On April 12th, my week long trip to Italy began! I had April 12-21 off of school for Semana Santa (Holy Week). I will explain this more in detail later on in this blog. But first, I just want to RAVE about Italy….I returned back to Sevilla 6 days ago now but I still cannot stop talking about it. I traveled to Milan, Venice, Florence & Rome within the span of one week. Although I loved each city for different reasons, my favorites were definitely Florence & Rome. Why you might ask? Well first of all, the food is amazing but that is expected of Italy. But also Florence was exactly what I pictured Italy to be like with the warm colored buildings & the nice people & a TON of pizza & pasta. Also, Rome was very special to me because I was lucky enough to celebrate my 20th birthday there! I took a pizza & pasta cooking class on my birthday, which was absolutely incredible. I had to keep pinching myself because I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be taking a cooking class in the Roman countryside! However, what made Rome so special for me was that the day after my birthday, a group of girls from Saint Mary’s who are studying abroad in Rome this semester threw me a surprise birthday dinner at their favorite restaurant in Rome! It was so great to see everyone & catch up & have a piece of home with me even during my travels.
I left Italy a few days early because I wanted to be able to celebrate Semana Santa & Pascua (Easter) in Sevilla for the last couple days of my break. In my opinion, Easter & Holy Week in Sevilla is almost as popular as spending it in Rome. Spain is a majority Catholic country & beginning on Palm Sunday, there are processions that take place every single day leading up until Easter. I am so lucky that I was able to be in Sevilla to see the processions because they are so unique & unlike anything I have ever seen before. The processions commemorate the passion, death & resurrection of Christ & 115 plus brotherhoods in Sevilla participate by leading processions starting at their church throughout the city & ending at the Cathedral each day. It is considered an honor to be able to carry the heavy floats for miles & miles & the men who carry the floats on their backs are elected by the eldest brothers of the different brotherhoods every 4 years. These men are called costaleros because of the white protective garment they wear on their heads, covering their eyes as well, as they carry the floats that can weigh up to a ton throughout the city. Also, there are nazarenos who lead in front & follow behind the float along with the band throughout the city. This group of people are a bit controversial for people who do not understand the tradition in Spain because their capirote or hood looks very similar to what was worn by the K.K.K….HOWEVER there is no connection between the two at all!!! Also, since the nazarenos look quite frightening, they hand out candy to children as they walk through the city so they do not look as scary. I found it so cool how each float was different & displayed a different scene from the Bible regarding the death & resurrection of Christ. Some were happy & some were dark & the music being played by the band that paraded through the city would change based on the biblical scene being displayed, which was a very emotional experience. I wish I could attach videos to this blog so you could all see for yourselves what it was like, but unfortunately I cannot so I am trying to explain it all as best I can. It was incredible as well because the streets were completely filled with people, however, during the processions, it was absolutely silent, which shows how important & precious this tradition is not only for locals, but tourists & visitors as well. I also had the amazing opportunity to attend mass at La Catedral ( the famous cathedral that I have talked about in previous blog entries) for Easter. I love my life!!!