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!