Monday, April 5

the clam clan

easter weekend in le cinque terre. quite possibly one of the most beautiful places on earth. italy just keeps getting better and better.

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

i rock, i sweat, i dance

this past weekend ADA paid for the undergraduates to take a trip to Naples, chaperoned by Claudia who is the movement teacher for the actors and Gianni who is the tarantella teacher for the dancers. naples is a really interesting city. before leaving, we were warned about the pickpockets, the violence, and the fact that Naples is home to the Italian mafia. professors told sketchy stories about their trips to Naples, fights that broke out in front of caffes, gangs of men that lurked in ally ways at night, etc. before we even reached naples, i was prepared to be on my toes the entire time.

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. 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.