Monday, April 5
arrived in la spezia around 11pm on friday night, taxied to our hostel, located up in the mountainside. thought we were all going to die friday night, as the taxi ride took us through remote, winding, dimly lit streets up to a surprisingly delightful village overlooking the small city of la spezia. arrived safely to a clean hostel room. then had one of the best night of sleep in a long long while.
packed ourselves like sardines into a shuttle which took us to the first town of le cinque terre, riomaggiore. side note: le cinque terre means the five lands. from riomaggiore we bought a 2 day pass that allowed us to hike through all 5 towns, unlimited access to the trains and shuttle bus. we set out to hike from riomaggiore to manarola on a path called la via dell'amore. a beautiful paved coastal path that winds along the seaside cliffs. fairly easy walk, beautiful view.
we arrived in manarola, a very small town, but filled with little shops full of hand-painted pottery and hand-crafted jewelery. i begin to take note that the people of le cinque terre are very into cats, as there are cat statues everywhere, and most things have paintings of cats on them. also, if you turn around chances are you'll find a real cat right in front of you.
hiked to corniglia, the 3rd town. hike got slightly more difficult. climbed 365 steps. had lunch in corniglia at a delicious take-out places called la gata flora (the flower cat... again, you notice a trend). i got homemade focaccia bread with tomato (le cinque terre is home to the original pesto and focaccia bread). since corniglia was very small, we decided to move on to the next town...
the treck to vernazza was MUCH more difficult than the previous 2. terrain got a lot rougher, no more paved roads. a lot of up hill. vernazza was well worth the hike. a beautiful beach town with a gorgeous view of the ocean, lots of outdoor seating. i tried a pastry called occhi di bue (eye of the bull/bull's eye). i bought a gift for a friend as well as some homemade pesto to bring home to my family. by the time we finished up in vernazza, we were thinking maybe we'd save the last town for sunday. so we took the train back to riomaggiore and caught the shuttle bus back to la spezia. the original plan was to shower and then head back into le cinque terre for dinner, but some train confusion led us to missing most of the trains back into le cinque terre. desperate for dinner, we ate at a seafood join in la spezia. i had pasta with pesto, naturally.
easter sunday, buona pasqua! while most of my friends went to church in riomaggiore, my roommate jess and i (the heathens) opted to walk around the towns a bit more and relax. we train hopped and tried new foods in each town. we played card games by the ocean, shared a pizza and sampled the local wine. met up with some friends later that day to complete the final hike from vernazza to the 5th town, monterossa. this last trail was obscene. it took us about an hour and a half, and the first portion of it was entirely uphill, and all steps. i must have climbed at least 1,000 steps this weekend. although at certain points of the hike i wanted to throw myself over the side of the mountain, we endured. monterossa was the biggest and most beautiful of the 5 towns. we met up with the rest of our friends at an american bar and shared a celebratory bottle of wine.
after some relaxation, we trained back to riomaggiore for easter dinner. we booked a reservation at a really nice restaurant, and had a delicious dinner together, all 10 of us. we sampled a bit of the "night life" back in monterossa. we shared some pitchers of beer in a local pub and played some card games for the majority of the night. around 11:30, we headed back to la spezia for a good nights sleep.
today, after a cappuccino and time spent in the sun, we headed back to arezzo, bringing us back into town around 7pm. grabbed falafel for dinner, and reminded myself how good it feels to be back somewhere familiar.
Thursday, April 1
naples was no doubt a dirty city. not just the streets, but the people too. i know this is sounding judgmental, but compared to tuscany (fairly reserved), the people of naples seemed absoluteyl nuts. i definitely would not have felt comfortable in naples if i weren't in a group of 20+ people plus several adult chaperons. however, there are a lot of really beautiful things in naples. since its on the coast, we were able to be by the water for the first time in italy. and naples is situated right below mount vesuvius (the active volcano), which scott says may be the reason why everyone in naples feels at liberty to drive as fast as they want and act recklessly (because at any given moment, the volcano could kill them all).
naples is also home to the worlds first pizza. i had 3 pizzas in naples, all cheese or marinara, and they were easily the best pizzas ive ever had. not so sure i can go back to eating american pizza after that.
so what else did we do in naples. we stayed in at La Carafa di Madalonni, a former aristocratic home. we had the whole place to ourselves. emily, alex, lizbie, and i stayed in a room called the princess suite, it was GORGEOUS. i felt like we were staying in a room on exhibit at some museum. we had a balcony that overlooked the streets of naples. i tried to get a decent angle of the room...
saturday morning we took a 10 minute walk to our classroom for the morning, a gigantic ballroom across from the archeological museum of naples. we took 2 hours of movement class and then 2 hours of tarantella, which went surprisingly fast. afterwards, we grabbed a pizza and then wandered through the archeological museum, which held restored art and objects discovered at the site of pompeii.
saturday night was eva's 21st birthday, so we went out to a bar and turned part of the space int our own dance floor. OH, i forgot that earlier that night we got gelato from the oldest gelateria in naples!
sunday we headed to POMPEII! easily the best part of the weekend. the weather was great, really sunny and warm, and we spent about 3 hours walking around pompeii. it was basically a ruined city that was uncovered and partially restored, and now it is a site that is open to the public to walk through and explore. it was crazy to walk through all of the rooms of ruined buildings and imagine what the city was like before the volcano destroyed everything.
OH YEAH. if any of you are familiar with OK Go's music video A Million Ways, me and 3 friends performed that dance (fully dressed as the band members) for the schools cabaret last week. i wish i had a video to post... i'll get my hands on it and figure out how to post it either or on facebook sometime soon.
three day weekend coming up. a bunch of us are going to le cinque terre for a weekend of hiking, relaxing, wine, and other beautiful things. weather.com predicts rain for part of the weekend, hopefully it clears up for a while so we can enjoy the outdoors.
on a final note, emily evans (conn), emily craver (skidmore), and i are collaborating to create a dance film and live performance to take place in a couple of weeks. the film will be done in arezzo and both parts will be set to music by Beirut. more to come.
Wednesday, March 17
we had combined classes this week with the theater track. it was taught by a sarah lawrence theater professor, christine terry. the class is called "theater sports", so instinctively i started getting nervous about having to do theater improvisation. dance improv, no problem. but when it comes to voice and acting, i get so nervous about the pressure of being funny or inventive.
the class ended up being so great, and after the first few exercises, i realized i wasn't as nervous as i had anticipated. we played several games, the first one being action and attitude. one person does an action and says a line, and the person across from them comes out with an attitude, and responds with another line. the first person adds a third line, and then the scene is over, and we move on to the next couple. we also played an interview game, where two people sit across and conduct an interview like they're on a talk show. it really surprised me how quickly the nervousness left me as soon as the games started. i think that if it were earlier on in the program and we all weren't so close, the games would have been a little more awkward and people wouldn't have felt so comfortable with playing. whenever i'd get nervous about a scene though i'd just pretend that we weren't in class. like when emily c and i were doing the interview game, i just looked at her and pretended that we were just goofing off and being silly like we do outside of class time.
this weekend ended up being so relaxing and low key. friday night we went to a club in arezzo called Snob. we all got in for free because it was "american decadence" night. to recover from the night out, saturday a bunch of us got up at 7:30am and headed to a town outside of siena to visit La Terme, hot springs and spa. we stayed there all day and lounged around in the hot waters, filled with sulfur, so it smelled like rotting eggs the whole time. i took a nap in the afternoon on one of the long chairs, and ended up not waking up til 4:30. then we stopped at this little bakery where i bought 2 chocolate chip cookies and 2 biscotti for only 97 cents. that night i had a dinner date with my roommate Jessica. our dinner lasted a little over 2 hours (i can't remember the last time i ate that slowly), and we ended it with the most AMAZING desserts: chocolate cake with strawberries, and a chocolate pie with pear filling. after we got home around midnight, i passed out in front of my computer with my contact lenses still in.
this week is only a four day week!! friday we go to naples for a school trip, the train and hotel are paid for by the school, and monica tells us that the pizza in naples is the best in the world, and only costs around 1 euro for an entire pizza. i'm pretty sure that means i'll be having pizza for all 3 meals.
Monday, March 15
SPRING BREAK! kadie, alex, emily, and i (all conn students) went to
all in all, favorite things about paris:
-montmarte and the stuffed red peppers
-free champagne from our waiter
-louvre and pompidou
-eiffel tower at night
least favorite things about paris:
-being followed/creeped on by MANY drunk french men
-lack of a night life
-the freezing cold weather (granted, we were under dressed)
-the metro system (really easy to navigate, but our tickets never worked)
i had 1 major travel crisis en route to london. i left for my flight at 6am, catching the metro to the regional line that would take me to charles de gaulle airport. i get 30 minutes into my trip, and realize that i had left my passport in the safe in our hotel room. i had to turn around and head back to the marriott. by the time i retrieved my passport it was already 7am, and the gate for my flight was to close at 8:30. balls. so i was forced to take a taxi to the airport, which ended up costing me 40 euro, but it got me there in about 20 minutes, leaving me plenty of time to check in and wait in the terminal.
i arrived in london around 9 am (they're an hour behind italy) and spent the whole day killing time until chelsea got out of her internship around 4:30pm. i spent hours upon hours in different starbucks at various train stations. i think i got through at least 200 pages of one of my books, plus an issue of cosmopolitan. and wrote 5 postcards. since i didn't have minutes left on my phone, i was freaking out that chelsea hadn't called me yet and it was nearing 4:30. so i'm wandering aimlessly around south kensington, when bam, walking straight towards me is ms. chelsea rathbun. what an amazing coincidence.
chelsea lives in the most amazing section of london. right across from the natural history museum, and apparently orlando bloom has a flat around the corner from her, and prince william has been spotted at a nearby bar. that night we went out to a noodle bar called Wagamama, i can't tell you how nice it is to take a break from pasta. afterwards we hit up this bar at a nearby university, Imperial. i snuck in telling them that i had lost my I.D. but had been there the other night (all BU kids are able to get in with their IDS). the drinks were cheap, the music was strange, but it ended up being a hilarious night. and we met a bunch of guys from new zealand.
saturday was beyond incredible. i went with chelsea kelsey and deepan to borough and camden markets (sorry chels if i butchered those names). we got to sample free cheese and breads, and i bought a pasty, then some sangria, then wild boar sausage, then mulled wine. so ridiculous. heading over to camden, it's like punk goth central. every kid walking around has a mohawk and piercings. there are tons of outdoor vendors selling clothing and jewelery. i ended up buying three dresses for 27 pounds (roughly $40), pretty decent bargain. we went to happy hour at 5pm at this bar called be@one. then went back to chelseas dorm to make MACARONI AND CHEESE and get ready to go out that night. we went to this arts club called Nottinghill. the DJ that night was this 80 (yes, 80) year old man who played a lot of reggae. he was this tiny little white british man, but he spoke with a jamaican accent. ridiculous.
sunday morning heading to the airport with chelsea, i wanted to cry. london is such an amazing city, if i could go back right now i would. the people there are great. they're like americans, but have cooler accents and drink more.
this weekend, plans are up in the air. i may go back to florence again. the weekend after that though we are taking a 3 day weekend in naples as a school trip, and for easter weekend we're doing a 3 day trip to le cinque terre, 5 gorgeous towns all up on cliffs where apparently we can do a lot of hiking and maybe even jump off the cliffs into the water!
ciao for now.
Thursday, March 4
ROMA! when i think about this past weekend, my head wants to explode. with the help of rick steves we managed to hit up every main tourist site in Rome. and on 5 hours of sleep each night, no less.
Michelle, Brittani, and I departed for Rome Friday afternoon, we grabbed a quick lunch and got to the 2:15 train just in time. Three hour train to Rome for only 11 euro. We found our hostel, Sandy Hostel, 5 minutes away from the stazione. The location was completely perfect; we were only 5 minutes away from the Colosseum and the metro. The front desk was also nice enough to put all 5 of us in the same room together. Our 6th roommate was named Martin from Denmark. He was the best roommate, and put up with our noisiness coming in at 3am and waking up at 8am.
We grabbed dinner at a restaurant, Wanted, and then met our two other friends, Jess and Morgan at the stazione. That night we went to a bar/club area called Testaccio. It was a very italian bar scene, I'm sure we were the only Americans there. We went to a couple of bars, one of them was called Coyote. We made friends with a couple of guys who were nice enough to help us get into the bars and keep the other sketchy italian men away from us.
Saturday began at 9am, out the door, grabbed a cappuccino, and we were off to the Vatican. Rome was incredibly easy to navigate. We made it to the Vatican within 20minutes to a half an hour, and didn't wait long to get inside. We were allowed to photograph every part of the museum except for the Sistine Chapel. We spent half our day just in the Vatican museum alone. After lunch, we walked to St. Peters Basilica, which was absolutely breathtaking. The piazza and the fountains alone were incredible.
After wrapping it up at Vatican city, we headed over to the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon. Both gorgeous. We arrived at the Trevi fountain just before sunset, so we were able to see it during daylight and also when they turned the lights on during sunset.
We headed across the river in search of dinner and found a really great place with cheap wine and relatively inexpensive pasta. One thing I've learned here, there's no such thing as bad food in Italy. No matter where you go there's never an issue of quality. And I haven't had to wait more than 5-10 minutes for my food to arrive. Everything is always fresh and quick. And the wine is usually just as cheap as water. And everywhere you turn you can find gelato or cappuccino.
Saturday night we headed to Campo de Fiori, a large square lined with American bars and lots of college students. There was a rugby match that day against the Scots, so there were a bajillion men running around in kilts all day and night. I think I enjoyed the night atmosphere of Testaccio moreso than Campo, only because at Campo it was impossible to sit down or even get a drink because of the crowds, and there were also many more Americans at Campo. For some reason, I haven't really been too interested in meeting other Americans here. I'd much rather meet Italians.
Sunday we hit up the Spanish steps and the Galleria Borghese. The Borghese was the perfect size, and the Bernini sculptures were my favorite part. After the Borghese, we walked to find a gelateria named Giolitti, that a friend of mine recommended. It was comparable to the atmosphere of Mikes Pastry in the North End. Filled with pastry and lines out the doors. We then walked to the Colosseum, completing our trip around Rome. We grabbed our bags at the hostel and had chinese for dinner. Rice and shrimp platter for only 3 euro. What?! I love this country. Even the Chinese food is better here.
Wednesday, February 24
This weekend I traveled to Florence to visit Chelsea and Deepan, two of my close friends from high school who are currently studying in London. A friend from the Accademia, Emily, and I hopped a train Friday afternoon to Florence, only an hour away! Chelsea and her two friends, Sarah and Gabby, arrived in Florence just an hour after I did. We stayed in a youth hostel just 5 minutes from the train station, and right in the midst of Florence. That night we met up with 3 other girls from Boston University, and ate at a restaurant called Dante. The food was delicious, and the wine was the best I've had in Italy so far, but they sat us in the lower level with a bunch of loud American students. The table next to us was being so loud and belligerent, that the rest of the tables ended up complaining to the manager, and we didn't have to pay for our wine that night. After dinner we got some gelato (naturally) and headed to an Irish bar. The entire ceiling of the bar was covered in t-shirts and banners of U.S. universities, including STONEHILL! Too cool. We ended up going to the same Irish bar the next night, and it was so crazy to be in Florence with two OA friends, with a t-shirt signed by Stonehill students. So much Easton in one room.
Saturday was amazing. We spent the morning walking around the market, and I purchased a few gifts for my family. We ended up running into Deepan and his two roommates, Theo and Tim, randomly in the marketplace around lunchtime. The seven of us went out to lunch at a really great pasta place, and after checked out the David and the Uffizi museum. Both Chelsea and Sarah are art history students, so they were able to tell us a lot about the statues, buildings, sculptures, paintings, etc. At night, we met up with some family friend's of Gabby's, who live together in Florence. Afterward, we met back up with Deepan Theo and Tim to go to a few bars. We ended up outside this bar called Moyo, undecided whether or not go in because it looked too expensive. A bartender came outside and told us to come in and look at the menu, but the rest of the group seemed uninterested. After a few minutes, he came out a second time and told us we'd get a free shot with every drink we purchase, convincing us all to come inside. It ended up being a really classy bar with a great DJ, and we stayed for at least an hour and got free shots out of it! We headed to the Irish bar afterwards, for lack of better plans, and called it a fairly early night in order to get the most out of our last day in Florence.
Sunday we climbed to the top of the city of Florence, to this location where you could see the entire city. Words cannot possibly describe how beautiful the view was. We found a hole in the wall sandwich shop named I Due Fratellini, where I got a freshly made tomato and mozzarella sandwich with white wine for only 4 euro. One of the great things about Italy is that wine is just as cheap as bottled water, and cheaper than canned soda. After Chelsea, Sarah, and Gabby left for their flight, I read on the steps of the Duomo for a while. I met up with Emily once again and we took an extremely long walk to go check out the NYU Firenze campus. The place was incredible, something like 6 acres. We ended the night with some amazing pizza and white wine, and a train back to Arezzo, getting us back home by 10:00.
This weekend I'll be heading to Rome with four friends and staying the weekend. Then I'll be taking a week long workshop in Butoh, a form of Japanese dance. And before I know it, SPRING BREAK! Emily, Alex, Kadie, and I (all Conn students) are spending six nights in Paris at the Marriott Champs-Elysees. The last friday I'll be hopping over to London to stay with Chelsea for the weekend, and then back to Italy on Sunday. So many great trips to look forward to. There is also Easter weekend, we booked three nights at Le Cinque Terre (http://www.lecinqueterre.org/eng/). Supposed to be a beautiful set of small towns by the ocean with lots of cliffs and hiking. There is also our schools trip to Naples. So much to look forward to!
Monday, February 15
what a weekend.
departed on friday after ballet for venice. all the undergrads went for one night to celebrate carnevale, the italian mardi gras celebration. the train ride was four hours long, so we arrived in the mainland of venice close to 9pm. myself and six other friends managed to find our hotel not too far from the station, and also managed to sneak all 7 of us up to our rooms, which were booked only for 4 people. after changing and settling in, we took a short bus ride to venice to explore for the night.
to get from the mainland over to the area of venice that is surrounded by water, we crossed over this gigantic bridge. on the other side, was heaven. everyone was dressed in costume, street vendors everywhere selling masks and amazing food. we stopped at a burger joint (go figure, us americans can't go a month without a burger) for one of the most amazing burgers i've ever had. afterward, we roamed the streets some more, and ended up meeting up with the rest of the accademia students at this grunge rock and roll party. it was in this tiny hole in the wall, the rooms were filled with smoke and strange people. the music went back and forth between techno and heavy metal, and claire tried to start a mosh pit. i'm not sure whether it was worth the 5 euro... but it was an experience none the less.
saturday was the most incredible day in italy so far. my friend morgan and i split up from the group and spent the day shopping and roaming around aimlessly. we eventually reached the Piazza San Marco, the biggest square in venice. elaborate decorations everywhere, men and women dressed in costume who people could get their photographs with, and a huge stage in the center where a costume contest was being held. it was absolutely breath taking. i stood in the square for a solid five minutes just turning in circles and looking around at everything trying to soak it all in.
my bank account took a minor hit while in venice, but i think it was worth it. i ended up finding a real italian leather jacket, dark brown, along with a pair of western style country boots for, get this... 70 EURO. that is unheard of. a real leather jacket and boots for a little over $100. i also was able to buy myself a new scarf and an italian soccer jersey. knowing nothing about soccer, i asked the vendor if the soccer player was attractive and popular, and he said yes to both, so it was good enough for me. morgan and i also spent a good hour in this one italian store trying on clothing, and got several nice shirts for only 10 euro a piece.
while eating lunch on the streets of venice, morgan and i became somewhat of a spectacle without even meaning to. we were sitting on a bench, eating our tomato and mozzarella and drinking our heinekens, when a guy stops in front of us and takes our picture. we smile and laugh. seconds later, the guy behind him gives the thumbs up and says "good idea for a photo!", and crouches down to take our picture as well. so we humor him and clink our glasses together. within the next few minutes, we had seven or eight people stop to photograph us together on the bench. who knew being two masked american girls drinking beers on the streets of venice would be such a public attraction.
there were so many languages spoken in venice. i spoke in spanish to a few guys on the train while traveling home, and we met several english speakers out on the streets. come night time, all of venice turned into a huge party. confetti was being thrown, everyone walked around with a drink in hand, and it wasn't uncommon to stop or be stopped by others just to chat and celebrate. after spending the entire day in venice, we finally caught a train back to arezzo around midnight, getting us home at 5 in the morning. phew.
i have to say, the italians were much more forward in venice than in arezzo. after morgan and i finished dinner, we walked outside carrying our huge backpacks and shopping bags. we were immediately stopped by two italian men who asked if we needed help carrying our bags. obviously, we told them thank you but no thank you, and one guy responded with, "i am just trying to be respectable man!" we talked to them for a bit, and they were asking us to meet them later to go dancing, and the guy talking to morgan told her if she didn't see him later he would cry. italians know bullshit better than anyone else.
anywho, that was venice in a very very very small nutshell. florence next weekend to visit chelsea and deepan, very excited!