makes me want to go (or go back) to all of these places!!!

    1. Tante grazie! You guys have made it very special for us.

  6. Ishita says:

    That is a great wrap up and update on your study + travel trip!! I so loved your photos as well as the fact that you went to Switzerland. Hope you can catch up on your blog reading when back!! I’ve been well too and completed most of blog writing from the past trip. 2 posts more and then I am done! Have a wonderful time learning dear Stacy! xx

    1. I’m still here for a bit but I do look forward to catching up on your posts! Sorry we missed each other! Hope you are well.

  7. bonniegm says:

    Loved reading about your adventures so far and the photos are great. Hope you will be writing in detail about the language school and studies. I have some inquiries but am away from home so will write when I get back (and have a laptop not a phone to write from) 😁

    1. Hi Bonnie! Yes, it’s my plan to write more in depth about a lot! But send me an email when your back with your questions, I’m happy to share my thoughts. Hope all’s well!

  8. Wow, you really packed a lot in! Glad you had such a great trip. Beautiful photos.

    1. Yes, we had a big list! Hope you are well.

  9. gailpollard2015 says:

    Amazing trip; thanks for sharing and letting us live vicariously!

  10. Brad Nixon says:

    Delighted to see your visit to a couple of places we’ve been, and towns unknown to me. Fantastic that you got to Libreria Acqua Alta. Maybe I first read about it in a post of yours, and it’s on my list to see. It’s gratifying that you overcame your reluctance to go to Venice, which can be a trial in the heat and the ever growing crowds, but never loses its appeal for me. A beautiful photo of you in Florence. Enjoy it all.

    1. Thank you for kind words – sei molto gentile! I did write about the libreria a while back which is why I really wanted to see it. It was the only destination on our list that day, and it sparked a very pleasant passegiata for the rest of the day, a wonderful way to spend time in Venice. Hope all’s well with you.

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