25 February, 2010

Calcio... me???

Well, joined the CAPA intramural soccer team. We play against other schools with American students in the area.  Of course I'm HORRIBLE, but it was so much fun. I could only stay the first two games, because Laura was having a dinner party with a bunch of friends and I did not want to be late!  We got crushed in the games, but the scores didn't show it.. it was 3-0 first game (after the half only 1-0!) and I had to leave the second game slightly early (it was 2-1!) We actually were tied at one point.  The other teams have coaches and uniforms, tryouts and practices.  We just show up and hope we have at least 5 people (4 + goalie).  Since spring break is next week, they crammed all of our games into a 2 week period since we're missing one week of the 3 week season.  I loved our team though. We had a few good people, but they were realistic in their expectations of everyone, and supported us all. Our best player came out multiple times to give me playing time. It was really awesome, and I got to meet people from the other schools in America.

Then, after the soccer game, I arrived home around 8.  Laura had some friends who had already arrived, and they were sitting around the table sipping on wine and chatting.  It was a very different environment than that of America, but I loved it immensely.  They were all tra 20 and 22, so exactly my age!! I asked "parlete inglese?" (do you all speak english?) They all said no, just a little.  However, as the night wore on, two of the girls were AMAZING at translating things for me.  Of course, the words they used were simple but they'd give me the gist of the conversation.  When I tried to speak Italian, the Italian students all said they could understand me well, which was a huge compliment! A lot of phrases I simply do not know yet.  They helped me learn some new words.  A few times they asked me to speak to them in English, just slowly.  

Laura's dinner was very good.  She ended up having 12 people over. (I actually counted with the intention of writing the number here!) We stayed at her house until around midnight. We didn't eat until 10!  After that, we went to the pub around the corner and had a big table for all of us. It was such a fun night!!  Laura's cousins stayed at the house last night.  Laura's parents went out to dinner and a movie, and I don't think they ever came back! Patrizia had explained to me that she was going out because Laura had friends over, but I was unaware that "out" meant no return.

Today, I must study for my Italian midterm. I then have my family arriving in two days!!! I cannot wait for this to happen. I just hope that the snow is not a problem and they can make it out of philadelphia okay!

23 February, 2010


Had a wonderful weekend in Amsterdam, and of course took pictures. Obviously, knowing me, they have not been uploaded to my computer.  I have some midterms this week since Spring Break is next week, so I don't know how much time I'll have to get them uploaded.

Quick overview of Amsterdam: Beautiful city. There are canals that are sort of arched around the city and through it, so you must take little bridges constantly.  The streets are much wider than Florence and other Italian cities, so the cars are a little more modern. Trams, bikes, buses, and cars control the streets.  There are special pathways for the bikes, tracks for the trams, and roadways for the buses and cars.  I would NEVER EVER drive in that city.  I practically was getting run over just trying to follow the "walk" and "don't walk" signs. Within 15 minutes of arriving, we saw a man on the ground bleeding from the mouth and ear from getting hit while on his bike.  Needless to say, it's dangerous!!

As for the city, I blended in much better than I do in Firenze.  The city seems to be primarily tourists, which isn't always a bad thing.  My favorite part of the whole trip was the Anne Frank house. I'm sure most of you know her history - young teenage girl, Jewish, kept a diary during WW2, hid in the annex of a house with her family and 4 other people, eventually discovered, taken to a concentration camp, entire family except Dad dies.  There's her history in a nutshell.  Anyway, once the father returned to the hideout, he found Anne's diary and decided to publish it.  Throughout the house there are quotes from her diary on the wall, so you can really envision what it was like. I even am getting goose bumps now thinking about it and how emotional it was.  I would HIGHLY recommend a trip to Amsterdam just to see that, if anything at all.  Her father wanted to keep it unfurnished, so it just is empty rooms with descriptions of what was there.  The walls all have the original posters that the residents of the annex put up... as well as Anne's room with her pictures and magazine clippings.  Definitely an amazing experience.

I also went to the Van Gogh museum.  Not a huge art person, but since I was there I figured I should go.  There were a bunch of wings in the museum with countless artists (I didn't know any... except Claude Monet) and their works.  We were there quite a while, but no pictures are allowed, and can't say I can comment on much.  Saw a few works I recognized - Sunflowers was one. The Bedroom is another piece I know, but it was not there when we visited.

Red Light district was really disturbing for me. I couldn't imagine what life would be like for many of the women who make that their career.  Because of the mixed group reading this, I'll leave it at that.  Feel free to email me for more details on that part of the experience.

All in all, I really enjoyed my weekend.  We stayed at a hostel (my first one with other people!)  It had 12 beds to a room.. 6 bunk beds.  It was cool because everyone in there was between 18-22, which is exactly my age!  Nana, you'll love this... I MET TWO NORWEGIANS FROM OSLO!!  I told them every Norwegian word I knew, and they were laughing at my accent, but surprisingly knew every word I was attempting to say.  You all would be so proud.  There was another person from Virginia, two people from Great Britain, and then the 7 of us.  It was quite the experience!

I did not enjoy the plane ride there or back.  The way there was exceptionally tough... it was extremely windy so only one runway was open in Amsterdam.  We got to Amsterdam, and then had to turn around because of air traffic on the run way.  Our 1:50 flight turned into somewhere near 2:30 because of the traffic.  We were constantly dropping altitude because of the wind and weather.  I researched taking trains home from Amsterdam because I was so scared of getting back on!

Today will be a very busy day.  I have lezione di Italiano (lesson of Italian is how they describe it.. not Italian class), and then my Skype class immediately after.  Karli and Jeremy are cooking for Florka, so they've invited me to be one of their guests!  That will be a good dinner I hope.  Tomorrow, Laura just informed me that Patrizia and Guido are going out to dinner, so Laura is inviting friends over!! I'm excited to meet some Italians!!!

I better study and get ready for this Art History exam I have tomorrow morning.  I'm only an email away.


17 February, 2010

It's still bleeding...

Laura arrived home today from her two month study in Spain!  She is 20 years old.  Patrizia said she doesn't speak English, but Laura "not speaking English" is better than my Italian.  She was able to translate every picture she took in Spain except for the word for "dressing up in costume".  So yes, she is way better at English than I am Italian!

DISCLAIMER: Next section is gross. If you have a weak stomach, I advise you skip down to the next section.


I ate STEAK tonight in honor of Laura's return home from Spain.  I'm not sure how familiar you are with Italian steak, but they like it pretty rare.  So rare, in fact, that as you cut into it, your plate turns slightly bloody.  When I say slightly, I mean my potatoes were dyed red.  I think it would have been able to walk off my plate had I not cut it.  None the less, I LOVED it, WAYYYY more than American steak.  It was not as chewy as longer cooked American steak that I've tried.


The first course of dinner was some kind of rice soup with potatoes and vegetables. It was one of my favorite dishes we've had thus far. We also schiacatta (spelling?) bread, then the course of potatoes and steak, and then an AWESOME dessert tray.  There were so many little pastries, chocolates, cannoli, etc.  Of course, dinner ended with un cafe, as usual. Laura then showed us a bunch of her pictures.

Tonight also is a big soccer game - Florentina vs. Munich (German team).  The German team is undefeated.  Guido and Alessandro are both huge fans.  (Alessandra, their other daughter, and her boyfriend Alessandro came for dinner again tonight.)  That was on throughout dinner.

Today for Art History we went to a museum that had all the different outside architecture of Santa Croce church.  We even stopped by the shop that people recreate the outside pieces so that the originals can be stored safely in a museum, protected from the elements. I actually remembered my camera for once, which was good since I always forget it on Art History days.  Art History is a 3 hour class, but the first half is lecture and the second half we go on a field trip somewhere in the city to see actual art we discuss.  What better place to do this than Florence?!

I'll post pictures at some point. Ciao!

16 February, 2010

Cinque Terre

Went to Cinque Terre this past weekend.  It was absolutely gorgeous on Friday when we arrived, but then rained on Saturday. :(  Sunday was also wonderful.

Cinque is 5 in Italian, and Terre is lands. So, Cinque Terre is actually 5 cities connected by tunnels and pathways.  I stayed in Riomaggiore.  It costs money to walk on all the pathways however, and with the rain some of them were closed Saturday. I didn't mind a bit, because it was nice to relax a little from all the walking I've done the last month.  As of today, I've been here exactly one month and one day.  Time really has flown!!

Not this Saturday, but the following Saturday Mom, Dad, Kimby, and David arrive.  I booked the hotel for them yesterday.  We're planning on doing day trips from Florence, Rome and Pompeii for a few days, and then back to Florence.  It'll be a really fun time and I'm enjoying planning it for them!

I'm working on my plans for the rest of the semester.  I'd like to get to Greece, Vienna, Malta, and Croatia.  We'll see if I actually get to all of those places, but I think I have enough time.  They are proving to be a bit more pricey than I originally thought, however, so the sooner I book, the better.

Here are some pictures from Cinque Terre:

Cinque Terre

Ciao for now!

11 February, 2010

Almost forgot...

Took a special picture for you, Nana! (They had some fudge too MamaNett, but I figured it wouldn't be good in 2 months if I bought it for you)

Florence had a chocolate festival which I attended last week.  I got lots of free samples too :)

Sick :(

Was sick for the first time today.  Last week, Guido was throwing up all day.  Today, it was my turn.  Found out that Alessandra (my host parents daughter) was also sick today!  She has been over for dinner every night this week, so I'm sure we shared the germs together.  Patrizia even went to the doctor to ask about anything I could take, and they told her there is a virus that has been going around the last few weeks.  She gave me little tablets of who knows what, but told me they were natural and to just chew them up. I threw it up later... but it was still the thought that counts :)

Last week, the highlight was probably the Uffizi.  I went there with Jeremy who had been there once before already.  The ceilings were so intricately painted I was amazed.  For those who don't know, the Uffizi is considered one of the best art museums in the world. I wish I had a better appreciation for art so that I could understand what I was looking at.

We also had the octopus last week.  Patrizia's cousin from Argentina is visiting this week with his son.  They're staying with us, and so Alessandra and Alessandro (Alessandra's boyfriend) have come to dinner every night. Octopus was the big night, and I told them I had never eaten it before.  Guido is an awesome cook, and I really liked it. He had it mixed with vegetables in a soup-like mixture.  Before dinner, we had different meats that they had bought in Siena. I tried all of them! I don't know what any of them were haha.

Tomorrow I have an Italian quiz and then there is a possibility I will be going to Cinque Terre for the weekend.  Cinque Terre is 5 islands connected together by beautiful paths and also by train I believe? I'm not sure, but i'll soon learn!

Only a little over 2 weeks until Mom, Dad, Kimby, and David come to see me !!!  I really can't wait for that.. I'm starting to get a little homesick, especially after being sick today and missing my mommy :(

Oh, I'm considering going to Sardenia for a long weekend in April!  I found a pretty cheap flight (50 euro) on RyanAir, so I may book that tomorrow morning or this weekend.

Buona notte!

09 February, 2010

Siena, San Gimigniano, Viareggio Carnivale

Pictures from the past weekend... as a class, we went to Siena & San Gimigniano on Saturday, when it was pouring rain and freezing almost the entire time.  On Sunday, a group of us went to Viareggio for their Carnivale. Carnivale is all throughout Italian cities the month of February.  People get dressed up (young and old alike.. sometimes families even have a theme!) and throw confetti, shoot silly string at each other, and have a big  parade.  It's sort of like Mardi Gras in America, but much more clean cut.  It's family-friendly until the nighttime, where I presume it becomes more of a big party, but we left right after the parade so I'm not entirely sure.  Regardless, it was very fun!

Siena is a very quaint, medieval town in the Tuscan region, as well as San Gimigniano.  Siena is best known for their big horse race they have on August 16 every year.  The city is split into 17 districts, each with their own mascot.  The race only takes about 75 seconds, but it's a HUGE event. San Gimigniano is best known for their white wine.  Both are in the chianti region, which is Italy's famous wine!

A very wonderful weekend.  I'll give a brief synopsis of the past week later today, but here are a bunch of pictures and VIDEOS for your viewing pleasure :)

05 February, 2010

Finally, pictures from Modena & Verona

Updates on the last few days are coming soon... but here are some pictures "borrowed" from Amy & Brittany of our weekend trip!

Modena & Verona

01 February, 2010

Verona & Modena

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 :)