From September 2005 until July 2006 I lived and studied in the town of Urbino, in the Marche area of Central Italy. It was my Erasmus year, the obligatory year abroad which for me was during the second year of my degree. And I might be terribly biased, but I think it's one of the most beautiful places on earth.
This past weekend I went back to Urbino for the first time since I left the town on the first of July 2006. It had been a shockingly long amount of time since the end of my Erasmus year, but a couple of months ago I finally got my act together and booked a long weekend back in my beloved Urbino. It's a pretty long journey down from Milan, the train journey takes around three hours and a half to Pesaro, where the nearest train station is. From there it's a coach up into the hills, taking either 45 minutes or around an hour. So on Saturday I left my house in Milan at 7am, and I got to the hotel in Urbino around 1 - also thanks to Trenitalia and their constantly delayed trains!
In the bus on the way to Urbino it began to rain... And a thunderstorm whilst I was getting settled in the hotel meant that I decided to make the most of BBC World News on the tv! Once it all settled I was off to explore! I was staying at Albergo Italia just off Piazza della Repubblica, the main square in the town, which made it a very convenient base for wandering around the town. Unfortunately on Saturday there were a few other showers, and also on Sunday. The locals very wisely decided to stay inside over the weekend, and the only people around were us tourists!
For merenda I decided to go back to what had been my favourite gelateria, La Romana in Piazza della Repubblica. I also called in over the next few days, after all, holiday calories don't count right?? They no longer had the cookies gelato that I'd lived on in the past, but I did discover a delicious cream one!
Taking advantage of the fact that most students would be fast asleep on Sunday morning I went on a pilgrimage back to my old university halls. I could've walked the kilometre there from the centre with my eyes closed. It was a path that I had walked hundreds of times during that year, and following it seven years down the line, now settled in Italy, was a very strange feeling indeed...
Monday came around, and the town was full of locals and tourists. The sun had also come out, and I was also able to have lunch outside near my old faculty. I took advantage of the sunny yet windy weather to walk up to the fortress at the top of town to admire the spectacular views.
I have no idea how I managed to walk up and down the hilly streets day in day out for a year. After just one afternoon I was exhausted! I've still got muscles aching that I'd completely forgotten about! It was a wonderful weekend, full of memories. It was almost like returning to somewhere I'd grown up in. Urbino was the very first place I went to in Italy, after landing in Rome at the beginning of my Erasmus adventure. It was amazing to see how much hadn't changed in seven years, everything was just like how I remembered. Next time I won't wait so long to go back!