72 Hours Under the Tuscan Sun of Italy — La Dolce Vita!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

This summer, we conducted our six-week international advanced pharmacy practice rotation in Western Europe. Nicha Tantipinichwong was at King’s College, London, in the United Kingdom, and Tina Tran at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

We took advantage of our one‐week break at the end of the rotation to explore Bella Italia! Our trip began in the romantic city of Venice. A two‐and‐a-half hour early-morning train ride took us from the touristy Venice to Florence, home of the Renaissance, and our first destination in the region of Tuscany.

Day 1: Florence — “Magnificent!” We checked into Casa Rabatti, run by Marcella, a lovely, old Italian mother who spoke minimal English but loved to chat in Italian as if we understood everything she said.

We immediately headed to the Accademia to see Michelangelo’s famous David, the Uffizi Gallery to gaze at The Birth of Venus, by Botticelli, and the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (aka the humongous cathedral in the heart of Florence.) The perfect way to end our first day in Tuscany was a perfectly cooked T-bone Florentine steak, paired with a bottle of Montepulciano, of course.

Day 2: Pisa — “Tipsy Tower!” From Pisa Centrale train station, we took an easy stroll to the Field of Miracles (Campo dei Miracoli) where the famous Leaning Tower is located. We climbed to the very top of this “tipsy tower,” both in awe of the miraculous view of the Duomo and the Baptistery below.

No wonder the Italians named it the “Field of Miracles.” After soaking in the view from Pisa, we caught a bus to the neighboring city, Lucca, a tiny, relaxing city contained within its own Renaissance wall, known as the ramparts.

If you ever find yourself in Lucca, you must do two things: one, rent a bike, and two, eat. We cycled around the ramparts lined with chestnut trees on both sides, under the warm evening sun, and with a view of the beautiful city beneath.

Afterwards, we replenished our energy with the most delizioso homemade bright-yellow Tuscan pastas from the friendly family‐owned restaurant Osteria Via San Giorgio. It deserves six Yelp stars.

Day 3: Siena — “Palio!” This world‐famous horse race only happens twice a year in this hill town of Tuscany, and we unexpectedly happened to visit Siena when all 17 neighborhoods were waiting to get their horses at Il Campo.

People walked around in groups, strutting their pride scarves or neighborhood flags, chanting and drumming loudly. No matter where we were, enjoying our charcuterie plate on the side street or sipping wine inside the Tuscan Wine School, we could hear them. What a festivity!

The next morning, we bid farewell to Marcella and beautiful Tuscany to continue on our next exciting adventure in the eternal city of Rome.

Noi non potremo avere perfetta vita senza amici. (We cannot have a perfect life without friends.)  — Dante