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Backpacking Italy: Spring Break Edition

Throw two girls on a train headed for Italy with one week to explore and here's what happened. Originally, we had an over-romanticized view of backpacking through one country in a week, given neither of us speak a lick of Italian. However, apart from a few missed trains and the language barrier, we managed to make the most of our time in Italia, traveling through everything from the tiny village of Biassa, to finding the best sandwich shop known to man in Florence. After a week of getting lost in four different cities, here's my advice on where to go, what's worth it and what you could most likely skip.
 The mole/Cinema museum in Turin, Italy

First, we started our trip off in Turin, Italy, home to fiat and the capital of the Piedmont region of Italy. From Lyon to Turin, we spent the morning going through the gorgeous Italian alps before finally arriving at our destination. Everyone says the best pizza is in the south, but when visiting Turin, go to the San Salvorino area and pick up any pizza. Your taste buds are bound to thank you. Depending on what you're interested in, Turin has loads to offer. The "must sees" include the Holy Shroud, Veneria Palace (which is actually about an hour outside the city), and the mole. The city is filled with palaces and piazzas, so you'll want to give yourself more than enough time to just wander.


TIP: Instead of buying a ticket for the cinema museum, buy a ticket to go to the top of the mole which offers the best panoramic view of the city. You'll get a view of the cinema museum on your way up.
 Bicerin, a traditional Turinese drink of melted chocolate, cream and coffee.

Next stop: Cinque Terre, Italy. Cinque Terre is a gorgeous range of five seaside cities. It takes about an hour and a half to hike through all five cities, or you can take the train. Fair warning if traveling in the off season: The trails will most likely be closed. Hint: Don't skip out on Corniglia, although it's a hike up about 400 steps, the views from the city are well worth it. Also, make sure to stop in either Manarola or Vernazza for a meal. Cinque Terre is known for pesto, schiachettra and the fresh, impeccable seafood. 
 Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy
 Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy
 Salmon Carpaccio in Manarola, Italy
 Sunset in Vernazza, Italy

Florence: you'll need at least two days to enjoy the beauty of Florence. Between visiting all there is to see, and the amazing cuisine the city has to offer, there's more than enough to do. Be sure to visit Piazza Michelangelo for the best panoramic views of the city, as well as Ponte Vecchio. If the weathers nice, amble about Piazza della Signoria, or make your way to the Boboli gardens for a picnic. Hint: Visit Antico Vinaio for the best, cheap and fast sandwiches in town. You receive a fresh made foccacia sandwich with all the gourmet toppings your heart desires. Make your way farther down the street, and you'll find Gelateria Del Neri, easily the best gelato I've encountered.
 Duomo in Florence, Italy

Our final adventure was Roma. Now, unlike Florence, Rome is quite spread out, so the best way to see everything is to split up your time between each area of the city. Of course, Rome being a mostly tourist city has many sights to offer. You don't want to miss watching the sunset from above Piazza Popolo, at Villa Borghese, it offers amazing views of the whole city. Secret: Walk up to Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta and look through the keyhole in the priorato's main door. You'll have a perfect view of St. Peter's Basilica.
 Colosseum, Rome, Italy
 Sunset over Piazza Popolo in Rome, Italy
 Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy

Zamzam Abdulgani is the Spring 2014 CEA MOJO in the French Alps. She is currently a junior at Washington State University.

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