Cortona, near bus stop, Dec 9.
Roman Forum, Dec 14.
December 31, 2008
December 30, 2008
This is a short clip of our walk to the top of Cortona.
You can go to these websites even if you do not have a facebook account. Enjoy!!
December 20, 2008 After welcoming me home and looking at all the pictures from the trip, my family instantly asks me about Rome. I tell them about Rome but I also let them know that one of the most memorable days of our trip was in Cortona, when a group of us walked around rural Cortona for hours. We were able to see the beautiful scenery, see monks, look at a castle, take some great pictures, and even saw some chickens. This trip to Cortona showed me that Italy did not consist entirely of the big-city life seen in Rome and Florence. Cortona consisted of a smaller population than all the students in my high school and had only one main strip of great shopping and dining. [The Ostello del Teatro got high marks from our diverse group of palettes - interior/dinner photos coming. - editors] The people were very approachable and it was very different than what I thought of when thinking of Italy. I'm really glad we got to stay there!!
December 19, 2008
I find myself re-hashing random events/facts about Italy at the most random moments. For instance, I went to the restroom in the airport and didn't have to think about getting out and change to pay for it! I drove for the first time in weeks and couldn't help but remember the chaos that is driving in Italy...but they make it work! My family ate pizza for dinner and I reminded them that the pizza here is not near as fresh as the pizza in Italy. While at a crosswalk, I yelled "green man" and my family looked at me like I was crazy. I had to explain to them that in order to get 16 people across a street, everyone we had to walk as soon as we got the go-ahead. I will remember these quirky parts of our experience just as much as I will remember the amazing historical sites.
I can't wait to share our stories with family and friends in years to come!
December 18, 2008
Clearly, this place had a profound effect on me. For the brief time we were there, I was able to return to my childhood, forget how old I was, and be thankful for all of the blessings in my life. I will remember this experience for the rest of my life.
December 17, 2008
I've always heard that appreciation of artwork masterpieces depends on who is looking at them, or the audience and what the audience considers to be "good." While in Italy, specifically Rome, I began to take many pictures of not only artwork but also various fashion outfits, monumental historical sites, and just random objects while
walking down the street. The picture taking, I hope, will help me in subsequent assignments since they represent various aspects of Rome and the Roman culture.
It was very interesting to me to see how different perspectives changed just within areas of Italy, and that's not to mention the contrast with my American upbringing. While looking at sculptures and hearing about the myths and stories connected to them, I heard of their origins: completely new ideas and stories for me. Were they passed down from generations? Are they still related to the faith or beliefs of modern Italians? Some legends are so different from what I have been taught to believe; I can totally appreciate the work and time put into the artwork and all these things connect to the history of Rome, but I can't say I am familiar with the stories -- they are challenging to consider, and I certainly have new things to wonder about.
Obviously I cannot talk about all of them, so I will discuss only the Colosseum and the Forum. Everyone has seen the Colosseum in movie and in television, but nothing could have prepared us for seeing it in real life. It is much larger than I thought it would be. Imagining it filled with 80,000 people watching mock sea battles and animal fights is difficult, but I think knowing the history of the Colosseum helped me appreciate it more.
The Roman Forum was a very important part of ancient Rome, but I had heard little about it before the trip. It was the center of life for Roman people, as it was a center for religion and the economy. Included in the Forum are the Temple of Vesta (where the famous Vestal Virgins kept the sacred flame burning) and the house of Augustus. The scenery of the forum was beautiful, and we couldn't have asked for a more perfect day to visit it. It was a interesting site to end our trip with.
Well, I can truly say whoever invented gelato is my hero. I believe that is the main thing I miss about Italy. The second thing on my list is Susan’s comedic performances. Go in to stand-up comedy! When you do, please remember all of the poor college students who encouraged you.
I have so many thoughts about the trip it’s hard to condense them. Each city we visited had something special about them. This is what made them unique in their own way. However, Cortona and Assisi were my favorite places we visited. During the free day in Cortona “the group of 7” went on an adventure. We were going to climb to the top of the hill. Once we got to the top the view went on forever. I was really surprised that you could see the lake that was near by. Being able to explore the fort in Assisi was the same. The views were breathtaking. Both days made me feel like a child on some magical adventure.
When we were in Rome we went to Vatican City. Being able to watch the Christmas tree being lit was a once in a life time experience. The Vatican museum was my favorite as well. I would have never guessed that they could have accumulated such a variety of items. Sometimes I forget they have been around for a long time. I was impressed with how well preserved the Egyptian mummies were.
If it had not been for Amanda I might not have gone on the trip. So thanks Amanda for telling me about it. I’m very glad that I had the opportunity to. I had an amazing time. I’m thankful for meeting a wonderful group of people.
On the last day, we visited the pyramid, the fort, and the cemetery where the poet Keats was buried. In the cemetery, there were a lot of cats. It looked like they were protecting the graves. It was very cute, and I enjoyed being able to see and pet the animals. One of the cats walked ahead of us like he was giving us a tour. We then took the metro to the forum. I didn't really know what to expect, so I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived there. It was neat how Susan would tell us what each "pile of rocks" was and we would use our imagination to "piece the puzzle" back together. Who knew that ruins could be so beautiful? There were also many opportunities to get some great pictures of the Coliseum and the city.
This was also the day that Kenisha dropped her gelato on the ground. Since this was a sad moment, we decided to take a picture and all of a sudden a guy came over and began taking pictures as well. Turns out he was a tourist from Australia, and he and his friends (one that was from California) talked to us about their adventures. It was fun to be able to share our experiences with people that were experiencing the same place as us for the first time, too.
Rome is a wonderful place and I would definitely like to go back and visit it again.
When we arrived at the train station, we saw that the train that was to take us to the airport was present and loading passengers. The train had obviously been there awhile, but we decided we would try and make the train anyway. Jane and I were the first ones on the train when all of a sudden the bell rang and the doors slammed shut. We had the tickets so we couldn't leave without the rest of the group so Jane grabbed my luggage and pulled the door open to get out. I ran back and grabbed her luggage, but by the time it was my turn to get off the train, it started moving! I had to jump even though I debated on jumping or paying the fine for not having the ticket. If it wasn't for James and Harvey being there I probably would have just stayed on the train. It was also a good thing that I had Jane's luggage, because if I would have had mine there is no way it would have been as graceful of a landing as it was. It was very scary but it definitely was an experience that I wouldn't want to take back. It is something that I will always remember, but now I can't say that I have never broken the law. LOL!
We then had another adventure when we found out that our plane to Atlanta was delayed two hours. This caused us to miss our connection to Dayton from Atlanta, but luckily Delta was able to work things out and get us booked for the next available flight. Jane and I decided that it wasn't a good day for the sign pisces to travel because that was the sign for both of us.
Even though coming home was hectic, it made the feeling of arriving home even better once we were finally there and able to share all of our wonderful experiences we had in Rome with our friends and family. Even though we ran into a few bumps, it made our trip unique in its own way, and we can cherish those moments for all they are worth.
I have greatly enjoyed getting to know everyone on the trip, and I was glad to be able to share this experience with each and every one of them. The memories we have made together will be with us for the rest of our lives.
December 16, 2008
In our last couple of days, we were able to see the Vatican. Where do I start? The museum was an interesting collection of various artifacts and artwork. Everything from an Egyptian mummy to modern artwork and the infamous Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel alone was a sight to see. It was a long way through the museum to get to the chapel, but it was worth it. The detail in the work and religious messages, such as Adam and Eve being cast away from the garden of Eden, made it beautiful and interesting to see. I cannot imagine how difficult it was for Michelangelo to lay on his back so high up and paint the ceiling.
The Roman Forum was also a site to see on our last day. It finally stopped raining, and the sky was blue for the first day in some time. The ruins of the basilica were big for only a portion of the building and quite a site to see. The pillars of old buildings were huge. The garden on the hill was beautiful and had an amazing view of the city. The view included the old ruins and the new, modern city. It is also interesting that the old Roman aqueducts still supply the city with water. With all the people sightseeing and the modern buildings surrounding the Forum, I cannot imagine the area in Ancient Rome.
It is good to be home, but there are definitely things I will miss. First of all, I love gelato! I do not know what exactly they do differently to gelato to make it different from ice cream, but it is delicious and much better. Chocolate, caramel, vanilla, strawberry, fruiti di bosco, raspberry, and banana were all great. I will also miss the picturesque landscape of Cortona and Assisi. I will miss the interesting city of Florence with its outer landscape, many interesting museums, and beautiful Cathedrals. Last but not least, I will miss the fascinating ruins of Ancient Rome mixed into the busy streets of Modern Rome.
I was going through my pictures with all of my family, and I realized that it was such an overwhelming feeling of happiness that while I was showing them the pictures I could explain in great detail what everything was, from the various cathedrals we visited to the Forum, and so on. I was able to understand those sites fully enough to explain them to my family: something that I would never be able to do without this experience. I am so thrilled that I now have that knowledge settled in my brain and in my memory. I hope I will never lose one minute I spent in Italy.
Even though I have mixed feelings about being home, both happy and sad, I know that this once in a lifetime experience means the world to me. Thanks to everyone I shared it with and those who aided in my knowledge of the wonderful places we saw. Thank you all so much for the experience.
Ciao, all! I hope everyone made it home safely yesterday! For my second blog, I thought I'd write about our favorite Italian dessert--gelato, of course. Though we did not keep our promise to eat gelato everyday, each of us consumed a fair share of the frozen treat in a variety of flavors (my favorite was the nutella, but that's just me...).
On the trip, I had heard many people ask what the difference between American ice cream and gelato is. I was curious myself, so I searched on the web. Like ice cream, gelato's basic ingredients are milk, sugar, and flavoring, but it is much denser. Many had remarked that gelato is much smoother than ice cream, and the decreased amount of air and increased amount of milk could be the reason. The milk itself is also different--it contains less butterfat (3-4%) and is not homogenized. This makes the gelato's temperature decrease quicker, which is why ours melted even in the colder weather. Some of our favorite flavors-- Frutti di Bosco, Stracciatella--are traditional. Gelato made with water instead of milk is called sorbet. France and Argentina have desserts similar to gelato.
Since it has to be made daily, gelato really isn't available in the U.S.; however, I do know of one place that occasionally has real gelato. I will have to go there and give you guys a full review!
Here are some interesting websites:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gelato for more information
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Gelato/Detail.aspx for a recipe
December 14, 2008
Fellini, in declaring his love for Rome, dubbed it a “great whore of cities.” Naturally, I expected I'd find Rome exactly as captivating as Fellini did, and that I would see the strangely magical elements of the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain as Fellini did.
Some of that lusty, big city charm hit me instantly. When we first arrived in Rome, as we were on the train to Florence, I noticed a giant black fist on top of a nearby building, and I assumed it was some sort of fine art in a style reminiscent of Claes Oldenburg. As the train rolled away, I saw the fist from another angle. It is not a fist, but an advertisement for Samsung. The hand is holding a cell phone.
Of course, one can't hope to get a truly accurate impression of a city in just a few days. We didn't have time to become intimate with the city (to extend Fellini's metaphor), but as many female classmates complained, Rome is extremely phallocentric. For example, the toilets seldom have toilet seats. Beyond this, I got a sense of an anti-feminist vibe from Rome. In the windows of the lingerie shops, the mannequin legs rest with their thighs on the ground and their feet pointing in the air. For my taste, this is a harmless gag on our convention of severed legs parading through the display case. It is curious that even the legend of the founding of Rome substitutes a she-wolf for a regular human mother.
Although I was content in Rome, I found myself missing Florence. Florence is a city built around its history of art. Rome is a city built around its history of domination and control. There are remnants of Ancient Rome, the Papacy, and the Fascist period all over Rome. Even the Cinecittà (which has its own metro stop, to my surprise) doesn't break this pattern: it was built by Mussolini.
I felt the desire for control all over Rome. The Vatican is indeed beautiful, but The Pietà is behind glass to protect it from would-be attackers. Sadly, this protection is prohibitive to a meaningful appreciation of Michelangelo's masterpiece because the viewers cannot see it in its full three-dimensional sense. The barrier makes a stronger statement than the sculpture: Rome is a city that showcases its madmen, and Florence is a city that showcases its artists!
December 13, 2008
Vatican City certainly was a sight to see. Even though I am not Catholic, it was still easy to appreciate everything it has to offer. The architecture of St.Peter's was incredible. The Vatican Museum held so many different artifacts that each had their own significance. I am greatful for the opportunity to be able to see Vatican City, something I have always wanted to do and will never forget!
I feel so very lucky getting to experience this rare opportunity that my parents and my parents' parents haven't gotten the chance to see. My I could feel my parents with me while we were touring through the Vatican, and I know that they are proud I was able to experience it. I am glad we are ending our trip on a good note such as this one. I'm sure there will be more spectacular reflections later. Till then....ciao.
I am not Catholic, but the sites we saw today were some of the most intricate, beautiful places that I've ever seen. You definitely don't have to be Catholic to appreciate these wonderful places. I can't imagine what it must have been like to contribute to the design of one of these buildings. Michelangelo is officially a genius. I can't even read while lying on my back, so I can't fathom what it must have been like to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel lying down that high in the air. That last brush stroke must have been a bittersweet moment for him - four years of work, complete at last. This trip has really helped me appreciate the hard work and architectural craftsmanship that people had thousands of years ago.
Tomorrow is our last day to explore Rome! AHHH!!! What an experience this has been. I can't wait to tell my family and friends about all of the things we've done and seen these last two weeks. Simply amazing...
December 12, 2008
Rome is pretty cool, too! It has been raining nearly everyday, but that does not bother me too much. I love the old ruins mixed in with the big city. The Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and other monuments were beautiful and amazing. I definitely enjoy cities, but I realize I do not want to live in one. Cities are great to visit, especially Rome.
One thing I realize in Italy is the apparent fascination with male nudity. Male parts are in many sculptures, paintings, and post cards. Odd souvenirs.
An interesting area of Italy is the grocery store. There are many cheeses: some very good! The sandwiches and other foods seem fresher than foods in the U.S.
December 11, 2008
This is my first experience with blogging. This is actually my first experience with a lot of things. I am in Rome. La Città eterna! The eternal city. This past week has been completely chock-full of new experiences that have gotten me completely out of my comfort zone. I could go on for days about where we have been and what we have seen, but I think for now I'm just going to concentrate on one important aspect of being in Rome. This aspect is the lack of historical significance I feel as a person while being in this eternal city.
My life in America has been a bit on the dull side. I haven't seen a whole lot or experienced a lot. I've been in the same region for over 12 years. Coming to such a big city is completely daunting in itself, but coming to the most historically significant place in the world gives me more of a feeling that I have no historical background or no sense of how much there is to still discover about this world I inhabit.
In the past nine days, I feel as though I have seen so much. I have seen Michelangelo's David, the Colosseum , the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps... I could go on forever. In all of these experiences, our guide Susan could go on and on about all of the history about each place.
The one place I have felt a certain insignificance to myself is when we went to the Colosseum. This is a place I only have imagined in my head as a place of battle and historic entertainment, so when I saw it my reaction of feeling so small and so insignificant was very much expected. Being in a place that is so large and is 2,000 years old is a daunting concept to grasp. Being in a place that held the bodies of the most respected Roman Gods and Kings and looking at my insignificant self and my lack of experience and history is why I feel so out of place, but also so grateful that I could notice this, and make the decision to experience more and to not stop here in Rome, to open my brain for places all around the world so I can soak up all of the history and knowledge I can.
Till next time... Ciao.
One of my favorite things so far was when we all came out of the Metro station at the Colosseum and saw the huge structure for the first time. It was so pretty in that area with the Ancient Rome and the Modern Rome all mixing together. It is definitely something that I will always remember for the rest of my life.
I want to take a minute to discuss a couple of key things that I have observed in the differences between my day to day life in America and how I see life here. To me, it is interesting to see how the people dress here. Everyone that I have seen is so well dressed compared to the constant sweat pants that people wear in America. Also, the timing of the stores being opened is so different here. It makes it really hard for us to find a restaurant at 6pm when we are all hungry. Italians don't usually eat till 8pm or so!
Although things are MUCH different here, I love it! I am so happy that I have had this opportunity and am so thankful for it. I am looking forward to the last few days here as I know they will be just as exciting as the first ten! CIAO!
Rather than writing about the places we've seen so far, which have been breath-taking, I'm going to write about something small that happened but struck a chord in my brain... if that makes any sense.
Our chef/waitress at the hostel in Cortona was a hoot. While eating dinner at the hostel, she found out we were from the U.S. and yelled "OBAMA" with a big smile. She then said "Bush" in a hushed tone, made a noise, and pointed two thumbs down. She didn't hold anything back, and it definitely caught me off guard. While some of our group hooted and hollered, I sat there and realized just how much some Italians know about our government. I've learned that many Italians know more about our government system and leaders than I do. I don't know much about the current Italian government system. This is a shame, and I hope to research the subject when I get home.
Unfortunately, in our current schooling system, we don't learn about other countries' current situations. We mostly learn about other countries from the perspective of how they affected the United States. It would be very beneficial for students to learn more about the current governmental situations in foreign countries, as well as their history.
I'm looking forward to our last few days in Rome! When I get home, I definitely plan on doing more research to learn more about this country that I've called "home" for a week and a half!
December 7, 2008
Today we arrived in the small hill town of Cortona. Thanks to the vibrant, warm colors the buildings pop from the steep hill they rest upon. After walking around and exploring the town, our group of sixteen decided to eat at the Osteria dell Teatro. They were immediately accomodating. The osteria is decorated with small, framed photos from the nearby theatre. There is a palpable sense of hometown pride in their actors. Indeed, the restaurant feels like the world's best green room.
I had the best meal of my entire life: a vast array of antipaste; wild boar (cinghiale) stewed in red wine with a pear and porcini mushrooms; bold, Umbrian house wine; pistachio gelato; and espresso.
December 6, 2008
When we arrived in Siena, I could tell it was built during the medieval time period by the architectural differences. It was such a different atmosphere than Florence, and I really liked it as well. It reminded me of a medieval "The Greene": city like but family and people friendly. You would not get hit by a bus while on the sidewalk like in Florence and Rome. The piazza we went to was circular with 11 entrances, and I thought of various tribes coming in for battle like in old movies. The outskirts of the circle were all restaurants, and in the summer there are famous horse races. To be able to watch the races from a balcony, people have to book their seats six months in advance.
It has also been interesting watching the Italian people and seeing how they act and especially the way they dress. They dress as though they are all movie stars. The people are also a lot more laid back here. I really like their pace of life, but sometimes I wish we could have our speed of living here (especially when we are waiting for checks). :)
We are leaving for Cortona tomorrow. I am ready to explore a new city, but I will definitely miss Florence. It has been a wonderful city to start my world travel in, and I am glad that we have had a nice place to stay at the convent.
Outside the city, it looks beautiful. I have to say I definitely enjoyed the smaller town of Siena more than the busy city of Florence. Great cheese, wine, and pastas. I can only get more excited to see Cortona and Rome! Good times!
I love the scenery of the surrounding countryside. It is so beautiful! The colors, the hills, the way the buildings are positioned is just so inspiring.
From the outside, Siena's Duomo is unimpressive relative to the Duomo in Florence. It's not that the Siena Duomo is ugly, but how could it compete? The builders realized this, so they designed the interior to make the building appear much larger inside than it does outside. The walls and most columns are painted with black and
white horizontal stripes. It's not simply a cheap visual trick because the design is awe-inspiring on its own, and the illusion of depth is a bonus. The black and white horizontal stripes vanish into the horizon behind the statues in the alcoves. From the ground, I had tremendous difficulty making sense of the space I inhabited. It
was like living in an M.C. Escher sketch.
December 5, 2008
Even though there is heavy tourism in Florence, the Florentine sensibility is substantially different than in other cities. The stereotypical New Yorker attitude is that tourists impede the day-to-day lives of the residents, and there's an antipathy for tourists that goes along with that. In Florence, the Italians will often stop for a moment and admire what their city has to offer. A Florentine woman smoking a cigarette stopped to gaze at the Duomo. The expression on her face wasn't awe like it was for us who were visiting, rather it was a calm smile of recognition.
Oggi it rained the entire trip, but tomorrow we leave for Siena and then doppodomani (day after tomorrow) we leave for Cortona, which is also supposed to be sunny. I will try to keep this updated, but with the time change and the differences it is not the easiest to do. Not to mention I cannot spell in English in the first place, and now I have to switch between italiano e inglese and the keyboard here is really weird as far as positions.
December 3, 2008
My initial concerns with traveling to Europe amounted to little more than pointless fretting: who will deposit my rent on Friday (not sooner)? Who will clean up any mice that may wander into the numerous traps I set the night before the plane flight over the Atlantic? I spent most of my time the night before departure making sure I adjusted the thermostat for two weeks in Italy, signed the checks I was leaving behind, and emptied out my mailbox (perhaps anticipating an accumulation of Christmas cards). On the plane, I was able to relax. It occurred to me that I am probably among a minority of travelers who is far more worried about my life in the United States than my visit to Italy.
This is an important distinction because this aspect of my personality makes it possible for me to immerse myself in the culture. The language would likely be difficult because the little Italian I can speak is derived entirely from my Marcello Mastroianni impression, but I would gladly risk a little embarrassment to show the Italians that I am making an effort to cooperate. After all, I figured that the culture that spawned some of the world's finest visual artists (Georgio de Chirico and Michelangelo Antonioni) would be hospitable to me, too.
December 1, 2008 Almost time! I am excited! I hope I can sleep on the plane. It is going to be a looong flight. I am bringing a book of sudoku.
November 30, 2008 We're packing and nearly ready to go. Can't believe the trip we've dreamed about for years is almost upon us! Thanks to Jane and Susan for their hard work and organizational abilities.
Ciao for now!
Deborah & Harvey
November 27, 2008 I can't believe it is almost December 2 already. I am so excited. There are so many things to look forward to! I am especially looking forward to getting to know all of my classmates better!
November 26, 2008
the gigantic egg laid there by Brunelleschi
jerks a tear from an eye experienced in the blessed
domes . . ."
Joseph Brodsky, "December in Florence," from A PART OF SPEECH