Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter Man Not So Jolly

I forgot to mention, while in the crowd waiting for the fireworks to start, I ended up next to an older Italian man. He was stocky and just by the expression on his face, I could tell he was stubborn.

As everyone got their standing room and the pushing and shoving for spots died down, I was looking around, feeling a bit stuck. I could imagine my parents being here: my Mom would be shorter than the crowd and not able to see anything. I could imagine my dad getting claustrophobic with all of the people. Also, Italians have no sense of personal space which doesn't help the situation.

A older couple came up from behind me with a piece of luggage each. Where do they think they are going? They started shoving their way through to the front of the crowd. As they pushed the man next to me, his face grew red. His big dark hand reached in front of him and grabbed the shoulder of the man who was trying to shove his way through. He started yelling in Italian and shaking and hitting the man.

The man trying to get through the crowd got away, only to realize he has nowhere to go. He ended up back tracking, passing by the angry man next to me who mumbled and threw out some hand gestures.

It wouldn't be a holiday without some commotion.


I know I have not been embedding a lot of pictures lately. I will be making a photobucket album so that everyone can see my pictures. This will be linked to this blog at the end of the trip.

Buona Pasqua Firenze

I know I am a bit late on this post. I completely forgot to blog about Easter! For easter weekend, I wanted to stay in Florence and experience how the Florentines celebrate.

The Saturday before Easter, I was on my way home from Lucca and the flower show and saw a huge fire in front of the Duomo. Don't worry, this fire was on purpose. It was for the candle ceremony for Easter mass. I ended up taking some pictures like the rest of the crowd, then I grabbed a candle and went to the rest of mass. It was an incredible experience, listening to the Latin being sung, seeing the inside of the Duomo all lit up from everyone's candles, and the special lights they put up. This mass was long, ending around midnight, but I'm happy I went.

On Sunday, there were fireworks at the Duomo starting at 11am. I ended up rolling out of bed around 9:30 and thinking that the square is right around the corner, I took my time getting ready. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

I have never seen such a crowd of people before. I ended up getting pretty close to the men dressed in medieval costume who were throwing flags. They were surrounding a 10 foot decorated box, which I thought looked pretty strange. It had a japanese style to it which threw me off. All of a sudden, the box lit up with fireworks! White light showered from the top of the tower, some snapping fireworks shot from the bottom, some were thrown high into the sky. Then, red, purple, and white smoke came out, swirling and circling around the façade of the Duomo. Amazing.

After the show, I was walking around, and a man started motioning to clear a path as if he was Moses parting the sea of tourists. All of a sudden, a man walked a donkey through the crowd. Then another man walked two bulls who had flowers decorating their horns. It took the second set of bulls to walk by for it to hit me that the only thing between these bulls and me is a little old Italian man. Scary.

Finally, I followed the march of drummer boys and men to the commune di firenze. They ended up piling up the stairwell and yelling and pounding the glass. Then, the veteran at the foot of the steps grabbed one of the newbie drummer boys and shoved him up the stairs. Though it looked violent, and sounds violent, everyone seemed to be having a good time. The men in the stairwell would shout and hit the newbies, carrying them up the stairs. The Italians I talked to explained that this was an initiation tradition.

A lot of my friends traveled over easter, but I am really happy I stayed in Florence for the weekend. Some of my friends even said that they wished they had stayed also.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spread the Love

Let me start out by apologizing for the '70s flashback, for this post being very hippie, but I can't help it. Today, I noticed all of the happy people in Florence. I will note that Florence has the northern stereotype for being cold and snobbish as northerners do at home, but today, I realized how less angry people are here.

As I was running from class to class, I grabbed a cappuccino at the library. One man's cup ended up flying off his plate, I'm not sure how. He tried to catch it, but there was no hope. His espresso splattered everywhere including all over the couple next to me. The woman looked a little upset. As she cleaned herself up, the man repeated, "Mi dispiace, mi dispiace." The man she was with looked down to see a bit of sprayed espresso on his light-washed jeans. He shrugged and kept drinking his coffee. He mumbled something in Italian which I can imagine being, "there's nothing I can do about it now." Then, the barista came out with a mop. He asked the light-washed jean man to move a second, and the man joked, "you can mop between my legs." Overall, the situation was laughed off. If this happened in a Starbucks in New York or New Jersey, forget about it. I could imagine a lot of yelling, veins popping, and women and children staring.

After this incident, I went to meet up with my classmates to do a Free Hug Project for our social media class. We were to walk around with two signs, one in English and one in Italian, saying free hugs. We video taped it, then we need to publicize it, getting as many viewers as possible (get ready to watch!).

It was a little strange at first, and we did get some rejection, but it was really a great experience. We made so many people smile. Before we started, I was a bit stressed out, worrying about setting up the summer and fall for classes, and just dealing with things at home. I realized I completely forgot about it while I was participating and then afterward, I figured, "everything will work itself out." Smiling and especially making other people smile, is a great skill we all have and should practice everyday. It really does keep you positive.

Then, I was walking home, with a smile on my face, and I ran into one of my friends. This is the second time I had bumped into her today. The first time, she invited me to lunch with her friend. "Hey, I'm just about to meet up with people for dinner, want to come?" she asked. "I love how every time I've been hungry today, I bump into you restaurant queen," I saw as I had lunch with her at a famous sandwich shop in Florence that I still had never been to (Pino's). We ended up meeting up with some friends and had a delicious meal (I had fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with tomato and cheese over arugula, YUM).

On my way home, happy with the day and the meal I had just had, I saw a family asking for directions. The person they were talking to was Italian and only spoke Italian. "Ti parli inglese?" I ask, thinking I could have just asked that in English. "Yes," what looks like the mother of the family responses. "Where are you looking to go?" "Piazza Repubblica." "I'll take you there," I say as I wave them on. I really was just going to the library and PIazza Repubblica was a bit farther than I needed to go, but I could use the walk after the meal. After talking and finding out that she was the mother, and her family of 5 was here for a week just landing from Mexico, she asked me question after question. Once we got around the Duomo, she said, "We know our way from here, thank you." "Non c'e` problema, buona serrata," I say and turn to go back to the library. "Oh, you weren't even going this way," she says with a smile. "It's okay, I needed the walk, have a great trip," I said to the family.

Hopefully the hugs and polite gestures I witnessed and took part in today will inspire someone else to do some good.

There was a theory by a terminally ill little girl who said that if a person does a good deed, two people will see it, and they will do a good deed. Then this will multiply and multiply until the whole world is full of good. How sweet. If this hasn't convinced you to do a good deed, realize all good deeds are selfish (as Joey tells Phoebe in Friends) because they make you feel good. Plus, a little good karma never hurt anyone.

Strange Story

As I literally have five minutes before my Italian class in the other room begins, I wanted to remember this story that popped into my head as I was walking here, looking at the Duomo.

I had said before that sometimes saying the words and thinking through what you are actually saying are two different things. This applies to me coming to Florence. When I knew I had to decide between Rome and Florence, I thought back to my first trip during high school. Based on high school memories, I didn't like Rome too much, it was too big. All I remembered from Florence was that I was grumpy that day, but the Duomo was the biggest, most beautiful building I had ever been next to. I remember the night before my trip, lying in my bed thinking, I hope everything works out well.

Now, months later, as my weeks disappear, I realize it really did. I can't believe this trip is already almost over. I remember dreaming of what this trip would be like, and now I have memories instead of dreams. I definitely had the time of my life.


The other day was gloomy. I didn't have too much planned other than spending the day in Florence, working on a paper, and going to dinner with some friends, none of which happened.

Instead, I woke up late and decided in the middle of the day to go to Lucca. This was after my friend realized she couldn't make dinner, so I had nothing holding me back.

It was 3 in the afternoon, and all I could think of was 'get me outta here.'

I was sick of being in a city. I was sick of missing my friends and family, something I don't do often, but it seems like a tidal wave when it does.

I packed my stuff from the library, unpacked it in my apartment, and repacked a travel bag with only the necessities: a notebook and pen, a book for the train, an iPod, money, keys, phone.

I went to the train station and did something I've always dreamed of: going to a station with no destination in mind. I saw the next train to leave, Viareggio, a beach town. Going to a beach town on a gloomy day is depressing, especially by myself. I realized that this train stops in many places, one of which is Lucca.

Lucca is a small town full of tiny little Italian streets and wide open greenery. Perfect. Plus, I knew the streets, and though I wanted to escape, and I always look for places I have never been, I felt lost enough.

This one day ended up an accumulation of reminders of all the things I miss from home and all the things I will miss from Italy.

While I sat on the train, I looked out the window, spotting a cute guy. This guy ended up boarding the train, sitting across from me but a row back, so we could awkwardly look up at each other between lines of our books. I am going to miss having these good looking eyes to look out now and again.

Once I got to Lucca, I saw a bartender carrying over drinks from a bar to a clothing shop. I am going to miss the convenience of Italy, and the 'I don't care what anyone else thinks' attitude.

I saw a small family walking a Border Collie, who reminded me of my Jack.

In the flower shop, which I browsed listening to Italian swirl around the bright colors of beautifully smelling flowers, I found cacti, which reminded me of my southwestern-styled house.

While in Lucca, I was starving for pizza, so I had a couple different slices from a couple different places. I am going to miss all of the fresh ingredients and practicing my Italian to the friendly shop owners.

On the way back, I heard a train, but I did not see a train. This reminded me of my father, who would say "I hear a bus, but I don't see a bus," when he would wait at the bus stop with me before school.

On the train ride back, I made up different stories of what the German couple in front of me could be talking about. I'm going to miss being surrounded by all different languages and cultures.

All of this missing. I'm getting sick of it.

I've realized that I'm over missing, and I've accepted coming home in a few weeks, and I know that I will be missing this place once I go back. I'm not going to waste my last three weeks missing, but doing what I have done the entire trip, exploited every opportunity and embracing every moment.

Friday, April 22, 2011


I don't end up cooking on an everyday basis, usually because I would rather be exploring than being in my apartment, but tonight, I cooked.

Don't get me wrong, I love cooking, and sometimes I wish I did it more often, but with so many Trattorias and Osterias (and a mini meal plan), you can eat well without breaking your bank, it is always delicious, and sometimes its just quicker.

But tonight, I got some clams from a fishery down the street, and cooked them with olive oil, wine, and parsley. Then I boiled some baby tomatoes then whipped them with oregano and basil for a sauce and put over whole-wheat spaghetti and sided with fresh whole-wheat scechatta bread (a typical bread that is oiled and salted that I probably spelled wrong).


I will definitely will be cooking more at home, now that I've learned a few things from chefs here and even just eating out. I'm sure my friends and family will like that.

Did I mention that little bakery across the street has pastries too? Yea, I just ran across the street with my change and got dessert.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Trying to Speak Sicilian

Everyday in Italy, I try to speak as much Italian as possible. Somedays are better than others, and the weekends are especially hard because of traveling. It's hard enough to speak Italian, but this weekend, I had to try Sicilian? Woah, Buddy. That's another language all together. I did manage to have a few conversations:

I'm not sure how I met the girls in the bar, but I ended up befriending two Sicilians.

"Da dovè?"
"Sono americana, ma sto studendo a Firenze. Siete Siciliane?"
"Si, si," one of them answers. Between the noise and the dialect, what she said next was German to me. We drank, danced, sang, and talked about the boys in the club, girl code at its finest. Then the girls wanted to recommend songs. They chose Tranne Te, while I asked for "Americano vecchio," which the DJ decided was Get Low. Hilarious.

The Fruit Stand Man

"Comè mangio questo?" I ask, holding up a coconut. The man rails off in Sicilian, way over my head. Thank goodness for the whole talking-with-their-hands thing. He took a mallet and started cracking open the coconut. My eyes and smile widened as I drank the coconut juice. He mirrored my smile as I thanked him and wished him a happy easter.

Police Man

In the train station, I realized I never really interviewed anyone, so I tried talking to a police man.
"Ciao, sono una studentessa di giornolismo e ho una domanda..."
He smiles, "no, no, no," he says. From what I got out of the rest of the conversation, he said, "I need to keep walking around, I am a police man, that is my job. Write that."

Train Workers

Again I explain myself to the Sicilian stranger. He asks, "Sono americana o italiano?" I explain myself. Boy, am I getting good at that line. What we talked about was pretty basic: His name is Angelo, and he likes working with trains and traveling, he has been working at that station for 32 years and has two kids. What was interesting is that he was more curious about me than I was of him. He asked me a lot of questions and was very friendly. Seems like the conversation broke up his day a bit, well at least I hope it did.

Ferry Friends

My final Sicilian conversation was with two men on the ferry. I told them how I ripped open my spring jacket from the railing as I was walking up the steps. Well, I didn't really tell them. I acted it out. My Italian isn't that good. They taught me the words "ago" and "filo" which mean "needle" and "thread." We talked about his work, which I didn't understand, but I was in Sicily, I wasn't about to ask too many questions. I told him about my traveling. He had a friend with him who only spoke in Sicilian dialect, so I would talk Italian to him, then he would translate it to Sicilian. We chatted for a while covering topics such as how beautiful Italy is, how Sicily compares to Florence (and how the food is better in the South). We talked about our parents and what they did for work, joked and laughed, and double cheek kissed goodbye.

Sometimes its intimidating to speak with the locals, especially in another dialect, but its worth the risk to have a nice conversation.

Monday, April 18, 2011


First and Foremost: Food

First Real Cannoli
Fig Pastry
Pistachio Pastry
Free White Chocolate (because I'm a girl and I was speaking Italian)
Linguini con Frutta di Mare
Thin, Flat Pasta with mussels and pumpkin sauce topped with chopped nuts
Bigger and Better Cannoli
Pizza topped with proscutto crudo, olives, hard boiled egg, peas, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese
Stolen Fruit

Things I did:

Saw a train get pulled apart, put on a ferry, and put back together
Ripped my jacket on the stairs
Learned the Italian word for needle and thread from Sicilians
Swam in the Mediterranean and convinced a friend to do the same
Saw the major city Taormina, the architecture is incredible
Went to the bar and made Sicilian friends
Explored the town at night
Explored the archaeological site of Siracusa
Walked through the old town Ortigia
Went on a walk along the beach, singing
Killed time playing cards, watching movies, and chatting on the 13 hour train back

Going h... (I don't even want to say the h-word uhh) home.

People say that you change when you studying abroad. This is because your experience of places you’ve seen, people you’ve met, cultures you immersed yourself in, gave you something you didn’t have before. When you go back home, you see that something in yourself, and see the world you used to live in through different eyes.
Will you appreciate your house more now?
Will you appreciate that friend more now?
Will you give that guy a chance?
Will you delete some contacts from your phone?

Okay, that last one’s a little harsh, but you know what I mean. Studying abroad opens your mind. Some of us came abroad open-minded, but we will leave better still. We might have been open-minded to different people, but experiencing the differences of lifestyles is a whole different ball game. Talking to people from all different points of view, from all over the world, some from the city, some from the country, some from big families, some from no families, some single, some lying… different cultures, lifestyles, ideas, beliefs, morals…

I am definitely going to miss this diversity. The one positive thing about going home? Seeing my little world through these different eyes.


Reading an itinerary and taking the trip are two very different things. Sometimes you build up the trip in your head, romanticizing. Sometimes your pleasantly surprised, and other times disappointed. The same thing goes for people. Sometimes you meet someone and expect the worse, then realize you’ve got a lot of similarities. Maybe the next time you meet someone, you’ll be a bit more optimistic and they’ll let you down.

We base a lot of how we react to different people and personalities on who we have met before or the experiences we have just had. I don’t think that’s a very good way to go about things.

I’ve learned to go into trips and get into friendships with people neutrally. If there are no expectations, and you make the best of your situation, you will always come out ahead because everyone teaches you something. We learn and grow ourselves through every interaction, interactions with people, with culture, with the world.

Wow, I know I’ve said it before, but that really sounds like another one of these stupid 20-year-old revelations that everyone already knows. Oops.

My First 13-hour Train Experience

“Hey wake up, I need to pee.”

The light reaches out and finds my face as I crunch up to unlock the door. I wonder how much longer until we reach the ferry to get to Sicily.

I see a shadow, and thinking it is my roommate returning from the bathroom, I slide the makeshift curtain that is my scarf away from the window to ensure it’s her. Instead of a thin, blond haired girl, I find a thickly build Italian man with well-baked skin, a blacked out outfit staring in. He raises is plump sausage fingers to wave at me. I snap my head away and continue waiting for my roommate.

“It’s pretty sketch out there. If you really need to go, just be careful,” she says when she returns. I look out into the hallway and see the man has passed and was making his way onto the next train car. I quickly move in the opposite direction and slip into the bathroom. I brace myself, getting ready for a stocky man to push me into the bathroom to hurt me. I think of all of those tips, I’ve learned over the years to defend myself. Luckily, I returned to my room with no problems that night.

Our door gets double locked, and I get reacquainted with my pillow and the three train seats that are flush together and open up into a “bed”.

Two songs into my iPod, the silence the outside world is listening to is disrupted by the shrillest of screams. At first, I think it’s just the girls who were drinking a couple rooms down. I wake up and realize it was them, but the scream had more reasoning than “she really hooked up with him”.


Three bags from three different rooms were stolen. They ended up catching one of the guys who wore a neon orange sweater. Two very expensive cameras and one iPod are still missing. Another thing missing? An explanation of who that man I saw was and why he was at our door.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Helping Our Environment

What is it going to take for the human race to start living greener? Over the past year, we have seen environmental catastrophes from the BP Oil Spill to the Japan earthquake and power plant crisis. This is an issue effecting every living thing on this Earth, though we live our everyday lives without a care.

I have realized in my studying abroad that being green for Italians is not a choice, it is a necessity because of the expense of heat and electricity. If only this were true in America. So many think that living green will disrupt their daily lives, though it is a lot simpler than that: turning off a light when you leave the room, using a refillable water bottle instead of cases of water, taking shorter showers, washing clothes in cold water, etc. Doing all of these things not only decrease your carbon footprint, but they also fatten your wallet. Who doesn't need that?

Here are a couple of sites to check out.

Convenience and Introspection

Some students here say that they miss the convenience of home. If anything, I am going to miss how convenient life is here. I love the fact that I can walk over to my friend's apartment across the bridge and yell up to her window, asking if she wants to hang out. I am going to miss telling a friend to meet at the Duomo so we can walk to gelato. If I wanted to take a day trip, all I need to do is walk to the train station. Sure, we don't have microwaves, but who needs that? I got popcorn gelato last week. And okay, we don't have dryers, but the drying rack does just fine.

Another thing I didn't realize I'm going to miss so much is the friend's I have made here. I forget that they do not get to come home with me. They have taught me a lot. Its also very easy to be yourself when you are around people from all over the country/world. I think at home, sometimes we can get swayed by the majority, but if we all know we are different, coming from different places, backgrounds, families, I think that its easier to show your true colors to people (not that I am not myself at home, I hope you understand what I mean by that). I think when you are around people who think a certain way too much, anyone would get a little swayed. Surrounding yourself with a new mix of people is like hitting the refresh button.

When you study abroad, you realize not only what your like, seeing yourself in other people, but you also see what your not like. I think this is a very important step in the growing up process.

I'm really going to miss the diversity of personalities, lifestyles, ways of thinking. I like understanding new cultures, seeing how others live, and getting to know new people. This is why I wanted to book a semester in California in the Spring. I'm going to crave a similar experience as soon as I get home.

I also was reminded of what it truly means to be happy, the things that are important to me. So many people here say they miss a lot of things and can't wait to go back to them. Yes, I miss my firepit outside, real breakfasts, and the little things, but truly, all that I miss from home are my grandparents, my parents, my dog, and a handful of my friends. If I could take them all with me traveling, I don't think I would ever stand still.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Its funny to see pictures of little things around Florence that I took upon my first days being here. I found a picture of a tag (graffiti) of the batman symbol. I thought it was so cool. On my pretty regular walk from school to lunch, I realized that I had been walking by it multiple times a week. I had never noticed it since that one day of exploration.

Also, I was walking by a bar with a friend last night after dinner, and I realized that was the bar I went to with my roommates and some friends the first night we went out. I had actually been there once recently, but I never noticed. I actually verified the connection with the friend who responded, "you didn't know that?"

I think its funny how you can fall into a routine and not notice the little things after a while. This is why I always try to walk a different way to classes and not get into such a routine here. Exploring a bit everyday, or even noticing different details is so important to a longer trip like this.

My Postcard

I think I had mentioned that I was not writing throughout my last weekend trip. I keep remembering details that I do not want to lose forever in the sea of my brain.

After the guided tour of Pompei, I wandered some of the shops. I found a thimble that was cheaper than any other thimble I saw, and my grandma collects them. I talked to the vender, in Italian of course, telling him I want to buy it for her. His first questions were what is my name and do I have a boyfriend, typical. After he tried setting me up with his son who gave me elevator eyes, I told him about how I was just there to buy a present for my grandmother. The vender told his 25 year old, tall, dark, blue eyed son that I would be a perfect match because I seem family oriented. After some laughing, he gave me my thimble and then reached over to the postcard, "a gift," he said. I put it in the bag without thinking, then gave the vendor a "proper parting of ways" which is the double cheek kiss.

I later looked into the bag and saw that the postcard he gave me was of the pictures from the Brothel. My grandmother2s thimble is now tainted, and I am left with a suggestive postcard fit for no one.

Three Perspectives on Travel

The Pilot
“Psh, all clear,” my dad hears as the fun part of his job begins. With a long runway before him, he exhales with satisfaction similar to a newly licensed driver looking out onto an open road the first time.
Traveling is not just experiencing something new. Its time. Its work. Its money. Its life-or-death. Its technical. Its business. Its not just going out to discover. Its a delicious expensive meal balanced with the loneliness of a hotel room. Its being on call. Its packing and unpacking, packing and unpacking. Its like sprinting, working less days a year, but busting your butt when you do.
“I love being a pilot,” he's always said, though it seems to me like words sound great, but when I think of all it entails, the jetlag, the culture shock, the unsettling feeling, the outcast tourist feeling, it might not be all that glamorous. Is a pilots license in my future? Maybe not anymore.

The Wife of the Pilot & The Local Servers
“Dad's stuck in Australia,” my mom sighs.
“How's that a complaint?”
“Having an empty house is nice for a day or two, but...” and she trails off.
“Oh Mom, I'll stay on a little longer.”
“I went to Belmar Bagels, and they said of course you could come back this summer.”
“Speaking of, you know what I've been thinking about? At my bagel shop, I can't stand the weekends because the entire tri-state area thinkings its cool to flood the beach. I wouldn't care, but their so rude and never tip. I make more money serving less locals during the week. I was sitting at a cafè yesterday, and I was relating to the barista frustrated with tourists but still trying to be friendly. I don't know how they do it. These tourists, and even locals sometimes, forget that there is a human being behind the counter, not just their food. Is it really asking to much to at least act pleasant? Plus, these workers have to deal with all the different languages. When people order in Spanish or Portugese to me at work every so often, I think Um, we're in America speak English. The baristas here deal with it all the time. They must hate the foreigners, especially because some don't even try Italian. So sad.”

An Elderly Local
“Look at all of these fresh faces and young bodies,” mio zio says as we walk through his hometown of Venice. “When I was their age, I was working for my family. I haven't been outta the country in 40 years. They are taking over and dilluting the culture. Everything's catered to them, burgers and fries, my country is disappearing.”

Monday, April 11, 2011

blue grotto

How did I almost forget about the Blue Grotto? That was the most amazing experience. On my high school trip, I saw the blue grotto in Capri, but I never went inside.

We are all on a boat tour of beautifully blue Capri, when we stop in this cove. I saw these little row boats manned by only the strongest tannest Italian men. My friends and I transfer from the bigger boat to the smaller boat with help from a sailer. We dodge a few other boats and end up in front of this little arch at the foot of the rock that has a chain hanging on top. Our rower says to duck as he pulls the chain and shoots us into the Blue Grotto. It was like finding a secret room in there. The only light to see is the sun's reflection on the pure white sand which illuminates the water. Breath taking. The men inside were singing stereotypically. I asked my rower in Italian if he likes to sing, and he said he did but he did not like his voice. I convinced him to belt out a few notes.

Unfortunately, my description of this experience is not as vividly written as the experience was, but I am off to Fiesole with a friend. I love how we all say, meet at the Duomo. Its hard to believe soon I'll be meeting at Dunkin Donuts instead.

Questo Weekend

This weekend, I went to Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, and Positano.

Pompeii Facts I've Learned
-Mt Vesuvius is the only active volcano on mainland Europe
-Abundency road is the main road full of shops and businesses
-Lupanare is a wolf call which is what Italians would do in the red light district.
-89 winebars, 39 bakeries, a few hundred people, Carpe Diem
-There's a Brothal with pictures, straw on the stone beds, moving on...
-A penis is a symbol of good luck and they are all throughout the city. Some are in stone carved into the ground which points in the direction of the Brothal
-Their community baths were like modern gyms
-They had white pieces of tile on the ground to reflect moonlight so they can see in the dark
-They had no street signs so "I'm left of the bull statue," or "I'm right at the foundtain," was how people got around
-There is a palace of justice at the end
-Lemoncello and fireworks typical of the neighboring town of Naples. Lemoncello is made from the peel of the lemon not the lemon itself and fireworks go off all summer, every birthday, all the time.

Relaxing Capri
I have been to Capri before so instead of going crazy trying to see everything possible, I relaxed. I've been to Anacapri before, so my friends and I had a lunch at the top of Capri next to a gorgeous view, did a little shopping, and laid out on the beach. Beautiful day.

When we came back to Sorrento, I walked the streets of Sorrento as my roommates went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. I found the same scarves that are sold in Florence for 2 euros instead of 5. I found some made in Italy things as well which I was really excited about.

Both of the dinners in Sorrento were really good. The first night we had a basic antipasto then three different pieces of pizza, a basic slice, a prosciutto and mushroom slice, and a spinach and sausage slice. Yum. For dessert we had cream puffs in a chocolate liquor sauce.

The second night, we had a plate of prosciutto to start and amazing bread (the farther south in Italy you go, the better the bread is) then spinach gnocchi with shrimp. Dessert was a lemon cake. Of course, a glass of wine accompanied each meal.

The last day we went to Positano. We hiked down 454 steps to walk the quant town, speak with locals, eat some baccala with a rice ball and these grilled vegetables wrapped in a pastry, wander, and explore.

Another successful weekend.

Bus Buddy

I went away for the weekend on a trip run by the school and met some awesome people. On the three hour bus ride home, I got to know the person sitting next to me. It was surprisingly refreshing. We talked about everything from culture shock and reverse culture shock to having a drive to get out there and make your dreams happen to American stereotypes to our childhoods.

Random, great, long conversations with people give me hope for the world.

another post about food

I know, I know, you must be thinking, "boy can this girl eat." To answer that, yes I can, but also, I don't know why but I have a real connection to my food. Its a big part of culture I think.

Now that that's out of the way, the funniest thing happened to me the other day. I saw something green in my fragola and cafe` gelato. It was mixed into the strawberry part. I was thinking, if this was America, I would be so grossed out, but since I am in Italy I ate it. I licked all of the gelato off the green part and plucked it from my tongue and realized it was a strawberry leaf. How funny that when you see green in icecream at home, you immediately think of mold, but in Italy, you have no such uncertainty.

Also on the topic of food, let me stress the importance of eating local food. When your in Bologna, get the tortolini. When in Modena, taste the vinegar. When in the Amalfi Coast, order fish. It boggles my mind that people don't do this. This is how you get a more authentic experience. Open your mind, and open your taste buds.

In Capri, after having the local lemon cookie, I tried popcorn gelato. POPCORN! It tasted like caramel with popcorn bites inside. I really wanted something fruity as it was a hot day, and we just spent hours at the beach, but you don't come across popcorn gelato too often in your life.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spring Fever

I would love to break this up into a bunch of different smaller posts, but it is 11:15pm, and I need to be up at 5:30am tomorrow, so here we go. I apologize in advance for the jumbled topics. I'll break them up somehow.

Thoughts from il Giardino di Boboli
Somedays, I wake up and it hits me all over again. I'm in Italy?! How long do I have left? How much money do have left? Is this really everything I have been hoping, waiting, saving, working for? Yes. It is. Its all that and more. I know I will have horrible culture shock when I get back because I can't even imagine the life I used to live. I drive a car? There's a beach close to my house? I have a dog?

I like this lifestyle I live. I like walking to lunch, a fresh lunch made from the freshest ingredients. I like walking to the food store at 7pm for ingredients to make dinner within the hour. I love speaking the beautiful Italian language to locals. I love browsing through vintage jewelry. I love laying in the Boboli Gardens, or in any park that is, to read and write and hang out with friends. I love walking to class and being distracted by cappuccinos and clothes. I love rewarding myself with a gelato after class. I love getting dressed everyday (they really get dressed dressed here, which I try to do a few times a week). I love my daily life. I love being here. When I... I don't even want to say the words... come home (I say cringing) I need to ensure that I take aspects from this daily lifestyle and incorporate it into my life at home.

Other thoughts from the Garden
I love how this is an option. Between classes, picking up a delicious chicken dish with sun-dried tomatoes and potatoes in a citrus sauce to sit up against a tree in a garden with Florence's skyline before me. To my left, there's Italian kids chilling. To my right, there is an old American couple kissing. What more can I ask for. Such a beautiful moment.

When I experience moments like this, in places I love, I wish that I could share this with people I love. I could picture my grandparents and I relaxing in this park. I could picture my friends hitting a field hockey ball around. I could picture my dog and I playing in the grass or playing catch...

Thoughts from the streets
Wow. Just bumped into someone who plays field hockey. I actually played against her friends last season. "Go Field Hockey"
Lesson reminded of? This world really is small. I also bumped into someone I went to middle school with in a bookstore here. She's also studying abroad. Small, Small world.

Thoughts after dinner
Always go out of your way to make someone else smile, even a stranger a day. I vowed to help a tourist with directions each day. Today that came easy, because someone came up and asked. I was thinking of just approaching lost tourists.

Anyway, I was on my way home from dinner and saw a few guys running. Two small keys jumped out of one of the guys pockets. I chased them down the street (they couldn't hear my 'Scusa' because of their iPods). I have never seen such a big smile when I handed him the keys. It made me smile. It was also a good way to work of the bread I had with my dinner.

Thoughts from Piazza Repubblica
I know this is typical 20 something year old female lingo, but right now, that's where I'm at, and I have to say, I'm love it.

vestiti - clothing

Okay, what are people doing? I woke up this morning and checked that today has a high of 80. I have a 9am class and realize its not going to be 80 when I walk out the door this morning, so I put on solid black not-too-short shorts, a white tank from express that has strings of black beads around the scoop neckline, a grey blazer and black flats. I wonder if I will be looked up and down by the Florence Fashion Divas, the group of girls who stand outside their school whom I need to walk through to get to mine.

I step outside and see... Jackets? Trench coats? Scarves? Sweaters? I do not understand. Did they not read the weather this morning? On my walk to school, I spot a few other younger people who have tee shirts, some have skirts, but other than this the only other group of people I see dressing true to the weather is tourists. I am not sure about here, but at home, the first day it is 80 degrees is cause for celebration. Bears come out of their holes, lemonade is poured, and women shave their legs.

Lesson learned: people dress seasonally. Instead of checking the weather, they check the date. Apparently April 7 is not means to break out the shorts.

(And if you are wondering the Florence Fashion Divas did do to body scan, I just held my head up and kept walking.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

mini mini details

I hope I don't forget the little things. I know I have said this before, but now I'm talking about the really little things. How I read through Sarah Ben-somethings mail when I look through the ABC mailbox hoping there is something for me. The names of the streets I've grown to love. All of those different kinds of cookies I get at Forno. The last weekend and week I am here, I plan to go around with my camera and take hundreds of pictures of my everyday life. I am anticipating it, though I dread that day too.

Craving Green

Maybe a flower pot on a ledge,
Maybe some leaves on a tree,
These are the only greens I see.

Maybe chopped in a salad,
Maybe pesto on spaghetti,
These are the only greens I see.

Maybe a man's spring jacket,
Maybe a woman's fitted tee,
These are the only greens I see.

Here I am
Writing against a tree
People sitting all around me
In the park, to just be.

In the hands of a man,
Flowers are cut so perfectly,
These are the only greens I see.

Flowers in shops,
A few tree tops,
Florence doesn't hold much greenery.

a spontaneous "lets get out of the classroom and write"

Being a planner is thrown out the window. The title I used to hold, completely dissolved. I have always had a plan, but would roll with the punches. A "flexible easygoing planner" is how I would describe myself. The "flexible easygoing" part is now stressed as I will press my lips before planner comes out of my mouth.

Here I am, my professor has dragged me to another church.

I would never really say that. Look at this.

Standing on a piece of shaky cobblestone outside the church, as my professor tried giving us a history and the Charlie Brown teacher voice rang in my head, I wondered how much this piece of the street must have endured to get this way. I wonder who the people are or were who traveled across it.

Donatello stands strong on the church. I think of how much he endured to get carved into marble and placed into the façade.

In sports, I think of recent March Madness events but also my personal experience in sports in track and field hockey, we measure success in points scored, personal bests, championship titles. The final result of a game or a score is all we focus on. We do not see or experience all that it took to get to that point.

I wonder what was endured to make another church, this church. All of the mosaic, the painting, the brick laying.

Forget Rome, forget Florence, forget this church even, this floor was not built in a day.

I wonder what the people were like, the ones who built this. I wonder what their personalities were. They all have one thing in common, endurance, even if they stopped every twenty minutes for un cappuccino or una bottiglia di vino. I mean these carvings are amazing, lacelike drapped but elegant like a spider web.

All of the people who sat in this spot.
All of the eyes who have looked at these things.
What are their stories?
Where are they from?
What did it take for them to get here?
Do they appreciate this?
Do they have a belly full of espresso, cornetto, or even spaghetti al pesto?
Are they bored?
What are they thinking?
I wonder if they are thinking about the same things I am.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Has anyone else noticed? Everyone looks the same. I have taken so many double takes on this trip. A few times a week, I will run into someone or see someone in a crowd who looks like someone I know.

This might just be choice theory or reality theory of me thinking of home, but I promise it to be true. So strange.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


This blog is not only for my friends and family (and class), but its also a memory holder for me. I could tell you how amazing Cinqueterre is with the skinny, tall bright houses, the rocky, pebbley beaches, and the pesto and seafood everywhere. Instead here are some of my memories:

-going on trains without getting tickets
-trespassing to steal a lemon which was peeled and eating it whole
stealing aloe vera from residences
-trying to hitchhike
-running to the train
-jumping off the train when we realized its the wrong one
-zucca di frutta for free
-"what do I have to do to get a piece of birthday cake"
-free cookies
-the ferry taking a detour to see dolphins
-my camera dying and realizing that the seeing the rest of Porto Venere without a lens was pretty sweet

What I Remember Eating (aside from the stolen lemon)

Lasagna al pesto
Swordfish al limone
Dolci vino da Cinqueterre
Fried baccala
Fried whitefish
Faccachia with tomato and pesto
Pizza with pesto
Bread with nutella
Crepe with nutella
Blood Orange Juice
Raspberry and Hazelnut Gelato