On Friday, I had my first experience with an Italian beach. A bunch of us Americans and one British got together and found our way to the beach in a little town called Otranto on the coast of the Adriatic sea. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I even managed not to get burned.
The next day, we headed back to the Otranto area with one of our guides from school, Desiree. We went to a different beach. The beach was enormous, but it was cordoned off by random hotels in the area and we crammed into the tiny section still controlled by the locals. It was yet another beautiful day and we swam and basked joyously. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to avoid the ire of the sun this day and I ended up with a little bit of burn on the backs of my knees and in a nice line across my back which illustrated the area that I can't reach by myself. Always have a friend get your back (with sunscreen and in fights).
After the beach we all loaded back onto the bus and headed into Otranto to see the city. It's an adorable little town (pictures attached!). While there, my friend Spencer and I took to some wandering. We found an ancient castle and some pretty little streets, and then we met back up with everyone else outside the cattedrale. This particular church is amazing because it contains the bones of eight hundred martyrs who were decapitated by the Turks for not converting to Islam. It was crazy.
We returned to Lecce in the afternoon and I headed over to my favorite supermercato. It's owned by a man and his wife and they and I are becoming fast friends. Every time I go into the shop (at least once a day) I'm greeted with a hearty ciao and some suggestions on what to buy. It's really great. Also, they make AMAZING panini.
After food, a couple of us headed over to a local bar to watch the Spain-Paraguay match, which was amazing. I just wish Paraguay had won. My disappointment, however, was quickly remedied by la Notte Bianca. Every city in Italy celebrates it on a different night and I was lucky enough to be around for Lecce's. All the shops stay open all night, there are six to eight stages with live music going the entire time, and thousands of people show up to have one hell of a party. It was wild. I made some new Italian friends and we just had a great time until about five in the morning. I walked my friends Alice and Emily home and Alice and I sat on the balcony and watched the morning sun light up the sky. I then promptly retired to her couch and passed out.
They next day was more or less a recovery day. I did almost nothing all day. My roommates and I headed to the opposite side of town to try to find any supermercato that might be open on a sunday. We did not succeed, but we did find a fruit vendor. We bought a watermelon, some apples, and some peaches and he charged us double a reasonable price. I was so out of it that I didn't realise until we were several blocks away. Dammit, Italian guy! At least the nectarines are amazing. After I fell victim to a basic tourist trap, we headed over to our friend's apartment to celebrate Independence day. This involved eating watermelon and spitting the seeds off the balcony. Seemed rude enough to celebrate America.
Then we went in search of dinner. There was much discussion and some raised voices and we eventually ended up at an awesome little pizzeria in centro. Seated at a table just outside were two extremely attractive Italian girls, so I felt it was my duty to strike up a conversation with them. There names were Francesca and Celeste and we had a nice little talk, and afterwards, they hopped on their scooter and scooted away. It was pretty great. There was some confusion around pizza orders and I got to be mediator and translator for an Italian cook and a guy on my trip that is Ohio's version of Carsten Thede. It was difficult to say the least, but we got everything figured out and the cook and I parted ways on good terms.
We then headed to Piazzetta Santa Chiara where we ran into our friends Alessandro and Antonio. I talked to them for a couple hours while swarms of random Italian men gathered around the American girls. One guy shared some Italian wisdom with me, "In bed, we all speak the same language." Thank you sir, you are creepy.
We parted ways around midnight and I walked my friend Alice home. We had a great convo about how awesome Italia is and I got back to my place in time to Skype with two really good friends of mine. It was a great night.