Monday, February 23, 2009

Don't let the Palm trees fool you...

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Amalfi was not as warm in February as the palm trees in my pictures make it look, but it was a very enjoyable trip. Early Wednesday morning we left Orvieto for a 5.5 hour tour-bus drive down to Pompeii, where we encountered something very unexpected: snow. So, now I can proudly say that I have seen snow in Pompeii, a feat not accomplished by many tourists. Luckily the snow and rain did not stick around for too long, and during our short 2.5 hour visit we were able to enjoy the ruins some.
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The amphitheater in Pompeii. Not one of the most complicated, but one of the best preserved.

Our arrival in Amalfi was preceded by a lovely, winding and at some points terrifying drive on the coastal highway. It still blows my mind that our tour-bus was able to make some of those turns!
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I took this on the bus ride down, unfortuneately it was pretty much impossible to capture the total amazingness of the experience and the costal highway, but here is a glimpse.
That night we asked about a good place for seafood and enjoyed some amazing spaghetti with oysters and capers in it. It was very delicious.
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The next morning we awoke to the bright sun and slightly warmer temperatures and we set out to see Ravello on high recommendation from Marco.
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The view was amazing! The higher elevation did come with cooler temperatures and early in the day snow on the ground, but the day was beautiful. To get back to Amalfi, we dicided to take a stair-filled path down, which was very steep and very beautiful, but definitely had an impact on our legs the next day!
The next day we left Amalfi and headed to the History Museum in Naples to see some of the things in Pompeii that they thought people would steal from the ruins. Next we departed from the group heading back to Orvieto on the bus and headed to Sorrento where we stayed for 2 more nights in this awesome little bed and breakfast in an orange and lemon grove. We even had fresh-squeezed orange juice both mornings!

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The next day we took a ferry to Capri to see some of the sights that Marco told us about, Villa San Michele in Anicapri and the ruins of roman emperor Tibirius' Villa.
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Al and me on the way to Capri.
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Again, we were blessed with another beautiful day! The water around Capri was amazingly turquiose and I enjoyed it a lot!
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The awesome view from the ferry as we said goodbye to Capri.
Finally after another amazing breakfast from our place in Capri we headed back to Orvieto on our most interesting train ride yet. Apparently the car that we had seat reservations in did not exsist on that train, so we got to use some of our Italian skills to figure that out, moved around a lot and met a lot of people. Thankfully it was not a big deal in the end and we ended up being allowed to sit in first class for about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I really enjoy Florence! We spent two nights this weekend at a very nice hostel, Plus Florence. In the morning on Friday, we went to the Uffizi Gallery with our professor, Marco. Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed in any of the museums that we went to in Florence.

The Uffizi comprises of a lot of sculpture, which is what was originally in the hallways, and then the paintings were added later, as the original purpose of the now museum was for offices to do the “dirty work of government” as Marco put it. That is in fact what uffizi means in Italian, “offices.” The gallery now displays many important paintings including a large amount of byzantine art as well as one Michelangelo painting, which we fortunately got to see, but only by the hair of our chin due to a strike (I am getting used to the Italian’s affinity for these, not to say that I like the strikes though).
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A beautiful view from the Uffizi, apparently it is extremely difficult to get to this view during tourist season, so I felt really lucy to get such a beautiful shot!

After that we met up with a few of our fellow classmates that are studying in Castiglion Fiorentino because they were in Florence as well. In the afternoon, we decided to climb up the 463 (steep) steps to the top of the Brunelleschi’s revolutionary cupola. Keep in mind that there are no ADA requirements here, so most are without handrails and they only have them when you would absolutely need them! ( on a side-note: being in a place that often lacks the requirements for things that I have come to take for granted like handrails, the size of handrails, and the widths of doors and passage-ways, has made me appreciate some of the requirements that we do have in the states more).
Despite the long trek to get up to the top of the cupola and the 8.5 euro, it is worth it! We were blessed with amazing weather while we were on top, beautiful skies and nothing more than a light breeze!
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Here is a vista from on top of the dome… ah-mazing!
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And here I am standing with Allison.

The rest of the weekend we enjoyed beautiful (although colder than we have been used to) weather. Saturday included a visit to the Boboli Gardens, just outside of the Pitti Palace.
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Carrie made a friend at the gardens. This cat was very friendly to all the ladies of our group, but especially loved Carrie. It figures because she is allergic…

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Some of the ladies enjoying the Boboli gardens. Left to right, Wendy, Christie, Sam, and Al

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Quick Update

Lately, I have been keeping busy. Our first studio project is due on Monday, and while studio is not anywhere close to being as crazy as it is in manhattan, since we are staying in Florence all weekend, Sam and I are being wise with our time and trying to finish before we leave early tomorrow morning. Cooking class last Saturday was awesome, although I hope to never eat so much food in one day ever again. My favorite event so far, has been meeting with the Church here at the bottom of the mesa. I hope to write in more detail about this later, because I don't have the time to really explain the awesomeness of worshipping with other believers here! We met Pastore Massimo this past Sunday night, because he was not there the previous Sunday. They have been so gracious helping us find the songs in the hymnals and even gave us Bibles in Italian.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A few annotated pictures...

So, I have yet to really comment on my pictures, so I thought I would upload a few favs and explain them.
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This of course is of the Colleseum, and was taken on the second weekend that we went to Roma. The sky that day was amazing and I took a lot of pictures of it.
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This is Marco, our Italian history professor. He talks into the wisper unit microphone and we listen, even while we are walking to our next location. It makes travelling in a group of about 40 much easier and I am very grateful that we get to use them!
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Dinner! One of the highlights of every day. My roommates and I come up with things to cook that always taste delicious. (Right to left- Carrie, Al, Christie, Sam and Me!)
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Before we went to Rome for the second time, our professor Marco told us about Granita. The best place to have this is near the Pantheon, so of course we had to try some. So here we are waiting.

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This is granita. Frozen, shaved super-sweet espresso with panna (whipped cream). It was as amazing as Marco made it sound and definitely worth the 2.50.

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Piazza del Popolo, Roma at sunset. This is as we are heading to the train station at the end of the day. I definitely like Rome better the second time than the first.

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My absolute favorite picture that I have taken in Orvieto, as of yet. The light was perfect, as well as the clouds.
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Lately there has been a lot of fog around Orvieto, but It makes for awesome photos. I love that I get to see views like this practically everyday.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

10 Observations about the Italians (so far)

1. Italians love dogs. Maybe cats too, but definitely not as much as dogs.

2. Italians actually use their strollers (even in the rain). Americans may own these but I am convinced that they only utilize them 1/10th of the time (if that) that Italians do. They even have special covers so that they can use them in the rain!

3. Right now at least, Italians love purple! See, I was just ahead of the curve in America!

4. Most Italians smoke. It seems like when we are walking outside, if you don't get behind at least 1 or 2 people smoking, there is something wrong. (or you are out during an undesignated time, see #8.)

5. Italians love their espresso. As they should, because it is so amazing!

6. It is the Italian way to strike unexpectedly (at least to us). They did this on the day that we were going to walk through the roman forun in Roma, but it worked out in the end because we went a different way with Marco that we wouldn't have had time to see otherwise.

7. Italian shoes are as beautiful as their reputation makes them out to be, but they are also as expensive as their reputation is.

8. There are unwritten rules in Italian society about what time everyone should be outside in the streets. Everyone in the city seems to be out socializing during these times. Right now the children are often dress up in costumes throwing confetti and spraying silly string at each other for (we think) carnivale.

9. Italian dogs in general are much more well behaved than their American counterparts. I see Italians with their dogs unleashed and they behave perfectly following them, not getting too far away, and it blows my mind.

10. Italians seem to love excuses to dress up their dogs and children. I have seen the most hilarious costumes on and for sale for both of these groups. My favorite of the children's costumes to date has been a 3 musketeer costume which was exquisite.