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!
Sunday, February 7
today i decided to sleep in and skip out on the trip to florence, only because i had been sick the last two days. but today i'm feeling much better, and took a two hour walk around the city of arezzo by myself. it was weird being alone, but it was nice to take in the city without any one talking to me or any distractions. the antique fair was still happening, so i got to take my time going from table to table looking at old paintings and jewelery. didn't make any purchases, maybe next time.
i stopped by my favorite falafel place, where i'm sure the woman knows my face by now because i go every weekend. she's helping me learn the names of all the toppings that i like on my falafel sandwich. falafel panino con cetrioli, pomodori, insalati, e tzatziki. it's so nice to be spoken to in italian, and not assumed to be an idiot or unwilling to learn.
this week ahead should be less busy than the last. less class time, and on friday we're all going to venice for carnival. i just have to get through another italian quiz, philosophy paper, and a few solos to work on.
Saturday, February 6
so sickness has been spreading around the accademia. no matter how much i tried to avoid it, it was inevitable that i would get sick too. so here i am. cold and rainy saturday and in bed. i ventured to market this morning, but ended up taking the bus home after only a few hours because it was so rainy and freezing. and i was mistaken for a japanese person today. i mean, 5 ft. 9, dirty blonde, its understandable. so, now we've got japanese, finnish, and irish. why does no one here believe that i am an american?
this week was incredibly long, three of the five days we had 8 hours of class a day. and all of a sudden a bunch of work sprung up on us out of nowhere. but it'll get done. i've never had to generate so much solo material in such a small amount of time.
my roommate jess has turned out to be such a wonderful person and awesome to room with. shes a great listener, hilarious, modest, so in tune with others, and incredibly respectful. i consider myself very lucky to have her as a roommate, not that the other students aren't incredible, but jess and i are a really good fit for one another. most days when i'm freaking out or stressed, she's the only one i want to talk to about any of it. not to mention, she can impersonate almost any person/character at any time. she introduced me to the drunk girl skit from SNL, which she can do flawlessly.
i'm hoping that this coming week is a better one, this week i just didn't feel like myself. the dancers had to take a voice class with the theater students, which was challenging for me because i hate singing. the first portion of the class was fun because we made goofy noises and played silly games, but when it came time for us to sing, and i was called on to sing along, i completely freaked out. its just not something im interested in doing again. im glad i tried the class, but i dont know if its something i would want to do again.
we also had our first dance performance class with giorgio. hes a goofy middle aged man, and he moves like water. his movement is just so loose and unrestricted. i'm having difficulty in that class though, only because some of his metaphors and corrections dont always translate very well. i am able to learn a lot from him by watching, but when it comes to discussion and him talking us through exercises, a lot of it goes right over my head. but i've always been the kind of learner where i pick things up quickly through watching rather than speaking or listening. so i guess i'll just take from him what i can and learn to adjust.
all in all, not speaking italian is the most frustrating part of this trip. i actually find that my spanish is coming so much more fluently here, not that its helping me at all. since the accademia is so tiny and we see so much of eachother, when we go out on weekends all i want to do is communicate with others, but it always turns out to be a lot more difficult than i'd imagine. we're moving quickly through italian class, we have italian for about 6 hours every week, but there are so many practical things that we still do not know how to say. it would help if i remembered to bring my pocket italian dictionary, but i always forget.
it's weird that tomorrow is the super bowl. i miss american coffee, you can't get anything to go here. i also couldn't find marshmallows or peanut butter. cream of wheat/oatmeal is also rare. if i could bring anything home for everyone to try though, it would be the cheese. or the olive oil. yum.
Tuesday, February 2
one of the dancers at the accademia taped emily, alex, and me dancing to "somebody to love" by queen, it was choreographed by our professor adele myers back at conn. this was performed at the accademia's first cabaret of the semester. pretty entertaining, in my opinion, and a lot of fun to perform!
we had our first real philosophy class today. our teacher scott has been sick, so the second class was canceled, and the first class was really informal. much to my surprise, i loved today's class. i was dreading philosophy, because from past experiences, i haven't liked it. too many people all trying to express their points of view, and running circles around each other, and in the end no concrete solution is ever reached, and most people just end up fighting. but this class was really well mediated, and scott shed a lot of light on the articles we read, and made us all think about the stories in a much larger metaphorical sense. he's so calm too, i think his temperament sort of keeps everybody in check. the first paper is due next week, and we are supposed to write about a turning point in our lives, a shift in or inversion of perspective, a time when our vision of the world changed dramatically. i love these sorts of papers, because its so open ended. also, the hardest part will be coming up with one single moment, and once i have targeted that, the paper should flow smoothly.
any who, check out the video. it kicks ass. florence day trip this sunday, i can't wait to photograph the city. i really want to take some dance photos around arezzo and maybe other cities as well. could be really beautiful.