Friday, November 13, 2009

Hear Ye Hear Ye!

"We bow real low, we empty kegs, so raise a glass and spread a leg!" - Imma Spreada Legga Renaissance Sorority chant.

Renaissance Festival... you never leave without a good story or two. I went almost every year with my mom when i was younger so I thought I would remember some things about ole Ren Fest.. The funny thing is: it hasnt changed ONE BIT. Even the same guys doing the mud show.. the same jokes.. everything. But hey- i still love it just the same.

The group of girls I went with were approached by two ladies -employees- that decided we were fitting for this years Imma Spreada Legga pledge class... All part of the act but funny just the same. I think I would have too much fun talking in fake british accents, wearing the poofy dresses, and making guests feel really awkward!

Alas, I need not attend their ye olde job faire because I finally got a job! Prayers answered Halleluia! I be working at le Rec center. I also got CPR certified -goes with the job- so I can swipe you to get in and maybe save your life, you never know. "Receptionist saves life.." i can see it in the headlines now..

Besides work and play, life is good. Classes are fine- but its the calm before the storm. Lots and lots of group presentations are upon me and they are- for the most part- all falling on the same week, much less the same day. YIPEE. Seeing as presentations are my favorite thing ever, why not pile them into one giant hell week? Professors really think that you are only taking their class so you should have no problem with it, but excuse me? I am a full time student...well barely, but still! There is nothing wrong with 12 hours.

I checked Denver off my college travel checklist.. I went about a month back and stayed with my old roommate Jenny. We went on a TEN mile hike that was beautiful and humbling and amazing and basically ate gelato the rest of the time. Mmmm

My next place is Boston- I am going in February with my business organization and I couldn't be more thrilled! I went to Boston when I was like 12- which means I remember nothing from it- so it will be exciting to see it again and really see it. Its gonna be freeeeezing though! I will be wearing thick thick socks, and then a pair on top of that. Can't wait! I also hope to go to Baton Rouge/ LSU next semester and then maybe who knows, Cali has been calling my name for a while now so there too ;) If just traveling and writing about it could be my job I would hop on that for sure!

Well. this post was the least productive or insightful thing ever. but hey- I wrote something.. If you made it this far you deserve a medal and you should read my Italy stuff for better entertainment :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back to the Same Ole Same Ole..

Wow, I'd forgotten you don't have to be in Italy to blog. I think I've actually kind of missed this twisted journal, so here goes it again. Junior year: Take One.

This semester is all new. New house, new roommates, new church, new classes.. I thought at first that I wouldn't really like the "new"s but it hasn't been so bad.

The house is amazing: white with columns and a big red star, right behind the stadium, close to lots of other college students, etc.

The roommates are AMAZING and key to my everyday survival. Melissa always has a story, Emily always has an inspirational thought, and Rebekah always makes me laugh. Whats the best part is that all these girls are devout in their faith and are inspiring me in so many ways...

Thus leading into the new church. AH! I am so glad to have FINALLY found somewhere that is calling me. Brazos Fellowship is a contemporary non-denominational worship service that I can proudly call my permanent sanctuary! Oh, and when I say contemporary, I mean it.. Its not your typical hymnal style church. The praise band makes you feel like you are at a Hillsong concert and the pastor is casual in his button down and trendy jeans. So far these past two weeks I have felt like the sermon was like Jesus taking an exerpt from my diary and sending it to pastor Will with a note saying, "Oh yeah, and Nina is going through this so you might want to preach on it.. Sweet, Thanks!" Its an awesome feeling and I have also gotten involved in a small group! Things are just rollin...

New classes.. hm... Well nows the time when I start my Marketing electives and start falling in love with my major.. right? Um, well. I wouldnt say I am in love at all actually. I feel like this is all an annoying 5k and I have just reached mile 2. You cant stop now, might as well finish it out even though you aren't just in love with those leg cramps (presentations?). Alas, as father puts it, "school is just a test of endurance and most people are looking for just that. Not a specific major, but that you did it and finished it."
Note: that speech came after a call I made declaring that if he dropped out of school for hating accounting I should rightfully be able to do the same.. NOT!

Oh I almost forgot.. I have an immense amount of free time. Yeah.. wondering why I started blogging again? I get up early, say 8 A.M... EVERYDAY. Why you ask? Oh just a built in alarm clock in my brain that wont let me sleep late.. So I get up at 8 and diddle daddle around the house until my first class which is 11:30 mwf or 12:45 tth. Thats alot of free time. Then I am done by 2 everyday. Wow.. working out only takes out an hour or so every other day so I am left with a HUGE hunk of time on my hands.. Crafting is an option, yes, but there are only so many magazine rolled trash cans I can make before my hands officially fall off.

Moral of the story: Nina needs a job. BUT the job world doesnt necessarily want Nina.. at all. Try the last 3 applications I've gotten the "Sorry, you fail at life" email and one they just didnt care enough to do that. Humpf.. So unless I start to include the child care options (not likely) I am out of luck. Who knows, someday my optimism will actually work, till then... Ciao tutti!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Home Sweet Home

AMERICA! Well, it took me long enough but I made it back to the land of the free..the home of the brave. I didn't think jet lag would get me but it definitely creeped up on me. I got come on the 3rd around 1:55. Customs wasn't as bad as I had thought and I made it through with my Italian veno! My parents were teary eyed and excited, as was I.

I noticed many changes though that I am still overcoming... My ears were really confused because all I heard was english... English? So you mean I dont have to decipher one word at a time? I dont need my little pocket translator anymore? Then the money. You see, when we first left, euros (pronounced correctly A-oo-rose) seemed like monopoly money and the coins were big and heavy.. Now dollars look like crazy small pieces of paper and the coins (especially quarters) feel like I could bend them in half they are so thin.

Food is definitely different here, but I knew that would be a compromise. I guess the difference is that food there is so simple compared to here. There isn't much meat, but lots of carbs and vegetables. Drink options are generally water or wine, plus a few sodas. Coming back the first thing I wanted was good ole Texas Barbeque. We chose a bad place though, because it wasnt the best and my stomach agreed.

Using a phone before this trip was a necessity for me. I was always calling/texting/checking/updating/etc. Sure it would have been a convenience on the trip. but it wasnt THAT important to have. Well now I couldn't be more distant from it. I have called and texted a few people to tell them I am home but besides that I am not attached to it like I once was. There is life outside of texting and I am so glad to be living as phone-free as possible.

Alas, from all the changes I noticed, I made it home to the Burg safely. There were a couple surprises.. Italian flags on the ranch entrance and on our little house with signs saying "Tuscany in Texas" and "Benevenuto a casa Nina"..I am sure the guests were a little confused but I felt so welcomed and excited! I almost took one of the little hand-held flags to the 4th of July parade but I resisted..

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Today is the last I will spend in the beautiful town of Castiglion Fiorentino. Its weird because my body is in the habit, I feel like I am here for longer but my mind is like.. no, you are leaving today. Its weird trying to convince myself that I am leaving. I am SO excited to come home though.

If anything this trip has made me appreciate the beauty of Fredericksburg more. There are SO many parallels between the Hill Country and Tuscany.. It really is the Tuscany of Texas. I am so lucky that I get to call Fbg home and I am so excited to see my friends and family. Also I am so glad that its 4th of July when I get home, what better welcoming party to America!?

Anyway, I haven't gotten really sad about today yet, but as soon as I see someone else start crying or being sad I will probably be drawn in too. Or it will all just hit me like a slap in the face when I am back in my bed at home. Either way I wouldn't trade this trip and experience for the world. I have learned so much about myself and I have changed for the better- more optimistic and outgoing for sure... I plan to use some Italian phrases (out of habit and just for fun) when I get back and maybe continue my Italian studies.

I had planned to go to Florence today while we are to be packing and stuff but decided I should not be rushed to get back. I would rather spend my last hours with my favorite people, in my favorite place, eating my favorite food, looking at my favorite view. Its no wonder Italians dont travel, there is nothing in this earth more beautiful to see.. but then again, maybe the Texas Hill Country...

Monday, June 29, 2009

La Dolce Vita

This is a poem I wrote while waiting for a train in Chiusi, Italy. (yes, I am a closet poet) It kinda goes along with my last post so I thought it was relevant to add... Enjoy!

La Dolce Vita

Laying on a bench waiting for a distant train,
I wonder how far I've come and if I'll see this place again.

Five weeks may have seemed long at first,
but now I beg to differ.
To see this world in all entirety
could take, at best, forever.

Will I make it back to my daily streets?
See the sights I took for granted?
Will the memories flood when I arive once more?
Will a seed sprout from the roots I'd planted?

For in this place I find myself,
I'm exactly who I want to be.
Apart from stresses of the distant real world
I'm living la dolce vita in Italy.

note: the words in the picture are drawn on my thumb from boredom of a long train ride. no tattoos here

Indecisive Feelings

I couldn't be more torn right now. Last week I was a sob fest because the thought of leaving this place was killing me. This week I am more excited than ever to come back to my small town world and family and friends. I am right in the middle of the gauge.. flip a coin for me?

It feels like these past weeks have just flown so fast. The only way I can grasp the true length is to read my journal from the first several days and then I realize, "Wow, I have been here a while." I have made some amazing friends that I hope to stay in touch with back at A&M. Its hard because we've lived in this environment where we are all each other has. When we go back it is back to the same ole groups and organizations and distractions, and As much as we want to keep in touch its going to be difficult. I guess thats the tough part for me.. well that and leaving my home of Castiglion Fiorentino.

I have gotten attached to this little town and finally know it like the back of my hand. Some of the locals are even starting to look familiar. I have the stores' siesta times down and we know exactly which day the Coco Palm (gelateria) and Pirate Bar (pizza) are closed. We know the exact amount of time it takes to walk to the train station from the center and how much time can be allotted to make it to anywhere else on time. The food. oh the lunches and dinners.. I dont know how I am going to overcome the distance of that. I will forever CRAVE Santa Chiara caprese, lentil stew, salmon, potatoes, and chocolate salami. Its going to be hard eating/cooking Italian when I get back due to the highest standards ever that have been created while here.

Ah, now all this talk of my home here is making me miss it already. Fail... but on the optimistic point of view, I dont think this is my last trip to Italy ever. I've tied to many roots here to never visit again (besides I threw the coins in the Trevi Fountain in Rome and rubbed the pigs nose in the Florence market... I'm golden.) Also I want to keep up with the lingo- the language. I think its awesome to know another language and I feel like I have about a half semester of knowledge just from being submersed in the culture. And as much as I want to broaden my horizons and travel to other countries, I have become SO familiar with Castiglion Fiorentino, Florence, and Rome that I want to come back and walk the familiar streets again.

All this makes me wish I could have studied after the trip. I know that before I left America, traveling by myself was a huge no-go and even I wouldnt have trusted myself with a week by myself in a foreign country. But now I am SO confident in how to get around this country and wise of my belongings and myself that I think that traveling by myself after this trip would have been the best part of it all. If you know me then you know I am independent and like to do things for myself (if you didnt know that well now you do..) and I feel the most liberated when I accomplish something bigger than myself. In our huge group, I have so much fun and good conversations, but by myself I think I can actually take in everything better. There is always a rush with a group and I feel like I dont see the sights to their full capacity. Anyway.. thats just a little tangent.

All in all, this trip has been the most amazing thing I've done my entire life. Hands down. Its been a dream of mine and I know looking back it will all seem like a fairy tale that I made up. I cant express how grateful I am to have made it this far - my parents and myself will surely be in debt for some time to come... Oh well.. I wouldnt have missed this experience for anything in the world. I have learned so much and have changed A LOT. I cant wait to share the million more stories I have when I get back and share the thousands of pictures I have taken. Have a wonderful day!
Buona Sera!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Oh Gosh... Girls Weekend from Transportation Hell

Oh boy… this weekend was a roller coaster, fun at times but there were definitely some steep, twisting failures.

Saturday our plan was to go to Perugia - home of Perugina Chocolates… Well we made it to the train station a little late so we missed our train. The next one came in two hours so we debated for a while what to do and decided to go on the next train instead of waste our day. When we got to Perugia we had to take a scala mobile - escalator thing - up to the top of the city. We hopped on whatever we saw first, which was a “mini metro” that looked like a giant ski lift. It was super hi-tech. We rode that to the top, where we found the escalators that took us up farther. Of course it started raining when we reached the top plus we were hungry plus we needed a bano stat for a small bladdered emergen-pee. So after finding a W.C. and stopping by the tourist office to grab a pamphlet, we searched for Allan’s Paninoteca. There they had cheap and amazing sandwiches, and a crazy guy named Allan. Alas, his brother was working today, but he still made us AMAZING caprese sandwiches that were HUGE and only 3.50 because we got a studentessa sconti (student discout). Yes, you see Perugia is a college town, a.k.a where the attractive Italians are. So after we scarfed our paninos we frolicked around a little bit. We went to the café that is said to be the best cappuccino in Italy. It definitely held strong to those standards and I should have gotten 8 of them because they were only one euro! Soon after we went to the main chocolate store and to our luck it is taking a summer break and is closed for a month. Hmm.. well, we had passed a little store that advertised the Baci brand near the train station so we went back there…it was closed too. But this one was just on a daily siesta, not a month long siesta, so we happily fulfilled our chocolate needs (and he gave us all two chocolates for free!). We headed down the mini metro after that to make sure we didn’t miss our train, but we had almost an hour to kill so we headed to the Co-op across the way. There we bought Ciobar - which is the most amazing hot chocolate you will have in your life. Its not even really a drink, its more of warm pudding in a coffee cup that you have to slurp and lick out. Just trust me, its comes from heaven… We made it back for nightly dinner at the center and boy was it the best dinner yet. Not particulary because of the food, but it was so nice because we had our own table and our own portions and our own EVERYTHING. Don’t get me wrong, I love our giant group. But it was nice to be selfish with our pasta for once and be able to stuff ourselves to our heart’s content.

Sunday…..oh man…now this is when it got interesting. Today our plan was to go to Montepulciano- home of the famous (and AMAZING) Vino Nobile wine and where they filmed for Twilight’s New Moon movie. Well, transportation was yet another issue today and I am so glad to say that we made it out alive and got back for dinner all in one piece. That being said, now I can tell you the trials we had since you know there is a good ending…

So we made it to the train station on time this morning, ha, and our train there was short and fine. Montepulciano is really only like an hour away, but you have to take a train to Chiusi and then get off and have a layover and get on another train from there… or so we thought. We were excited because our train from Chuisi to Montepulciano was a high-tech baby train. It was really short (baby) and had a chill couch-like vibe on the inside, air conditioned, and had the most amazing train bathroom I’ve seen in my life. Note: You may not understand the obsession with this bathroom, but once you ride a inner-city train across Europe and use their restrooms that have no toilet paper, no soap, no hand towels, no room to stand up or rotate, and basically no sanitary air to breathe then you will understand. So this W.C. was HUGE, had a toilet seat that rotated and squeegee cleaned itself for you, it didn’t have soap but I didn’t hold that against it since it hand a hand dryer. It was a heavenly experience and we all walked out of it like our lives had been changed forever. Anyway, so high-tech baby train took us to Montepulciano…except not really.
You see, Montepulciano is the highest city in Tuscany, and where we were was flat ground and I didn’t see the town walls ANYWHERE. So we ask someone walking where the main Piazza was and they gave us hand sign directions - this way and then that way basically. So we follow that until we start walking down a seemingly never ending country road. And in fact we saw a sign that said Montepulciano 9…meaning 9 kilometers which is roughly 5 and ½ miles. Um, no..There was a little wine store on the corner so we rung the doorbell to see if we could get some help. It was an older woman who didn’t speak English (of course) but she told us that if we walked 1 kilometer there would be a ospedale (hospital) that was nearby a bus station. Ah, well we decided why not. We had come this far so might as well suck it up for the .6214 mile walk we had ahead of us. I was in a particularly optimistic mood, though. I mean, we were walking through Tuscan grape country. Vineyards were on both sides of us, housing the grapes that produce the best wine in the entire WORLD! How cool is that?

But there is only so much optimism when you keep walking and walking and walking and feel like you are getting farther and farther from civilization. So as we are walking we see a woman walking down to the road from her house, just on a leisurely afternoon stroll. We are getting ansty by now so we went to ask her where the town was and if there was indeed a bus that grandma didn’t know about. She informed us that no buses ran on Sunday (great..) and that the town was 10 miles down the road. Oh joy. We just looked at each other helplessly thinking, “Well, that was fun, looks like we are going back to the train station cause there is no way we are walking 10 miles for Robert Pattinson.” She obviously saw this and told us to wait there while she went to go do something - we weren’t sure at the time. But we hear a car door slam and an engine purr and here she comes in her little car to take us to Montepulciano. Now I know you may be freaking out, but this was definitely not a scene from Taken at all. She had a beautiful house, was really sweet, and -heck- when we got in the car she handed us her purse to put in the back seat. She trusted us just as much as we trusted her… We tried to talk with her but the language barrier was so bad that we didn’t talk much of the way. Its okay thought because A) it was the most amazing drive through the Tuscan countryside and B) we were all excited to be in sitting in a car for the first time in what seems like forever. Music, fresh air, scenery, control - cars have it all, and you don’t realize that until you are sent into a world of trains, buses, and boats that you don’t get to drive. Anyway, so she took us up to the city (yeah we would have never made it because it was FAR) and dropped us off outside the walls. We told her Grazie Mille like 800 times and she told us she was sorry because she didn’t speak English even though she had no need to apologize since we were the ones being the inconvenience!! All in all, most amazing woman ever… she has some good karma coming her way.

So we got to the town and hunger struck so we stopped at a trattoria and ate AMAZING gnocci (potato dumplings in crème sauce) and pici ( thick hand-made spaghetti, best known in Montepulciano). After we stopped by a wine store and tried some of the Vino Nobile to check that off our list. Then we headed… I mean, hiked, up to the Piazza Grande. This is where they filmed New Moon at the Volturri Castle or something (I haven’t read it yet) but Sara and Hayley were freaking out so I figured it was significant. We tried to decipher where all Robert Pattinson had gone and filmed (yeah we are mature) and took lots of pictures so after the movie comes out we can be like, “WE WERE THERE!!! LOOK!!” and have proof. It was a gorgeous little town and a beautiful beautiful day (even though we all brought our umbrellas cause weather channel said 95% rain… LIAR). We didn’t have much time though because we REALLY didn’t want to mess up getting home and we realized that this time we were going to need to take a bus to the Chiusi stop instead of going to the train station and then taking baby train. Finding the bus station was chaotic, and once again, we missed our bus. It all worked out though because the train we thought we would catch (that would have been cutting it close) doesn’t run on Sundays. So we had an hour to chill and breathe before our train came. I found an US Weekly in English and felt soooo out of the loop reading American gossip. I mean really? I leave for 6 weeks and 2 media legends die on me (oh and Billy Mays too!?) and I don’t even want to know what songs/movies/etc is new. Ah I am so out of the loop. Oh well, we made it back alive and just before the main course was served. Perfecto! The day was highlighted when we got ice cream cones for dessert. I, chocolate obsessed, followed that with a hazelnut Baci chocolate and am now perfectly content with the day. Livin la doce vita!

note: Picture taken during 2 hour wait after missing our train to Perugia. We took lots of artsy shots using the self timer to, well, pass the time.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

In Fair Verona Where We Lay Our Scene..

Yes, if you remember freshman english class.. I visited the home of Giulietta, the setting for one of Shakespeares most tragic love story, and one of Italy's hidden gems. It has a wonderfully cozy atmosphere. There are shops - expensive and cheap- down a main street alongside cute cafes, restaurants, and bars. This town is in love with theater.. well duh. But they have an arena that is the home for many plays throughout the year. What is so awesome about this theater is that the props and stage equipment are kept uncovered right outside. The play currently being shown was Carmen.. but the props outside that we saw were giant iron roses, sphinxes and eqyptian platforms, and shanghai houses... a wonderful compilation I would say. Later we went to the Casa di Giulietta where the famous balcony is along with a statue of Juliet herself. Its good luck in love to rub her left breast (no i did not make that up), so we all did and took awkward, breast-rubbing pictures. haha... Later we hit up the shopping, I didnt come home with any winners, but we tried on the latest in Italian styles. Alas, it was a good trip to Verona. Ole' Bill Shakespeare would be proud, as I assume my english teacher mom is too ;)

Reports from the Lido deck..

I could have stayed in Venice another week. The Venetian islands have so much to offer and were so intriguing that they require a full day each to be adequately seen. Our hotel was on Lido - yes we said many "Lido deck" jokes and no there is no nude beach there. Thats a big fat rumor. There is a beach though and I dipped my toes in the Adriatic just to expand my toes' horizons. Lido is not bery touristy, but had the cheapest food of all the islands so we made our lunch and dinners end up there. Two of the three nights I must admit we ate at a Chinese restaurant. Before you judge, think about eating the SAME genre of food for 5 weeks straight. Then, alas, a new type of food appears that is half the price of the norm. Well, if you are still judging, think that from Italy, I am alot closer to China then in the U.S. therefore it MUST be better than Pei Wei... Ok I'm done...Nights at Lido mainly consisted of going to the BluMoon Cafe at the beach. It was the most chill atmosphere, playing fun music with a bar, rooms with bean bags, and an outside patio (next to the beach of course). It was nice to be able to sip some wine, dance a little, walk the beach, or just sit and chat. I took a ton of pictures of it because I love the decor and plan on imitating some of it for my room.

So Venice! I had a mediocre expectations because I only knew of what I'd heard: St. Mark's, gondolas, and pigeons. Well, St. Mark's was golden (literally) and the square was filled during the day with people and pigeons, and we took a gondola ride for an amazing price. Honestly besides that, Venice is really small and quiet. As soon as you wonder a street off of St. Mark's Square it is quietly open with a few local italians here and there. Thats what I liked about it- that though it had one touristy area it still felt like a smaller town.
My favorite part of the trip though was our day ventures to the surrounding islands of Torcello, Burano, and Murano. Torcello was somewhat abandoned- the Luckenback of Italy. People go to see a couple sights just to say they did and very very few live there (maybe 10).
The highlight for me was our next island: Burano. I'd watched some travel channel special on Burano so I was excited to finally see it with my own eyes. I was definately blown away when we docked from our boat,

-- oh yeah, p.s. getting around Venice = taking a Vaporetto, which is like a bus but on water. This trip has cultured my travel styles.. train, metro, bus, boat, mini metro, town escalators)--

anyway, Burano is gorgeous. Its the home of handmade lace but that wasnt a very big deal for me. The houses are all painted different colors. From hot pink to a passionate purple, eye-stinging yellow to sky blue, every color of the rainbow was represented. I had so much fun getting lost in teh colorful town and taking 8 million artsy pictures. It was one of my favorites for sure, not so touristy but insanely gorgeous. There is no way people living there could ever be sad. I mean with a hot pink house? No way..

Our next idland hop was Murano, home of glss. We saw men molding glass at a factory and thenwalked among the shops to see the creations of their handiwork. You had to be careful though because some stores sold fake Murano glass that was actually from China. It was mostly very expensive but it was neat to se glass art and jewelry that was "imported" from the furnace next door. Shipping and handling for their inventory was probably a man named Francesco, holding a box of hot, fresh glass.. or at least thats how I imagine it.

I was sad to leave the island on Friday, but by taking the number 1 Vaporetto I got a chance to see it all (it stops at every stop along the Grand Canal) and say ciao ciao Venice!

You Mosaic Me Go Crazy...

Attention crafty people... visiting the mosaics of Ravenna will induce a feeling of craftiness that is only curable by a double scoop of gelato. Well.. at least that was my reaction to the town.
We visited several basilicas in the morning, the beauty in that their art consisted of insanely intricate mosaics of Christ, saints, and other decorative images. If you've ever slaved over a mosaic (think 8th grade art) then you know how difficult it is to plan, plaster, and finish even a 4x6 inch board. Now imagine covering an ENTIRE basilica with little 1 inch squares... IMPOSSIBLE! Next, we visited the tomb of Dante and another glorious room of squares. Afterwards we set off to lunch, where I got a panino (not panini as we say in the states) with a weird artichoke sauce.. oh well, its food.

After lunch we wandered the quaint town. We struck gold when we went into a mosaic store. The store sold finished mosaic trinkets and gifts as well as materials to do your own mosaic... make my own mosaic? using slabs of any color imaginable? ... coming from the mother ship of all mosaic lands? I nearly had a conniption. I laser-eye memorized the pieces I loved (upwards of 1,000 euro!) so I could recreate them when I got back to my craft box in America. Then, while walking toward the bus, we made a pit stop for gelato. I resisted for a good 20 seconds, reasoning why I shouldn't get any and how I need to save money...but then I caved. I mean, who looks at the flavor, ironically named "Temptation," and doesn't cave?? It just shows how easily swayed I am by mysterious flavors and my newest best friend, Mr. insanely rich, dark-dark chocolate. I got him on top :) È squisito!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mediterranean Obsessed...

So for our “vacation” this weekend we stayed in Riomaggiore, which is part of the five cities making up Cinque Terre (literally meaning five cities). These towns weave alongside the Mediterranean and have a famous hiking trail that goes from Riomaggiore all the way to the last town of Monterosso. It is 9 kilometers (5 ish miles?) and generally takes about 5 hours to finish. Our plan was to go on Saturday morning so we could be finished early enough in the afternoon for a nap and shower before whatever we planned to do that night. Instead it rained until about 8 in the morning, so our start time was more around 11:30. It was nice and cool even though it was sunny so that helped make the hike more enjoyable. The hike between the first two towns is reeeaaalllyyy easy. Its not until the third town that you come in contact with a giant mass of stairs that looks like a winding maze. 382 steps later you reach the town of Corniglia, which is where most groups stopped to refuel for the next two towns. I was still feelin good at the time so I went along with a group who kept going.

The trail DEFINITELY got harder and there were times when I wanted to injure myself in the hopes of not having to finish the hike and instead be picked up and carried by someone the rest of the way. This part of the hike was not at all paved or civilized this part was more like you are in the set of, well, the Jungle Book or Jurassic Park (yes there was a rickety wood and rope bridge that you crossed over a small waterfall). Basically at some parts it seemed like they’d just looked at a foot-wide rock jutting off the side of a cliff and said, “yeah that’ll do for a walkway” and were done with it. Needless to say it was the toughest hike I’ve done in my life (blew Enchanted Rock out of the water REAL fast) and I would recommend it to any dare-devils who want a good challenge.

My group finished in about 4 hours after taking only one short break in Vernazza (the second to last city). When we reached Monterosso we were hungry though, so we went straight for some food. One group got pizza but I went with some girls to find sandwiches and just so happened to land in the heaven of all sandwich shops. It was the freshest food I have ever had and watching this man make my sandwich made me want to cry. He sliced the turkey from the huge breast, chopped a glorious red tomato, sliced the delicate mozzarella, used the greenest handful of mixed lettuce, sprinkled a little salt, and poured the perfect amount of olive oil on top before topping it off with toasted freshly baked foccacia bread… If that didn’t make your melt water then I suggest you catch the Red Eye to Monterosso STAT!! The bakery was apparently in Rick Steve’s book of Italy so it all made sense.. Needless to say after that morning of vigorous activity I was too pooped for the night life of Cinque Terre, but I think my rest was well deserved!

note: image is the view of Vernazza from the hike

Pisa My Heart

Buona Sera!
So the rest of the week was so jam packed. On Thursday we went for the third time this semester to Florence. I must say I love this town and every time I visit it I feel more at home. This trip we went to the Academy (home of Michelangelo’s David) and then to the Uffizi Gallery (home of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus). We saw many other pieces in these galleries but those were the highlights. I can’t begin to explain the feeling you get when you come face to face with something you’ve heard about nearly every year in art and history classes. It feels like a joke almost. I mean, no way that is seriously the sculpture of the real David, done by Michelangelo himself. NO WAY! I remember when I first saw a picture of it in high school art class and, being immature, thought “oh my gosh he is naked!” But after learning the philosophy, understanding the struggles, and witnessing the beauty of it in real life, I have a whole new outlook on it.…But enough with the heart-to-heart… After the museums we went to the market to pick up souvenirs for family and friends, then made it home for a delicious dinner featuring the best dessert EVER which I will constantly make when I get back to the US of A called “chocolate salami” compliments of Santa Chiara.. yum!
The next morning we left EARLY for Pisa. All I’d ever known of Pisa was the Leaning Tower, so I was surprisingly amazed to see the beautiful baptistry, cathedral, and cemetery all nearby as well. The architecture there is AMAZING and super intricate that my words couldn’t do it justice. We rushed through most of the morning so we could have time for pictures at the tower, even though we only had 10 or 20 minutes. I took one holding up the tower like everyone else and their dog, but tried to do some creative poses. A.k.a chudo chop kicking the tower (didn’t turn out so well), then handstands, and then a jumping pic which turned out PERFECTO!! The only thing that would have made the day better would have been some free PISA!! Haha get it? Like pizza? Ok I’ll stop…but only if you say P-L-ISA!!…ok now this is embarrassing…

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wandering Aimlessly

So this week = crazy crazy busy. Yesterday we went to Assisi, which always has an amazing view and is such a quaint little town. Then today we went to Cortona. I've never seen Under the Tuscan Sun, but if you have then you may know that it was filmed there. It really just reminded me of my home away from home: Castiglion Fiorentino. The streets were narrow but they were full cute little stores. What I had most fun doing was ..well..absolutely nothing. Me & my roommate Hayley took on the town..meaning we walked down the winding streets of Cortona, gelato in hand ( be precise a media caramel and a vanilla with chocolate chunks from Snoopy's Gelateria!)without a clue of where we were going. She had seen the movie so we could say we were exploring for sets, but really we would reach a fork in the road and say "left or right." It was nice to just stroll thru an unknown place. But no worries, you can't get lost in a tuscan town since A) they mostly only have one main street and B) all towns are on a hill so you just go up!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Stone Beaches and Bungalows

So after a train ride from Rome to Naples (ghetto-ville ITA), a tram from Naples to Sorrento, and a bus ride down a windy, narrow road we made it to PARADISE!! We stayed in the small town of Marina del Cantone in a hotel called the Villagio Resort Nettuno. It was the most amazing and beautiful place I have ever had the pleasure of staying. The was a main office higher up on the property with a restaurant above it, a small grocery store connected to it with all you would ever need (a gelato bar, a veno tap, and croissants), a pool, private beach front, ping pong, bar, canopy dining, chairs to layout in, plus our adorable colored bungalows AND IT WAS 14 EURO A NIGHT! What at deal! Our bungalow was lime green and it had two bunked rooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, tv, patio with tables and chairs, lines to hang laundry, and a view of the gorgeous water and surrounding hills. You could tell the complete satisfaction on our faces and our body’s were just limp from contentment.
So the first night we got situated, then went to dinner at one of the restaurants overlooking the dock and the bay. I had ravioli and it made chef Boyardee taste like cat food- not like it doesn’t already… We got some gelato then hit the sack early because we had a big day in Capri ahead of us…
Our Capri adventure started at 8:45; we met at the front office and walked down to the dock where we got on a boat (yes, I was “on a boat” and we sang the snl skit song the whole time) They took us on a scenic tour around the first half of the island then we made stop at the blue grotto. If you haven’t heard of the blue grotto I am sure you have seen it before, imagine the bluest water you could ever seen in a cave on the Mediterranean. My camera pooped out about this time but I still got some decent pictures before it completely died. It was gorgeous.. Then we got back on the boat and saw a couple more landmarks until they dropped us off at Marina Picola on Capri for 5 hours to see the sights, lay at the beach and whatnot. We looked around down at the beach vendors then decided to trek up to the actual town. Once there we looking in shops again and decided to take a bus up even higher in the city. Up there we did possibly one of the greatest things ever, we took a chairlift up to the top of Capri. I know its not that hard core, but it was so insanely beautiful. The lift was 12 minutes up there and I had gotten my 8 euro worth right when it lifted me up. It was like getting a bird’s eye view of the most beautiful place in the world. Though I’ve never been to Greece, but REALLY want to go, I think it was close in comparison to the beautiful blue mixed with the white of the town and the green of the countryside flying by under me. BELLA! At the top there was an amazing garden plus trails to see all the sides of Capri’s beauty. After picture taking and Lewis & Clarking new paths we headed back down on the lift (amazing as well) and got some calzones at the town below. We shopped and chilled up there until we took a bus back down to the middle level of town, then walked down to the beach level. We went swimming in the gorgeous water and jumped from rocks and floated and took in the sun until it was time to go. On the boat (which left without me and Hayley so they had to come back!) they took us through the lovers arch thing that means you will be together forever (I am coming back for my honeymoon, its official) and then around the island some more. We finally said ciao ciao Capri and trucked on back to our resort. Back at the bungalow me and Sara went to the store and bought food to make dinner in our kitchen. We made a feast for 5 euro each, brushetta antipasta then marinara spiral pasta with olives tomatoes and mozzarella, and of course some wine from the vino tap. DELICIOUS! That night there was a festival for Saint Antonio in the town so there was a boat parade and a live band and fireworks! It was the perfect ending to a perfect day. We sat on the stone beach as the fireworks went off from a boat not that far away. It was so perfect and I am definitely going back again someday!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Rome If You Want To"

Rome was a whirlwind! They say you cant see Rome in a day, but we did. ALL OF IT. But I’m getting ahead of myself. When we got in the first day we went to the Vatican, which is technically its own country with around 800 residents. I’d been to St. Peters and the Sistene Chapel before but they are both so breathtaking that I still feel like I didn’t see it all. The basilica is gorgeous and the giant alter-thing can’t be fathomed in words. This time in the Sistene Chapel I paid less attention to the ceiling (the creation of Adam by God’s finger) and was more interested in The Last Judgement (the huge painting behind the altar also done by Michelangelo). I could have sat there FOREVER taking it all in - I cant imagine the life of a pope or cardinal that spends days on end in there just looking up like, oh hey million year old fresco that is one of the most well known paintings in the world done by on of the most amazing painters in the entire world. I’m just a tad bitter… That night we went to Hard Rock Café. The wait was awful but the food was sooo worth it all! Hamburger, fries, FREE ketchup (you pay for ketchup here which is no bueno for me who slathers it on everything) and ...drumroll… ICED TEA!! We were most excited for the “iced” part since not many things have ice or are cold in general.
The next day was probably the busiest and most rushed day of my entire life. I mean, when in Rome might as well go big or go home, and since home is a bajillion miles away we went BIG. We started out at the Spanish steps, then on to Trevi Fountain (my all time favorite forever and always), Italian parliament, the Church of St. Ignasus (ask me about it’s dome), the Pantheon (which is HUGE by the way), Piazza Navona, Piazza Venecia, Capital Square, the entire expanse of the Roman Forum and finally the Colloseum.. PHEW… If you weren’t tired reading that then I suggest you pull out a road map of Rome and measure out the path we took. If you still aren’t tired after that then get your lazy butt over the pond and walk it yourself and YOU WILL BE TIRED! We had a 30 minute break in there for lunch and we found a gelato store with 100 flavors!!! Talk about heaven on earth…
Our next day in Rome wasn’t any less rushed. We got up and went to the Catacombs - creepy-, then walked to the Apian Way, which is the original rock road where Christians were persecuted and claimed to be the road Peter was killed on. Following that we had a 2 ½ ish hour break, which sounds like plenty of time for everything right? Ha, well my roomies and I planned to go back to the Vatican but we had to run to our hotel (Hotel Bled…ha) to get cover-ups and other stuff so we were slowly running out of time. By the time we got to the Vatican we had maybe 10 minutes to take pictures and do whatever before we had to leave again. It definitely wasn’t enough time for them but we still have another trip to Florence this week. After our break was over we took a forever tram ride to Fiesole, an ancient Etruscan ruin town. In a sentence, it was a forum of ruins and rocks and pillars and grass and headless sculptures. For some reason our tour out there lasted from 2 till 7…blah… and when we got back we were even more rushed because we signed up for the Coliseum Pub Crawl. Basically this is a function where you pay 10 or 15 euro for a free shirt, free pizza, free beer/wine, and then entry into several bars along the way. The majority of the maybe 150 people who went on the “crawl” spoke English so that was nice. I was really in it for the pizza and the sweet shirt (it says I CAME I SAW I CRAWLED on the back!). I played the watchful mom most of the time, but I had a lot of fun dancing at the random pubs/bars. They play fun American songs which is always nice to hear now and then when you can’t understand ANYTHING except for gelato flavors.
The next morning we got up and had time before our train left for Naples so me and my roomy went souvenir shopping and stopped by the Trevi Fountain to take it in one last time. We met up with another girl and went to the outside of the Vatican one last time before heading back to Roma Termini to catch our train. More of the weekend to come later!

Monday, June 8, 2009

My Stomach Speaks Italian Now..

So probably one of the most important topics i have yet to talk about is the food. Oh the food. At the center we get served lunch and dinner only. Breakfast for me usually consists of a croissant I bought at the Co-op with an orange that I got for dessert the night before. Lunch and dinner however are massive feasts of true Italian dishes. From spaghetti to risotto to prosciutto to pesto pasta to rigattoni to glazed salmon to the freshest mozzarella and tomatoes you will EVER encounter in your life, we've had them all. Never am I left wanting more.. well, except for the salmon and crusted cod we had at lunch today.

The way we get served is amazing as well. First comes bread.. this part i have started skipping though because A) i want to save room for the amazing dishes we get and B) because it is usually leftover from the day before so its seen better days. After 5 or so minutes we get served the antipasta, kindof like an appetizer, and that usually consists of any type of pasta to bean or lentil stews/soups. This course is ALWAYS amazing.. but what am I saying, the WHOLE MEAL is always amazing.. Next comes the main course which (for dinners) consists of a mean and side(s). Typically this includes a chicken, ham, or roast of some kind, glazed in all sorts of amazingness plus glorious vegetables or potato fries.

Lunches are generally lighter than dinners so the main course will be kindof snacky - a.k.a prosciutto slices, mozzarella and tomato trays, etc. I write down everything they serve us so when I come back I can try and recreate the amazingness. For dessert we most always get a bowl of fruit, which as I stated earlier, becomes my breakfast. HOWEVER, on a students birthday we get italian ice cream sandwiches (graham cracker instead of chocolate) and on some random days we will get pie or tarts or sliced watermelon... Those days are especially spectacular. So there you go. My taste buds have taken a turn in a different direction and I am 100% confidant that when I come home I will order very weird and different from my normal eateries. Hopefully I can find an english-italian cookbook while I am here so I can convert my family and roommates when I get back!! Arrivaderci!

Pictured: Cous cous and various antipasti (like bruschetta and toast with melone and spicy sausage)

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Phew what a weekend! .. you will understand the title later..

We got up at 5 to get to the train station Thursday morning and boy that was a doozy. In Florence we toured the Duomo, the Museo di Palazzo Davanzati (Paolo, our art teacher lived in the building when he was younger) and then the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore. We were starving after that so we went to a nice restaurant and I got cheese lasagna...YUM. Before they served the food though they served us wine (it comes with every meal and is cheaper then water) ...and on an empty stomach, wine+nina=a tad wobbly. Ha, but it wasnt that bad since we went to a boring museum (harsh but true!). It kinda made it more interesting. So after that we were free for the rest of the evening. They gave us a train ticket back but the majority of the group stayed the night in Florence in hostels. My friend Sara and I were going to stay with a friend but (beginning the gypsy life) we crashed at our friends hostel instead. That night we got sandwiches and had plans to go to the biggest Discotheque in Rome but since it was so far away we just made the downstairs of a bar into a dance floor. It was probably one of the funnest nights of my life I must say!!

The next day we had the plan to go to Elba island (where napolean was exiled) and stay in a bungalow on the beach but that definately fell thru so instead me and the girls who I would have gone to Elba with decided to gypsy along and travel with a big group to Viareggio and stay in the same hotel. Talk about LIVIN ON THE EDGE! There are three of us in our gypsy gang and us three slept with 3 other girls in a room fit for 2. I slept on the floor but it wasnt too bad. It was intense because I dont exactly know what we would have done if we got caught since there were zero openings. At Viareggio we hung out at the beach most all day.. cloud, cold breeze, drizzle and all. We didnt exactly check the weather... but it was still a blast besides the whole gypsy aspect.

Today we made it back after some issues on the trains. First off, finding the right binario (platform) is like utterly impossible without asking someone and looking dumb. Besides knowing how to gelato nicely, the other phrase I am a master at is "Va bene per [insert destination]?" ..."Does this go to .." So we thought we found the right train, but at a random stop EVERYONE got off and then the lights cut out. Yeah, so that prooooobably wasnt the right one. Luckily the right one was on the next track over and it left in 5 minutes, so we raced to catch it. Then once we arrived in Florence we had to find our train home. Now this was a curiously long train ride. Basically if you think of the trains as like the highway, you can either take the Highway route or the Business route. The Highway route goes fast and barely ever stops. The Business route, however, stops at every little town. We evidently took the "Business" route train and it took a tad longer than normal since we made stops at stations in no mans land. There were literally 10 people on the train with us.. I counted. When we arrived in Castiglion it was raining.. of course.. so we trekked up to the center to be welcomed by clean laundry, new towels, and fresh sheets! Ahhh... home at last.

the picture is of me sara and ryan (the gypsies fo life). The back story is that when we were outside the Duomo in Florence, there are gypsies asking for money.. BUT these gypsies are wearing all white head to toe, their faces are painted white, and they are holding a red posey. Also they creepily approach you by making a loud SMOOCH / kissing noise in your face. Honestly it is pretty disturbing because of how they look and the fact that they get in your face. SO throughout the weekend when we talked about how we felt like gypsies, we would stick out our hand and made loud smooching noises to everyone.

2nd note:
Even though we gypsied, we paid our fair share. Sure we mooched, but we all split the cost, so basically our gypsy-ing made it cheaper for everyone!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Just a Normal Run... in Tuscany!

So this past semester I have taken up running. My roommate and I started short distances and gradually made our way up to the 3 mile mark for 5k season. So for training, we ran past our house into Bryan. You are probably thinking, "What the heck does this have to do with Italy?" Well today I ran with some other girls, basically in hopes to stay in shape through all the gelato. But what was different about this run was that the scenery wasn't filled with foul smells and run down neighborhoods... it was the Tuscan countryside, the greenest grass, adobe houses, poppy flowers, a brilliant blue backdrop onto the rolling hills and vineyards up above. It was AMAZING. I felt like I was on a movie set, it was too beautiful for me to be running, sweating, panting, and smelling awful in. It made me want to take up extreme marathon running, which wouldnt last long since I am the slowest runner of all time... Thats probably why I saw so much of the scenery in the back of the pack ;)

Monday, June 1, 2009


BLAHHHH RAIN! Supposedly today was the last rainy day and the rest of our stay should be hot and sunny, but they said that yesterday too! Hmm.... Its still just as beautiful here, but when its down pouring there is only a handful of things one can do in Santa Chaira. Watch movies, play games, sleep, catch up on work, OR listen to music and get intense cabin fever. Actually today we branched out and went to town to transfer money and get postcards and francobollos per stati uniti so that we can mail them. Tomorrow is basically Italy's republic day ( like memorial day) so most things will be closed for holiday, so its looking like tomorrow will be uneventful as well. However its a big day at the Medeival festival.. i hear there will be falconry and jousting!! WOOO!!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ye Olde Medieval Festival

Blah blah, rainy rainy day. We woke up at 12 and went to Cafe Hermes before siesta time to get some pizza. They are so nice (they love Santa Chiara students) and they gave us free pastries after our meal. Then as we go to walk out it starts monsooning.. haha. All day we have been in the center, on the computer.. which I kinda wasnt planning on doing since i mean we are in italy. I didnt exactly come over here to waste a day on the internet, but there is no where we can go and everyone is sleeping or on their computer too. ha

AMAZING NEWS! Castiglion (train abbreviation that we all use now) is hosting a Medieval festival this WHOLE week! We went last night and got there just at the end of a duel sequence and just before a group of jesters entertained the crowd. They were kindof weird/ not funny but then a man ate/spit fire and that was cool. He did that while a rock group of bag pipes was playing. Like they had the rocker stance and their beats were pretty amazing... After that a male group of flag dancers/throwers performed and they were probably better than our high school's flag team. They did crazy throws and tosses of the flags not just in the air to themselves but mainly to another thrower. They had on tights and skirts, haa. It looks like it will be alot of fun this week!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I've found my future home...

Arezzo is by far the greatest town in Tuscany. It is beautiful and quiet, but at the same time has lots to do and lots of people. There are pizzarias and gelatterias everywhere as well as old old old old buildings/churches/monuments/everything. Our tour guide today was the most amazing and hilarious man Giovani. He gave a straight to the point, no b.s. view of italy and it was entertaining and insightful. He told us to touch EVERYTHING in italy. Whether its a bench, a handrail, or a door knob... because here you can probably bet that Michealangelo, Dante, or Galileo etc. touched it. He also pointed out all the fake things. These being giant castles you would think are old and look so beautiful. Its funny the standards are SO different here. In the U.S. its all about new buildings, new appliances, new this/new that... here in Italy it it completely opposite. Things that are new are trash to them. Fake. Immitations. They have no worth at all! They definately treasure the past here and want to embody it, preserve it, and spread it to generations to come. On the first day of class Dr. Wood told us a memorable quote comparing the U.S. and Italy:
In the U.S., 100 miles is no distance and in Italy 100 years is no time.
Its weird but so true.. We travel hours to towns and cities like its nothing. As well, here in Italy something that is 100 years old is nothing. Walking in Arezzo watching kids play soccer in the street made me think.. Whoa, these kids play futbol in a town square dated back before the 1300s. The streets they walk everday are the streets that early Romans walked before anything else existed. Whoa.
So yeah, this town = amazing. After touring 3 churches we were allowed free time, a.k.a. pizza time. We went to this little hole in the wall joint where he made the pizza as we ordered it (YUM), then we took it to go and walked to one of the most beautiful and serene parks I've been to. There we sat, ate our pizza, and reflected on the fact that our calves are going to be freaking insane due to the 80 degree inclines that we walk up and down everyday. (Its true, never complain to me about walking up/down a steep hill.. or for that matter walking anywhere...go to italy and shush) We chilled in this oasis for a while taking pictures, eating gelato (rough life i know) until we decided to head back to the train station. We all really needed a recharge of batteries and it was a perfect day. I am DEFINATELY going back to Arezzo soon.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Memorable Mercado Moments..

Day 3 and I feel like I have been here a week! Its going by soooo slow, but I am not complaining!! Its still a little fuzzy that I am here in Italy, but I think it may be sinking in some more. Today we went to Florence and saw San Miniato (church on the hill overlooking florence) and Santa Croce (the church Michealangelo was buried and has the tomb of Dante and Galileo). It was beautiful, duh.. then we passed by the ever so beautiful (personal favorite) Duomo as we went to lunch at Trattoria della something.. (AMAZING.. but they served us french fries which was weird, but good). Then we had free time in which me and a couple girls went thru the market (a.k.a lots of cheap italian leather, bags, jewelry, the David boxers/aprons..ha) . It was definitely entertaining looking and planning the things I want to buy, but also it was entertaining to hear some funny things from Italians.
1) We walked by a vendor and he asked where we were from. We replied "America," and he said, " America? Barak Obama is my father! I am from Kenya." ..hhah wha?
2) We walked by 3 italian guys at a restaurant and one slyly looked up and said, "Excuse me... you dropped something.. my heart.." (except say it with an accent so it was like saying "art"
3) After walking farther away ANOTHER vendor goes, " Excuse me ladies, you dropped something.. and its not my heart, its my phone number!" BUAHA original..

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Day Due (dooo-EH)

Today was beautiful. It was perfectly cool but warm (which is good because it is going to get very hot soon). We got up and toured with Paolo Barucchieri, our ARTS teacher from Italy , who knows so much amazing information about everything and has many insightful comments/ideas. What I liked most, as he told us about the church next door, that the church is basically a boat. Sounds funny but it makes sense. "I believe, therefore I am," he quoted from someone knowledgeable, is the basis of this theory. People believe in something, in their theology and faith, in their family's tradition, and they strive to accomplish that through their actions. So in a sense, when they were building the beautiful churches in the ancient times they built them to serve as basically a boat, to get them to that feeling of divine serenity and oneness with their faith. Whoa.. never thought of it like that before but I totally agree..just something to chew on..
So then we had class and ate lunch. After we traveled the 20 ish minutes to the italian h-e-b, a.k.a. the COOP. This is where I purchased some breakfast food and a 1 euro box wine! WOOO! haha, havent tried it yet but I will let you know how it goes :) Later we had Italian class (affirming the fact I know no Italian) and then had an amazing dinner and planned our weekend to Capri and Sorento! Tomorrow we are off to Firenze (Florence)!
Buona Notte!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

umm... OW!!!!! Bumper Cars have lost their fun..

Never.. and I mean NEVER... ride bumper cars with Italian men! This act will end in a sore throat from screaming, bruises and giant knots on both knees, and a dirty plot to strategize against said Italian men. So basically, yes, this was my night. We had an amazing dinner then went to the Garden Underground and watched the ManU and Barcelona game (Spain won 2-0). Then after a while a group of us went to this small fair going on outside our center... and when I say small, I mean one ride working... and it was bumper cars. Each one had a distinct logo or design ( me and another girl's was Heiniken but there were some clever ones like the confederate flag or uncle sam or cartoons & stuff). Going up there I purchased 1 token for a ONE time go around, but the man gave me two and when I looked curiosly at the second token he just waved his hand off slyly.. hmm.. 1st creepy Italian man of the night..
If you thought bumper cars was a fun, innocent, painLESS game in America, come to Italy please and have your world rocked. There were maybe 6 or 7 cars of Ags but another 6 or 7 were Italian middle age men (either paired or by themself). And apparently they are in a seclusive Italian men only bumper car gang where they pinpoint one car they want to literally kill and take action. They even had tricks to hit us harder.. such as: holding hands with another car's passenger and then they would sling them into us (going full speed of course) and also they would stand up as they ran into you to push the car harder. And ..oh, if you hit them, best believe they were coming for you and you were gonna get it! Everytime they hit you they would look at you too, as if they were waiting to see your painful reaction. Not cool.. OH and since the steering wheel fit right in between my knees, I currently have giant knots and bruises on the insides of them , and if you know me and my bad knee.. that is not fun. I screamed very loud and thus treated myself to gelato afterwards at the infamous CocoPalm. I got Frutti de Bosca, which I believe is a mixed berry flavor (it was delicioso!)
So if you never come away with anything from reading my blog, take this one point: Dont dare ride the bumper cars with Italian men unless you have knee pads and a posse to combat the creepy Italian men!

Buon Giorno.. spelled wrong

DAYLIGHT! WOO! The this town's unreal countryside is so brilliant during the daylight! We just took a tour of the town and it will probably take several trials to find my way around but I will get it someday! Our orientation class is at 2 and then we have an italian class at 5. Tonight we are all going to a local bar to watch the Manchester United and Barcelona Futbol game.
Pictures will be uploaded soon!
Until then, CIAO!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

20 Hours Later.....

WE MADE IT!! After a 10 hour flight, 2 hour layover in Paris, a 2 hour flight to Rome, and a 3 hour bus ride we have arrived in Castiglion Fiorintino. Its nighttime here so you cant see much yet but by tomorrow the town will be illuminated and we will start orientation. Looking outside our window feels like a stage setup. we have a small space between our entrance to building across the cobblestone street. We have already had our first run in with the neighbors above. I cant imitate it over writing but just imagine an older grouchy italian woman saying "SILENCIO" outside her flowerpot window! Ha ha
Also you would have thought all this Italy stuff would have hit me by now.. nope still hasn't! But I will let you know when it does!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Buona Sera!

Ciao! Mi chiamo Nina, I am completely copying this from a Frommer's Italian PhraseFinder Dictionary. Hopefully the language will actually stick after being in Italy for 6 weeks! I leave tomorrow and my bags are definately esplodere (exploding!) This will be my second time in Italy and I have decided that instead of buying a T'shirt from every street corner like I did last time, I think I'll indulge in a daily gelato. If you've ever read Eat.Pray.Love. you know that the "eat" part is in Italy...and thats precisely why I am going, duh!

Besides the food perks, I really hope this trip re-opens my eyes to the diverse and simply amazing world we live in and I cant wait to share that with you! So here goes!