Thursday, January 26, 2012

Last week of Gennaio

Since our Italian final is tomorrow I am tired from cramming, reviewing, studying, etc… so on and so forth. I do not have the will or the time, or, to be honest, the mental capacity to write something witty and thought out. Then again I’m not particularly witty when I am at full capacity. Anywho… 
Here’s a breakdown of Monday and the subsequent days of this week:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

M.I.A., definitely dropping the ball

Since I haven’t blogged much this week, I’ll give you the rundown of the happenings.
Wednesday was not a particularly exciting day, although we did go to the Museo dell’Archeologia which was pretty cool. There were a lot of Etruscan artifacts from forever ago, and some amazing sculpture. IT was definitely a worth it visit and I would recommend it to everyone!
After the museum we hit up a couple stores and Christina got a pair of REALLY cute boots. After that I made my way home and had a pretty early night because Thursday would be a long day.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

An exciting weekend!

Friday was a big day of nothing, I went to the market for lunch with my friend Christina and my roomie Callie. I ended up getting clementini, pane (bread), formaggio (cheese), ciaccolate and frugole (strawberries). It was great, and then I went home and chilled for basically the entire day. For dinner we had beef with anchovies, carrots, salad, bread, wine, and pasta pomodoro. The beef was a little salty for my taste, but it was really interesting to say the least.

I ended up staying in for the night because my roomie wasn’t feeling well and I was a bit tired and we had to get up @ like 6AM to be at the Santa Maria Novella station.

Yesterday, we had a mandatory field trip to Siena. We went to the Duomo in Siena, the museum, and the palace at the Piazza del Campo. It was amazing and there were so many things that I just couldn’t believe were real. The cathedral was one of the most immaculate ornate places that I’ve ever seen. It was insane that half of the things we saw were created my masters like Michelangelo.

My roommate and I grabbed lunch at this cute little restaurant on the piazza. We sat outside because it was outrageously sunny and warm and I got a pizza that was so delicious. Then we went to the Palace and after we left we got these amazing Siennese almond cookies.

We headed home on the train after that (at about 5PM) and when we got home we crashed.

For dinner we had pasta with tomato and pepperoncino sauce, then a salad with potatoes and a frittata. It was delicious and then we had different Siennese cookie and fruit for desert.

Afterwards we chilled and then went out to the Irish Pub for some cider, and then left for Space discoteque at around 11. It was great time and I was so glad that we went. The girls that I went with were a blast! We got home at 2:30AM which was much later than anticipated, and on the way home met a Norwegian and a random guy who lives in Venice, but is from Montana. Interesting night to say the least.

This morning we got up and ate breakfast and then headed out to the countryside to go to our host family’s country house. It was beautiful, there were fruit trees and olive trees every where and you could see mountains covered in olive trees in the distance. The view was unbelievable.

For lunch/dinner we had antipasti (cured ham, cheeses, bread, and crostini with liver) and some focaccia with olive oil salt and rosemary. And then the pizzas began!

We had like 5 or 6 different kinds of pizza, margherita pizza, one with fennel, onion, tomato sauce, sausage, and mozzarella. Another with pancetta and garlic, a bianco pizza, just so many types and they were all fresh from the pizza oven. After we had cecina, which is a dish made with chickpea flower, and then we had cheese, fruit, and dolce for desert. I was literally in a food coma, I had to take a nap to digest all the food. But actually.

Now, I’m sitting in my room procrastinating on my homework.

A Domani :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Since last we conversed…

So, I’ve been away for not very long, but lots of things have transpired. I will chronicle them by theme as opposed to chronologically because things are just simpler and make more since that way. Lets start with the most important: My homestay!

Callie, one of the girls on the trip, and I were placed with a family that lives on Via Della Vigna Nuova, which is near the Piazza della Santa Maria Novella, the Uffizi, the Ponte Vecchio, and the Piazza della Republicca which is where the major shopping is (We are talking Gucci, Prada, Etro, Bottega Veneta, etc.) The apartment is amazing and the street is like 5th avenue if it was a thousand years older. We are walking distance from the river, and consequently within walking distance of a ton of really chic caffés, bars, and discotequas.

Our host mother does translation work and is a cooking instructor, and our host father is in advertisment, dabbles in product design, interior design and decorative arts. I couldn’t have asked for a more awesome placement. Our dinners have consisted of:

ravioli nudi, stuffed peppers, roast potatoes, salad, rice and cabbage soup, roasted fennel, and really good turkey that I have no idea what was on it…

Excited for tonights dinner!

Also, I had the best gelato ever tonight, espresso and dark chocolate, it was so good! Grom is certainly the best gelato in the city… a must try.

We walked around today for forever, and by forever I mean 3 hours… but it felt like forever.

Classes have been going really well, Luigi, my professor is awesome and really funny. I’m hoping that pretty soon I’ll be able to understand more at dinner conversations.

I don’t particularly have the energy to continue talking about the last couple days, I have homework and want to take a nap, hopefully I will be able to get everything in before dinner. Ciao!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Primo Journo

Today was the first day of classes. We are staying in Hotel Duca D’Aosta and Italian class was at 9AM so we had to get up at about 8 to get ready, eat breakfast, and get to class.

ACM students aren’t the only students at linguaviva so in the mornings the school is pretty busy. It was definitely cool to see some of the other students that were studying at the school, there were people from all over, Japan, Brazil, Sweden, etc.

My professor, Signor Luigi, is awesome! He is really funny and gave us a lot of pointers about things to look for and things to do while in Florence. He’s really nice and I think he’s going to make it very easy to pick up Italian.

At break we went to a café around the corner called Lazzi, they have coffee and a lot of fresh foods, plus Linguaviva students get a 10% discount which is really nice being on a budget and all. The place seemed to be pretty crowded when I went past after class so that’s always a good sign.

After break we went back to class, and then afterwards there was a small reception for all the linguaviva students. Afterwards I stopped by a little café in the opposite direction of Lazzi and got a crudo e fontina sandwich which was delicious, of course, and then I walked around for a bit just to people watch and ran into a group of ACM students on their way back for the beginning of our orientation meeting.

Dinner was great, we had lasagna, a roasted turkey dish with black cabbage (tastes like a cross between kale and collard greens) and then for desert we had panna cotta. It was all SO good!

Afterwards one of the girls from the program and I walked around in search of an aperitivo, we found a nice with wine dispensary with a lot of inexpensive but quality wines and got 2 mini bottles to sample some of the local fairs while we did homework in the hotel.

So far, today has been great, tomorrow we get our bus passes and we got our museum passes today, we also get our home stay placements tomorrow so it should be an eventful day. There are a lot of fashion events going on this month, and one going on very close to the school tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll get to check it out before we get too busy.

A domani!

1st day of the program

Today was the first day of the program, I met the professors and the other students and so far it seems like its going to be a really good time. The professors are all really interesting and seem very relatable, I’m so excited for classes to begin.

Tomorrow morning is our first italian lesson and I’m kind of nervous about how well I’ll pick up the language.

I already feel like I’m gonna make great friends with some of the people in the program, and hopefully I’ll make some local friends as well. Only time will tell how things will turn out but so far everything seems like its going to be amazing. More correspondence later…

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Past 2 Days, part due

So, after a great dinner we headed out in search of somewhere fun to spend our night. While we were walking past the train station, a guy stopped us and handed us a flyer for a pub that we’d heard about The Fish Pub. It turned out to be a really cool place, there is an upstairs and downstairs and lots of great music. The bathrooms were also  very clean, always a good thing for bar toilettes.

After a couple ours we wanted to check out some other places where we could dance so we ended up at a club after asking some locals where we should go. Club Twice is where we ended up, a swanky little club that was WAY too crowded. It would have been awesome had we been there 12 and not at almost 2AM. One of the girls I was with got her wallet stolen, so that was a damper on the end of the night. And then some of the kids staying next door to us didn’t believe us when we said all you had to do to get into the hostel after close is ring the doorbell. They decided to scale the wall, needless to say they set off the alarm and that was an interesting time.

The next day the jet lag caught up with me and after being woken up at 6AM by the girls in the bunk next to me, who got up and left everyday by 6:30 to do god knows what? I hadn’t been that wired is such a long time, I literally slept until almost 2. I got up and acted like a real person and ended up going to the Duomo and climbing to the top of the dome with some of the girls I met. 8 euro, 15 minutes, and 456 stairs later we got to the top just as the sun was setting:

IMG029 - Copy

It was so worth it!

We booked it down the stairs and back to the hostel, stopping to get some food on the way. I got a crudo and fontina sandwich which was beyond delicious and then we got back to the hostel and I took a well earned break. At 7 I met up with the rest of the group to go to dinner which was delicious. that night one of the girls and I sprung for the Bistecca Florentina which is the traditional Florentine T-Bone steak that is huge and absolutely delicious.


Along with the steak we shared a salad and some potatoes, it was probably one of the most awesome meals I’ve had in a while.

After a few bill snafus (we got overcharged 23 euros) we were ready to hit the town and ended up going to a club called Space Electronic Discotequa. We were nervous and had no idea what to expect, when we got there we honestly could have been at any ultra trendy club in a big city like NYC, London, or LA, it was ridiculous. There two floors, and huge buff bouncers, and plenty of girls in skin tight barely there clothing with 6inch stilettoes. We all felt under dressed but didn’t care because we wanted to have a good time. Apparently a lot of clubs have a card system, you get a pass upon entry, and they keep track of all your purchases while there, like drinks and coat check, etc. The crazy thing is that if you lose the card you get charged 50 euro. Luckily none of us lost our cards and we had such a great time.

Unfortunately the group left today to go back to Venice, next weekend we are trying to meet up in Rome, which would be awesome. Hopefully I see those kids again!

Today, I checked out of the hostel and into the hotel we are starting the program at. There are 5 of us in the room which is a little cramped with all the suitcases but I’m excited to start getting to know the people I’ll be spending the next 3 months with. Hopefully I’ll find some fellow explorers! Adieu.

The Past 2 Days

So, as I mentioned before there were some people that I met from NY that were in Florence for the weekend. They are studying for Winter Term in Venice and took a little gander Firenze to check out the sights and such. Of course, being me, I ended up being adopted into the group some how, and now I can honestly say I made some friends in Florence.

The first night they came by my room at about 5 and told me everyone was meeting up at 7 to go to dinner and then to go out. I took an epic power nap and then got ready and bolted down stairs (because I hadn’t eaten a real meal in 2 days) to find a group of 20.

Little did I know that almost half of their program came down to Florence for the weekend. I knew then that it was gonna be a fun time.

We walked a little ways and found a little hole in the wall family restaurant that had a special menu. One thing you’ll learn about Florence, and Italy in general, is that a lot of restaurants have a special menus that are set price 3 course meals sometimes with wine and water included in the price. Some are a list of antipasti, primo, and secondi piatti (appetizer, first course, usually pasta, and second course which is usually some meat and a veggie) with a choice of the house wine (red/white) and mineral water (you pay for H20). Usually there is bread and depending on the restaurant the serving sizes are more than sufficient. Other restaurants have specials depending on the day, or they have multiple special menus that usually go up in price depending on the items offered or the number of courses.

IMG002 - Copy

At this restaurant I got the Palledeccio Special Menu, which was an antipasti of chicken pate, prosciutto, hard salami, and fennel salami, with bread. It was SO good, I usually don’t like liver but it was like god on a piece of bread. No lie.

IMG001 - Copy

The next course was Pasta Pomodoro, or pasta with tomato and basil. It was delicious, I’ve never had pasta cooked so perfectly in my life.

My next course was Porchetta with roasted potatoes. It was divine, pork roast wrapped in pork belly with perfectly roasted potatoes with rosemary and olive oil. Wine and water was included in the price and it came out to 20 euro flat, which is roughly 25 USD.

One thing that’s amazing about the restaurants as well, is that they all have seemingly TINY stores fronts but the doors are like the gateway to Narnia, it’s absurd how huge some of these restaurants are compared to their tiny entrances.

In the interest of time and attention span, I’ll make a part two, SO much more to tell. And it was only 2 days :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Guess who’s in Florence?

After god knows how many hours, 3 plane rides, and a taxi, I’ve finally made it Florence. Better yet, I made it to my hostel as well, I’ve never been so happy for free wifi.

Downsides to ridiculous amounts of air travel:

- My ears are ringing and they are still popping even though I’ve been on ground for almost 3 hours now.

- I’m extremely jet lagged, but I’m still on Ohio time, which means 2:44PM here is feeling a lot like 8AM at home.

- I feel weird sleeping horizontally.

- I’m now surprised when I hear an American accent, and it hasn’t even been a full day.

There are so many things that I want to do, but I’m way too tired to want to do them right now. I took a stroll around the blocks near the hostel. Of course, I got myself a little lost, but happened upon a market selling jewelry, bags, scarves and the like, so I count that as a success. I wanted to keep walking around, but the sleep wall hit me and I just wanted to get in bed. As we speak, I have no desire to get in bed… dilemma!

UPDATE! Literally walked out the door and met some girls from NY staying down the hall from me. They seem like a rowdy bunch and invited me to hang out with them later… seems like I might have an interesting night ahead of me. Perhaps I’ll try to sleep so I won’t be dead tonight…

Paris, je t’aime…

Finally in Paris, only 4 hours until I’m in Florence. It’s surreal… time to practice my French skills :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

In Min… In transit

So, I’m sitting here @ Gate G9 at the St. Paul airport in Minnesota and it’s finally hitting me that I am leaving for 3 months.

What a time for it to finally sink in…

My heart is literally pounding at a million beats per minute as I go through all the things that could possibly go wrong during my trip. I’m a worry wart, I know this, but that doesn’t make me worry any less. All my friends have told me I’ll be fine, my mom said I’ll be fine. Everyone seems to have confidence in my ability to travel to Florence by myself. I know that I can… but when flying, even domestically, there are so many things that are out of my control.

Being a control freak you can see how that’s an issue.

Now, I’m totally fine with spontaneity, I embrace it for the most part, but when it comes to travelling alone so far from home, with few ways to communicate with my mother and no ability to speak Italian, it’s a little too spontaneous for me. I know that chances are everything will go well; I will catch all my flights, I won’t lose anything, and I will find a taxi outside the airport with a driver who can understand my confusion and won’t take advantage of my naiveté as far as travelling alone is concerned. But for me, as long as those things are possible, I will worry about them. I’ll finally be able to breathe when I reach the hostel. fingers crossed I get there in one piece and don’t go into cardiac arrest from being a complete stress case.

So close, but so far away has never been so relevant.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Only one more day, strange.

I’m leaving Thursday at 9 in the AM for Florence. It still hasn’t sunk in, and it making me kind of nervous because there are things on my trip I’m sure I have yet to anticipate. I’m travelling alone, which isn’t particularly strange to me, but once I get to Florence, I’ll be completely alone. That’s the strange part.

I’m staying in a hostel, Ostella Archi Rossi, which isn’t far from Hotel Duca D’Aosta, so I’m not too worried about logistics, but I am worried that I won’t meet any people at my hostel, it could be a very boring 2 days until other people from the program arrive. I have a ton of places that I’d like to go, but they wouldn’t be particularly fun alone. So fingers crossed for exceptionally friendly hostel mates!

There are a lot of things that completely slipped my mind in preparing for my trip. Converters and and adapters, figuring out what to do for ridiculously long layovers, communication with my parents when I get to Europe… etc.

I’m excited to leave, but mainly because it means there is less for me to worry about, pre-departure preparations are probably the most stressful things ever. Soon it will be over, and I’ll be in Italy and I won’t have so much time to think about all the things that might go wrong. But until then, I’m a complete stress case…