Friday, December 17, 2010

Saved by the Bag



I have never skated in an outdoor ice rink before.
You may ask to this: PFFT, how canadian are you?
and remember, I'm not actually...

so on that note.
Bologna has set up an ice rink near the train station. The other day my friends and I went to check it out. To see prices and all the things around it. By it there are speakers blasting a mix of Reggae ( I don't know) Italian Pop songs and random English music I've never heard...and not sure If I want to hear again. The rink is in the midst of a Christmas market, set up with stalls of jewlery, food that they'll heat for you on the spot and other crazy cra
ft decorations.
When we arrived to the rink- I COULD NOT BELIEVE MY EYES.
There were children learning how to CURL on the ice rink.


Please do not tell me this sport is spreading.
We decided not to go ice skating that day. And Instead opted for Yesterday (Dec 17, which I'm pretty sure from a 13 year old fact-finding knowledge and a very strange memory...is Brad Pitts birthday... let me double check.
Curses, one day off. Good thing too


So we arrived
in the morning and paid for rental and skates (6.70 E) but it's skating, in Italy. You can't really put a price on that.

It was so fun! I tried to go backwards, which I just learned last year. My friend Anna used to figure
skate (and met last years Male Gold Winner before he was huge....jealous) and we skated along to strange Reggae, attempting spins. Me attempting to stay up. ( I haven't fallen while skating maybe for 4 years...unless dragged down, like in first year by my RA... and I'm trying to keep the record of not falling keep going as long as I can)

We skated around for maybe an hour and a half. Then disembarked from the ice and took a chilly walk around Bologna. Then three things happened, in this succession that were very strange and coincidental.


1. We passed by the market which is usually only on weekends.
2. I bought a pair of heels for 1 Euro. ( Which I then proceeded to wear.....)
3. Someone tried to pick pocket me


Now, 1 and 2 aren't that great, but 3. Let me get into that. But I'm sure 1 caused 2 and 2 made me look like a tourist (doesn't help we were speaking english), and 3 happened.

I was pick pocketed once before. In a crazy busy market in Thailand. I actually felt the person smash against me and I remember thinking "I just got pick pocketed" but before I could turn around, I was sure the person was gone into a sea of people. We exited the market and sure enough. All documents and the little money I had (when traveling with parents, after all) was gone.

This time was so blatantly obvious I wanted to scream. And yet I said it so matter of factly to people when I tell them.
We're walking down the street and the thing is, It's not crowded at all. Frankly, there's maybe a woman ahead of us 2 meters down and some behind us, but virtually the street is empty. Save for the regular beggar women. The first one come up to me, latches herself on my side and keeps muttering
"Money please, some coins, best wishes, please signora" and I shove her off. She's in my personal bubble, and I'm going to be assertive. When this happens AGAIN not 2 steps later, something is definitely up. As I push the second woman out of my bubble, I catch a glance of her hand exiting my bag from my peripheral vision.

Now I'm wearing one of those loose bags you usually take to the beach. It's a Thailand Beach Bag. There is no zipper. Just a button that fastens it together. Not really doing anything at all. The thing is, you have to stick your whole arm in (probably until almost your elbow) to reach anything in your bag. Or pull it higher towards yourself. Ironically, this is what saved me from getting my new leather wallet (that my grandfather sent me) stolen.

I just don't understand. I always thought of pick pocketing as something sneaky. Maybe a casual brush or bump that you won't notice. But I think I noticed two women clinging to my side. The odd thing is, had I been wearing my other bag...I may not have zipped it up in time. And right now I may have been wallet-less and sad.


Paranoid doesn't even begin to cover how I feel right now about my bag.

But onto lighter things, Like light snow.
Last night my Columbian friend took me to a little known cafe in the center. There are two picnic tables, a small make-shift stage, a bar and barely any room to stand. The problem now is that every Friday, a new music group plays there. We sat around and watched the 5 person band, two guitars, a trumpet, accordion and drummer in a crowd of moving, talking and shoving people.

The songs were sung in english and the guitar and bad acoustics make it hard to hear them properly, but from what I can tell, they're fantastic. We exit shortly after, it's too crowded and the musicians take long breaks, still figuring technical things out. We see snow fall from the sky, but I tell my friend ( who can't speak english) that It's not sticking to the ground.

How wrong I am.
We've got inches of snow here today.
I'm going to go explore it now. Pictures soon.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

There's no room! (Non c'è posto!)











So UBC ( which I love and miss) back in Vancouver has a registering system. It's hateful, stressful and university students wake up at 7 am to get into their classes. They'll compulsively check every hour whether there is even spot in that class they are aiming for ( for me it was Russian Lit 207 in first year and a course HIGHLY recommended.) I've made a skill even of showing up to classes I couldn't fit into and rushing to the teacher, explaining ( exaggerating even) how much I want to be in their class. After the first few classes, I keep attending, people drop and almost magically my add/drop form is signed by the teacher's hand......


Italy has no such system, I mean of registration ahead of time.
At least not University of Bologna.
You find out when/where the classes are (A sort of frustratingly amazing scavenger hunt) and show up.

Our theatre class had 40 people on the first day. This wasn't a sit down lecture type of thing, this was a laboratory with work on everyone's piece. Another theatre class of mine has more than 100 people ( History of Theatre) and often, students have no place to sit.

You may think this is a god send.
Also we are divided into 4 periods. 2 per term.
You can have a class that runs Period I (Oct-Nov). Or even if you have a class that runs full term, you can choose whether you want to take the exam for 6 credits (Period I) or 12 for both periods.
This allowed me to get out of a stunningly boring Italian Literature class in time for my theatre class ( Period II) to start up.

I emailed the prof ( so he could have a rough number of students attending) and showed up with other students.
Over the course of the three weeks ( I kid you not, our class ran Nov 15- Dec 9) we lost a few students. Some classes we sit on stage while the other perform, just waiting. There is no restriction for people after all.

The city of Bologna is known for it's University ( said to be founded as early as 1088 and in it's attendees even Dante) and it's a University town. Though there is no campus, the classes spread out in different streets within the city. Let's see Zamboni houses a lot of the classroom buildings and libraries, but another 15 minutes away you can find the DAMS (Theatre) buildings. So if you've got classes literally on the other side of town, it can get problematic.




A Popular question is "what do you study"
When I say "Theatre, Literature, a bit of everything" they immediately ask Faculty "DAMS?" and sometimes I explain "no, I'm overseas but technically in the Letter & Filosofia faculty ( department in english) but I'm taking theatre courses. Or I just agree, Yes, DAMS. Because 1. It sounds awesome and 2. I should be.

Each class is scheduled to run for 2 hours. But most start 15 minutes late ( for arrival time) and end 15 minutes early. So if you've got back to back classes, you have a half hour to grab a slice of pizza or coffee with your buddies before traveling across town to your next class.
The city is very student oriented, the night life, the cafes, the pizzerias. It's almost like living on a university campus because the city is so small!

According to the *ever trustworthy* Wikipedia:
UBC population of Undergrads: 46,475 – Vancouver.
Unibo population of students: 95,711 ( 2006 figure)

UBC 4.02 km2main campus
UniBo 140.7 km2 City of Bologna

So when you've completed your short course. You sign in online on your "Piano di Studi" or Curriculum.
And find your classes. Click 'Take Exam" and since the exams are usually Oral, it will tell you when and where.

That's all for now. I'll rant about the system another time. Exams are scheduled in January ( late) but it looks like a have a written ( unnatural!!) exam on Thursday. But I'll keep you posted.





Thursday, December 9, 2010

An Italian Theatre Experience


My teacher has a deep voice. He rolls his plaid collared shirt to his sleeves ( I wonder if he knows this is fashion right now in Canada) and begins explaining the project we will undertake in our theatre class for the next three weeks. A class that lasts for 30 hours, beginning November 15 and ending December 9 with a spectacle or performance.

Our "script" is the works of Lewis Carroll. We start the first and second day with exercises. Not those "zip, zap zong" or 'lets fall into each others arms for trust' exercises that I'm used to, but more like rapid speed yelling of words. Unfortunately the words aren't provided and I feel like I'm the only one who isn't fluent in italian. It's not true, at all, over the next weeks I will learn there are at least 8 other foreigners, but the first day, I feel terrified and challenged and by the end of it, feel too exhausted. I'm thinking I hate theatre, I wish I could do this, should I drop the class? And then I realize, I haven't been challenged in a theatre class for years. So let's stick with it, my teacher is good looking enough to keep me hooked. Like a great pilot of an episode. Though he's frightening too, all directors are under stress.


We're assigned a number, then we go in order, after saying our numbers, we go onto other words. Words that describe Alice in Wonderland for us. What captures that looking glass, the make belief world of cheshire cats and fairy tales written by Charles Dodgson (Later and more well known as Lewis Carroll). "Specchio, Racconto, Alice" various easy words are taken and people start yelling phrases. I panic, I'm hardly understanding what we have to say, my teacher is watching, I'm panicking and whatever I say feels childish, foolish. Not my theatre A game.

Then we all are assigned pieces of the text. These are bits of the story our teacher has written. One page sheets featuring dialogue (where we play two characters ourselves) or a straight monologue. They follow the order of the Lewis Carroll books and take the wittiest dialogue and story parts, placing them together in what I can only call an abstract (because of my IB education.)

I somehow am one of the only 4 people stranded without a part. My teacher starts splitting up the longer pieces into twos and threes. I'm last and somehow this prompts my teacher to call me up to the front of the class ( 40 students in a semi circle on a stage) to read a text I have never seen before. In Italian.

I'm so quiet he tells me delicately, using these words ( in his sexy italian voice of course)
"That was very intimate, but perhaps the others would like to hear. There is a class"
So I start again, feeling sweaty and scared and wait, what's this? Nervous?
Reminds me when Jesse St James from Glee said "I remember when I used to get nervous"


But this feels wrong, this isn't the actress version of me. I'm outgoing, crazy, loud. I'm not loud here! People even think I'm shy!. But another language can seriously displace me. And as I'm sure I'm blushing all shades of red, I continue the Italian never before seen text in front of me. Cursing my Canadian accent.




PARTS!

I get a dialogue from the mad hatter and Alice. Since I've received a portion that was split in two, I'm now in a group with another girl. We allocate roles, indicated by who is wearing a hat at that moment. It's an argument, and then I'm Alice in her portion and I run off the stage, albeit not as dramatically as I would like. Our class winds around the stage like a snake. We make a phrase out of our text. Ours is: "RETE AMOROSA" then we have to show this with different objects.

RE is a king from a deck, TE is tea and AMO is a fish hook, ROSA a rose.

We bring these things to a table, arrange them in our order, waiting for #7 to finish ahead of us, ( we're 8 and 9) before I start our dialogue with the condescending
"Ma prendi un po' più tè!" literally, "But take a little more tea."
Problem is, Alice has none: and responds as such. "Posso predeme di più se ancora non ne ho avuto?" Can I take some more if I don't have any yet?

The dialogue continues, then we walk to the back of the stage (Upstage for you theatre folks) and set down our "rebus" (puzzle) again. We sit at the back, while the other 24 pieces of the Alice in Wonderland/Looking Glass are performed.


We had started out in the seats of the audience. Came in front of the tables, picked up our items, brought them to the tables ( there are three Downstage), performed our interactive pieace (one of the few featuring a shared piece and character distinctions) and walked back upstage, patient, non moving in the shadows.

And the last piece ends just how the first one began.
E Tardi.
I'm Late.






It was interactive, strange, un scripted. And at the end of the 30 hours, I only performed for 5 minutes. I am already missing that gorgeous teacher with a decent fashion sense. Missing theatre more than I knew I was able to! Planning out my future and ideas for auditioning when I return.
Now, I'm going to go practice monologues.

PS Memorizing lines is much harder in Italian.



Here are my lines, if you want to check them out.
Also, I wore the beret I got from Paris. Hardly a mad hat.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bonjour Paris



There's no doubt Audrey Hepburn is an icon. She's gorgeous, hilarious and an amazing actress. I promoted Audrey Hepburn to my favorite actress in my first year of University.

I genuinely think she is an amazing actress and don't love her because she's an icon, but in spite of it. Sure it's great to be able to find bags with her face on them, shirts with her posters of Breakfast at Tiffany's, It's pleasant, but I love her entirely and without that.
I don't love Marilyn because she's an icon. I don't know her, I haven't seen her movies, so I can't justly love her because everyone else does.


In first year, I bought a great big poster of Audrey (which scares VeronicaJ and Yuki to this day) and tried to see as many of her movies as I could. My favorite (in first year) was Funny Face, a musical starring Fred Astaire.
PLOT: A magazine company takes the average woman (Hepburn!) and brings her to Paris for a photo shoot. There's a catch of course. Audrey despises the materialist magazine, but agrees to come along because a great philospher lives in Paris, whom shes dying to meet and who says no to free airfare?



Anyway, As I am getting excited for PARIS! I leave in about 2 days! I want to watch all the Audrey Hepburn Paris related movies as I can:
Paris When It Sizzles.
How To Steal a Million
Funny Face.

Just like I was watching Roman Holiday in anticipation.
Now I want to memorize this song and BELT it in Paris.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrIJjB_dyP0

So Paris, in two days. BONJOUR!!!!!

PS. I checked out a French travel phrase book from the library! Problem? It's Italian-French. IT MIGHT be helpful.

Au Reviour!


Monday, November 8, 2010

Eggs, Bacon, and Cake

An expose into an Italian Breakfast.
( With mention of their views on Coffee)

Remember the big breakfasts? Eggs, bacon, hash browns or french toast or loads and loads of pancakes with combinations of syrups and sweets? Italy is a bit different.

Over the past few months I have seen my roomies eat cereal for breakfast, espresso shots of coffee and the most favorite and popular choice: cookies.
Biscotti and coffee is a breakfast favorite. No oatmeal, no eggs, ham, bacon. Just something out of the pastry section of a bakery ( to be fair, in Italy the bakeries are to DIE for) and hot coffee, with milk if you wish it.




On Halloween I went to a hotel for a Bahai Convention in Verona. This hotel featured a breakfast meal.

I found there:
So many asotrments of jams and syrups it was astounding and different types of bread. Crunchy, cookie like, pastries. Also there was fried eggs ( in a pan like brownies), cold and proscuito that had been fried. No potatoes or pancakes or oatmeal in sight.
A variety of....bread and jam. Bread and pastries is a typical favorite after all. Then of course, staring back at me was a dark brown, mouth watering chocolate coffee cake.

I could hardly believe my eyes, surely this is a dream? My childhood sweet tooth come back to haunt me? A hotel serving cake for breakfast? Don't get me started on how breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day. Either the Italians haven't heard this rule or have surely dismissed it.
The eating times are hard enough to adjust to. Dinner is at 8, if that on most days. Which begs the question, how can you not be hungry, since all you had was CAKE and Coffee for breakfast?





Well lunch consists of:
Pasta, followed by another type of pasta ( THATS RIGHT, two pastas!) and then you go to the buffet line for salad and meat. One day I had lasagna to start, then penne in cream sauce. The other Ragu with Macaroni followed by Fussili with cream sauce.
So I thought to myself, I'll be Italian. I'm here, speaking non stop italian after all ( I have successfully killed any french I had left over from my middle school years, right in time for Paris, but that's for another post.....)

So I grabbed myself a mocha from the machine and a piece of cake. I sat down and enjoyed. well not really. Without details, the cake was dry and hardly dessert, maybe suitable for breakfast, not ever having had breakfast cake before, I can make no commentary but I would not have it for dessert.
All in all, I was shocked, slightly unnerved and just confused at the assortment of "food" for breakfast. I'm all for sweets, but sign me up for a good healthy breakfast.
Next time, I'd like eggs benny and bacon please. With a side of Orange Juice. Cheers.

COFFEE
Starbucks is evil. Some of you may agree, but italians don't have star bucks. ANYWHERE.
In vancouver where two face across the street from each other ( ROBSON ST, what are you thinking?)




Italy in comparison has none. None have I seen in Bologna at least. Nor Florence.
Cafes are everywhere. A coffee is an espresso cup, a hot shot of warp wake-you-up goodness. Once you add a whole pack of sugar ( sometimes not even enough) you can slurp it down. You can get a cappuccino, (probably less than a "short" star bucks size) and enjoy. Most italians pop into a cafe, drink at the bar, in regular china cups. WHAT DO YOU MEAN, TO GO? paper cups? and then go on about their day. You can grab the coffee outside and sit down, talking with a friend, but if you're alone, why the hassle? You fork over your 1Euro and be on your way. I once asked someone why there were no star bucks, it was a discussion about the size of coffee and they seemed offended at the audacity of adding WATER to coffee. If you can't drink it real, what's the point. You don't add water to your pepsi do you? or your shot of energy gin-sing?



A TIP FOR TRAVELERS: the touristy places ( Florence and others) will say "3E" on the menu for a "cafe" ( regular shot of coffee black) this is for TOURISTS. A cup of cafe should not cost more than 1.50. So go inside, drink at the bar and relax elsewhere. Or ask if you, a non tourist, can sit outside ( usually kept free for those crazy money spending tourists who get attracted to the cafes and their outside seating)

So to spoil that dangerous myth: COFFEE does NOT have to cost 5 dollars in Europe.

Also, as your waiting for class, anywhere, there are coffee machines, where you can specify how much sugar. Usually for less than a euro. Wake me up before class! Also, fun fact, those little plastic cups you take everywhere with you on picnics? Come espresso-sized here. TOO CUTE.



My last point is that I am now the proud organizer of a Pancake breakfast devotional. On sundays we eat our fill with pancakes with nutella, jam, sugar, honey....etc then after share prayers, wise words. I'm slowly showing them how we Canadians enjoy breakfast/brunch back home.....

Now that's what I call a SOULPANCAKE.

http://www.soulpancake.com/

PS. Check this great site out!




Sunday, November 7, 2010

Where we lay our scene....


































Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene



On the weekend of halloween, while everyone back home was dressing up, donning outfits for the weekend
enjoying the candy and the tricks, the treats and the photo taking, I was in Verona.
This blog entry will be short, since I was in Verona for a Baha'i Conference for the Northern Bahai's of Italy.
Needless to say, I made new friends, said Hi to old friends, found Italians, travelers to italy and a great tiny
Italian prayer book for 2E. It was beautiful, uplifting and I adored it.

But as the hotel we stayed at was 20 minutes away from Verona, (for the purpose of this blog)
not much was actually in fact, travelled to or seen.
I didn't see the Home of Juliet, various other attractions that the home of Shakespeare's gloriously tragic
romance took scene.

I solely walked the streets, catching glances of the main square, a colosseum like structure of Verona, fountains
and tourists, all in the space of an hour before we got picked up to go to the hotel.

So here are the photos of what we managed to see in Verona,
THIS TIME.
I've already made plans to return, In December. During my birthday and christmas, with my lovely friend Nina.






Friday, October 29, 2010

The Wonder of Livorno


Livorno is amazing for many reasons, but probably the ones that will wow you most are these.


I spent less than an hour in the town and knew for certain, that I was in love with it. I've always belonged near the ocean and Livorno seemed to be Bologna, on the ocean. As a port, it's advantageous for travel by boat ( a super plus) and it's gloriously beautiful, quaint and the colors of the sun set illuminate the town with dark red and romantic pinks.

let me be clear, I'm this in love with Livorno and we only saw most of the city by bus.
It was a chemistry with the place, I just knew, If I wasn't in Bologna, I would live here ( and told myself I wanted to some day) in Livorno.
It's small, so it doesn't have the crowds of tourists, but it's lively, the town square illuminated with gold and a merry go round. Actually merry go rounds spot the whole city in different places. It's quaint and certainly Italian, by the sea and finally, in glorious Tuscany.

It's about 20 minutes from Pisa and an hour from Firenze.
For me, it's the perfect city.
And Like I said, I only saw it on bus. We got off to take photos of the sunset, grab dinner ( four nectarines which were drops of godly heavenly fruit in our mouths) and climb lamp posts for photos all by the raging and yet calm ocean.


Livorno for me, was the perfect combination reminded me of Tel Aviv, Canada, Athens and Bologna all at the same time.

My heart was at home in this beautiful town, just sitting on the sea, on a haze of pink.






Thursday, October 28, 2010

Verona et un mois avant Paris


This weekend is a long weekend. And I mean, on top of the fact that I only have one class on thursdays (yes, intentional) and no classes on Friday.

So, what we know as Halloween is the day of the dead and means in Europe, Monday is no school.
This weekend also happens to be a regional conference for my faith
(Baha'i, for more information, I urge you to check out http://www.bahai.org )
I will be attending this conference (conducted in Italian) near Verona. So on Saturday morning, at about 8 I will take the train to Verona.
More details of the trip to come shortly after.

Also from a whimsical search on RyanAir.com ( a fantastic flight service for Europe!!) and Nina telling me "I'm going to Germany for 5 days" I searched Paris.
I studied french for 4 years in Middle School, but with time, lack of practice and no motivation, all of it has faded away.

So I found tickets to PARIS from Bologna for 21. Euros per person. I searched frantically for someone to go with, or I would ( I don't doubt this) GO MYSELF. I asked people I knew in Europe, maybe someone would even MEET me there?
Then passing my roommate in the hall, Gorgeous Gloria, I asked.
"want to go to Paris?" when she replied "Of course, It's one of my goals for this year" I showed her the ticket prices.
After consulting with our other roommate Stunning Sara, we decided YES WE WOULD GO TO PARIS.
So a few days later, perhaps even a week, here I sit, after having purchased tickets to Paris.

We will be there for 5 days in November.
That's right, this time next month, I'll be attempting french, as if I had never spoken it before.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lucca and the Leaning tower




Lovely LUCCA is about a 5 euro and an hour and half train ride from Firenze. The ancient city still is surrounded by a wall ( as Firenze and Bologna have only kept the gates, and the walls have been torn down) and still keeps the small city inside the walls. The train station is a 10 minute walk away from these walls and several gates that allow access to the city.

It's gorgeous, quiet and undisturbed. You can rent bikes by the hour to travel around this city. We've seen only tourists, an limited amounts at that. We pass a group huddled around one of the only souvenir shops, chatting loudly about Italy and with their cameras around their necks. ( We refuse to look this ridiculous, we may be tourists, but not to Italy.)

Finally, hours after we arrived we spot some natives of the city, wondering where they've been until noon. It's an easy going, peaceful place from what we can see. Pocket sized. My guide book claims that 12 foot high walls surround the city,but it's hardly accurate. Which makes me doubt the book's skill.....
We walk around, getting lost with the poor map we obtained from a simple hotel before reaching the city walls and spend more time than we intended in the peaceful town, as time slips away and we search for things we "HAVE TO SEE" that when we approach them, we greet them with confusion or "no, we JUST passed that church"
However, it's a quaint gorgeous Italian town, that you should visit when you get the chance.



PISA is a comparative hell. It's far from quiet. To get there, our train changed on us, three times. "please change to track 2" so we do, thinking we have moments before the train arrives. Running after trains shall not be a past time here, I assure you. Then it changes back to the original binario (platform.) OH MIO DIO. (oh my god). When we arrive its busy, bustling, loud. We board a bus, saying well see the city by bus, head to the infamous leaning tower and catch the train to Livorno as our final stop. Had we spent less time at Lucca, we would have time to go to Siena following Livorno.

Our original plan was Sienna. And on the way, why not Lucca? Oh and Pisa is soooo near by, wait, lets go to Livorno too, it's by the coast, what a grand idea.....

So here we are, on the bus passing too many tourists, seeing the rain drizzle outside, dreading stepping outside ( the day had started out so hopefully there was no umbrella brought) and finally arrive at THE LEANING TOWER.




If you can even find it.
Firstly, its ridiculously short. and second, it's crowded. TOO MANY TOURISTS!! It's a market beside the leaning tower, specifically for tourists. They speak to me in German, Russian, try Spanish on Lydia. Trying to get us to buy their pointless souvenirs. It's a long row of market and on our left is the tower and much less commonly talked about, it's accompanying buildings.















But yes ladies and gentlemen, this architectural fail does lean. actually.
We take the stereotypical shots, but I try to be interesting, so I LEAN on the leaning tower. I don't hold it up or kick it over. I hug it, it's quite comfy. It's gorgeous, but it's getting late and rainy and dark and the tourists are driving us insane. There are way too many and the annoying market clerks keep trying to push souvenirs on us. So we figure, we're done with Pisa, walk to the bus station, make some good ol' italian conversation with a darling old woman. A grandmother for sure, who's the sweetest and moments later are in the train station, buying tickets for Livorno. Which little known fact, is a slice of heaven.

Exclusive look into LIVORNO, coming soon!!


Finally Firenze



In September, we acquired two new house mates, said goodbye to the cat that belonged to our last housemate and I travelled to Firenze to meet Lydia, who I had known in high school ( in Thailand). It really is a small world.

I remember mostly of September, teaching my new Italian roommate how to operate her computer which she had never used before. As I read the notices in Italian, understood them in English and tried to explain it all to her in Italian, somehow we made progress and loaded the initial settings for her new HP, never before used. It was tolling, amazing and ridiculous to think that this time last year, I was in the first month of my Italian class, struggling with the verb to do.




To do: FARE
faccio, fai, fa, facciamo, fate, fanno.


Now this seems second nature to me and is said way too often.



Then on September 23, I took the train ( 6.85Euro) and an hour later, I arrived in glorious Firenze. To which I had travelled with a trip of 30 girls and both my parents, 7 years before during the time of the world cup. As Lydia and I walked the city, the memories all came rushing back: David, the Duomo, museums and the miraculous history of this Tuscan city.

This time, I ate gelato every day, walked the city streets, got lost ( going to somewhere Lydia had never WALKED to before and only been to once by bus) and dodged the tourists.

One thing I can say about Firenze is that it's a collection of tourists. Tourists of all sizes and ages crowd the streets, you hear barely any Italian, the coffees are 3euros a piece ( Cappuccinos are usually 1.10 - 1.30) unless you know where to go and you feel like yelling MOO at the herd of people slow walking in front of you. ( Chandler Bing Reference- Friends)






And sometime they just stop in front of you, yell something like "Sheila, check that out" and proceed to take a photo while you stare at them in shock. You're trying to get somewhere after all! You don't feel rude weaving past them to get to your location, this is normal in Firenze for this time of year and the tourist season won't end for at least a month.



Unlike the quite and very Italian city of Bologna ( in the sense that there are practically no tourists in Bologna, all are natives, Italian is everywhere you go and prices are cheaper)
Firenze has souvenirs everywhere you look. In the markets, they gauge you and speak to you in what they think is your native language. Apparently I'm from Germany, Russia or America. These are somewhat valid assessments. Finding postcards was too easy, but finding cheap ones, was a bit more difficult.

ONE EURO FOR A POSTCARD? I think not.
I found them in athens for .15, now that's a bargain I haven't matched yet. But I still refuse to pay more than .25 for my postcards, unless they really are amazing.

I stayed in Firenze for 5 days, one of which we decided to explore other nearby cities.
So we took one day in total spontaneity, we had planned "Monday we will travel to Pisa" but instead that Saturday, we decided to randomly take the day then ( instead of exploring Firenze as we said we would) went to the train station and headed towards Lucca. Then Pisa, Then Livorno.

Firenze was not actually explored in a tourist way, since I had some recollection of the tourist things I did 7 years ago. Mainly the statue of David, Museums, the Duomo and all that must be done, was by passed for a day of traveling the beautiful, captivating Tuscany.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Coming Soon.....

I know a Travel Blog post is WAY overdue, but I've been living it up in Italy here and haven't had time or energy to remember all the things I saw, did and write them down.
But coming soon, I will recall my moments in Milan, Florence,Pisa, Livorno, Lucca and Bologna....

Classes started yesterday and I adore my one theatre teacher who as he speaks, the teaching assistant writes notes on her laptop connected to the screen at the front of the class. AudioVisual learning for a language I don't know? YES PLEASE. I've made at least one friend in each class and have kept my Fridays free so that I can enjoy the sweet splendor of traveling Italy. I plan to head up near Verona to Gardensana at the end of the month, by passing Halloween for the first year ever. Well I suppose I could dress up as Audrey Hepburn (circa Breakfast at Tiffanys) as I travel across the country. Then again, perhaps it's time to grow up.




Today I successfully waited for the shop keeper at the bike repair shop to return from what I believe was his lunch break. His scribbled message on the door read "Torno Subito" literarily, I'll come back right away. I waited at least a half hour, but right next door is a Gelateria, so I enjoyed Cheesecake Gelato, inspired by my viewing of Guys and Dolls last night. ( Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra, 1955) and a Nutella chocolate ice cream. Literally chocolate ice cream with Nutella. Why is this not more popular? It is for sure the best ice cream combination EVER.



Then I communicated with him that the bike my roommate is most graciously lending to me for 8 months, has a broken right brake, flat tires and a chain that has fallen off. He charged me ten euros, blasted Michael Jackson and talked to me about what I'm studying at University here in Bologna before I enjoyed the best ride around the city and my first one so far.
I biked around the city for about a half hour before returning home to oven heat my mushroom tomato cheese pizza and enjoy come conversation with my Italian roommates.
As I promised, details of the past trips around Italy to come soon.

Stay Tuned!

Ciao

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monday Milan

Monday September 13th was an eventful day.
We ( my roommates and I) rose at 7 and headed into town, where we caught the 8:00 am train to Milan. Three hours and two coffees and some reading later, we arrived at the gorgeous fashion capital.
After taking the metro ( so chic it even has a station called "ZARA") the sight ahead was the granduer and vast archiac design of the duomo.

They should really warn you, for as you climb the steps out of teh underground train around the city the glorious majestic church rises out above you. The piazza is scattered with tourists and fashion capital natives as the bustling life continues. To our right is a grand arch in which stores such as Prada, Louis Vioutton and the most stylish Macdonalds I have ever seen, dwell. To our left is a grand screen playing advertisements and projecting it's Italian messages to the Piazza. It's an outstanding contrast to the ancient duomo that shadows over the Piazza and the statue in it. Complete with lions and a horses.




Not much else of the city of Milan was seen. In the barely there rain and warm weather of a ( not yet vile) September, we walked the small european streets, spotting vespas and small cars the like. We reached the main shopping street, with stores of brands and also office towers of the store companies. We shopped ( un po') a little and mainly walked along the city streets, taking in the sights. I purchased a pair of flip flops that read (E Poi Amore) "And then love" for 3E and am sad to say that is the only thing I purchased in Milan, fashion capital, already advertising fashion shows for next year.

We passed a beautiful courtyard, with few steps leading up to it and grand arches of wall surrounding it, guarding it from the rain. I've been told it was used for fashion shows before, as a make shift catwalk and wanted to strut my stuff there, where the people sat, smoking, chatting and enjoying their pizza.

After the limited shopping, we explored the university, with it's grandiose beautiful courtyards, many levels and bustling student life was exhilarating. We stopped for a cafe along the way, to recharge with a cappuccino and continued on exploring the glorious university.
Afterwards, we walked the city until night fell, explored the different landmarks and took poor photos in the darkness, finding fountains, theatres, cathedrals and a buffet game festival, from which I got some lollipops.

Milan is gorgeous, bustling and a must see for all fashion or Italy travel enthusiasts.

Ciao!


Piazza in Milan.
Triumphal Arch on Duomo Piazza
Duomo Piazza Statue, with Ray Ban logo in the background.
Duomo Milan
Duomo Milan as the sun it setting.

Here is a video of us at Milan for you to enjoy.
Thanks for reading.

video