Very fun weekend! Left early on Saturday morning on a train to Modena, home to Ferrari, Maserati, and Lamborghini. (In case you are automobile - challenged, these are all super expensive, very nice cars.) Unfortunately, you must be an owner of a Ferrari to get into the factory, and the Maserati museum was a bit of a hike so we didn't see them. :( We had an excellent, expensive lunch at a restaurant recommended in my guide book (Thanks Dr. D!) called "Ristorante de Enzo". It's named after Enzo Ferrari. Extremely good food!
There was a pretty church, and some little shops in the town. Cute place, but not anything I'd recommend. We hardly saw any nice cars. :( OH! Check your balsamic vinaigrette at home. I bet it comes from Modena! That was the other thing it's famous for.
We took a cheap train over to Verona, and had previously reserved rooms at a B&B there. Got to Verona around 8pm, and took a taxi to our B&B. Found a cute little caffe, where everything was a la carte. The woman working there was extremely pleasant, and didn't speak any English. It was fun sitting there and chatting. Saw the Roman amphitheater in the dark which looked gorgeous! They also had an outdoor portable skating rink of some sort? The B&B was actually very nice... especially considering we only had to pay 14 euro a person! Pictures of all of this will come soon. Unfortunately my camera died after two pictures so my friends took lots of extras for me :)
Left the B&B the next morning around 10, and explored the minuscule city. It was so beautiful, because a river surrounds three sides of it. This is the town that was Shakespeare's inspiration for Romeo & Juliet. The balcony that was supposedly THE balcony wasn't all that special... I give Shakespeare a lot of credit. The amphitheater was my favorite part. It makes me super excited to see the Coliseum in Rome. Apparently it is 10x bigger than the amphitheater in Verona, which took my breath away.
We bought our tickets to return home the day before, so we had a very leisurely day waiting for our 7pm departure. All of Verona can be seen in under 2 hours, and we had 9... That allowed us to go to many shops! The clothing and items were cheaper in Verona than Firenze, I'm assuming because it's not as big of a tourist town? Who knows, but it was fun. We saw a castle as well.
The dogs were not like Florentine dogs. In Florence, most of the dogs walk with their owners without a leash. They are not distracted by people running by, bikers, or even small animals. They sometimes get slightly ahead of their owner, but act like a regular human being going down the street. In Verona, the dogs acted like dogs I'm used to. They were all on leashes, and like to sniff everything and everyone. When they saw another dog, they became very interested in one another, and oftentimes barked at each other. I cannot recall a dog barking in Florence thus far. I'll have to listen for it. They also hardly pay attention to each other in Florence, pretty remarkable.
Got back from Verona around 2130. Patrizia made me two omelettes to complement the meat and bread that was already waiting for me. I fell asleep immediately after dinner!
Today was calm. Only one class! Amy and I went grocery shopping, because we are cooking dinner for our professor tomorrow night! Once a week, pairs of students come to his apartment to cook dinner. We're the second group to go, and our dinner will be AWESOME. We're following Italian recipes, and serving it like an Italian meal - 2 antipasti, 2 primi piatti, and 2 secondi piatti. My camera is charged so I can take pictures of the meal we create!
Dinner was one of my favorites. Pasta with a homemade red sauce, some kind of meat, and a special bread. The name of the bread I cannot recall, but Patrizia said it is very common to Florence. We then had a long discussion about languages, and she and Guido both are helping me plan when my family comes! She got on the computer to help me look at train ticket costs, and wrote down the exact days they are coming so she can help me with hotels. They want my family to come for dinner one night too :) No octopus yet... and hopefully not then either!!
I love it here. Definitely am understanding so much more Italian every day. I pick up on pronunciations and words at ease now, and am pretty proud of myself. It sounds like nothing, but one of my big accomplishments today was going to the tabacchi shop and getting 5 stamps. I pluralized the word for stamp ("Francobolli") and spoke entirely in Italian! Very proud :)