Saturday, February 26, 2011

communication

The moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep, you are communicating. Even if a word doesn't pass your lips, you are contacting and interacting with others through body language, written word, and such, unless your the boy from io ho paura that is...

Today, I woke up from my phone, a personal communication device. My roommate and I grab our laptops (which need to explanation) and got caught up on what was happening during last night's prime time hours (in America).

We met up with people from our studying abroad program at the train station and grabbed our whisperers, which is a device that is essentially a one way walkie talkie so we can all hear our tour guide. Our destination was Orvieto.

As we listened to our tour guides through our whispers, we saw St. Patrick's Well, the Cathedral of Orvieto aka S. Maria Assunta and an underground city.

On the side of St. Patrick's well there is a sign that is written in Latin that our tour guide translated into english: Nature could not provide us with this, so we built it ourselves. That doesn't come off so humble now does it.

After we returned our whisperers, a friend and I went our for lunch where we had a few miscommunications while ordering, then we were off in search to discover what that sign that said "Free Wine Tasting" was all about. Great discovery!

We walked in, and this little older man stood with a smile. "Ehhhh the sign out front?" I blurted, embarrassed with the fact that I didn't know how to say that in Italian as this man stared curiously.

"Ahh si si"

As he poured and spoke, I translated and responded (slowly), and we drank and drank. He explained how grappa was made from gathering the vapors of cooked wine. He described how Italians drink red wine in the cold months and white in the warm months. He said that Italians dip biscotti in dessert wine like Americans do with coffee.

Then I tried asking him if it was a family business and how long his shop, named Non Solo Vino, was open. Between my broken Italian and his expression which made me laugh, he put up a finger. After joking around about how I need to pay attention more in my Italian class, he pulled up Google Language Tools to translate so we could communicate more clear.

He spoke how this is his wife's shop, but she is out for siesta so he was left to man the shop. He really works at a shooting range/country club type place.

After we thanked him for his free wine and knowledge, he said other than us, no one would have come in, so we entertained him.

On a shelf, he had an assortment of cookies. I asked which was his favorite, and he hands me a bag saying that they are perfect for wine. I ask him for a cookie that you can drink without wine, "niente" he replies, then hands me biscotti with nuts. They were delicious. "Quando mango questi biscotti..." "you will think of me?" he answers for me in Italian. "Don't do that or you will choke," he joked. We all laughed, took a picture with him to capture the moment, and were on our way eating biscotti.

Every connection we have with another person may not have the potential to become your best friend. You may never see them ever again, but sometimes they can affect you just as an old friend could. Making someone else laugh or even smile, even a stranger, is just a little way to spread some positive communication in the world. (It also creates a more memorable experience. I will always say that meeting locals is the best way to travel.)






video

This has gone way off course from the title communication. Oops.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Discoveries in the Fields

Today, I woke up at the crack of dawn (not really but 8am) and went to the Uffizi and heard some pretty interesting stories, one of which was the story of an innovator who thought outside the box and succeeded from it. I love those kinds of stories.

My favorite of the bunch is that the paint that they used, each artist would make personally, crushing precious stones. They would smash rubies into dust, add egg whites and water, and a touch of olive oil and mix it up. Every color was made by a different stone, except for gold of course. The gold was made with grinned gold leaves.

One painter, however, found this too expensive. Most of the stones needed were shipped from the middle east, and especially in those days, it took a buck to that. He decided to put some honey on a pan and attract bugs. He would kill them with a needle, dry them out in the sun for weeks, take their wings off, and crush them, add egg yolk, water, and oil, and there you have it. Instead of rubies, people started using lady bugs. Instead of, well, whatever the black stone was, they used beetles. For emerald, they used grasshoppers. The most interesting part, is how he discovered blue. There were certainly no blue bugs flying around.

Gentilis, the innovator of this new process to make paint, had to go to the bathroom one day. He was passing a field, and since there were no bathrooms in the Golden Age, he started to relieve himself outside. It was a particularly windy day, and his cloak was blowing in the wind along with some, well you know. His urine hit a flower which was next to his fabric and suddenly, his fabric was turning blue! He gathered all of these blue flowers and tested out mixing them with other liquids to make blue, but nothing would work.

All in all, pee is all over many of the paintings the Medici owned that is now in the Uffizi, the most popular museum in the world having four million visitors a year. That is the equivalence of every Florentine endtering the Uffizi 11 times a year!

Its funny because back home in Freehold, people talk about how old New England is. I mean there is a church from 1683! These paintings in the Uffizi are from 1280 to 1330, and there are thousands of paintings and sculptures which create the greatest collection of art from the golden age.

Beat that Jersey.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

studying abroad doesn't just mean being abroad

Studying abroad, as many would assume, is opening my eyes to new things: new concepts, new ideas, new experience, obviously new culture, etc.

One aspect that I am very interested in is my new classes. Yes, my studies truly capture my attention here. I have been learning and benefitting from each of my classes here so far:

I am taking five classes here, one of which is introduction to mass communication were last week we discussed how different nation's media covered the Amanda Knox story and our different view points of the situation.

In my travel writing class, we have been reading timeless pieces of famous travelers and understanding the world from their point of view. We also have weekly assignments to write, read, and share with our classmates to see other perspectives, not only on the assignment itself and how people interpreted what we were supposed to write about, but also of our travels throughout Italy, sometimes throughout Europe.

In my Italian class, surprise surprise, we are learning to strengthen our reading, writing, and speaking skills so we can communicate through this beautiful language to the locals, giving us another platform to interact.

In my history class, we learn about how people of the Italian Renaissance saw the world, how that has changed, and how some of their thoughts are still relevant and prevalent today.

Finally, I go to social media class. Even the way that each of us read our blogs and read posts, comments, forums, and such on the web show that we are bring different experiences to the table. Also seeing social media itself as something other than just another portal for college kids to brag about their drunkenness and such. Social media is a lot more than this. It has been used to get jobs, save lives, and connect in a different way. Yes, social media does have its downsides, as does everything because there is a ying and a yang, but acknowledging that is what counts.

I do not want this to come off as a typical American studying abroad and having all of these revelations. Before this trip, I have realized the importance of looking at situations from other points of view, to see how others view the world, to dig deeper into what mass media is shelling out... Its just that here, in a whole other world, I see and am remind of this more on a daily basis, and I love it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

class. exercise 2. boo.

http://www.socialmedia.biz/

This site features an article entitled "Social media marketing: Facebook & Twitter aren’t enough." The article shows how many people are consuming this product of social media, which is, in fact, a product. The facts and statistics are unreal: "Social media spending is estimated to be 10% of marketing budgets in 2011 (source: CMO Survey by Duke University)." Many platforms of social mediums are discussed from the 100+ million user networks such as facebook, twitter, linkedin and youtube to the up and comers being Posterous, StackExchange, Namesake, Quora, FourSquare, Hunch, Forrst, Dribbble. The site itself was made to encourage innovation and to support social media, to provide tips to make it easier for people to continue to use these sites and to thrive and grow with them.

One aspect to social media that I personally have a problem with is procrastination. I feel as though many of us do. I have found this website to help those of us with procrastination to learn the difference between good and bad procrastination. I have always found it funny that in real life, I do not procrastinate, but online, I just can't help it. For those of you in my public with the same problem:

http://www.paulgraham.com/procrastination.html

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

the market

Questa mattina, ho andata al mercato fresco. I have been to a fresh market before in Florence, as well as the fresh produce shops and butchers around the corner from my apartment, but I recently discovered a cheaper market.

I love the feeling of the market. The atmosphere is lively. There is the bustle of people and colors and sweet fruit smells mixing with more tart crisp veggies in the air. It is busy, but relaxing. I could walk in circles for hours looking and pricing and sampling and buying and tasting. Its a wonderful place to practice Italian too!

Coming out of the market, I saw a puppy and did the typical Kelly response, going up and asking "come si chiama?" or in english "what is their name?" My friend always makes fun of that because I disregard the owner and their name. The white short haired puppy was named Bungo. Yes, its strange but cute.

I think its funny that Italians do not keep their dogs on leashes, and bring them everywhere, but they do walk their cats on leashes. It makes me feel like I'm in a children's book where everything is topsy turvy.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'm going to miss this

Around the corner from my apartment building is a tiny square that I do not cross on a daily basis. Midday, I really discovered it. I passed by so many times, mostly running, but today I went and rediscovered a fresh produce shop and two butcher shops. I got two pork chops, fresh asparagus, and fresh lemon. With some olive oil, garlic, and thyme, in about twenty minutes I had a beautiful meal. I'm going to miss the days when fresh food is a two minute walk away.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

what a day

I don't even know how to put this day into words. I mean, I am a journalism major, so I better get used to this, and quick, but I'm completely exhausted so... lets see how this goes!

The magical thing about this place is that the days are as winding as the streets. You don't always expect what's coming, because sometimes you don't have that option. Being surprised, whether positively or negatively, is a thrill, which is yet another reason I love this place.

Today my program took us to Siena and San Gimignano. Siena was gorgeous.



I know that is a very predictable thing to say, but Siena is pretty much predictable Italy. There are many churches. There are many arches, and vines, and flowers, and views of fields, and pastry shoppes. Don't get me wrong, I can never get sick of Italy, I just don't know how else to describe it, because it was a place I feel like I have seen a million times. I was kind of grouchy this trip, it being the second day of travel, running on a lack of sleep. I was starving most of the day, and let it be known. I officially apologize again to my friends, and sorry to my readers who have to hear me complain.






The one thing I loved about Siena was the food. A friend and I found a local restaurant and got a dish that was loved by locals: beef and mushrooms. It was AH-MA-ZINGGGG. The pepperocino oil and bread sided this dish perfectly. It was tender and crispy and light but filling, I could go on... We talked about how we think it is so important to get away from the touristy area where our program guides meet us and really venture into the town, because then you won't truly experience the place you are.

After the delicious yet pretty inexpensive meal, we went to the famous rice ball stand. Picture a zeppoli. Now picture rice pudding inside. Now picture fresh sugar on top. Oh. My. Words cannot describe.







My friend and I got to our meeting point a little early, so we ended up stopping in a pastry shop and buying these cookies that are only made in Siena called Ricciarelli. They were almond. They were fresh. They were great.

After our appetites and taste buds were on the brink of exploding, we boarded the bus and off to San Gimignano.

Do you know how sometimes, naps are not the best idea?

We got off the bus at San Gimignano feeling groggy. We were seriously considering not going on the walking tour and staying in a coffee shop for the hour and a half we would be there. The drizzling weather wasn't helping.

The whole group once again plugged in our headphones to listen to the guide. She brought us to two scenic checkpoints which were breathtaking. Rolling Italian hills of orchards and residences is a scene I will never forget or get sick of.

This is when the day took a turn.

Literally, as a group of five of us took pictures, our larger group and tour guide disappeared. Out of thin air. Gone. As we were looking for them, we stumbled upon a very residential area. There was a low road and a high road. Out of curiosity, we started walked down, and an older woman came into view. She was walking. With a cat. Yes, una passagiata con giatto. It was hilarious. She turned to us and gave a look as if to say, "I swear, I'm not doing anything illegal." Wow. A friend pointed out that in America, we walk children on leashes, so I guess this shouldn't have surprised us too much, but it was still pretty creepy. Her smile put it over the top.







The five of us realize calling our tour guide was a good thing to do. We would have had free time after the tour anyway, so we told him that we would still meet at our meeting place at 6:30. We were walking around, and suddenly heard music. "Guys forget the tour. MUSIC! Lets go!"

We walked up the street and find a parade. The five of us start snapping pictures with clowns, dancing, singing to the American music they were playing, and having a great time. One clown actually picked me up fireman style for a picture. It was such a fun, unexpected party.

Thats what life is about I think, the unexpected and how a person reacts to that. We could have found the group. We could have watched and not participated. Realizing how you react to different situations will teach you more about yourself. Its how we grow. Happiness can do that too.







To leave this on a more funny and less philosophical note, I'm expecting Paul Tompkins to talk about me today, cause i had the best day ever.



Just realized theres five pictures of the rice ball place and just three of the rest of Siena. Oops.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

cocco e ciocolato

Coconut and chocolate gelato is the most superior gelato flavor combination, and I will tell you why.

When getting a gelato, the same question runs through my head, do I want something fruity or chocolatey? Dear I say more?

Also, the texture is amazing. The coconut gelato is creamy with bits of real coconut in each bite, literally, each bite. Then the chocolate is not only whipped perfectly, small crunchy bits of chocolate are also whipped in.

The two together compliment each other beautifully. A rich chocolate with a fresh and cool coconut flavor.

I cannot believe I just blogged about gelato. A better something to admit: I cannot believe I just bought a large.

Allora, Andiamo A Assisi

february 20, 2011

july 2007

When I was fifteen years old, I took a group trip to Italy. We hit ten or so towns and cities in almost a month. At such a young age, I appreciated the fact that I was there, but I do not think I got as much out of it as I am at nineteen.

Today, we went to Assisi, the peace capitol of the world, and I had so many flashbacks. It was a very strange experience. On the steps of the Basilica di Saint Francis, I remembered being four years younger, in a long skirt and a light sweater over my tank top, sweating hot. On the steps of St. Francis, I remember looking out onto the spectacular countryside and waiting for my necklace to be blessed. It was surreal.

We, my study abroad program that is, arrived in Assisi at about 11am. After a quick cappuccino and a laugh at a few girls who went into the mens room by accident, we took the escalators up to the swirling streets. A woman with grey-brown hair told us the history behind the amazing architecture we were admiring.

Two o'clock rolled around, and everyone was starving. A few friends and I stumbled upon a restaurant (just realizing now that I didn't take a business card, something I've been doing habitually to remember the trip by, rats). I had fresh prosciutto and fresh mozzarella between two huge pieces of yes, again, fresh thin floury bread. Bellissimo!

After meeting up with some other friends from our program, I was on the hunt for the little panini shop I have been dreaming about for four years. Instead, we discovered something much greater. We walked up to the highest point of Assisi. It took my breath away.

Sitting on the crumbling stone, I looked out onto all of Assisi and beyond. Wearing just a v-neck and jeans, I could look out onto the mountains around me and see snow. The air was so crisp, so fresh. I grabbed a smooth stone next to me and flipped it in my hand as I would if I were on the warm beaches of Belmar.

This day trip to Assisi gave me a chance to remember myself then, and look at my life now. Boy, have I grown up. I can't wait to think back to that line and have this "aha" moment again.

I have so many pictures. I'll add a couple more later. For now, this is a now and a then shot.

Friday, February 18, 2011

exploring

This morning, I went for a run throughout Florence. It was surreal. I went to the church on the top of the Piazza Michelangelo which is a feat onto itself at a walking pace. I ran through rural Florence. I ran through suburbia. Just my sneakers, my iPod, and my keys (and to make my parents happy my id was in my sneaker). I can't describe it better than, well, freedom.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

the everyday

Let's face it. Not everyday is going to be life changing. It's a sad, but true fact. What I think is important however, is learning to appreciate the everyday wonders.

Today, I woke up, and it was raining. Not to be a complete optimist, but sometimes, a rainy day is nice. At the very least, it will make you appreciate the next sunny day.

After class, I went for a walk in the rain with a friend. We discovered a hidden cafe` and hang out spot, shared tag discoveries, and had a nice talk over coffees. Honestly, today is not a day I will remember forever, but that doesn't necessarily matter. The days of being happy with where you are, the feeling, that is something that will last. That's what matters.

So many times, I go from place to place, without slowing down and really looking at where I am at. I have walked by the same Oil Shoppe hundreds of times in the last three weeks, and just today, I saw the menu and realized the amazing value. I have walked passed the same clothing shoppes, and just today noticed the very unique scarfs at such a good price. Its amazing what a person can really see, if they just slow down.

There are a lot of people out there who tourist travel. People who travel to see the big sights, get bored, and move onto the next location. I hope that some of them slow down once or twice, and really experience where they are at. It would be a shame to miss.




studying abroad means going to class too

Every Thursday at 9am, I wake up and get myself to Social Media class. This class is different than anything else I have taken before. I had to open a Twitter account for class, I write on discussion forms, no notebook necessary. Macbooks are encouraged.

In this class, the importance of social media has been highlighted. Most of us are young aspiring journalists who are looking to utilize anything and everything online. Most of us use social networks to fuel our social networks solely, though we are quickly learning how different networks can launch your career, put you out in the online world to get your thoughts heard, to get ahead in the world.

One word that my professor continues to use is "public," and she has asked us to define it. A public is a term reconstructed with a new definition to me through this class. Most think of a public as the people, in the broadest terms possible. A public is everyone. A public is people who communicate, work together, share news and ideas, etc. When I say a public in relation to my class, I am referring to a small community of people, the people in my classroom, along with my instructor. We as a public interact with each other by posting, commenting, and using other networks to communicate with each other about social media.

I have found a site that talks about social media in Italy and how it has been in hyperdrive since 2009. Because my public is made up of 20 year olds who are studying in Italy, I thought it would relate to us well.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

bang for your buck

I was talking to one of my friends I met in Italy who said that for pizza, the cheaper it is the better it is. Italians do that because Americans think that the more expensive something is, the better it is. It is cheap to use ingredients from the area thus they are more fresh, etc. etc. (I could talk forever about the complexities of pizza and how in is intertwined into Italian lifestyle, but it is very late, and I have had a long day. maybe another time...)

I was thinking the same concept could be applied to gelato. There is a place by the baptistry of the Duomo that had a small gelato for two euros. Usually, I have been going to the same place, toward the back of the Duomo on my way to my apartment building, but a small is 2,50. REALIZATION: cheap pizza = delicious for your mouth and wallet. cheap gelato GROSS.

the end.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

my ring

I've been looking for some everyday jewelry to buy myself while I'm here. I've found this little shop on my way back from class with a bunch of little odds and ends and perfetto: a sterling silver ring with 2 (fake) black and white pearls on it. I always wear a real black pearl when I am home, but I didn't want to bring anything too expensive here, so my neck goes bare. This ring will fit in perfectly with what I wear everyday. I started asking about the ring to the woman who was selling it. We spoke 100% in Italian about the ring, about my stay, etc. Talking to the locals gets easier and easier everyday.

Monday, February 14, 2011

my one and only valentines day in italy

Today is a day about love, no matter the form. To cherish our once in a lifetime Valentine's night, one of my good friends and I got all dressed up and went out for a night meal. Tonight was beautiful. After getting a couple cat calls, from men AND women, we got to this cute, little restaurant by the ponte vecchio. We got eyed up by the one table of men who were sitting across from us, but my friend and I didn't pay them any attention. In my broken Italian, I ordered us a half bottle of wine and two orders of chiken with spinach in lemon sauce. Delicious does not do that meal justice! We shared the wine and food and nice conversation, pleased with our choice of restaurant.

After the dining room emptied out, we ordered a cheesecake and chocolate mousse to split. Incredible. The mousse was whipped to perfection, and our craving for strawberry cheesecake was more than satisfied. A few minutes had passed once we were done with our meal. I remember one of our program advisors saying that you usually have to ask for a check, or they will let you sit there all night. Mi scusi I call to the waiter. Vorrei pagare I mumble out, scared that I said something wrong. He starts laughing in my face. Ooooooh no! What did I just do? I think to myself.

He puckers his lips and puts his finger on each cheek, baciare is to kiss he says. Vorrei pagare! I bury my head in my napkin and the room explodes with the three of us laughing.

I will never mumble again.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

its the little things



Today, I woke up at 9:30 am. I watched a movie, had breakfast; il bel far niente, the beauty of doing nothing.

Today's plan was to go to lunch with a Roman who just arrived in Florence to spend the year working. We discovered the Santa Maria Novella Church. We had tripe, yes tripe, sandwiches which were absolutely delicious, and a small glass of wine each, then two coffees (I'm getting used to coffee being expresso, not coffee) and a little chocolate, quello con mora, the one with blackberry.

My friend continued to help me get over my fear of speaking italian. I have been doing better as of late. At first, I was scared to make mistakes with locals. Now, I'm even more scared to make mistakes with friends, especially when they are fluent in english and italian.

Dopo una piccola passagiata, we saw a major protest. Groups of women were fighting for rights. As we walked on, our conversation mainly compared and contrasted everything Italian and everything American. It was nice to be talking to someone from Italy, who also was well aware of American culture, as my friend's mother came from New York.

We stopped into a tabacchi shop: he got a newspaper, "one of the only ones not owned by Berlusconi," and I saw scratch offs in displayed. I asked if it was big in Italy, and he said it was. After some verification, I asked for two euro scratch offs. My friend was very pessimistic, repeating the words, what are the odds. I ended up winning 5 euros! When I gave the ticket back to the vendor, she said I did not win anything. My friend spoke to her in Italian, she smirked, and I got my money. "I love to see their disappointment," he said as I explained the strategy of using the winnings to win more, carrying the money with you and using the same coins to buy other lottery tickets. He thought it was genius.

We realized we finally looped back around to where we started and parted ways. After a kiss on each cheek, and I was off for gelato with a friend from class and her roommate. 1,50 euro for a gelato for very generous portions! It was delicious. We talked about our planned travels and again the differences between Italy and America.

My favorite analogy about english and italian is to compare it to skiing and snowboarding. Skiing is easy to pick up, hard to master, while snowboarding is hard to pick up, easy to master. Its like english and italian to us americans.

On my way home, I picked up a nice, well I'm not sure of the name. Its essentially a flat calzone, the name starts with an R, something that starts with an R, but I see so many similar words on street signs and such that it all blends together.

After talking with family on skype, I went out for some soup. I was talking to the woman in front of me on line who let me go in front of her because I only had soup in hand. We spoke completely in Italian, and she didn't even know I was American. That's the greatest feeling.

Today was about the little things. I love it.

things i miss

I miss having breakfast with pancakes, syrup, omelets, sausage, bacon, oatmeal. i miss having chocolate chip cookies and those haystacks. I miss mommys chicken pot pie and dads chicken in salsa. Pretty much im starving at 11am. Better get to the supermarket...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

comments

a few of my friends have tried to leave comments. hopefully this problem will be fixed soon.

Little Place Called Lucca

Today, I woke up and met a friend at the Duomo. We walked to Piazza Santa Maria Novella and hopped a train to Lucca.

After an hour or so of walking around, we realized that there wasn't too much going on and maybe it was best to have a nice meal and just train back.

We stop into this local place and each get a nice 5.50 euro pasta dish. After ordering in Italian, we sat down and spoke english. One of the guys there started talking to us in english. He was from Rome, had family in Florence, and lived in Lucca. He was really funny, spoke english well, and claimed to have many friends from all over including America because he studied in California for a semester.

When he asked us when we were returning to Florence, we hesitated, "probably after this," we said. He was not very pleased. Since we told him that we didn't see much, we decided we should probably try to look again. He ended up becoming our personal tour guide, showing us around his hometown.

He showed us everything from the churches to his local stops. He said that he needed to get something for his mother because he hasn't seen her in a little while, so we stopped in this chocolate shop. We thought that was really sweet.

After walking and talking, exchanging phrases in our respective languages, and talking about our lives, he walked us back to the train station, and told us to go visit his mother's restaurant. "It would be nice to organize it," he says.

What a beautiful hometown he has. "You best be back when the sun is out. This place is too beautiful."





Bar Scene

Last night, I went out to a bar and met some pretty interesting locals. A few were from all over Italy but for the most part, they were all locals. Some of the people I met would continue asking me questions in simple Italian, begging for me to speak Italian with them. After being put on the spot once or twice, I finally opened up and spoke the language.

I did meet one person who was Italian that I spoke english with. It was a nice change of pace not only talking in my naive language, but also having a conversation more than where are you from and do you have any siblings. We talked about everything from Italian politics to American stereotypes to Religion. It was nice. I now understand why my professors are encouraging us to speak with locals and try to find Italian friends instead of swarming around Americans 24/7.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Billa Experience

I just came back from the supermarket, Billa. When I was paying for the toilette paper and pear juice, there was a man in front of me who looked a little ...off. He had a tough guy expression planted on his face. He stood perfectly straight. He wore a black cashmere sweater and gold jewelry.

All of a sudden, I hear Berlin's Take My Breath Away, and he realizes his phone is going off.

To put it simply, I felt like I was in a movie.

Mi amo Firenze.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

lifestyle

The Italian lifestyle isn't really as relaxed as Americans think. Italians are stressed. Many oppose their leader. They have high unemployment rates in some areas. Cooks work the longest hours out of most professions, and what do you think of when you think of Italy? FOOD.

The one thing they do right by though is learning the importance of taking a moment to relax, to savor their food, to savor their moments.

Today, I got a hot chocolate on my way to the grocery store and of course being in the most touristy part of Florence, John Mayer's Sunday Morning was playing. I'm not sure what got over me, maybe the fact that I rediscovered this song over winter break, and it made me think of home, but I ended up singing. Yes, out loud.

I got some positive feed back and just went on my way. Beautiful moment to escape.

The other day, I saw this man. He was looking stressed. He ran out in his business suit and got a nice gelato cone, smiled and looked relieved.

Don't get me wrong, not all Italians are like girls and chocolate, abusive and using it to escape. But I love the fact that Italians live a more balanced life. It makes me want to spend forever here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cioccolata



All week, I have been walking through Santa Croce looking at these amazing chocolates. As I ran to class the other day, I grabbed some overpriced hot chocolate that was worthy of me breaking open the styrofoam and licking it clean.

Today, I spent some time with a couple friends really looking around. We ran from stand to stand from sample tray to sample tray. I haven't felt that "kid in a candy store" feeling this much since I was five and discovered Toys R Us.

Savoring each delicious bite, I was in my element.

Me "Milk chocolate or dark chocolate on my fruit? This is a crucial decision. When are we going to be here again?"

Friend "Probably tomorrow. I'll be the voice of reason."

Finding out that the fair was open until Sunday was definitely the highlight of my day.

Pictures

Photography is a major part of traveling as well as tourism. Studying abroad puts you in the middle of the two. As a journalism major, keeping a camera and journal with me everywhere, becomes second nature, putting photojournalism into the mix.

The one obvious aspect of photography is knowing what your taking pictures of. This is not only important to prove to your friends and family back home that you learned something or just to narrate your pictures well. Photography is about capturing a moment to remember for yourself and to show others.

I love it. Photography minor? Lets hope so.

Phenomenon

Yesterday in my travel writing class, we had to write about a phenomenon. A few people brought up the graffiti that's scattered across the town. Aside from the occasional "yogurt" (yea I don't know what that tags about), I think they're beautiful. Tags come in three forms: one, words that represent the artist or represents a group, two, words that express a feeling, mostly political, or three, a mural type picture.

The other day I saw one that said, "Don't call it tourist season if we can't shoot them." Wow. Unwanted? Party of 15,000 (the number of Americans who study abroad in Florence each year).

There have been some tags that are pretty interesting though. Apparently there is an arch or tunnel type structure in the city called Le Cure, which is known for its tags. An ex-homeless man is now paid by Florence to keep a nice, clean venue for artists to graffiti legally. The next nice day out, hopefully a few friends and I can find this place.



Monday, February 7, 2011

The Catch Up

Flying High

It's hard to describe this experience as anything other than flying high, and no, I'm not talking about the typical reference you might expect out of a nineteen year old college student. After a night's sleep crammed up on a 2in by 2in airplane seat, eating some fake food, and having my ears pop every other minute, I am finally here. Finally, I am starting my studying abroad trip. This only took three jobs, working my butt off for a few summers, running around campus, around my hometown, and New York that is, trying to get paperwork done. Laying on this tiny hotel bed never felt so good.



Hello Again

I can't believe I was fifteen the last time I was here. Walking through the Colosseum, Roman Forums, and the Pantheon could never get old.

The one aspect to being here that I have never felt before is culture shock. I guess the fact that I have never gone on a four month trip hit me harder that I thought. After getting over breaking out the rusty Italian to the locals and ordering some delicious paninis, I'm getting over it.

In a few more days, and I'll be good to go.

I've had my first legal drink in Italy, here in Rome. The roommates and I went a bar called Robin Hood Pub down the street and got some cocktails. I got my mom's favorite drink: a Mojito.



Thats sick

Ieri sera, io ho un febbre. It sucked.

I ended up not going to the Vatican today, but I remember it like it was yesterday. After a day and a night of sleep, I'll be fine.



Ciao Firenze

Finally. I'm here. Florence. Walking into this apartment was unreal. The roommates and I have gone to the local supermarket down the street for a days worth of groceries and made a full meal on 21 euros.

Some things I learned about Italy:

- the heat is run by the state and will shut off
- the shower is an everyday (or every other day) battle



Life's a Party
Today, the walking tour of Florence was surreal. I could walk by the Duomo fifteen times a day, and I will marvel everytime. Tonight was discoteca night! The roommates and I have realized that our apartment is prime locale, being at most 200m from the Duomo, a supermarket, a discount shop, a bar, a pub, a discoteca, a few gelato shops, small restaurants all while still being on a quiet street.



We have to go to class now?
I have figured out all of my classes, and they are pretty interesting. Travel writing will by far be my favorite class.

Spending the first week wandering around the city is the perfect way to get to know where I'm at was the best move I've made here so far.

My roommates and I have been cooking, everything from pasta to steak to sausage and peppers to chicken to salads. The fresh food here makes all the difference. Between the nutella, gelato, panini, pizza and fresh juice, I'm in heaven. Also, of course, the wine is something to mention. I've been in love with the fact that there are crispy m&ms in Italy, unlike the US. I wish they made that a gelato flavor.


I found my spot
I've found my favorite spot in the city, Piazza Michaelangelo. I've been there twice so far, once at sunset, and once to just sit and do homework. The sunset was amazing, but the time I just went and did homework, I saw wedding going on there. That's what I love about Italy, the unexpected little things in life are brought out everyday. From wandering the city and seeing some amazing tags (graffiti) to getting lost and ending up at the David to eating that chicken panini sandwich you've been dreaming about since you were 15 to eating nutella with a spoon to going to a jazz club and asking for a slice of lemon and getting a whole one to spontaneously climbing up the bell tower just as the sun goes down to going for a run alongside the arno and stopping into a fruit shop just to let an old Italian woman laugh at you as you pay for that orange with the leaf on top with euros you were keeping in your shoe to making fun of the idioms of the program directors to savoring the last bite of your food... this list could go on for years.

All in all, mi amo firenze.

Ciao Italia

When I was 15 years old, I spent about twenty days discovering Italy. One of the things that I bought myself on my trip was a beautiful black and brown leather journal. I wrote to account for my trip and who I was then: putting in my favorites of the moment and such. I bought this journal for the big Italy trip that I have always dreamt of. Now, studying abroad for four months in Florence, this journal doesn't leave my side.

Now that the transition from Freehold to Florence has happened and I'm acclimated in Florence now, I am going to transfer my journal into a blog, recapping the past few weeks and updating from my leather journal weekly.