Italy and Israel - Spring 2002 - Rachel

Hi all,

Sorry that I have not written most of you in a while, but between being away and having trouble with my email, this is (sort
of) the first chance that I have. Since so much has been going on, I will stick to the highlights of the past few weeks.

My roommate Rachel and I went to Italy for spring break - it was really so beautiful, we had good weather and some good
luck. I would have to say the best part of Florence was seeing the David. The statue is so much a part of pop culture, I
thought that the thrill of seeing it in real life might have been lost on me - but it most certainly wasn't - I almost stood
awestruck in front of the beautiful statue for 20 minutes just taking in its grace, elegance and simplicity.
We then spent a day in Sienna (in central Tuscany), which was a nice break from the hectic city, the day was beautiful and
we just enjoyed walking around the quiet windy streets, with green shuttered houses and beautiful little balcony gardens. Not
to mention the spectacular view of the Tuscan countryside (which Rachel and I took the liberty to explore a bit, despite the
gates and fences) I don't think I realized before then that grass can actually come in that vibrant shade of green.

Next we traveled south to Rome, where we ran into a friend of Rachel's and their tour group, so we were able to join them
and get a free guided tour of the city - which proved very enjoyable since at almost every corner there is some historical or
legendary anecdote to tell or explain. although seeing the Pantheon, Coliseum, Roman Forum, Vatican, beautiful fountains
and gardens, I was a bit overwhelmed by the city, the constant pressure to run around a see everything, and so I was relieved
when we headed off to Elba for the last few days of our trip.

After Rome, we were feeling a little historied out (which is shameful for me to confess being a history major) and so we
skipped the historical sights on the island, which include: Napoleon's home, Napoleon's summer home, Napoleo's library and
the national Napoleon museum (for those confused Elba is the island that napoleon was exiled to before his defeat at
Waterloo, it was intended to be a lifetime sentence but he escaped after 10 months). All I have to say is that Napoleon was
sent to paradise!!! We arrived at our hotel, Senior Lupi (our proprietor at Casa Lupi) asked us if we would prefer our room to
have a mountain view or ocean view. We chose the mountain view, and the weekend just got better form there. We had a
wonderful just sitting by the ocean in the sun, or hiking up into the steep, green hills that led to the peaks on the island. And
since we were there before tourist season, it felt like we had the whole island to ourselves.
The last day of our trip we took a bus to the ferry to the train to the plain to the cab to the dorm, and we were back. It was a
wonderful trip, and I absolutely fell in love with Italy - the people were so friendly, the food absolutely delicious, and the
sights totally breathtaking.

A day after I got back from Italy, I flew to Israel for Passover, where I spent the holiday with my family in Netanya. It was
wonderful to see my family and really get a chance to spend some time with them, including the 7-month-old daughter of my
cousin. It was also nice to have so much delicious food prepared for me - and since my father did not want me to do much
travelling all i did was eat the delicious food. I did get a chance to make it to Bnei Brak to visit with the Tachau family who
are all doing very well and send their regards to the family.

I am now waiting for my dad and brother who will be arriving next week after a day in Vienna - I really look forward to
seeing them and showing them around Prague. I hope that all is well and that you are enjoying better weather than I am (its
been in the low 40s all week).

all the best
love Rachel