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 ;)
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).