There is only one downfall to beautiful Lecce, and that would be a serious lack of functioning wireless Internet, which is why I haven’t been able to share any pictures or information with you guys! But now that things seem (technology wise) seem to be working – for the moment – I finally can!
August 2, 2016
We flew from Newark to Atlanta, where we got to spend a super fun additional six hours because our plane was broken. Like, so broken that we had to all get off of it, and wait while they found us another one. It was thrilling.
August 3, 2016
We finally made it to Rome, but we’d missed our flight to the final airport (Brindisi). Luckily, Delta did a surprisingly great job of rescheduling our flights, and so we had only about an hours’ wait in Rome before we boarded that final plane. We reached Brindisi in the early evening, and had to stay at the airport for a bit, because some of the other people on our trip had lost their luggage. I seriously can’t stress how helpful it was to only have carry-on luggage. Since we’re only here for three weeks, losing our luggage for a week would have been an absolute nightmare.
After that we drove about a half-hour through the Southern Italian countryside to Lecce! The rest of the evening was just spent in the residence, resting from the hellish two days of travel.
August 4, 2016
The first day of class! We had an orientation to talk briefly about some of the plans for the rest of our time here, and met our teachers for the first time. Everyone has been so wonderful, and this is by far the best beginners class I’ve ever taken. It’s fun and engaging, and getting to use what you learn in class everyday is a pretty unique experience. It’s also amazing to learn about the culture of a region while actually being in it.
Then in the afternoon we went to the beach! I swam in the Adriatic Sea for the very first time ever and it was so so so so beautiful!
This was also the first night Brindon and I wandered into the city and had dinner for the first time on our own.
August 5, 2016
In the evening after class, we went to the Roman Amphitheater (one of two in the city) and saw my friend’s host sister perform with her ballet company. The performance was great, but the setting kind of stole the show.
August 6, 2016
A guided tour of Lecce!
That night we went to a party on the beach with the kids from another program. I’m proud to say that I was the first student to jump in the water, a decision greatly influenced by a little bit of wine and the desire to say I’ve swam in the Adriactic under the stars (except the stars never came out…). It was amazing.
August 7, 2016
A boat tour around the coast of Puglia. We got to jump straight from the boat and into the sea, exploring caves and hidden grottos. The mermaid in me has never, ever been happier.
August 8, 2016
On the days where we don’t have exciting trips, we’ve just been enjoying going to classes and wandering into the city at night. We’ve tried so many restaurants, gelaterias, and bars (Italian for café, who knew?) and it’s been such an amazing way to engage with this region of Italy.
August 10, 2016
A guided tour of Gallipoli, a ‘Pearl of the Ionic Sea,’ followed by dinner watching an incredible sunset. It was also a special holiday where people go searching for shooting stars in hopes of making their wishes come true. We laid out on the beach in Gallipoli for an hour and half and didn’t see a single one, but it was beautiful!
August 12, 2016
We were given a long weekend with no planned activities so we could get in some travelling, but it turned out to be much more difficult than planned. Instead on Friday night, Brindon and I went to the Hilton Garden Inn right in Lecce to enjoy some air conditioning, functioning wifi, and a roof-top pool!
August 14, 2016
The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing and experiencing some more local wonders. The 14th was Notte della Tarantella, a regional celebration of the Tarantella, a wild dance performed by female victims of a tarantula bite. At the time frantic dance and intense rhythm of the music were thought to expel the poison, but now it is also known to have been an excuse for a temporary escape from the oppression felt by the women who lived here. Today, it’s an awesome celebration that tours around all of Puglia. I’m so glad I got to experience it, especially since it’s my topic for the final project!
August 15, 2016
And finally, my most exciting moment by far, our visit to La Grotta della Poesia. I had seen pictures of this place for months and I was so excited to learn that it was an easy bus ride away. It’s explained as the worlds most beautiful, natural pool, and I have to agree. Tons of people come here to jump, either into the grotto itself or into the sea right behind it. I wasn’t brave enough to jump from the higher cliff into the sea, but I did work up the nerve (after 40 minutes) to jump into the grotto and I’m so glad I did. It was a lot of fun and it’s pretty awesome to say that I went cliff jumping in southern Italy!
Thanks so much for reading, and stay posted for part two!