Adventures in Italy: Week One

Ciao Bella! I’ve been in Italy for a little over a week now and have truly been having the time of my life. I wanted to write these blog posts to not only share about my time here but to also have these to look back at and always remember this life-changing trip in detail like this.


After about 25 hours of traveling I arrived in Genoa, Italy on Saturday!!! It took two flights, two train rides, and a taxi but I made it. I was instantly blown away by the beauty of this place and it surprisingly didn’t take me too long to adjust to the time change. I met my roommates, we got settled in our apartment, and then headed to explore around our neighborhood. Truly everywhere you look there are incredible views and I feel so lucky to be living here for three weeks!

We sat at a restaurant along the beach and hung out for awhile before eating (maybe) the best meal of my life. Genoa is known for their pesto and I was thrilled when the waiter told me that they had gluten free pasta + bread available. The pesto pasta was incredible + made me so excited for all the meals I’ll get to eat here in Italy.


We woke up early and had a super busy but super fun day!!! It started with brunch at a local “bar” (this is what they call their coffee shops/cafes). I was shocked and excited to find out they had a nutella-filled gluten free brioche. So far Italy has completely outdone itself on gluten free food!

Our site manager took us on a city tour of Genoa and explained so much of the rich history this city holds. We even got to be driven around in carts on a bike while the bikers explained more of our surroundings to us. It was a dream day + I could not stop taking pictures. Everywhere we went there was something new + exciting to see!

The home where Christopher Columbus grew up

The home where Christopher Columbus grew up

One of the original seven gates of Genoa

One of the original seven gates of Genoa

Ferrari Square in the center of Genoa

Ferrari Square in the center of Genoa

Traditional Genoese architecture

Traditional Genoese architecture

The world’s first ever bank

The world’s first ever bank

Inside of the oldest cathedral in Genoa

Inside of the oldest cathedral in Genoa

After the morning part of the tour we stopped for lunch at a pizza place. My new friends were too kind + we decided to order all the pizzas gluten free so that I could try them too! The food here was SO good, they said they couldn't even taste a difference. All of the food I’ve had here so far has been so fresh + it’s so easy to tell that it’s made with real, authentic ingredients. After chowing down on some pizza we made our way to a gelato shop for dessert.

After eating some gelato we saw even more incredible views. This city is truly breathtaking + it already has a piece of my heart!

We finished out the day with an incredible dinner and time to get to know one another even more. I love these new friends and am so thankful for this time we have together!



We woke up early this morning and headed to the hospital for a tour! It was so exciting getting to walk through all of the departments and start thinking through what specialties I want to see in these next few weeks. I loved getting to talk to all of the other fellows about why they are interested in medicine and what they are looking to pursue with it in the future. We all have such different passions and interests but also are all here for such similar reasons. I already feel like I’ve known them for longer than 3 days.

The hospital is incredible and patients come from all over Europe to be treated here. There’s a little church/chapel right in the middle of all of the buildings and it is so beautiful. I am so thankful and excited to have the opportunity to work here for the next few weeks.


After the hospital tour we had some free time so we headed to the beach! The beaches here are made up of rocks instead of sand and are a lot smaller than the ones in the United States but they are so so beautiful! We got some sun + swam in the sea, it really was such a perfect afternoon.

We finished the day with a group dinner at this restaurant with the best beachside view. Our food was awesome (as it continually is here in Italy!) and it was so fun to just sit and talk and enjoy the view. I am so happy here. God’s presence has been so evident to me this entire trip and I feel like I see Him + His goodness everywhere. Being in a new place with so much beauty all around me has made me even more aware of how amazing the things He creates are.


Today was our first full day at the hospital and I feel like I learned so much from only a day. I got to be a fellow in the cardio-thoracic surgery department and it was unbelievable. All the doctors were so kind to explain things to me during rounds and I already feel like I’ve started picking up a little bit of Italian from listening to them speak so much! It was such a busy day at the hospital that we didn’t take any photos or anything but we had the best day. After our day at the hospital we had a couple hours of free time before we went to this pesto making class with the sweetest Italian chef in her home. It was so sweet of her to welcome us into her house like she did and I can truly say it was the best pesto I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to make it for my friends + family at home!

After learning how to make pesto we headed to Boccadase for some gelato + to hang out by the beach before we went back towards our part of town for dinner. It was definitely one of the most memorable days here in Genoa so far.


Today was another day shadowing in the cardio-thoracic surgery department and I got to observe an open heart surgery. I can’t even put into words the feeling of seeing a beating human heart for the first time. We were in surgery for 4 1/2 hours and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I seriously can’t believe that I get to spend three weeks here learning and observing like this! Not to mention, the scrubs are insanely comfortable.


After the day at the hospital we had some free time and then a group dinner at a restaurant right along the beach. My friends ordered squid ink pasta (it’s literally black!) and said that it was incredible. I’m trying to soak in all of these experiences we are having and memories we are making because it truly has been one of the best weeks of my life. Would you be brave enough to try this pasta?



Today was my last day in the cardio-thoracic surgery department and I spent it watching another open heart surgery. The surgeons expertise and focus was so admirable and I really do feel like I’ve learned so much by observing and listening to them explain what they’re doing, even if cardio-thoracic surgery isn’t exactly what I’m wanting to do one day. This experience in and of itself has been unreal so far.

After shadowing me and my friends headed to the beach and after such an exhausting few days, I took a long nap on the rocks. Not exactly comfortable, but the sun felt too good not to just listen to some music and fall asleep right there. We swam and just enjoyed being together and relaxing in such a beautiful place. I really could get used to this.

After the beach we decided to try and save money by not going out to dinner and instead went to the grocery store, split up buying some ingredients, and Annabelle made pesto, tomatoes, and mozzarella! Feeling extra lucky to have a roomie that can cook.



This Friday we had our first excursion day as a group! Our site manager took us to Santa Margherita and Portofino and both were seriously magical. After taking the train to Santa Margherita, we spent some time walking around the town and then had lunch at the yummiest little spot and afterwards enjoyed some gelato. This town is adorable + has some breathtaking views from the harbor. I love traveling and seeing more and more parts of this beautiful country as each town has something different and special to it.

After exploring Santa Margherita we took a ferry over to Portofino! This small, very-expensive town was gorgeous and full of lots of high end shops + nice places to eat. It was an expensive place to visit so I definitely recommend day-tripping it to go there rather than staying there! We loved walking around the shops and enjoying the restaurants right along the sea.

This town had the most amazing views everywhere you looked. I could’ve sat here and just enjoyed watching the boats come in and out of the harbor all day! There were so many amazing yachts + beautiful homes sitting up in the mountains as well. It was picture perfect!


After exploring all that Portofino had to offer, the crew + I headed back to Santa Margherita to swim! The beach there was fairly big compared to most and the water was SO blue. We had a blast before we headed back to our apartment to rest up for a weekend of traveling. So far I could not love it here more and have truly been having the time of my life. I’ll be back with more pictures + fun times from week two! I hope everyone is enjoying their summer! Arrivederci!

Julia DeWolfComment