My Year Abroad so far – An Album
Ross Chatburn casts a look back at his year-abroad experience so far. Striking sights, treasured memories and a pizza on the Rialto. Enough said.
My first perouse around Padua
This first photo is of the Palazzo Bo (Bo Palace) in Padua, the central University hub. This aesthetic Renaissance-style building is home to the oldest anatomical theatre in the world. Even though I am yet to visit the theatre, the courtyard alone took my breath away. My first taste of Padua and I was already getting goosebumps.
Very marvellous Venezia
Before embarking on my adventure to Padua, those of you who are regular readers of Exeposé will know that last year I wrote a love letter to Venice in the Lexeterbox section. In which, I allude to the ornate waterways I expect to encounter on my travels and my goodness did they impress. As soon as I stepped out of the train, glimpsed the salient river and the glowing white edifices teasing off the September sun, I knew this was somewhere special. I made some great friends on this trip and despite not having found a house yet by this point, I was quite content with where I found myself. I have gone back and revisited on several occasions and Venice has never, not once, disappointed.
Prato at nightfall
Now this is my favourite spot in Padua. Being the largest square in Italy and one of the largest in Europe, Prato has everything. Lights, statues, fountains and symmetry. It really is incredible. When I saw Prato for the first time it was dark and the feeling of awe still holds strong even now when I pass by. What’s more, it is surrounded by cafés, restaurants and gelaterias, which makes it the perfect location for meeting friends.
Vicenza, hidden Italy
My first proper Italian adventure. This truly was an eye-opener. Sitting in the main piazza, tucking into the best lasagne I have ever tried and soaking up the sun, while totally immersed in the buzzing atmosphere. As it was market day, the smells and ambience were truly something to behold. I can’t wait to revisit this town, as it remains the most authentic and beautiful Italian town I have visited. My friend and I also managed to visit an age-old theatre there which was remarkable, built by a very talented Renaissance architect called Palladio who also built the bridge in Bassano del Grappa which you will see in a bit. Inside, the theatre is all golden and we enjoyed a light show which was really impressive. Tranquil, unassuming and beautiful.
Cascate di Molino, ahhh
This was my first stop on an unforgettable tour of Tuscany which I embarked upon with the International Community. This shot is of a thermal waterfall which somehow is the perfect temperature to bathe in. After waking up at two in the morning to catch the bus, I was shattered. Relaxing in this massive Jacuzzi was the perfect remedy. I was ready to explore the most stunning region in the world.
Oh Florence, you jewel:
The author Henry James once famously quoted: ‘Everything about Florence seems to be coloured with mild violet, like diluted wine’. Diluted wine is certainly not what I drank on my first evening there, but I will say that this night-time snap of the city brings back the lustrous flavour of Tuscan wine to my mouth and reminds me of how, not for the first time, Italy left me dumbfounded and lost for words. We had one night and one day in the city of art, culture and love. I spent it two-fold. Half the time scanning the streets for treasures like the Duomo, the other half making friends and taking twilight walks, all completely enchanted and drunk in love with this special city. This photo from the rooftop of the hostel says it all.
Pisa, Pisa, Pisa
This is a place I had always dreamt of visiting, due to its uniqueness and sheer prominence in popular culture, thanks not only to the obligatory photo shoot which accompanies every visit. But don’t worry I have saved you the task of seeing another one of those. The weather was just right to watch the sunset and polish off a bowl of gnocchi by the main square. It is truly an idyllic town, full of atmosphere, tourism and interest. Next time, I want to take a look inside the tower because I am sure there are so many things I am yet to discover. I did learn, however, that there is a famous inscription on a wall here and it is not uncommon for Italian students to come to Pisa before their exams to try and decipher it as a sort of ritual. I tried it and will continue to wait for that to bear fruit….
My gosh Siena
My first reaction to arriving in Siena was different to that of all the other places I have visited because my expectations for whatever reason were lower, as I had heard much less about it. Therefore, a glimpse outside of the coach window was enough to sew my heart onto the fabric of this ruby red beauty. I was told that Siena is a World Heritage Site and is home to the Palio which is a horse race held twice a year. I am not surprised by either of these facts, as even in Corona times I felt the buzz about the town. If there was one thing I would do differently visiting again, it would be to give it more time because boy was it impressive.
This quaint treasure is tucked away in Venetian Prealps. What an adventure it proved to be! The bridge in sight is named the Ponte Vecchio and was built by Andrea Paladio in 1569, the same genius who built the stunning theatre in Vicenza I alluded to before. I was particularly pleased that I could reach Bassano, as seeing the Venetian Alps was one of the first places on my list before arriving here. Waking up early to beat the afternoon curfew proved to be a strike of luck, as we got to see a sensational sunrise and devour a delicious Italian breakfast harboured by the bridge.
Birthday night in Venice
I concluded my 2020 travels exactly where I started them. At the heart of Veneto. As I said before, Venice never ceases to disappoint. Scurrying through the narrow walkways back to the train station in the dark has become a tradition. This time, my friend even planned a treasure hunt for me on the way back and obviously couldn’t help but pick up a huge slice of pizza on the way.
Home sweet home
It is only right that this image comes last. It is a photo of one of my favourite places. An incredible landmark, in an incredible city, in an incredible country. The reality is that all of the breathtaking places I have visited so far couldn’t fit on this list. These are only a selection. They have all stunned my eyes and left me wondering what next. Chasing curfews and learning to speak to my housemates at first in broken Italian has proved tough at times, bringing plenty of challenges. However, Italy has made a glistening first impression and I can’t wait to keep exploring every crevice of this remarkable country.