Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pumpkins, etc.

Sorry again for the abandonment.
I guess it's nice to know I'm out and about and not spending my days abroad on the computer...?

Kate gets here in 2 hours! 

Paris and Rome were both amazing. I definitely need to go back to Paris at some point in the distant future. I'm hoping to go back to Rome before I come home, but we'll see. We didn't make it into the Villa Borghese (Caravaggio paintings galore!) so hopefully I can go back. 

Anyway, last night I made pumpkin risotto. It's delicious. And I'm making pumpkin pie at some point this week for Thanksgiving. Woo!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Excerpt from journal on Thursday, November 12th:

"I think I’m in love.

I accompanied Hope to the train station this morning, and decided to take a leisurely stroll back. I wandered through the markets in San Lorenzo, gawked at the Duomo, purchased tickets for tonight’s Amleto (Italian Hamlet!) at the Teatro Verdi down the street, got coffee at Il Cibreo (famous and old cafĂ©/trattoria/theater complex), wandered through the Sant’Ambrogio market and bought olives and prosciutto, gawked at Santa Croce, pet a mangy poodle at the antique market, and bought another postcard of Il David.

It’s official. I love Florence. I mean, I really love Florence.

Christmas lights are being hung throughout the streets! I am ecstatic. As soon as the clock strikes midnight on November 26th, I am blaring Christmas music. I cannot wait to do the Christmas season Euro-style."

More soon! Paris and Rome details on the way! 

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dear Blog,

Please forgive me for abandoning you.


Leaving in twenty minutes for Paris!
I'm meeting Hope there for 3 days, then she's coming back to Florence with me for a spell.
It's so unreal. 5 years ago we were in Museology class at the Art Institute looking at Toulouse-Lautrec's Montmatrte, the works of the Impressionists, Caillebotte's Paris Street, Rainy Day, and now we'll be there... It's supposed to rain all weekend and I don't even care. It'll be just like the Caillebotte, minus the dapper 19th century attire.

The last few weeks have been hectic. Two weekends ago, I went up North to Bassano to visit the cousins! I spoke (poor) Italian almost all weekend. It's really gratifying to know you can communicate in a different language. It's much different than speaking Italian in class, because everyone sort of knows what you're saying anyway, and you can say a few words in English to get your point across if you're having trouble. But when someone only speaks Italian, and you're able to converse with them, it's a nice feeling. Even if you're really terrible at it. 
I'll be going back there in early December, so hopefully my verbal skills will improve...
The cousins took me Asiago also. It was beautiful! And the cheese was awesome, of course. Then spent that Sunday in Venice (alone, but that's fine). I finally got to see the Biennale, which was exceeeellleeennttt. My mind was blown. 

Then last weekend, Margaret, Sarah, and I went to Amsterdam! It's a great city. However, I can't help but think that the prostitution and loose drug laws detract from the city's other great attributes. When you say Amsterdam, people think, "omg marijuanaaa, hookersss!" but there's so much more to it!

The Anne Frank House was intense. I was almost in tears by the end of it. Her father was the only one that lived, and when he returned he found out his entire family was gone. You really can't fathom that. I desperately need to reread the book. When I read it the last time I was so young that I had to look up "annex". At the end of the exhibition they had her original journal. It was so strange to be able to look at her handwriting.

Van Gogh Museum was great. They also had letters from him to his brother, so you could see his sketches and handwriting as well. He sketched like he painted, which I found really interesting. 

I guess that's most of it for now.
Florence is still amazing. I'm really looking forward to Hope coming here, and then for Kate to come over Thanksgiving break. I know when Dad and Maria came to visit, experiencing the city with them made me appreciate it more somehow. I'm not sure why. I wish you guys could come back! It was amazing having you here. :)

I'll try to write more when I get back. And I'll try to update more frequently even if it's just bulletpoints!!

Monday, October 12, 2009


I'm 21!

The weekend was excellent. Though the bus ride to Pompei was 7 hours long each way, it was bearable and I think everyone bonded. Sorrento is gorgeous and we saw Vesuvius. It's way overdue for an eruption, by the way. 

Dad, Maria, and I got gelato last night and sat in front of Santa Croce until I turned 21 at midnight. Then we went to this skeezy but charming American bar and I got my first drink as a 21-year-old: a Heineken. 

In Italian class today, my classmates sang "Happy Birthday" to me in Italian, Russian, Spanish, Serbian, Armenian, Chinese, and Bulgarian. 

And Venice was amazing. The canals are as mystical as I remember them. 


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Oh, they're chili peppers. I get it.

Sunday evening I had my first encounter with peperoncini, and almost permanently damaged the taste buds of my roommates. I attempted to follow a simple recipe on the back of a frozen wild mushroom package (don't judge me - there's a lousy fresh mushroom selection at our supermarket), of which I only understood about 75% because it was in Italian. Italians aren't huge on measurements, so the recipe called for something like "some peperoncini"... which I interpreted as three small and two medium-large whole peppers. Apparently, one small one would have sufficed... Sarah was the unfortunate sampler, and We dumped loads of butter and cheese into the pan in an attempt to balance it out, but it was still unbelievably spicy. 

I now know the power of the peperoncino. 

Off to Venezia for the day tomorrow! Can't wait to see Dad and Maria in what I remember as being my favorite city in the country. 

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Most Overdue Blog Entry of All Time


It has been a busy week sandwiched between two amazing, hectic weekends.

Firstly, America, why don’t you have “aperitivo”? What a novel idea: Bars provide a smorgasbord of food and snacks when their customers buy drinks. It’s a win-win situation! Poor college kids get a free meal, and the bars make more money because people need to buy more drinks to get drunk on a full stomach. My roommates and I have taken advantage of this, minus the getting drunk part, actually. We buy a glass of wine (6 euro) but get a cheap dinner for free. The food is decent, and is usually an array of cous cous/rice/pasta dishes and mini sandwiches.

I guess I’ll chronologically go through the past few days… for my own recollection. And I’ll make some bullet-points for those of you with ADD (Danielle).

-Friday, Piazza Michelangelo, amazing views of the city and amazing nature walk.

Margaret, Signe, and I were feeling adventurous, so we climbed up to Piazza Michelangelo. It’s a giant piazza on the top of a hill northeast of the center of Florence. We took the traditional route up, about 3 million steps, until we reached the piazza. After taking about 3 million pictures, we continued upward toward a mysterious church at the top of the hill. So gorgeous! It’s called San Miniato del Monte and it also houses relics (“remains”) from him. It was dusk, so we watched the sunset from the top of the hill. Amazing.

We decided to take the scenic route down, which involved  a winding path though the woods. About halfway down we noticed a man walking a little ways ahead of us, and I didn’t pay much attention. A few moments later, we passed him, and saw him sitting on a stump in the forest… wearing a pair of women’s heels.


Apparently we stumbled upon someone with a dirty secret, who goes to secluded forests in the mountains and lets loose. Who knows. Maybe they were his wife’s heels? Or his mother’s? Norman Bates? Eeeh. He walked in them better than any of us could though, for sure.

The rest of the path was so beautiful! There were tons of grottos, overrun with vines, with schools of goldfish swimming in their ponds. I swore that day that I would take anyone who came to visit up that path to Piazza Michelangel.

-Wine tasting is awesome.

From the bottom of the hill we wandered along the river in search of the Florence Wine Festival. 10 euro for a glass and 12 wine tastings! Over 100 vineyards sampled wine in 6 piazzas on the south side of the river. We only got a couple samples, but we used pretentious wine terminology to describe them, and then wrote down our favorites. We got to taste wine from one of our professor’s vineyard. That was exciting.

-Siena and San Gimignano (super medieval!) on Saturday! Roommates went a purse-purchasing spree, and I also got an awesome owl wine stopper. Margaret’s birthday was great! Yay!

Siena was amazing, but super crowded. The hills are intense. We’re talking Seattle/San Francisco intense. The Duomo is unreal! It’s so ornate… it’s a lot to take in. We also went into Santa Maria della Scala, what used to be a hospital back in the day. The original frescoes were still there, and they had typical imagery of the time like saints, angels, etc. The arches however were covered with details of skulls and bones… How pessimistic! The saints and angels make sense, but if I was dying, I wouldn’t want to be lying on a bed under archways with skulls painted on them.

San Gimignano was also magnificent. It’s very small, very medieval, and much less crowded. The shops sold unique things for a decent price, so I splurged on a 3 euro ceramic owl wine stopper. I know, I know… I’ll calm it down with the owl souvenirs. Last one. For now.
It was also Margaret’s birthday! So in her honor, Sarah and I bought purses with her. Mine was actually on the cheap side, considering it’s size and it’s infinite coolness. I’ve been using it every day since, but I still need to get it treated. (I think they do that here…?)

So for Margaret’s birthday, we got all dolled up and went next door to our place for dinner. Then we headed to a few neighborhood bars to begin the epic celebration. It was a drama-free, good time!

- We saved Margaret’s underwear with a 12-foot long wire hanger contraption and my dogbone flashlight keychain!

Doing laundry here in Italy is always an adventure. Lately, the washer door has been getting stuck. When this happens, the only way to get it open without breaking it, is to do another cycle. They don’t use dryers here, so we have to hang our laundry on a clothesline out our kitchen window. Several times we’ve dropped things onto the balcony awning just below us, so we stretched out a wire hanger to reach out and grab the stuff we’ve dropped. One night, however, Margaret dropped a pair of undies waaay down, onto someone’s actual balcony. We ended up using my dogbone keychain flashlight (thanks, Mom!) to see, and stretched out 6 wire hangers to reach them. Our contraption and my excellent fishing skills saved the day! Sarah documented the event in photographs.

- History of Tuscany is pretty awesome, especially when the Count takes us out for wine.

I finally had History of Tuscany with the infamous Count. He and the course lived up to my expectations. The lecture was really awkward because he drolls on very slowly in his refined English accent, and pauses for long periods of time, and there are only six of us in the class so it’s really quiet. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. But the second half of the class was much better, when he declared, “I’m fed up. Are you fed up? It’s stuffy and hot in here. Let’s go get some wine.” and treated us to a glass or two each. The seven of us talked about a lot, spanning from family to regional foods, Monty Python, banned Bugs Bunny cartoons, and Thanksgiving plans. Apparently every year he cooks a giant feast and invites all of his students to the palace. Yes!!

-I am sick. It sucks.

Friday we all took a “sick day” and bummed around with the exception of a short walk to the duomo and to get gelato and cold medicine. Sarah is doing okay, Signe was feeling a bit under the weather, and Margaret and I both have horrible colds. I’ve been hacking and sniffling all over the place.

-Bologna is amazing! I love it!

Illnesses aside, Sarah, Margaret, and I voyaged to the nearby region of Emilia-Romana to go to Bologna! Bologna has Europe’s oldest university (!), a church that houses the basin that Pontius Pilot “washed his hands” in (!), and it’s known for awesome culinary delights such as Bolognese (meat) sauce, tagliatelle pasta, and tortellini! We ate a lot of good food, and wandered all over this amazing city. I really, really liked Bologna. A lot. I would study abroad there. I hope I can go back. Most of their museums were free, and there weren’t hoards of tourists, and it was densely populated with Italian students. It also was really medieval, which I love. There were also tons of fests and street fairs going on. So great.

Here’s hoping this god awful cough goes away soon! 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Historical History

In a nutshell, I’m dropping my Sculpture major, I’m taking History of Tuscany taught by a Count, and my Renaissance Art History class is mind-blowing.

I not sure what exactly prompted me to drop my studio class here (and as a result, my studio major back home), and take History of Tuscany instead. I guess I’ve finally just come to terms with the fact that an academic life is more manageable for me than an artistic one, so I’m sticking with the Art History major. I still plan on making art and what not, but I just won’t have a “degree” in it. With my double major I would’ve had to do a fifth year of undergrad anyway, and that fifth year can be used much better I think. Anyway, here in Florence I have virtually no studio space, and I highly doubt I’d be able to keep up with what everyone else has been doing back home in the studio. I also decided that taking the history class is a better opportunity. It’s taught by a Count and his family owns a palazzo on the river with archives that date back to the 13th century! Our project is to write a paper using research done in his archives as well as the other notable institutions around town (i.e. that sweet National Library I’m obsessed with.)

Anyway, I am through rationalizing my decision. What’s done is done!

We finally had our first Renaissance Art History class, and it was amazing. The teacher is brilliant and seems to know everything (in a good way). He even went off on a tangent explaining how the English word “secular” stems from the Italian word for “century” which is secolo, and how that’s because it’s relevant to the passing of time, blah blah, it was awesome. We went to two piazze during our first class, Piazza della Repubblica and Piazza della Signoria. I learned more during those 45 minutes than I ever have before!

Then, during my afternoon class, Italian Style, our teacher took us to a welcome ceremony for American students held in the Palazzo Vecchio (the Old Palace) where the Mayor was supposed to welcome the students. However, the Mayor couldn’t make it, so the Vice Mayor came instead. It was still fantastic. The ceremony was held in the Salone del Cinquecento (the Room of 500), that was commissioned by the Medici and has statues by Michelangelo and paintings by Vasari. Awesome.

Regrettably, History of Tuscany has been canceled today, so I won’t find out what the class is like until next week. This is very aggravating. Hopefully I made the right decision. Ugggh.

Italian is incredibly advanced. We’ve now reviewed six or seven tenses. I had only studied two of them… but so far I’ve been able to keep up. I really took a lot of Spanish in high school, and the structure and concepts are almost identical, so it’s not that hard to comprehend.

We’re going to Siena and San Gimignano on Saturday with our school, so that should be exciting. It’s also Margaret’s birthday, so we’re going to celebrate! It’s only her twentieth though. Whomp, whomp.