Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Turkey, at last

On the 26th we (Sean and I) flew into Bucharest, Romania, which was a cold, hard city. Never go there. It is not worth it. You can't even google a map - only satellite images. It is filled with beggars with baby lambs in slings, packs of stray dogs that can (and WILL) give you rabies, and casinos. Lots of casinos. And snow that doesn't even stick. And no food.

THEN we got on a train to Istanbul, some 19 hours. Somehow, coincidentally, we ended up in the same compartment as two Americans, one of whom grew up in Portland, OR, and they both worked on trail repair in Alaska. I had my first encounter with a squat toilet, and had some of the worst, most interrupted sleep in my life. The sound of grumpy beauracrats yelling for passports in a language I didn't understand and banging on doors with their short staffs haunts me still. At the border to Turkey the beauracrats would only accept Euro or American (we're not even sure they would have taken YTL, the Turkish money), and there were no ATMs. Sean covered the two from our compartment plus two American expats living in Qatar, all of whom paid him back at the station in Istanbul. Turkish beauracrats yelling about money... ah, the sweet sound lingers still.

When we arrived in Istanbul, we had still not made up our minds about where we were staying for New Year's, but initial research proved that a hostel (or hotel) in Istanbul itself for the New Year's would be incredibly, astoundingly marked up (a room normally going for about 10 bucks a night would be 500!), so we ran south! On the bus to Cennakale a Turkish man insisted on paying for some Cay for Sean at the rest stop - I slept through this. We took a room in Anzac house in Cennakale, and visited the dear, wonderful Troy. It was much smaller than I anticipated, but I feel like I have fulfilled my Reedie heritage. The 'dolmus' that got us there (basically a bus service, but in a small van) stopped service over an hour before closing, and we therefore missed it going back to town. However, a local shopkeeper offered to give us a lift for the same price on his way back into town. He talked to us mostly about Australians - there was a battle in Gallipoli apparently, that the Brits shipped a lot of young Australians off to to die, and every year there's an "Anzac Day" in remembrence, so A LOT of Australians travel through Cennakale. Australia finds me again. After another night there, trying to store up some "sleep on a stationary bed", we bused to Izmir, transferred to a Dolmus (basically a van) to Selcuk, where I am writing now :D

Tonight, after dinner, a man snagged us with "Hey Rasta man, what are you looking for?", which led to Sean saying he was from California, which led to us being taught Backgammon in a hookah/wine bar while drinking Raki. I'm loving Turks, if you can't tell. So far, none of the people who have tried to snag us have actually tried to cheat us - "How can I help you? Oh, internet is around the corner... Toilet is over there, by the big tree... Dolmus to Selcuk is downstairs." We did avoid picking up a shoeshiner's dropped brush though - Sean read about that scam. He can't remember what they do to you once you lean over to pick it up, but apparently it's bad :(

Tomorrow, we head to Ephesus! The largest most intactest Roman city on the Mediterranean. Then, back to the hookah bar! We must polish our Backgammon skillz before trying to play with people in Istanbul...


Monday, December 22, 2008

Catania, again

So, while a lot of my friends and family are completely snowed in, this is what I get :D

We plan on going to the Circus tonight, and climb Mt. Etna tomorrow or the day after. Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, depart for Romania on the 26th. It is warm out, in the sun, but I'm kind of sad I don't get to make snow-women and dogs (I'm not into the traditional snowman).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cibo preferito in Italia

e fagioli (beans)
con cacio e pepe (Pecorino Romano Cheese with black pepper)
pomodoro [e basilico] (it is not the same as marinara, I swear)
arrabiata (hot and spicy, "enraged" if you will)
carbonara (2 egg yolks and 1/2 cup parmesan, with ham/bacon pieces)
coi broccoli (http://www.whatyoulove.it/2008/04/17/pasta-coi-broccoli-moretti-docet/)
con aglio, olio, e peperoncino (with garlic, oil, and pepper)
ubriaca ("drunk", with red wine, garlic and oil)
amatriciana (spicy, red sauce with pancetta, or bacon)
con melanzane (eggplant, similar to the broccoli idea)

That's really prejudiced for pasta, so I'll try some others:

prosciutto e melone
insalata (green leafies with olive oil, vinegar, and salt on it, like my host mom does it)
zuppa di verdure
patate arrosto, al forno

It's amazing I haven't GIVEN myself gluten intolerance, like some Italians do. And yes, I know a few of those dishes have cheese in them. I'm not perfect about avoiding it, and the cheese was very aged. No cream dishes if you notice.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


So, my grandmother from my dad's side visited this weekend. She and I went on some adventurous journeys, beginning in Florence and spending three days in Rome. I saw some of my long-term goals, such as the Ara Pacis, inside the Colosseum, and then revisited the Forum. Pat knows everything about history (at least Roman and English) but denies it. We drank a lot of wine together, and generally I very much enjoyed her as a travel companion. I'm hoping I can afford a trip to England/Stone Henge with her this upcoming spring.

The dying Gaul in the Capitolini Musei in Rome is her favorite statue: I therefore include my photo of it :D

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Yet again I have literally come close enough to the Coliseum to touch it, but did not enter. Sigh. That's what happens on one-day school trips. Also, failed to see Stone Henge. Again. But that's a different adventure - upcoming Oxford post!

My friend Lauren was the HAPPIEST person I have ever seen be happy in a religious way - she's a devout Catholic and actually got to confess (in English!) in the Vatican! For her, this was literally one of those things on her list of life-goals, and she was so ecstatic. Much like I imagined I would be to see Stone Henge. Hmm... I suspect I'm a little bitter about what happened in Salisbury.

I found it amusing in the Vatican, because I ended up walking around with another friend who wasn't in such religious spasms of happiness, and had a chance to surprise her with Michelangelo's Mary and Christ - and the story of the crazy axe-man who attacked it. Can't see any problem nowadays with Mary's nose, despite the violence she saw... But she is certainly behind some tough glass, and a railing. Also got to point out the decomposing popes in glass tombs to this friend, making her squeal in surprise/disgust. I found them as amusing now as I did when I was 16 - as my dad pointed out, their bodies are incredibly well-preserved, a common side effect of arsenic poisoning. Then again, he's a bit of a disillusioned Catholic, so I don't know how seriously to take that bit of info.

This image was me attempting to take a picture of just how incredibly crowded the underground was, and instead almost got eaten by the escalator. Oops. Saucy girl winking (or closing one eye?) at me is THE fellow Reedie in this program with me :D

Night-time Vatican, shiny. The girl I walked around inside with said it looked like a hotel in Las Vegas. Footnote: she's a Russian Jew. She'd like to see the Vatican stripped of its gold embellishments in order to feed starving children. A touch suspicious about extravagant displays of power and devotion... nah, I can't tell she's a Russian Jew.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Last weekend I visited Sean in Catania - it was lovely. Traveling was a bit of a hassle, but fortunately none of my modes of transport were late. Due to the nature of Ryanair, a cheap airline in Europe, I had to fly Pisa to Palermo rather than Florence to Catania. This requires: bus from Florence to Pisa airport, fly to Palermo airport, bus from Palermo airport to Palermo city center, bus from Palermo to Catania. So, a two hour flight turns into ten hours of travel? Well, I made it roundtrip for less than 100 euro, so I think it was worth it.

I gave Sean a list of things I wanted to see/do: Mt. Etna, the Mediterranean, the fish market, limoncello. The only thing I didn’t get to was Mt. Etna, but I certainly saw a lot of it from afar, so I feel pretty satisfied. The night I arrived we checked me in at Bianca B&B and headed to Capoiera at the local kommie community center. I had a lot of fun dancing, but man oh man... we then went out to a nightclub for 80’s night. The rest of the weekend I walked funny, my legs were so sore. Sunday we hung out with some of the people from Capoiera - originally we were waiting for a ride to a practice out in the woods by the ocean, but it turned into us jamming together (I actually played musical instruments!) and eating tasty tasty pasta with pepporicino (sp?). I also saw an old Roman ampitheater that mostly exists under the streets of Catania, but they have one small portion of it excavated and open to the public.

While I was there I met most of the people in Sean’s program, saw Nigel Nicholson, and ate horse meat. There was much drinking and hanging out in the evenings, and much sunshine and wandering around during the day. Catania was almost completely rebuilt after an eruption of Mt. Etna back in the 1600’s, so all the architecture is very similar, and pretty. But, because the city is much more poor nowadays it’s also dirty and filled with stray dogs. People were more prone to riding scooters on the sidewalk, there weren’t any actual crosswalks, and everything was cheaper. I met a mini-pony that goes into coffee bars with its owner.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sept. 27th Cave di Marmo - Finally!

Note: This post is for my birthday, SEPTEMBER 27th. I fail a little at posting it in a reasonable timeframe. But, here at last are pictures of my adventure to the marble quarries :D

So, on my birthday my school took us to see Carrara, the source of white marble in Italy for centuries. Romans chiseled marble out of these mountains, much more slowly than nowadays, but yes, this is probably where the stone for the Ara Pacis came from. Eeek! Anyway, something I certainly didn’t know: there are mountains made of marble. ENTIRE MOUNTAINS. So, it’s possible to have an indoor quarry. This is the quarry we visited.

Here you can see me, the saucy birthday girl (with long hair!) in requisite hard hat in the heart of a mountain of white marble! Equidistant from the top of the mountain to sea level, and one side to the other, this really is the heart of the mountain. Through to the other side (from where I entered) is the actual quarry where Michelangelo chose the marble for his statue of David!

This is a shot of the ceiling of this indoor quarry - the only indoor one in Carrara, possibly Italy - where you can see traces of them cutting the blocks out. The rough stone to the left is part of a giant pillar of marble they are leaving for support of the open air quarry above, but also useless for their work (the irregular texture comes from irregularities in the stone, revealed when they pull away a block). The smooth rock in the background is part of a future HUNK of marble. They will simply cut into the sides, cut out the bottom, slide a giant diamond-studded chain around the back and cut it away from the wall. Then they insert flat metal pillows in the the back cut, fill them with air, and the block falls over!

As a sidenote, there was a lot of graffiti in the caves. I believe this is all graffiti made by the five man crew that cuts marble here, but it was really interesting. There was a giant color tree near the entrance, some cave-painting-like drawings, and a sketch of Michelangelo’s David (how fitting!). There were also inflatable swimming toys in a large pool of water near the Virgin Mary, which I thought was really cute and amusing.

So, yeah, Virgin Mary. This is an instance where, when they pulled a giant block away from the wall, a small irregularity that pulled away with it. This particular one occured on Christmas Eve (Buon Natale), and the workers recognized in the formation an image of the Virgin Mother with child and created this little altar to it. They regard her as the protectoress of the quarry.

When we got out of the caves, we were taken on a tour of the history of marble quarring (what English verb is there for this?), and the tour-guide was really entertaining. He gave the entire tour in Italian, and joyfully pressured one of our teachers into translating, especially joyfully the insults the marble movers used. The horn in this picture? It works. And he had a huge collection of historic tools, including Roman ones.

Before we went up to the quarry itself, we actually visited a studio where they carve the marble. The owner of the studio gave us a personal tour, and I think the little girl was his granddaughter. At any rate, she was crying and tugging on his pants until he picked her up. Note how the little girl has marble dust all over her dress? Marble everywhere! We actually saw people in the process of carving statues, and I probably inhaled quite a bit of this dust... but it was so pretty, and so worth it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Room...

One of these is the view FROM my window, in the other you can see my window (far top right). The top floor balconies are off the kitchen to my host families home. :D

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Saturday night, generally fun....

So, today I actually called a friend and invited her/myself to dinner, and went out with her and another friend. When I met them at the Duomo, a Moroccan was making them some pretty friendship bracelets, and I ended up with this small hair wrap. I did not pay him half as much as he asked when he was done, but that was because I inadvertently left my wallet at home! Ack! Fortunately, upon returning home, I have located it. But, still, I have this hair-wrap that I did not pay full price for :D

Also, spent the night with several different classmates (buono!) and a chunk with a Moroccan (different from the one who I cheated for my hair wrap) who spoke little English... surprisingly rewarding, talking to him.

That is my Saturday night. As written while still intoxicated by the wine, rum, and more wine. A volte, Firenze e molto bello. A volte, sono da solo. Ma, mi piace esssere qui. E una avventura.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Goldilocks in the Danceclub

The first boy danced too close, and she had trouble sending him away. The second boy danced too far away, and she felt awkward. The third boy danced just close enough, and she stayed out until 3am dancing :D

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Night-time journey

So, I still need to post my birthday, and some other pictures, but I wanted to share tonight: night-time Florence revived my soul.

I've been feeling a touch lonely here, it doesn't seem that many people want to forge friendships, or maybe I've just gotten too used to having really close, long-time friends close at hand. I forgot how hard freshmen year of college was. BUT, going out tonight (erroneously, it turns out, to join classmates at a bar) I ended up wandering the city by myself, and it was gorgeous. Something about the lights? The hum of conversation? Minus the tourists and merchants, Firenze is truly beautiful, and I feel like I actually live here, rather than visiting. And, when I'm surrounded by classmates who speak English, it is easy to forget where I am. Alone in the street when an Italian (Spaniard?) stops and asks for directions... I feel quite clearly where I am, and I get excited all over again. It was like reliving my first night here, when I checked into my hostel and went out rather than go to bed early, and visited Santa Croce for the first time. It holds the same magic now, which was a wonderful realization. More night-time travels are ahead for me, even if I'm alone, but next time I'll let my host family know - they locked me out with the door chain on accident! But the father wasn't mad at me, and God knows what the mother thought when I had to ring the doorbell... (she speaks no English)

<3 from Italy,

Saturday, October 4, 2008

"Productive" Saturday

Today, I hung out with Lauren all day, watching Dr. Who and wandering the city, it was lovely. I thought I'd share my first real purchase in Italy (somehow, I don't think nail clippers count):

I bought them at a small Indian shop, cornelian and silver. At the same place, Lauren finally broke and bought a cashmere shawl (she's been drooling over them at every store we pass for more than a week). Later, we went to Oktoberfest in Santa Croce, yet again (it's been set up since Thursday), and wandered the booths for quite a while trying on rings and testing purses and basically having a lovely evening. I've had a lot of wurtzels the last few days. My goal on Monday is to finally visit the shoe shop in San Spirito and buy either a lovely pair of sandals, or a wonderful pair of boots. Either way, it will be handmade leather, XD (that's an excited face).

I will try to get a post up with pictures from my birthday soon, tomorrow in fact, but was just so excited about my earrings that I had to post out of order ;)

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Count

Two weekends ago, so, Sept. 20th, we visited "The Count" out in the Tuscan countryside. He is the real thing - it was extraordinary. He uses his family's land now to grow grapes for wine, and offers this tour of his property to our school because he is friends with the director, Cristina. He was extremely entertaining - as he said himself, he abhors being politically correct. Some gems from the tour (and picture this all in an English accent):

"There are three ways to lose your money: women, gambling, and wine-making. Women are the most pleasant, gambling the quickest, and wine-making the surest."

"Go ahead, pass it [the wine] around, there's enough alcohol in there to kill AIDs."

"What do you think luxury is? A yacht? A summerhouse in an exotic locale?" He says this as he fills a glass of wine from a giant barrel, "Making your own wine? No," he sloshes the wine about and pours it out, "this is true luxury." (being able to rinse your wine glass out with WINE?)

... and I remember little else very well, as he got us quick drunk at lunch. BUT I know that he took us through his family villa and showed us some truly historic items. He prohibited picture-taking as they've had trouble with THIEVES, but showed us some antique furniture (as in, 19th century antiques that have been in the villa this entire time), his traditional garden laid down hundreds of years ago (when the villa was more prosperous, it was better maintained, but there were some lime trees there in their original pots that were 200 years old), and, of all things, some books. Signed books. Books signed by Mark Twain, inscribed to his grandmother, thanking her for tea. With his real name, not just his pseudonym. OMG, I touched these books.

After the tour, most of the group hiked into town to catch a bus, but Leigh, Caelie and I opted to get a ride with The Count - for real! He gave us a ride to town as he was already headed that way to drop off his fiance at the train station. It was quite entertaining - he complained bitterly about old men in hats who drive slow (and said that in the US it's old ladies with blue hair), and complained that there are no good political jokes this election year - everyone is too touchy about a black man and/or woman in the White House. He only knew three jokes, and one of them was, "Chelsea Clinton visited the Middle East. A delegate who spoke with her said, 'There are three people I'm afraid of, Osama, Obama, and yo'mama'."

It was quite the grand adventure, seeing his home and meeting such a personality. If he and Cristina weren't friends, he might work in the SLC program, but if they weren't friends, we wouldn't get to see his villa and wine-making operation! I think he really enjoyed lecturing us about the history of the area where he lives, how wine is made (wood barrels to cement to fiberglass and, in the end, back to wood, of course), how to eat lunch properly, and complaining about everything you can think of. Ornery old man. I hope I meet him again someday, somehow. Cristina told us that his name is actually Niccolo.

Friday, September 26, 2008


So, I don't have many photos post-Pontito. My batteries are dead, the charger doesn't work, and my camera eats normal AAs for breakfast. Thus, my delay in posting something new. But, I realized, I can write! Without pictures! And it's a bit hard to take pictures of my teachers/syllabi anyway. I will try to be brief but interesting ;)

Regarding classes:

I study Italian two hours a day four days a week, making it twice as intense as the usual foreign language course, and I'm living in Italy, my TV/available movies are in Italian, my host family speaks next to no English, and all of the teachers/administrators here are European. So, I am hearing a lot of Italian/Italian accents. But, no, I don't speak Italian well yet. We saw the Italians from the dinner party in Pescia again last night, and one who spoke to me both nights said I improved, so that's a good sign, right? My Italian teacher is named Anna, and she is awesome. Her mother was American, her father Russian (and, footnote, he teaches the incredible Art On Paper course in the program), and she was born here in Florence the year after the Arno flooded (her father told us). She worked as a supermodel, but has a PhD in Italian literature. She's also an unmarried mother. Sometimes, I wonder at her superwoman powers, and (always) admire her achievements.

Of course, I'm taking Art Restoration while here. My teachers are a married couple that work in a restoration studio in San Spirito (south of the river). The wife lectures, and the husband will work with us in the studio, where, by the way, they showed us a painting by one of Da Vinci's students/lovers (Salai?) that they were analyzing... and could shake the art world's understanding of Da Vinci and Salai, for the craftsmenship and (authentic!) signature defy all current understanding. Our focus this semester is on wood panel painting, and I'm reading nearly the entirety of works by Cennini and Vasari (period authors... Vasari coined the term "Renaissance"). I'm so excited by this class, and only have two students in it (me being one, the other a friend who is also here almost exclusively for the art restoration), so we get very personalized attention. Next week we begin prepping wood panels for gessoing/gilding/painting in the traditional manner, eek!

My third class is History and Anthropology with a local Florentine who is a touch crazy, but in a genius way. I have to be careful when I ask questions, because he sometimes gets lost in all that he knows (because he knows A LOT). This class goes on field trips - our first (real) session was held in Piazza della Signoria, the one Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery face. And we talked about the people who built the castle, and why the Medici didn't tear it down like they did so many other castles, that the piazza's name comes from signore and was named such for the commoners who ran Florence, and much more that was probably more interesting to hear in person that read here ;) I prefer this class to the Art History one mostly because of the teachers, and format. The Art History course is on medieval art (yay!), is heavily based on lecture with powerpoint accompaniment (ick!), goes on a weekly field trip to observe the art first hand (yay!), but the teacher was completely uninsipiring (AHG!). So, the Art History major is not taking Art History.

My FOURTH class, which technically I'm not allowed to take, so I'm auditing, is with a German who lived very close to the border between Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. He is fascinated by cultural perspectives, and so it makes so much sense that he's teaching a Political Science course. The title is "Italy, Europe, and the European Union", and we're talking about contemporary European politics, with a strong emphasis on Italy. There's a lot about democracy, and it's various forms, but I'm excited about this class because I believe that it is giving me a crucial background in modern Europe, which would help me if I ever needed to work here (which, in my field, I probably will). Also, the teacher is spectacular. He has great energy, and the main reason I'm auditing this one instead of the Anthro class is that my potential essay in Anthro is more interesting to me.

My biggest class (the political science) has 15 students - which is apparently very rare, but like I said, this teacher is really exciting, and I'm not the only one who noticed. The Anthro and Italian each have 5 students. And, as I said, 2 in Art Restoration. The program has a total of 25 in it, 4 are boys, making it very estrogen heavy. In Italian the other day we asked our teacher for all the essential girly vocabulary, for when we need something from the store, and poor Zach was the only boy in the room! This also means, of course, that all us single girls are looking out to the Italian population for single men. No worries about me - I have contact info. for five of them already, but I haven't gone on a date yet, and I met them all through the Italians working with our program (they came to school parties).

Saturday, September 20, 2008


While we were still in Pescia, we took a day-trip to Pontito, a small medieval village in the Tuscan hills. I believe this is what happened (I'm guessing some of the names): after a harrowing experience trying to turn down a narrow bridge in a bus (at which the driver succeeded!), we ate lunch in Castel Vecchio, and then lounged about a playground. The bus then drove up to Stiappa, and all but a few of us went on a hike via the trail used for centuries through the Tuscan chestnut forests to Pontito. At the bottom of the valley was all sorts of interesting art, like bicycles in the trees. When we finally made it back up the mountain, the fresh water fountain (true medieval style fountain) was so wonderful feeling... Some students actually dipped their heads in it. This town, as I've said, is the hometown of an artist who creates nearly perfect reproductions of the town despite not having been there for 50 years or more? Also, it's just plain beautiful. The landscape is breath-taking. So far, it is the most precious experience because I know that only through this program would I have ever had it. 


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Orientation week:

My school is inside this awesome building, downstairs from Il Instituto di Restauro (apologies I spelled that wrong, and it mean school of Restoration), and this picture captures the courtyard as I first saw it, before we headed of to Pescia for orientation last week. Bellisimo.

This is a picture of Davide and Riccardo, not pictured is Niccolo. While in Pescia, we had a dinner with friends of our Italian student-guides (Sarah Lawrence has four Florentine students that work with us, joining us on outings and helping us with the local scene, Italian customs, etc.). I have the phone number or Skype of all three boys that sat with me and some other girls...

This is Hannah and I at the dinner. We were roommates in Pescia - the "hotel" is what they call an "agroturismo". Families with large villas and lots of property transform some farmhouses into rentable spaces and have tourists/vacationing families rent them out. There was a pool and much awesome Tuscan countryside.

One of our daytrips was to Montecarlo, and this is a view from a little courtyard over the countryside.

I MUST write more about this town, but in short: This is Pontito. We went on an impressive hike through Tuscan mountains/foothills to reach the village, and this picture is of me at the very top, next to the church. There is a book by Oliver Sacks called An Anthropologist on Mars in which you can read about an artist that obsessively portrays this town, his childhood home. When he lived there, maybe 200 people lived in Pontito? Now there are 40 or less. During the war, soldiers who occupied the town defaced the homes and devastated the countryside. The disruption of the local economy/life drove many people out, but also the temptations of modern life have seduced the younger generation. A very pretty town, but I think the endorphins from the hike heightened the prettiness ;)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Quick-pre-dinner post...

Just to cover my promise, here is a photo from my perspective in bed in Florence my first night:

But, before I cover my orientation trip:
So, we just arrived back in Florence today. I settled in very quickly with my host family, who speak as much English as I do Italian, perhaps a little more. The father, Lui-Andrea (apologies if I have spelled it wrong), works in textiles, with denim, and could speak very well with me about the quality of a cloth and its dye, but when we try to discuss anything more mundane (when do I do laundry? Where is your son? How do I ____?) the mother understands barely a word I speak, and the father very little. Once I laid my things down, this afternoon, I fell into "just a short nap, I swear" and woke up... 6 hours later. After dark. At 8:30pm. And no one was home. I got ready to change into pj's and truly call it a night when the parents came back from visiting THEIR parents across the street (and taking the dogs for a walk) and now dinner is being prepared! Wha?! Italians are a bit crazy when it comes to food and their schedule, and I totally forgot.

Also, I think Lui-Andrea said something about a Filipino woman who works here from 10am to 6:30pm, is crazy, sometimes works sometimes doesn't. I am a bit confused - I think she's their maid, but why woud she be here so many hours of the day? Office assistant to Lui-Andrea? (Let me say, I will get you some photos soon, but it is so posh here, why are they doing host-family? This place is huge, and gorgeous, and filled with antiques!).

That all said, I have to go to dinner. But, now that I've napped and have internet, I may be finally capable of making a post regarding my school, the Sarah Lawrence College (SLC) students
I've met, and the orientation trip in general.

Arrividerci amici,

Monday, September 8, 2008


I arrived today, safe and well, despite Germany's attempt to lose me in the maze they call Frankfurt Airport (if the map shows only one security gate between arrivals and my departure gate, how did I end up going through three different ones?). I'm still recovering from my cold, which made cabin pressure changes lovely. Tonight, I'm in a hostel called "Tourist House", and boy is it sweet. I'm going to try to get a good picture of my ceiling tomorrow, the lighting isn't good enough, but let's just say there's naked people up there.

I went out into Florence and ate by myself, and scoped out where my school is. Tomorrow I join up with everyone, and we head to Pescia. So, not much of Florence for now. Here's my sunset-is-coming-I-just-arrived photos:

This is, I believe, the church of Santa Maria Novella, for which the train station is named. When I saw all the lovely colored marbel, I had such a flashback to my first time in Florence that this is when I fished my camera out of my backpack. I don't think photographs (based on my quick check of Google images) can capture how beautiful this multi-colored building is.

I don't actually know where this is, but I'm guessing it's the Piazza della Republica, from behind. Trying to figure it out in Google is making me realize what I missed when I bypassed this Piazza to try to find my hostel before sunset!

Museo Bargello. It's two blocks down from my hostel on Via Ghibellina, *squeal*. Can I just say how awesome it is to be in a city where ancient history is so familiar and comfortable that people literally sit on the steps of a statue carved by Rennaissance artists (not Michelangelo, that one's fenced off), gossiping? Making out? Smoking and looking bored? Well, regarding the art with such nonchalance isn't exciting, but the fact that there's so much of it that you simply can't sit in awe of it all the time or you'd be paralyzed IS.

Also, I saw a broken off piece of a scooter's wind-shield, and avoided a motor-vehicle accident as smoothly as an Italian (that is, I neatly stepped out of the way and gave the driver a dirty look). Sometimes, watching scooters manuever around traffic, or cars driving backwards on a street at nearly 25 mph, I feel like there are no rules of the road here. Just don't hit or be hit.

And! I saw this just walking down Via Ghibellina, these two dudes were just ripping out the guts of this totally historic building, and they thought it was really amusing when I stopped and looked in. There's always something undergoing renovation here, including part of the Uffizzi Galleria right now.

I BELONG here. You can't have me back.