Tuesday, March 30, 2010

just for now.

Last weekend, the school paid for all of us to go to Naples. We all stayed at La Carafa di Madalonni, a beautiful bed and breakfast that used to be an Aristocratic home, where our rooms were gorgeous to say the least. On Saturday we all (the dance and theatre students) took class for four hours in a ballroom ten minutes away, which was a lot of fun and went by surprisingly fast. Over the course of the weekend, I devoured three whole pizzas and loved every bite, but by Sunday, I was ready for some other carb-filled food. Pasta maybe? On Sunday we took the train to Pompeii, which is probably one of the coolest places in Italy. Looking back, I had a great weekend, but I wouldn't say Naples is my favorite city in Italy. We were all warned numerous times before leaving to pay extra attention to our surroundings since the crime rate is high, so we were more or less on edge all weekend. Luckily, everyone made it back safely to the villa after stopping to get kebabs/gelato for dinner, which is turning into a post-weekend travel routine.

Classes this week are relatively tame and then its a three-day weekend in Cinque Terre. To quote Rick Steves, the travel guide genius, "There's not a museum in sight. Just sun, sea, sand (pebbles), wine, and pure, unadulterated Italy." Can I go there now, please? Hopefully the forecast will shift from rain to sun before Saturday, since the main attraction is hiking through the five towns. If not, I guess I'll pack my rain jacket? Oh wait, it's in my package that's been stuck at customs in Milan since March 1. Never have anyone send you contact solution overseas, because apparently it's chemical.

Now I'll leave you with a quote I stumbled upon recently:

The compelling thing about making art, or making anything I suppose, is the moment when the vapourous, insubstantial idea becomes a solid there, a thing, a substance in a world of substances.
-Audrey Niffenegger

Monday, March 15, 2010

mamma mia.

Spring break is over and we’re already into the second half of the semester. Our trip to Greece had a bumpy start when we were advised by Dean, the receptionist at the Student and Traveler’s Inn, that it’s not smart to visit the Islands this time of year because everything’s closed and the weather isn’t warm enough. After our first “family” meeting over some snacks at a nearby restaurant, we decided that instead of going to Santorini for four days, we would see what Athens had to offer.

Although we were disappointed that we wouldn’t get a chance to wear our bathing suits and get sunburns, the trip ended up being great. Our very eclectic group had the ability to make the best of every situation and roll with the punches. We learned that plans really do change, and even three pre-trip meetings won’t warrant an accurate itinerary. Highlights of the week include: going to Nafplio and climbing countless steps to the fortress on the warmest day we had, discovering The Art Foundation (a really cool bar that only locals would know about), buying handmade Greek sandals from the famous “Sandal Making Poet”, and playing mafia and essence whenever we had down time. We also went to the Acropolis, the National Archaeological Museum (whoa, old marble stuff!), and on a three island day cruise to Hydra, Poros, and Aegina.

Now a few fun facts/stories about Greece:

- You can buy the most ridiculous souvenirs (if you can even call them that) on the street in Athens. We saw miniature, mechanical, dancing donkeys that jolt back and forth, giant lighters, light up stick things, miniature mega phones, and really scary dolls. No, I did not buy any of them.

- Greek restaurant owners try really hard to get you to eat at their restaurant. Luckily we had Claire and Brian to bargain down our dinner prices. One night we managed to get free bread (instead of paying a euro per person), unlimited wine, and any entrée we wanted for only 10 euro. Whhhaaaaatttt?!

- The nicer buses that take you longer distances do NOT have bathrooms. I discovered that it’s best not to down a Coke before a three hour ride to Nafplio unless you want to pee your pants. Don't worry, I didn't pee my pants... that would've been really bad considering I only packed two pairs (one of which ripped in the crotch-ish area when I was climbing some rocks on the last day. Oops). I'm definitely over-sharing in this bullet, sorry.

There are definitely more "facts", but weird souvenirs, food, peeing, and ripping pants are the only things that seem to come to mind right now. Hopefully these will be helpful to know if you ever find yourself in Greece.

(One of my favorite pictures I took. Courtney, Claire, and Emily by the fortress in Nafplio.)

So yeah, Spring Break was the bees knees, but now I’m back in Arezzo and back to work. After being in another country for a week, I’ve developed a newfound appreciation for Italy. I missed the gorgeous countryside I get to look at everyday, the pasta, and the relaxed Italian mentality. Today, after ballet, I walked to Coffee O’Clock (the closest thing to a Starbucks), ordered a cappuccino, and dove into this week’s philosophy reading. Since Tuscany is starting to warm up, the half hour walk back to the villa was very pleasant. It was nice being alone for a while after having constant company for seven days and I had a chance to just stop and think about things.

I have no big plans for this weekend as far as traveling goes. Liz and Perry, two of my friends from Goucher, are planning on visiting Arezzo, so it will be nice to see them. If the weather’s nice, I’ll probably go to the market and pick up some fresh fruit, pecorino (the best cheese ever), and proscuitto.

I don’t like closing blog posts, so listen to this song instead.

Monday, March 1, 2010

asleep on a sunbeam.

After a very sweaty four hours Friday morning (modern and African), Courtney and I quickly showered, packed, and made our way to the train station to go to Rome. Lunch was a delicious kebab from “the kebab place” where the woman recognizes us and sometimes gives us free bakalava.

The train ride was fine. Courtney and I accidentally bought regional train tickets (the one that takes longer, but is cheaper) and got on the faster, more expensive one. Everything worked out though, and we arrived to Roma in one piece.

Compared to Arezzo, Rome is huuuge! The train station itself was a bit overwhelming, but seeing Liz’s (our friend who we were visiting) blonde hair through a sea of brunettes was WONDERFUL. After reuniting after about six months, we went to her apartment to drop off our stuff and rest for awhile. We had been going nonstop since 8 am, so a quick nap was much needed. We ate dinner at a place called Le Fate (The Fairies) where they have a student menu. Only ten euro for two courses, dessert, and wine! The coolest part of our dining experience was having two bag pipers dressed in kilts come in the restaurant to play. The whole city, in general, was full of Scots because they were playing against Italy in a rugby match on Saturday. This made for entertaining encounters at Campo, the square where most University students hang out on weekends. And in case you were wondering, Italy won the match.

The three of us got our first taste of spring weather on Saturday as we made our way through the city. Laying outside the Galleria Borghese at noon in 65 degree weather was just what I needed. Just walking around as we pleased without the pressure of hitting every major tourist location was perfect to say the least.

Liz made us dinner Saturday night with ingredients she bought from a market near her apartment. Everything I eat here is so good that I may just have to get everything imported from Italy once I go home. If only that could actually happen.
Courtney and I got back to Arezzo around six last night, grabbed another kebab from the same place (she loves us) and headed home to the villa. All this week we have Butoh (a Japanese dance form) for about six hours a day. No complaints so far!

In other news, Greece countdown= five days. Whaaatttt?!

In other, other news, even though I’m having a great time here, I miss people. A lot. Maybe some of you will be receiving post cards soon. Keyword: maybe.