Month: November 2016

Uptown NYC: A Tour of Holly Golightly’s Hot Spots

Travel Stories

Uptown NYC: A Tour of Holly Golightly’s Hot Spots

“I don’t want to own anything until I find a place where me and things go together.” Famous lines once uttered by the fabulous Audrey Hepburn in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Holly Golightly and New York City are two things that will always go together. I have always been fascinated by this movie and the city it’s set in. On this visit to New York, I was determined to go to as many spots that were in the film as I could. At each location, I felt the characters from Breakfast at Tiffany’s nearly come alive in front of me.

While traveling through uptown New York, I also visited many other sights I hadn’t seen before. Since that it was the end of October different colored leaves fell around the sidewalks of the city. The views and the feel of the crisp air surrounding me contributed to the setting of some perfect autumn days. I would only be in the city for a few days, so I only saw glimpses of what uptown New York really had to offer.

If you are a Breakfast at Tiffany’s fan, be sure to check out some of these spots!

5th Ave’s Tiffany and Co.

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If you find that you have a case of the mean reds be sure to find your happy in this gorgeous place. Tiffany’s has two windows you can view in and see their most precious set of diamonds necklaces, rings and more. So, glance in, the way Audrey Hepburn once did or make your way inside and check out all the beautiful things Tiffany’s has to offer.

New York National Library

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While I didn’t venture inside, I did walk around outside. With its grand architecture, the library leaves a classic feeling every time you walk past it. I hear that inside it is very large and has many floors where you can lose yourself in story after story after story. Be sure, when you get there, to head inside and check out the place where Paul Varjak declared his love for Holly.

169 East 71st, Upper East Side

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Although this is not where they shot the interior shots for the movie, this is the place where Holly takes Paul’s lover’s taxi and heads off to Sing Sing. They shot many other scenes from the movie here, like the shot of Audrey Hepburn singing the forever timeless song, “Moon River”. I arrived to the townhouse in the midst of rain and although this was not where they filmed the last scenes, it was as if I was sitting in a taxi hearing Paul Varjak’s last speech telling Holly that “life’s a fact and people do fall in love” because we do and I was falling deeper in love with this city of life.

Now here are some other things to check out if you are in the uptown area of Manhattan.

Bryant Park

 

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This is a pretty quick walk from hectic Times Square. I arrived at the end of the blue twilight as the day was nearing seven in the evening and everything was lit up. All around me, little shops with glass walls stood side by side selling different kinds of things like paintings and souvenirs. In this nine-acre park there also stands a small skating rink where people of all ages were having fun on the chilly October night. Trees and bushes were lit up and there was a subtle presence of Christmas in the air as I walked through this cute little park.

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Central Park

 

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The famous, wonderful, and massive park is almost misplaced in a city like New York City. It feels so massive that I wondered if anyone has ever seen it all or if anyone finds familiarity in a place like this. I passed by a small lake and watched couples paddle boats under bridges while dogs barked at squirrels that were running up trees nearby. There were many people in the park on this Sunday afternoon trying to find some peace in this autumnal change in nature. Be sure to walk and see as much of central park as you can see and beware that cell phone service runs in and out.

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If you are ever in Manhattan, be sure to find this posh area where the stage of Gossip Girl was set, where Holly Golightly hailed a cab and where Carrie Bradshaw had her heart broken. Become one within this dwelling and create your own story. That is the beauty of New York City, a place where you saw characters you love grow, but also a place where you can find your own happy endings.

Xoxo

Gossip Girl

Just kidding, it’s me, Melody!

Travel Stories

San Marino: A Series of Mishaps

13533084_10206807364374904_2584746878928498861_nIt was as if the animal could smell my fear as it looked at me with its’ beady eyes. It purred inching closer to me and I nearly squealed when I felt it rub against my leg. As this unexpected scenario unfolded before me I could feel my vision begin to blur as my eyes puffed up and my throat started to close. For someone who was so excited to meet their first host family and see the house that would be my home for the next few weeks, I was already counting down the minutes until I could get away from this small home filled with all of these awful cats.

I received the news that my first teaching assignment would be in San Marino only the night before I was set to arrive. San Marino is a small country that resides in Italy. I was so excited to be staying in this location I had never been to before and not only that, but I would be working with some of the new friends I had made the week prior. So as you can imagine, I did not anticipate anything going wrong, at least not in the very beginning.

I arrived to the Rimini train station, which is positioned right by the sea and roughly an hour away from San Marino. With my heart beating out of my chest ready to meet my first host family, I pulled my luggage behind me and followed behind my new found friends to the pick up area. There were about twenty-five of us from the program in the train station waiting to begin our new adventure. One by one, families came and picked up their new family member for the next weeks.

After an hour of watching people come and go, no one had come to pick up me, Ryan and two other girls from our groups yet. The lady in charge of all the San Marino camps told us that Ryan and I were supposed to be staying with the same host family, but our assigned family had an event for their eldest son in Verona that they would be at all day, so they weren’t going to be picking us that day. Although I was happy to get the news that I would be sharing the first host family with somebody I knew, I was still slightly terrified about the coming night. Where would I sleep? What would I do all day? Would I be safe? While everyone else we knew were going to be experiencing the country with their new host families, I might be stuck in a local hostel. After two hours of waiting at this train station I was tired and hungry, having only slept three hours the night before because I had decided that going to a pub to have a bottle of wine with some of my new friends would be a good idea.

The lady from before, talked to some of the parents of the children who would be part of the program and she found one that could take us in for the night. Our new temporary host mom, Diana*, was of average height and looked to be in her mid-thirties; she smiled a warm, endearing smile that comforted me about the night I had recently been stressing over. She collected us at San Marino’s only McDonalds. As we drove through the small streets She told us about her life.

“My family moved to South Dakota when I was teenager” She told us as she spoke English with confidence. “I moved back here a couple years later.” That explained why she spoke English so well.

How old are your kids?” I asked curiously. I did well with younger kids, but I feared maybe she had some teens in her home that I might have trouble relating to.

“My daughter, who will be in the program, is seven and my son is two years old.” She told us. “We also have four cats.”

I realized during the rest of the summer that many Italian families had cats, but on my papers for the program, I wrote I was very allergic to them so I assumed I would be placed in homes that had outdoor cats. But being that this lady was the only one who could accommodate us under these odd circumstances, I didn’t know what awaited me, but I knew I would have to deal with it for one night.

“We live in a small apartment so you’ll unfortunately be sharing the kids room.” She said apologetically. “But it should hopefully be okay until your host family picks you up tomorrow afternoon.”

As we entered the apartment, three of the cats greeted us and I smiled out of anxiety. The apartment was small, but cute in its slight Italian way. She walked us over to our room that we would be in and we put our bags down.

“They told me you were both allergic, so I’ll try to keep the cats out of the room.” Diana told us. But the cats walked around the tiny home like they owned it, they curled up against every piece of furniture and person they wanted. One of the cats looked directly at me and I swear it grinned, like it could feel the pain it caused me, as I felt my glands swelling.

We then met our temporary host dad and the kids. The girl was small, shy and seemed slightly sassy, but it wasn’t like I could actually tell because my Italian was limited. The little boy was adorable and spoke a broken kind of Italian, being that he was only two. Although the kids seemed charming and the parents were very hospitable, I was exhausted and didn’t know how much longer I could go without a nap. Thank god Ryan informed them that we were both tired, asking if it was okay if we napped for a couple hours. I was thankful that Ryan was bold enough to say what I was too shy to ask.

“Yeah yeah, that’s fine” She said. “When you wake up, my husband can take you to the city center of San Marino.”

I finally slept and when we awoke, it was time to go! Diana told us she was sorry she couldn’t join us because of the kids but I was happy I was going to see San Marino, not to mention I would be away from the tiny monsters that were relentlessly trying to get into our room.

Our temporary host dad dropped us off in the area where we would hop on a cable car to reach the center/top of San Marino. We bought our tickets for 4.50 Euros and then we were off. It was mid-June, but the day was cool and13524324_10206807364094897_757345738001956090_n the skies were grey, riddled with clouds. San Marino was beautiful, we walked from one end of its passé beauty to the other. The city was clean and filled with history. There were castle-like towers at each end of the city, making it easy to see all the way to the sea. The sun came through every few minutes to shine some light on the small country’s timeworn streets. It was Saturday, so locals and tourists walked around while a groom and bride posed for their wedding photos near a church. It was amazing to see how different this place was compared to any other Italian city I had seen before. Although it had been an interesting and stressful day, I was thankful to be overlooking these astonishing views.

The next day, we finally left the house filled with so much cat hair, so much that I had trouble sleeping the night before and both Ryan and I were forced to use our inhalers. We met our new host family who had three kids. All of which were different ages; six, ten and eleven. The family was very positive and energetic; their home was an astoundingly large house with three stories. The house had a pool and even an elevator. Ryan and I would no longer be sharing a room and we would even be on separate floors.

Although the camp in San Marino was chaotic, my time spent in San Marino is time I hold close to my heart, the host family I was fortunate enough to end up with was amazing and each host family after had to live up to them. I enjoyed hanging out with the kids and just talking about life with the parents. My host dad was so funny. One time he and I devised a plan to prank a friend of his in Rimini that we visited one night.

Even though we were very different, I was thankful to have Ryan as a housemate; he was humorous and it comforting to have someone who spoke English as their native language with me all the time. I was happy to end the experience with him as a close friend. Everyone I worked with in San Marino, including Jordan and the blonde Michelle, are people who I can now call friends and I’m happy to have spent time in San Marino with them.

As my host family, Ryan and I, were carried up on a Ferris wheel in Rimini on the last night we would all be together, I looked towards the tiny twinkling lights of San Marino in the distance and smiled at the thoughts of all my adventures in this small, incredible country.

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My Favorites

A Love Letter to New York City

Processed with VSCO with g3 presetScott Fitzgerald once wrote “The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.” That is exactly how I feel each time I see the captivating city in the distance.

I had been going to the city for years during hot summer days. Each time going to the same mainstream showcases of the city, like Time Square and downtown Manhattan. Even though I was only familiar with a few places, I had always been a little infatuated with this idyllic metropolis. Each year I found something new to love about it. But it had always been just puppy love.

I abandoned the bright lights for some time when I moved south. But I made sure to hold onto the images of tall skyscrapers and lit up billboards, tucking them away in my heart.

When I was 17, I came back as nearly an experienced wandress. I went with my theatre troupe in the midst of a polar vortex and nearly froze. Snow fell the moment after our plane landed. At night the falling flurries made the city glisten in the cold winter night. This time I went to New York with a broader mind. I saw more, I tried more, and absolutely fell in love. I fell in love with the Broadway shows, and the actors who made the story come to life, and right after portraying completely different people became themselves disappearing into the crowd of regular New Yorkers. I fell in love with the buildings that seemed to reach the skies and with the feeling of belonging to this land of diverse dreamers, even if it was just for a moment.

I promised myself I would return. And this week I finally did. I was worried that the city would fall short to what I had remembered and wanted it to be. Now that I had seen more of the world, the city would fade from the illusion I had created.

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These anxious feeling soon subsided. The city seems to get better with age, still leaving me breathless and in awe. I entered the city through the Lincoln tunnel, where one minute I’m seeing the city from afar and it feels untouchable and then in a blink of an eye I’m there in the heart of it all. I’m suddenly thrown into the chaotic mess that seems to work well for New York. Taxis honk, while people walk in front of cars with no fear. I realized that there is nowhere else I’d rather have been.

With this trip, I uncovered that I have now developed a deeper, more mature state of love for this seemingly endless concrete scene. I respect its history and the unique changes its gone through to be the city it is now. This time I went, I saw more of what locals saw, ate where the locals ate and I really immersed myself into the raw culture.

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As an old man played “New York, New York” on his trumpet in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, I fell deeper in love and felt the beauty that this city could hold and make any willing person feel. And just like the song says “I want to be a part of it”. I truly believed in that and even though I only spent a few days in the land where dreams come true and everything feels like a part of something bigger, I knew I would soon come back, to see my love, New York City.

xoxo

Melody

Travel Stories

Adventures Near Assisi

13528665_10206807351134573_3059238186928610004_nAssisi is a truly remarkable place. When I first arrived to Assisi, I was preparing to say goodbye but also to say hello to something new. Santa Maria degli Angeli, a town right next to Assisi, is where the program I signed up for did their week long orientation. So I said goodbye to my family that I wouldn’t see for months and began my new adventure alone.

I remember how terrified I felt upon arrival, yet I couldn’t help but feel excited as I went into the train station to meet up with one of the program directors. I was transitioning smoothly and then suddenly I was thrown into a group of forty-five new people, in the same situation as me, with the expectation of making quick friends with one another. As I walked up to the hotel I would be staying at for the week I could see Assisi in the distance; all the buildings, churches and houses made the town look like a medieval castle atop a hill.13567092_10206807322013845_2824860104265914822_n

During the week, I had so many different little adventures and I met some amazing people that I hope I’m friends with for years.

Walks to Assisi

Since our orientation week was being held in a hotel in Santa Maria degli Angeli, and I was so busy, I only went Assisi a handful of times.

On the first couple of days, some of us decided to take the short walk to Assisi. Together we walked up the steep hill, thinking it wouldn’t be difficult, but ten minutes in we were breathing heavily and sweating profusely. These grueling walks through the wheat fields gave us time to talk and build friendships. I realized on these walks that many of the people in the program were American, but many of them came from other English speaking countries like England, Canada, and South Africa.

On the walk up, I met Michelle a girl from Texas. She was blonde and really funny. I remember the first day I met her, she had all of the people we were with take pictures together; it was nice. She was outgoing and ballsy. I liked her spunky personality. I also met a girl from Boston, who had the prettiest red hair, and girl from Chicago.

13557936_10206807317093722_786452463152482611_nAfter the long walk up, we saw beautiful houses and little buildings with stones that were glowing a soft golden color under the gloomy skies. Everything in this city felt timeless and extraordinary. We fell in love with the small cobble stone streets and the houses that held lavender in their little flower gardens.

The focal point of the city is the stunning church, famous for being the said burial ground of St. Francis of Assisi, Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. Across from the church the Latin word PAX, meaning peace, is written in the grass. This city is said to be where miracles can happen and with the indescribable feeling in the air, I believe that.

Late Night Chats

This particular hotel felt like staying at a hostel because we all had to share hotel rooms with three other people. Outside our hotel room was the lobby, where most of us spent time like it was our living room. We would hang out there and talk about our lives at home, where we went to school, what our jobs were, and why we were there. Two people even found out that they went to same high school, which was crazy! We were all roughly the same age, which was nice but we were all so different. Each of us had our own way of speaking, thinking and living our lives.

13494962_10206807352974619_6854737045433476089_nWe would often leave the hotel at night and do fun things, like go on walks to Assisi, go to local bars to drink wine, and we even visited a small festival that the town was having. During these times I got to know more people from the program. Together we laughed and traded stories of our youth.

I remember one night, Michelle, this American guy Shawn* and I went out to get gelato, which a lot of us did after dinner. We went to this popular gelato shop, that I went to too many times; I swear I ate my weight in Gelato. We walked in front of this beautiful church, we sat down and had our cold gelatos while couples walked by hand and hand and children played games around us.

It was as if time had reversed itself and we were placed in a period without the constant burden of phones, where everyone was simply in the now and enjoying each moment spent with each other.

13510960_10206807351974594_2919317335421543674_nI remember Shawn saying “I’m really glad this thing was legit” (meaning the program). And we died with laughter, because we thought the same.

We laughed till we had tears coming down our cheeks and every last bit of our gelatos were finished. We, at that moment, had known each other for less than a week, yet it felt like we had known each other for years. We were comfortable and falling in love with the feeling of wandering.

Wine Time

The wine in Italy is nothing short of what you think it will be, which is elegant. The people in charge of the program told us that the wine should never be filled up to the top of a glass and really should only be filled up half way. I can recall one time when this rule was broken. Michelle and I were so tired one night, but we went to grab a glass of wine from the bar in the hotel anyway and the bartender took a liking to Michelle so he filled our glasses almost to the top with delicious wine.

Toward the end of the week, we had a wine tasting for all the tutors to get together and try all kinds of wines with a13501811_10206807342854366_2948082348018761561_nn amazing view of Assisi. I got to sit with all my favorite people I had met during the week, including my friend Jordan from Chicago, and we all got to enjoy just being in Italy. We were all about to embark on an amazing adventure and we wouldn’t be all together like this ever again, but it made these moments special. After four cups full of different Italian wine under the Umbrian sun, we were tipsy on wine and life.

We took group pictures and I took selfies with the people I had met during the week. I took a picture with another girl called Michelle, but this one had golden long layered hair and was from Georgia. She, I would soon find out, was one of the sweetest and funniest human beings I have ever met.

During the walk to the restaurant after the wine tasting I hung out with Ryan, an English guy who was serious and the complete opposite of everything I was, but he was witty and capable of making me and other people laugh without effort.

That afternoon I got to spend time with people that were doing what they wanted with their lives, including traveling to new places just because that is what they wanted; I found that to be incredibly inspiring. We laughed, drank more wine and ate real authentic Italian food. The time I spent in Assisi and Santa Maria degli Angeli will be something I’ll remember for a long time.

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My Favorites

Ten Travel Films You Might Have Missed

Watching a movie, film, or like they said back in the day, a talking picture, are all escapes for the mind. Films are something to get lost in, like you would a book; you become involved with the characters, wanting to know how it will all end. Travel movies add something extra to this immediate feeling of compassion, because not only do they insert you into other people’s thoughts and actions, but they also transport you into a whole different mindset because of the new and different location.

I am a movie fanatic. I love re-watching my favorite films and discovering new movies to watch. We’ve all seen some great popular travel movies like Eat, Pray, Love (2010) and Letters to Juliet (2010), but there are so many more out there to discover!

Here are my top ten travel films you may have not seen!

  1. Before Sunrise (1995) featuring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy

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Makes you want to buy a ticket to: Vienna, Austria

Two strangers meet on a train and decide to spend the day together in Vienna. I traveled to Vienna recently and because I had watched this film, it made the city feel familiar. The conversations that the two characters share is raw, real and will leave you wanting more.

  1. Only You (1994) featuring Robert Downing Jr. and Faith Corvatch

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Makes you want to buy a ticket to: Italy

A woman, with faith in destiny, believes that her true love goes by the name of Damon Bradley, although she has never met anyone with that name. But right before she is set to marry someone else, she gets her first lead on the name prompting her to fly off to Italy to find him. This movie is one of the 90s classic travel films I love to watch from time to time.

  1. Midnight in Paris (2011) featuring Owen Wilson, Rachel Adams, and Marion Contillard

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Makes you want to buy a ticket to: Paris, France

An American writer is traveling in France with his fiancée; but soon finds that he has traveled through time in Paris ending up in the Jazz Age, where he meets his writing idols. The cinematography in this film is enough of a reason to see the movie, but bring in 1920’s Paris and it makes it that much better.

  1. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) featuring Ben Stiller

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Makes you want to buy a ticket to: Iceland

This story is about a guy who leads a boring life but dreams of doing more, finally he decides to leave his current life and travel. I watched this film for the first time on my first solo flight to Germany before I began college and it truly inspired me to travel instead of study.

  1. A Room with a View (1985) featuring Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith and Julian Sands

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Makes you want to buy a ticket to: Florence, Italy

Two Englishwomen travel to Italy and meet a group of English travelers in Florence and one of the ladies falls in love. This film is a classic and feels timeless. It is a wonderful interpretation of the book by the same name.

  1. Adore (2013) featuring Naomi Watts and Robin Wright

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Makes you want to buy a ticket to: Australia

Two best friends fall in love with each other’s son. While the film isn’t about traveling, it has some beautiful shots of Australia, that made me wish I was there. It is a bit strange, but it is also an amazing story that’s definitely underrated.

  1. Copenhagen (2014) featuring Gethin Anthony and Frederikke Dahl Hansen

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Makes you want to buy a ticket to: Copenhagen, Denmark

An American travels to Denmark to find his grandfather and forms a friendship of sorts with a local teenage girl who helps him out. I found this film on Netflix and it was a great film that also seems to be highly underrated.

  1. Leap Year (2010) featuring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode

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Makes you want to buy a ticket to: Ireland

An American girl plans to propose to her boyfriend on leap day, but instead ends up traveling through Ireland to Dublin with an Irish guy. This is one most of us have seen but if you haven’t, be sure to check out some of the amazing shots this film has of Ireland’s greatest places.

  1. Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) featuring Diane Lane

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Makes you want to buy a ticket to: Tuscany, Italy

An American woman goes through a divorce and decides to move away from everything she knows to live in Italy. I feel like I have re-watched this movie more than a thousand times because it’s such an inspiring movie that makes you feel like you are capable of doing anything you want and to inspire you to have trust in the universe. Definitely watch this film if you want to travel and you’re looking to be inspired.

  1. French Kiss (1995) featuring Meg Ryan and Kevin KlineMakes you want to buy a ticket to: France

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A women finds out her fiancé has found love abroad on a business trip, she sets out to get him back but finds unwanted help from a French man. I love this film so much for many different reasons, the witty dialogue, and beautiful scenery and of course, the romance. It all combines to make a spectacular film that many people haven’t seen and it’s a shame to miss out on this one.

I hope you enjoy some of my favorite traveling movies. If you have any other suggestions for films, be sure to leave a comment below!

Travel Stories

A Quick Guide to the Amalfi Coast

14368890_10207421995900308_2621596657954118357_nItaly is a beautiful country and was my most anticipated country on this trip. When I first arrived, I flew into Rome and headed south. The differences between the north and south of Italy are incredible. Northerners call southerners lazy and southerners call northerners stuck up. I have found that the north of Italy is cleaner and much more like the U.S while the south is less clean and more religious. I haven’t spent too much time in the south of Italy, but there are some areas that are gorgeous while others are less glamorous.

Here is my quick guide to the Amalfi Coast and areas close by!

Sorrento

The entrance to the enchanted Amalfi coast, is tucked away and not nearly as popular as Positano but I found it to be my favorite spot on the coast. At night, the main streets light up with tourist and shops stay open till the early hours of the morning. Here in this area of Italy, their specialty is Limone (Lemon) and you should definitely try out their limone gelato and limonchello. Each shop and restaurant you walk into is unique and different. There is something almost magical about this old place. As I walked on the cobble stoned streets, my mind traveled back in time to a younger atmosphere with the same kind of tourist and people.

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Positano

The very talked about and popular area in the Amalfi coast that was shown in movies like Under the Tuscan Sun and Only You. The drive there was intense and scary when our driver, my father, wanted to park near a 500ft cliff and take pictures while huge buses passed us by. The town itself is breathtaking because of its steep roads and hotels placed on these cliffs by the never ending sea.

I found the city to be a bit over crowded and very small in areas but sometimes I’d find wonderful little corners bursting with blooming flowers and artists selling their gorgeous paintings; it was captivating. I did manage to find where France’s boyfriend lived in the film Under the Tuscan Sun and where the characters of Only You came to find Damon Bradley and it made the trip all the more special.

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Gaeta

Back in 2010, my family and I went house to house by home exchange, (which by the way is great for traveling and I’ll talk more about in a later blog) and we ended up staying in this beautiful house very close to Gaeta which is about a 30-40 minute drive to Naples. The city is right by the sea and holds a lot of historic churches and buildings. The owners of the house actually use this house as their second home and we were fortune enough to meet them and their family. They are amazing and such sweet people that we still stayed at the house this time.

Gaeta is as beautiful as it is interesting. The main streets of the city light up around five in the afternoon where you can find some really great places for gelato and coffee. It is a very local town and restaurants are strict by their siesta, but there is a lovely charm about this little city.

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Sperlonga

This town which is very close to Naples and Gaeta, was my last stop before I left my parents and began my new adventure abroad and it was beautiful. This small yet gorgeous town sits next to the sea and is about as clean and organize as much as an Italian coast town can be. Shops and restaurants here close very late at night and cats roam around while you eat really amazing pasta. As I walked through little streets I could see golden old homes sit close together. Here in this town they have many open piazzas where I sat at a café with many people on a weekday night and drank my first delicious espresso.

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I found all these towns and cities to be beautiful and special in their own ways. I loved southern Italy for its chaotic mess and their way of thinking. Hope this guide helped and if you have been to some of these places or any places close by, be sure to comment below and let me know where and what you like about it!