Well, I'm officially in my last third of the exchange. I can't get over how quickly my time here is going. I feel like I write monthly reports so much less than a month apart!! My last few months should fly here (as the others have as well). I change host families tomorrow after school, then on the 20th of this month, I go on a Rotary trip for 5 days touring Italy, THEN I go to Barcelona, Spain with my class at school. I can't for all of the adventures that are coming my way!
During April, because of Easter, so many shops had beautiful art and sweets that reflected the holiday. My favorite store was one with beautiful chocolate eggs painted with different designs. My favorite was one with "Starry Night" painted on it.
Right before Easter, I changed houses to my third host family. The house is a villa just outside of the city, away from the hustle bustle, but close enough that I can walk. I love my host parents, they are so sweet and fun and I really feel apart of the family. I have two host sisters, but they live outside of Sicily and are older than me. In the zone that I am living, I live very close to many of my friends, and am able to walk to them to study or play cards very easily!
My first host family went to visit their daughter who is doing an exchange in Phelps, NY. While they were visiting, they set time aside to drive to Albany and met my grandparents, my aunt, and my mother. It was so crazy to me to see the pictures of both of my moms hugging!! I am so happy and excited that they got to meet each other!!
Two days before Easter, my host family and I along with many from the city did a walk around of all of the churches in the city. We stayed for about 10-15 minutes at each church, and at each church, there was something special. For example, one of the churches held the Weeping Madonna Statue, and I was able to see it up close, and another church was at the Catacombs of Siracusa. All of the churches were very beautiful.
On Easter, we went to an EXTREMELY small town called Ferla, where my host grandmother lives. Usually, the streets are weirdly quiet, and there is only older people that live there. However, for Easter, Ferla is famous for its "Fire Run", so there were hundreds gathered to watch. My friend Claire also had the opportunity to sing outside of the church at Ferla. The fire run basically is when hundreds of people run through the street with a large gold statue of Jesus and bushes of fire. I recommend that you youtube it or google image search it because it was CRAZY!
The day after Easter is another holiday called "Pasquetta" (little Easter). Nobody has school or works, everyone goes to a house on the beach and eats and swims all day long. Claire's host family has a house on a beach so we went there for half of the day, and the other half I went to my friend's house on the beach. It was such a nice day, and Claire's host uncle made homemade pizza in an outdoor pizza oven.
Next was the Italy tour. All of the exchange students in Sicily were invited on a Rotary-funded trip of Italy. It was soooo beyond beautiful!! I got to go to Rome for two days, Napoli for a day and ate pizza in the city where pizza was invented, Caserta, Pompeii, and Palermo. Every city had so much history and culture I loved every minute of it. Pompeii was like nothing that I have ever seen before in my life. An entire civilization almost frozen in time, it was so sad and beautiful at the same time. Rome was amazing as well, I had more time to explore the city with my friends and really get to see some many interesting quirks that Rome has. Napoli was amazing, we went on a weekend, however, and the streets were so crowded, but the food was AMAZING. Caserta was very unique, and we got a tour of the Caserta Palace which was absolutely beautiful. Then we returned to Sicily and ended with a tour of Palermo. On our tour, we met the mayor of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando, who is an extraordinary man with such a passion for Palermo. He helped take down the mafia, and rid them of governmental positions, and now is running for reelection, wanting to take on the project of refugees arriving in Sicily.
This past month has been absolutely amazing!!!! I am still having such an amazing experience here in Italy!!
I got a little seasick on the overnight boat we took to get to Napoli, and this is me at the scene of the incident, post incident.