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Hello from Hannah: Summer in Florence

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Rising junior goaltender Hannah Ehresmann is heading to Florence, Italy, to study abroad for the next six weeks and she will be sharing her experiences via blog posts on

Sixth Post (Friday, June 17):

Another week down. During the week we checked off many of our to-do's in Florence. Last Thursday, we went to the Bargello Museum and two churches nearby. One church had a wedding taking place and you were free to walk in.

Friday, I had a field trip to a winery in the Tuscany countryside and Antico Spedale del Bigallo, which is a medieval kitchen where we had a cooking class. That was so much fun. We made homemade flat bread and panzanella, which is basically Italy's version of stuffing. The lunch we were served, along with what we created, was amazing! The pasta was some of the best I have had here in Italy.

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Our cooking class at the Antico Spedale del Bigallo

That afternoon when we got back I hopped right on a train and headed to Rome. My hotel was conveniently only two blocks from Bella Sutton so I got to see her!! Roomies reunited in Rome. It doesn't get much better than that. Anyways that night I just went to dinner and then obviously had to be like Lizzie McGuire and make a wish at the Trevi Fountain.

Trevi Fountain.JPG

The Trevi Fountain

My next two days there were jam packed as we went to the Vatican City to see the Sistine Chapel, Saint Peters Basilica, the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Forum, and Palatine Hill. Rome was definitely way bigger and more city-like than I expected. It was fun being there for a little bit, but after the weekend I was very happy to be back in Florence. Monday was back to reality with classes. But I also climbed the Palazzo Vecchio, which was really cool because you had an amazing view of the skyline and especially the Duomo.


The Colosseum

Tuesday was more of a relaxing day but at night we went to Acqua al 2. There are only three of them in the world, Florence, D.C., and San Diego. Wednesday, Bella was actually in Florence, but I had another field trip. This one we went to the marble quarry where Michelangelo got all of his marble for his sculpting. We got to see how they extract the marble from the mountains. For the second half of the field trip we went farther up the mountains into a tiny city called Colonnata. They are known for Lardo here, which is the back fat of pigs. Their business was very interesting but I still couldn't get myself to try it. I got back pretty late from that so I could only meet up with Bella later at night. I took her and her two friends up to the Piazzale Michelangelo to watch the sunset and then we got gelato at one of my favorite places called La Carraia.

Bella and I on piazzale Michelangelo.jpg

Bella and I on the Piazzale Michelangelo

It was cool being able to show her where I have been living and what I have been doing for the past five weeks. Unfortunately, she had to leave early the next morning. Thursday of this week I went to the church of Santa Croce and we hiked up to the Forte di Belvedere. Both were very fun and then we treated ourselves to dinner on the rooftop overlooking the Arno River.

Arno River Florence.JPG

The Arno River

Time is ticking away here. I only have one more week of classes, including two exams, one paper, and one presentation!! So much to do, but on the bright side my parents are coming out next Wednesday and we are doing some post traveling :)

This weekend I am doing two day trips, one to Cinque Terre and another to Venice!! Check in next week for my final post about Florence!

Fifth Post (Thursday, June 9):

Another eventful weekend and week has passed. Last Thursday night I began my 12 hour journey to Split, Croatia. I am pretty sure I slept basically that entire ride, which was great because when we got there at 9 a.m. on Friday morning. We only had about an hour to get to our hostel, eat breakfast and then we had to get back on the bus for our journey up to the mountains for whitewater rafting. I had never done that before so I was interested to see what it entailed.

Once we got there they gave us a sweet git-up of a wet suit and helmet and then we were off. For about three hours we alternated between rapids and just floating down the river. We also got to do cliff diving along the way. By the time we got to the bottom, everyone was starving, but luckily they had lunch ready for us, so we ate before hopping on the bus again. That night we got to explore the city of Split. It was very pretty and chill.

Day two we took a boat cruise to Brac, one of the Dalmatian Islands. The view from the middle of the ocean looking back at Split is definitely one I will never forget. The mountains looked as if they were painted on. Plus we got to see a water plane land so that was sweet. Once we got to the island we had the whole day to just relax on the beach; boy was that much needed. That night we just went to dinner and chilled because we had an early morning the next day.

Day three we went to the Krka waterfalls. These were beautiful and we even got to swim in them. We got to spend half the day here before getting on the bus to head back to Florence.

This week I watched the sunset on the Piazzale Michelangelo again, went to the Mercato Centrale, Rose Garden, and Bargello Museum. I also unfortunately had to write a paper for my foods class. It was a reminder that I am here for school, but I have confidence that it was pretty good. This weekend I am going to Rome. So you know that means basic pictures of me making a wish at the Trevi Fountain, touring the Vatican City, Colosseum, and most importantly seeing BELLA SUTTON!!!!! She gets two nights with me so read up next week to see what adventure we have together! :) 

Fourth Post (Friday, June 3):

So I just realized I forgot to tell you all about my crazy adventure climbing up the Duomo in the pouring rain a few weeks ago. Well that was something. We had been waiting in line for about an hour and finally when we were very close to the front it just started down pouring. Luckily I had my umbrella, which is something I have learned to always have with me because you never know when it will just pour for a few minutes.

Anyways, we thought it would pass hopefully by the time we got to the top, however, that did not happen. It took us like 20 minutes to climb in very tight spaces to get to the top. At that time it was even thundering and lightning. Being at one of the highest points in Florence we decided just to take a few quick pictures and get some good looks before heading back down. I will definitely try and climb it again on a sunny day. The weather here has been unusually rainy, but next week it is hopefully going to clear up and be a nice, hot 90 degrees.

Italy has many cool museums and places you can visit; going to the Piazzale Michelangelo, Boboli Gardens, and Duomo, I have visited the Santa Maria Novella (beautiful church), the academia (real David), the Uffizi (painting of the Venus and other artworks), and walked around the Piazza della Signoria (giant gold turtle and sculptures and David and Goliath).

I feel like I am on a constant move here because there is so much to do. I did finally go shopping to Zara and to the leather market. The leather market is definitely overwhelming but amazing to see all the jackets, bags, and sandals. I definitely have my eye on a jacket. The other night I also did a cooking class. Now that was fun. We made potato souffle for an appetizer, two types of homemade pastas, and panna cotta for dessert. The pasta was the best I've had here; it is amazing how good fresh pasta tastes.

I have been crazy busy this week with classes though. We have had two field trips and two exams. The field trips were definitely better than the exams, except after one exam our professor bought us all gelato :).

For our field trips we went to the Mazzei Winery and a textile manufacturer. Both we were so cool to see how they do business here compared to the U.S. and what they have to do to gain the competitive advantage. At the winery we got to taste test a few different red wines, before they fed us an amazing, authentic Tuscany meal. It was definitely hard for the textile manufacturer to top that, but it was pretty close since they gave everyone scarfs at the end. My favorite part about the textile manufacturer is seeing the scarfs they make for Coach. We are officially half way done with our six weeks studying aboard here :( it's sad because I am not ready to leave here.

This past weekend I traveled down to the Amalfi Coast to see Capri, Positano, and Pompeii. We did have a six hour bus ride to get there, but it was a breeze since I'm used to all of our traveling for hockey. We didn't get there till about 2 a.m. Friday morning though so we went straight to bed in our hostel. They are actually pretty nice. Anyways we traveled with this company called Bus2Alps, which most students use. They plan all the traveling, housing, and activities which is nice.

Friday, we took a ferry to the island of Capri. Here we went into the Blue Grotto. If you have never heard of it, it is considered one of the natural wonders of the world. The water color there was amazing and was all over Capri. We also got a tour around the island. After the tour, we hiked to the middle of the island, walked around there and later took a gondola up to the top of the island. That was the best view I have seen since being in Italy. That night our tour guides took us to dinner in downtown Sorento. All the streets are lined with lemon and orange trees.  /p>





Saturday, we went to the beach in Positano. Very relaxing and warm, but it was unfortunately rocky getting down to the water. The water was refreshing though and fun to swim in. We got sandwiches here from a tiny hole in the wall. It was the best sandwich I have had here. I am still dreaming about it. 



Sunday, we had a guided tour of Pompeii. For those who don't know what Pompeii is, it was a town that got covered by volcanic ashes in 79 AD. The ashes perfectly preserved the town. Later archeologists uncovered the town and saw how advanced the people who lived there were. They had already invented a wood fire oven, sewage system, roads, steam rooms, and so much more that people didn't know how to do/make years later. 



Needless to say it was a very adventurous, fun, relaxing, and historic trip! This weekend I am heading to Croatia for some whitewater rafting and waterfalls. Look for this next week!!

Third Post (Thursday, May 26):

Wow, was this weekend fun and full of adventures. On Friday, I traveled with the program I am studying with to Siena and San Gimignano. They were both gorgeous, but San Gimignano was definitely my favorite!! In Siena, we visited the Duomo, which is known for its black and white stripes. The significance of these is that the Medici family took over most of Tuscany and wanted everything to be black and white striped. That is why all throughout Tuscany different famous buildings have this design.

While we were there we also got to climb the tower that was attached to the Duomo. The view from up there was amazing. You could see far beyond the town limits and into the vineyards of Tuscany. After that we got to check out the town square where they hold horse races every year, like how it was many, many years ago. We ended there around 2 p.m., and hopped back on our bus and got to San Gimignano by 3 p.m. San Gimignano is a very cute, quaint town that not many tourists go to since it is difficult to get to, thus making it more enjoyable. Also, here they have the world champion gelato shop called Gelateria Dondoli. The rest of the day we just got to explore there before getting on the bus at 5:30 p.m.

On Saturday, we took another day trip, but to Pisa and Lucca instead. Pisa was very touristy, but still very cool. Obviously I got some good pictures of me both holding up the leaning tower and pushing it down (see below). We also explored the baptistery, Cathedral, and cemetery here. They were all very cool. In the Cathedral they have the tomb of Saint Pisa still there with his body!! Kind of creepy, but cool that they preserved him so well. Around 1 p.m. we left there and headed to Lucca.

Lucca was a smaller and almost more family/residential oriented town. Here we got to eat lunch in the sun and then ride bikes all around and throughout the town. It was so much fun being able to explore and goof around.

Sunday, was much more relaxing. The weather was perfect, 85 and sunny by mid-day. We went to Mama's bakery for breakfast and then visited the Uffizi Gallery. The Uffizi Gallery holds tons of artwork, including the Birth of Venus and the Primavera. It took us over two hours to go through the whole thing; it was cool to see all the different interpretations artists had with Madonna and child. To top off that day, we walked up to the Piazzale Michelangelo again to watch the sunset. Once again it was amazing. I don't think I will ever get used to seeing such a beautiful sunset, or a city in general. Now time to tell you about climbing the Duomo in Florence last Thursday. Now that was something.

We were almost to the front of the line when it started down pouring. Luckily we only had to wait for 10 minutes in the rain. It wasn't that tiring to climb, but the space you had to go through was tiny, which made it difficult. When we made it to the top it was still down pouring and lightning so we tried our best to take pictures, but it just wasn't enjoyable so we went back down. Plus you can't stay up there too long because other groups need to come up. Needless to say we will be doing that again when it's sunny out. After we did treat ourselves to gelato from Eduardo's, which is a vegan and organic gelato place. It's amazing and they make homemade waffle bowls. They were to die for.

During the week we have just been shopping, walking around, trying new restaurants, eating gelato and obviously doing our school work. As of now we are planning on going to the Academia on Thursday and I also leave for the Amalfi Coast Thursday night for the whole weekend, so lots of more sightseeing to be done. We are also going to a winery for my international business class. Next post you will be able to catch all of that!

Second post (Tuesday, May 24):

Wow, this past week flew by! A lot of fun and a lot of adventures. This will definitely be a long post because I was hoping to write every two or three days, but the Wi-Fi is so spotty here that's why I am currently sitting at a cute cafe drinking a cappuccino. I definitely recommend the cappuccinos here, they are sweet and delicious! Okay so now I'll break it down for you.

I arrived in Florence last Thursday. That day we explored a little by walking through the bottom of the Duomo and then went to dinner at a place called Dante's which is right around the corner of my apartment.

Friday, I had orientation all day and then we went to Hot Pot for dinner. I got the carbonara. It was pretty good, but not the best pasta here.

Saturday, we went to the Boboli Gardens. It is pretty much just a huge uphill park with trees and cool historic buildings. It was a climb, but the view was great! It overlooked all of Florence and Tuscany vineyards on the other side. After that we went to Margartaio for dinner. We went out that night to walk around and explore the other side of the river and actually found a place called Lion's Fountain that had a Penn State t-shirt hanging on their ceiling along with tons of different US colleges. We even got to sign the t-shirt! We may or may not have gotten lost on our way home in the pouring rain for an hour, whoops. It was still very fun and throughout this past week we have gotten our bearings and know where everything is now. It's hard to believe that we were so lost at first.

Sunday, we started walking up the Piazzale Michelangelo and once again it started raining on us. It has been unusually rainy here so hopefully that changes by next week.

On Tuesday night we walked up to the Piazzale Michelangelo again to see the sunset. That was very fun and we will definitely do it a lot over these next five weeks, along with eating tons and tons of gelato. So far I have tried six different places, I think. I even had it for breakfast one morning. Classes unfortunately started on Monday. So now I'm unfortunately stuck in a classroom for 3 hours a day :( Otherwise throughout this week we have been walking around, shopping, eating, and just living life here! This weekend I am taking a day trip to Siena and another one to Pisa!

My next post will be about those adventures, along with our class field trip to the two major food markets here in Florence and climbing the Duomo in once again, the pouring rain.


Leaning Tower of Pisa


Leaning Tower of Pisa


Gelateria Dondoli in San Gimignano, Italy


San Gimignano, Italy

First post (Tuesday, May 17):

Well I made it halfway around the world. I left Minnesota at 3 p.m. on May 11th and arrived in Amsterdam at 6:30 a.m. on May 12th. No worries though the flight was only eight hours and it seemed to fly by. We were served dinner quickly after take off, with the choices of ravioli, chicken caesar salad, and grilled chicken with mashed potatoes. Of course knowing me I had to choose the ravioli because I can never turn that down.

The plane had tons of different movies and TV shows to choose from. I watched the movie "How to Be Single" staring Rebel Wilson. Very funny. I highly recommend it. Pretty much after that I just napped and listened to music. Before I knew it we were already there. It was a much better trip than driving from Penn State to Iowa State last weekend. Don't even get me started on that.

Anyways, I made it to Amsterdam and just chilled at my gate before my next flight took off.

On my next flight I sat next to the cutest old woman. This was her 15th time going to Florence. She was telling me about all the hidden secrets in Italy and also told me not to trust what the Italian boys say, even though it seems like it's from the heart. Needless to say she was very interesting.

My travel was smooth all the way to my apartment. I have an apartment with eight girls, so it will be pretty packed, but they are very nice. It is right in the city. Literally a five minute walk to the Piazza del Duomo. We went and saw that today while we were exploring. Gelato was obviously the first thing I ate when I got here. It was amazing. There are at least two gelato shops on every block. It is definitely going to take a while to get an idea where everything is, but it is very fun so far! Many more adventures to come!!

We Are!


Boboli Gardens


Boboli Gardens


Boboli Gardens

Introduction post:

Hi, my name is Hannah Ehresmann and I just completed my sophomore year at Penn State. I am from Minnetonka, Minnesota, and I am a goaltender on the Penn State women's hockey team. It was a jam packed year, but very fun! The fun and adventure is continuing on as I am traveling to Florence, Italy, to study abroad for six weeks this summer. Very tough life I have, I know. However, this is my first time going overseas, so I am pretty nervous. I am flying out on Minnesota to Amsterdam and then into Florence. Praying my bag will make it there safe and sound. I'm sure it will be a little bit of a culture shock at first, but it is also a trip of a lifetime! I can't wait to see what adventures will come!!

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