Lovel Lee, ’25, is a Graphic Design major studying at FIE London this Summer 2023.
One of the reasons London is such a great place to study abroad is because of it’s location. You can easily go to neighboring countries like Italy for a weekend trip.
During my study abroad trip in London, one of the most memorable things I did was going to Italy. My friend, Esther, and I decided to go to Italy for one weekend. We booked our flights and packed our backpacks and we were off.
Turns out we booked our flight for an early 6:00 am flight. Usually, a good rule of thumb is to be at the airport two to three hours before the flight. It turns out the trains only run a certain time so we left our place at around 12 am and decided to pull an all-nighter. We took the subway to Victoria Station where we got on the southern train to Gatwick airport. We arrived at the airport and immediately grabbed some Starbucks and laughed at the situation.
We had made it to the airport. Something about airports and the idea of flying never ceases to excite me. With just a backpack and our passports, we weren’t sure exactly of what to expect in Italy. We were worried about the language barrier and the weather but it turns out most of the people we met there spoke English. The people were also so friendly! It was really beautiful getting to speak with the locals and feeling so supported.
After our flight, we took a train to Sorrento where we promptly checked in at our hotel. The weather was really hot since my friend and I were both wearing attire appropriate for London weather. So we quickly got ready for the weather outside.
After getting ready, we stopped by a tobacco shop to see if they sold Sita Bus tickets. We would need two to get to Positano and then back. Initially, my friend and I were hesitant about going to Positano since it was the evening. Our flight had been delayed by an hour and so we weren’t able to catch the train we booked. Thankfully we were able to get on a later train. However, we decided to go for it and the timing was perfect in the end.
We decided to get the bus tickets and we were in for a beautiful ride along the cliffsides hugging Sorrento. When we arrived in Positano we were stunned by the views. The waters were a vivid emerald hue and the city of Positano was hugging the coastline cliffs. We immediately went to a restaurant called Saraceno d’Oro. One thing my friend and I had in mind for Italy was eating as much pasta and pizza as we could.
The first restaurant we went to in Positano, Saraceno d’Oro, was such a wonderful experience. It was located on a road that was scenic and lit by soft lights. The food itself was amazing as well. We ate pizza first and the bread was soft and doughy. The highlight however was the pasta. I got a ravioli slathered in creamy mushroom white sauce and Esther got seafood pasta that tasted so flavorful. Both complemented each other well. The waiter was also so friendly and made us feel at home. He also knew how to speak in Korean and spoke in Korean with us which was funny and made the experience all the more special.
Afterward, we got takeaway tiramisu and headed towards the Positano beach! The roads in Positano are very curvy and at every turn, there’s a lot of photo opportunities. One thing I recommend is bringing shoes that are comfortable. There are a lot of stairs and steep alleyways in Positano.
Positano at night is such a romantic place. The lighting and live music as well as the people dancing together are so wholesome and really sets a lovely tone. At the beach, there weren’t that many people at night which made the atmosphere all the better.
My friend and I went swimming in the water. I’ve never experienced nighttime swimming and to be honest, I don’t think anything can compare to swimming at night in Positano. Since the buildings are hanging on the cliffsides they give off a radiant view. The water also wasn’t too cold and the waves were almost nonexistent. It felt like a scene from a painting.
After eating our tiramisu at the beach and swimming, we headed back to the Sita bus stop. I advise going 30 minutes early so you don’t miss the bus and get stranded. The last bus for us came around 11:00 pm. The trek back up can be a challenge if you aren’t ready for it so I advise giving yourself a lot of time to travel back even if Google says it only takes 15 minutes.
After arriving back in Sorrento, we watched a movie and relaxed before heading to sleep. The next day we set one alarm with plenty of time to get ready, eat breakfast that the hotel owner would prepare for us herself, check out, and walk 17 minutes to the port to find the boat we would take to Capri.
Turns out we slept through the alarm. We woke up at around 8:50 which gave us around 40 minutes to get ready, pack, check out, walk to the port, and find our boat. It was definitely an experience. One tip I have is to set multiple alarms. You can’t trust your jetlagged body to wake up fully the first time haha.
Thankfully we were able to get on the boat and make it to Capri. In Capri, we went to the beaches, ate pasta and pizza at a restaurant called Ristorante Pizzeria Verginiello, and topped it off by visiting the famous gelato place called Gelateria Buonocore. We took it slow and enjoyed the amazing views at every bend.
One thing that stood out to me about studying abroad and trips like these are how it can really grow your relationship with friends as well as your faith. My friend and I spent some time reading the Bible and praying during our Sunday in Capri. We are both Christians and wanted to set some time aside for prayer and reading together. I think some of the most impactful things studying abroad has shown me are the power of prayer, the importance of friendships, and how beautiful the world can be. Even when the weather forecast said it would rain, the rain wouldn’t come, even when bad people were around I felt protected, the people around us would be so helpful, and even when plans go awry, the trip would go smoothly and pull together in the end. I was honestly in awe and so thankful to God.
Overall, Italy is a place I would love to visit again someday. If you go to London for study abroad and have only one weekend to go somewhere else, I recommend Italy. Even if it’s a bit more planning required due to transportation, I think it’s one place you can’t miss.