My photo
I'm a 21-year-old journalism student. I spent last semester living in Florence, Italy. These are my adventures.

Monday, January 30, 2012

January 30

30 Jan. 2012  Planning planning planning
I spent the greater part of this evening on Skype with Amy, Bethany and Erika planning and booking our Spring Break trip. That was about as eventful as my day got. I'm still exhausted from our weekend of traveling, which I hope to post about tomorrow. Again, I apologize for the delay.
On the bright side, my flights to Greece are booked! Athens and Santorini here I come.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Colosseum - 30 Years Later

My mom took 20 pictures in Rome. I got a solid 14 of them.
Here are a few pictures of the Colosseum to tide you over until I edit the rest and write about this weekend.

Colosseum, Rome
Something's different...

Colosseum, Rome

Colosseum, Rome
Above from left to right:
 Rita, Barb and two friends they traveled with for a couple of days.
Below from left to right: Lydia, Amy and two girls standing where my mom took the picture who kindly helped us recreate the moment. Meet Maria and Jamie.

Colosseum, Rome

View from the Colosseum, Rome

View from the Colosseum, Rome
(Note the size of the tree to the left of the house on the skyline)

Photo of the Day

29 Jan. 2012  View from Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Rome    
This weekend flew by way too quickly. I already want to be back. While others went into the Roman Forum, I decided to climb one last flight of stairs. Once again, it was worth it. I only had a few minutes to enjoy the view before rushing back to the hotel to catch our bus then train back to Firenze. It was a tiring but wonderful weekend.

 28 Jan. 2012  Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti, Rome (The Spanish Steps)  
Amy and I were champs on Saturday. We were on our feet seeing the city from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. That's nine hours of walking. The only break we gave our feet was when we waited for our food, which we ate while walking (like true Americans). We ended our city-wide tour at the bottom of these steps. I asked Amy if she wanted to climb. She hesitated, but we decided that since our feet had already gone numb well before then, we might as well do it right. Suffice to say, it was worth it.

27 Jan. 2012  The Colosseum, Rome
This was our first day in Rome. I didn't have huge expectations when I came to the city. Not that I didn't think it would be incredible; I was just prepared for a cliche tourist experience. Boy did I underestimate this place. It was unbelievable. The first thing we saw was the Colosseum. I stood on the top level completely awestruck and continued to mutter "We're in the Colosseum" as Amy and I walked around. I probably looked crazy — nothing new there.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Never again will I eat pasta sauce from a jar

Yesterday afternoon, Caitlin and I recreated one of Tuesday night's cooking lessons: sugo all'aglione, or fresh tomato and garlic sauce.
Even with the subpar tomatoes I bought at Metá, it was delicious. Plus it's incredibly easy.

Heat olive oil with a couple of slices of garlic. If you're feeling snazzy, sautee some onions as well.
Blanch some tomatoes (fancy food talk for boil them for 30 seconds).
Peel the skin and slice them. Add tomatoes to the olive oil and let it all simmer for a while.

Remove pieces of garlic before serving. Pour sauce over whatever 75 cent noodles you have laying around.

Photo of the Day

26 Jan. 2012  Piazza della Signoria
After finishing classes for the week at noon, Jess and I found Billa (a supermarket and pretty much my personal Mecca). I made lunch, did some yoga, showered and before I knew it, it was 3:30 p.m. I couldn't believe I was letting a beautiful afternoon slip by me, so I grabbed my European Issues reading and settled onto steps at the Piazza della Signoria. I wasn't the only one who had that idea.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Photo of the Day

Just a heads up:
I'm changing the organization of my blog a little bit. From now on, all posts for my extra projects (Photo a Day, 30 Years Later, La Cucina, etc.) will show up in the main home feed. The pages will still be there and will separate all of the categories by their labels.
Unfortunately the change requires me to repost and label what is currently on those pages. So I apologize for the heap of posts today — especially to my email subscribers.
But after today, it will be back to normal. It's just an easier way for me to update and keep track of when I do so.

Back to our regular scheduled content, photo of the day!

25 Jan. 2012  Duomo
This is the Cathedral in the center of town. I can't believe I haven't featured it on here yet. Every inch of this building is an impressive piece of art. I took this during our tour with the Genius of Florence class — hands down my favorite course.

Open-faced pomodoro and baby mozzarella sandwiches

(idea courtesy of Bethany)

Need: Pesto, baby mozzarella, tomatos,
bread of some sort, olive oil
and whatever various italian spices you have.

Slice bread, cheese and tomatoes.
Pour olive oil onto a plate and add spices.
In this case, garlic and basil.

Spread pesto on bread; add tomato
and cheese. Dip slice in
olive oil mixture for cooking.

Heat. If you weren't blessed with a toaster
oven like others, put them in a frying pan
and avoid burning fingers.

And enjoy!
Easy but delicious — especially with ingredients as fresh as I have here.

After graduating college, my mom and her friend Barb backpacked through Europe in 1982.
I decided to make it my mission to retake these pictures while studying abroad. So over Christmas break, I began transferring her 35mm slides to digital files one by one.
As a bonus, she gave me her journal from the trip. Once I get a chance to read it in its entirety, I will add excerpts (with your permission, mom) and explain what I was doing as well.
Until then, I will post pictures. Enjoy my view, exactly 30 years later.

Note: Although I will do my best, I refuse to stress over the exact angle and right lighting of these pictures. I don't have the time or the patience, and quite frankly, I hope to leave such compulsive behavior behind me.
Please enjoy the closest I can find to my mother's view.

The Rape of the Sabine Women, Firenze

Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa

Duomo, Pisa

Torre di Pisa

Fountain of Neptune, Firenze

Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze

Duomo, Firenze

Photo A Day

My goal is to shoot as many photos as I can on manual settings during this trip. The ones I choose for this project will be shot manually, and the only photoshop tool to touch them will be crop — if that.

24 Jan. 2012  Viale Abramo Lincoln
In Intercultural Communication this morning, Fabio told us about il Parco delle Cascine, a pretty park on the other side of town. So during my break I decided to find it for myself. After a 40 minute walk, I found grass — a rarity downtown Firenze. I settled into a bench behind the closed carnival rides and read my Kindle for a while. I wasn't that impressed with where I was sitting. It was grass, but nothing that great. Now that I'm googling Cascine more, it turns out I needed to go a block farther to get to the actual park. Next time.

23 Jan. 2012  La Biblioteca
I was bad at this today. I didn't take out my Nikon at all, so no manual settings. But I did take a quick snapshot on my point and shoot while I was reading in the library with Bethany and Amy between classes. It'll do for today.

22 Jan. 2012  View from Piazza Michelangelo
Today was absolutely gorgeous. I hiked up to Piazza Michelangelo with Yelena, Amy, Bethany and their neighbor and his friend. We sat on the stairs, relaxed, listend to live music and watched a puppy excitedly run around. I want this every day.

21 Jan. 2012  Pisa, Italy
We took our first trip outside of Firenze! We all, myself included, got the classic Tower of Pisa picture holding it up, pushing it down, leaning against it or supporting it with our feet. Only in Pisa would this site be explainable.

20 Jan. 2012  Gelateria dei Neri
After a successful shopping trip, Caitlin and I treated ourselves to gelato, proud that our purchases were overwhelmingly gifts. Then I drooled over their sweets display and plotted what to get next time... if I can tear myself from the gelato. I'm glad this is my biggest stressor at the moment. I can handle that.

19 Jan. 2012  Palazzo Vecchio, overlooking Piazza della Signoria
I went on another scavenger hunt to retake my mom's slides. I would have kept walking around, but it was so cold (for Florence, at least) and just a crummy day. It was still nice to walk around on my own for a while after class. Even rain in Firenze couldn't keep me inside all day.

18 Jan. 2012  Apartments facing the Basilica of Santa Croce
After hunting down another one of the subjects of my mother's photos, I sat in the Basilica of Santa Croce reading and watching the people pass. It was perfect. Well almost — I was a little envious of the terrace in the sun.

17 Jan. 2012  
In between classes, Kate came with me as I tried to retake one of my mother's photos inside Santa Croce.  Unfortunately at €5 to get inside, half an hour before class wasn't the time to explore it. Instead I took this on the way back. I think I'll go inside this weekend.

16 Jan. 2012  La Cena
It was the first day of class. I need to start bringing my camera with me I suppose. I didn't bring it out until dinner time when I mixed my own salad dressing (lessons from Bethany) and had a salad and fresh bread. I had planned to try my first new recipe tonight, but didn't have the energy or funds to do so. Sometime this week.

15 Jan. 2012
Amy and I walked to the 99 cent store this evening to get notebooks for class tomorrow. This guy set the soundtrack to our walk. As promised, this isn't edited. I should have adjusted my settings, but after he saw me taking pictures I bolted.

14 Jan. 2012  Via Dell'Anguillara
The weather was perfect today, making an already gorgeous city look even more beautiful. I took this on our way back from orientation before making lunch. La bella citta

13 Jan. 2012  Santa Croce view from my window
This was a long day of orientation and forgetting my camera. So unfortunately all that I have is another photo of Santa Croce. Still incredible.

12 Jan. 2012  Ponte Santa Trinita
After orientation, Caitlin and I got lunch and went shopping. Before we knew it, we were on the other side of town at a bridge our maps didn't reach. We walked back along the whole river. The view was well worth my exhaustion.

11 Jan. 2012  Ponte Vecchio
 Jess, Caitlin and I walked Kate to a friend's apartment and took "short walk" to the Duomo and back. We ended up walking about 2 miles before climbing the stairs and collapsing in our apartment.

10 Jan. 2012  Florence skyline
Caitlin and I were rewarded with this gorgeous view after a trek up several hills. 

 9 Jan. 2012  Basilica of Santa Croce
I just hurriedly took a handful of photos on day one. I wish this wasn't blurry. 

Diversity Diary #1

Something professors here are big on: journals. I have to keep a journal for two of my five classes.
For Intercultural Communication, we are to write a "diversity diary" reflecting on the different customs here and any culture shock we may experience.

So here we go.

Most things, I can get used to.

  • No heat? My body already seems to be adjusting. The apartment feels less frigid every day.
  • No dryer? Sure my shirts are stiff and towels are literally crunchy after air drying them, but they soften up after a bit of use. My towel not so much, but its roughness will become an exfoliant.
  • Only one electrical appliance at a time? OK so just use the washer at night, stove during the day and check the two before I turn on a hairdryer, which I usually don't anyway.
  • Short showers? Well that's already been taken care of. I've been showering in 5 minutes for the past two years since I am eternally late to something.
  • No car? I like walking, and my tennis shoes are incredibly comfortable.
  • Coins for everything under €5? No problem. I'm just pleasantly surprised by how far a little change in my pocket goes.
But what I can't get used to yet is the sidewalk etiquette.
For one, I like to smile at people. Back home when I walk down the street, I always try to smile or at least acknowledge the presence of people around me. If I'm at a park, I'll even say hi to passersby. But here that doesn't work. Not only does it immediately peg me as a foreigner, but it also gives the wrong impression. Apparently even a split second of eye contact with a man will tell them I'm open for business. Not exactly what I'm looking for. So step one: avert eyes from everyone passing.
That makes the second step particularly difficult. Step two: watch out. People don't step aside to let you pass until you've forcibly repeated "permesso" several times. But most of the time, you have three options: walk ahead like you own the sidewalk, flatten yourself against a wall or step around them and onto the street. I usually choose the final one, which hurls a whole new set of problems at me.
The streets are narrow and the cars are tiny, undetectable and fast. I had hoped my insane taxi ride from the airport to my apartment on day one was just a poor example of Italian driving. He sped around cars on roads I would consider one lane, one way. We merged with equally crazy cars missing bumpers by inches. It turns out he may have been mild. Essentially Italians seem to drive as if they think they have snow plows attached to the front of their tiny cars for all those darn pedestrians. The other day a moped brushed against me as it turned.
So let's throw another contradictory precaution in the mix. Step three: keep an eye on the cobblestone. I think you have to walk on these sidewalks for years to be able to gracefully maneuver this city. I saw a girl who was probably around 8 years old walking across cobblestone in rather high wedges as if the place was a runway. I envy her. Being as naturally uncoordinated as I am, even in tennis shoes I'm constantly twisting my foot on the uneven paths.
Once you master steps one-three, try to get a handle on the last one.
Step four: read the street signs. In the end, it won't matter how well you can pass people, avoid cars and hopscotch over the sunken cobblestones. Who cares how gracefully you can walk along the sidewalk if you don't know where you are?

I may look calm as I walk down the street, but look closer. My eyes are darting every which way and all of my rules are running through my head. Don't look at people, watch for traffic, mind the cobblestone, keep track of street signs.
Oh, and make sure your bag is in front of you. Getting pickpocketed didn't quite make my list of things I must do before leaving Florence.

I'm mastering the sidewalks though, and if this is one of the bigger adjustments I've had to make, I'd say I'm doing pretty well.

Please enjoy this video Nicoletta showed us during class.
It's hilarious, and the driving part is all too accurate.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Parks, Arts and Cooking

It's been a long but fulfilling day.
I had class from 9 a.m. - noon. During Intercultural Communication, Fabio mentioned il Parco delle Cascine — a park on the other side of town. In the mood for a walk and to see some greenery, I scarfed down a quick lunch and used the rest of my three and a half hour break to find this park. A 40-minute walk took me to a small green area with paths and benches. It was quiet and peaceful. I stayed for about an hour writing in my journal and reading my Kindle.

Upon later research on google, I discovered this wasn't the park Fabio was talking about. Had I gone about a block farther, I would have been there. I was just so excited for grass and a bench I didn't even think to go on. I'll head over there sometime next week. It was still a nice area.
Eventually, I gathered my stuff and headed back into town. I had worked up quite an appetite but didn't want to eat a lot before class and then dinner. I happened across an organic gelateria Nicoletta had shown us before, and I quieted the growl in my stomach with cioccolato and crema de grom gelato.
I climbed the two flights of stairs to my "first floor" classroom only to descend them soon after to go on a site visit with my practicum class. Our assignment for the semester is to shoot and edit one video documentary about Florentine artisans. We can choose between gold, mosaic and fashion. But before we have to pick, we are going to spend time visiting one of each of the workshops. Today was mosaic.
It wasn't until we began walking that I realized just how tired I was, and I still had a while before I'd be home sitting in my room.
We walked about 10 minutes to I Mosaici di Lastrucci. Our professor Christina had to translate everything for the workshop's owner, who has been working there for 60 years — since he was 8 years old.

His work was absolutely incredible. He explained that every color in this piece is a different stone from a different, specific place. He pointed out pieces from different places of Italy and even France.

There were shelves upon shelves of different colored rock. I watched as one of the artists stood in front of the wall examining each piece to get the right natural shade and color. The precision and time it would take to create their work is incredible. Some projects can take years. It's sad how much art like this has been lost over the years. This is one of four remaining mosaic workshops in Florence.

There were rooms lined with incredibly detailed masterpieces. They would have been impressive even if they were just paintings. But these are rocks, carefully cut, smoothed, shaped and glued.
In the entire time of our visit, one of the artists created a piece for his project less than 1 cm in diamater. I'm still in awe thinking about it.
I was hoping to have something for myself. Unfortunately, that was quickly ruled out when a pendant smaller than a dime with one simple flower was €120. But that didn't make their work any less magnificent to look at. 

I'm excited to do the other site visits. Right now I'd like to choose this as the subject for my video, but I'll see what the upcoming classes bring.

I got home around 6 p.m. and relaxed for an hour before heading to a cooking class at in Tavola. It was free! (Or really we had already paid for it with our program fees.)
With the help of some Italian chefs, we made a three-course meal:

  • Millefoglie di verdure
    • Eggplant stuffed with potato and zucchini
  • Pasta fresca all'uovo con sugo all'aglione
    • Handmade noodles and fresh tomato sauce
  • Tiramisu

We turned this:

Photo by Jess

Into this:

Photo by Jess

AND they gave us the recipe. I will be making this again. Very soon. molto delizioso

Photo by Jess