Buona Pasqua!

Standard

I have always loved the Easter season, it reminds me of love and sacrifice and is always a time for family! It was a little hard being away from my family this year but I have to say I had a great Easter weekend here in Orvieto! We had a four day weekend because Italy observes the Monday after Easter as Pasquetta (little Easter) and Easter in Italian is Pasqua.

Our weekend started out with a Friday morning history lecture, not the norm because we have lectures on Tuesday and we do daytrips on Friday but this week was a little different. A lot of people took this long weekend as an opportunity to travel so there were very few of us in Orvieto.

Tourist season is picking up here in Orvieto and Easter weekend was no exception! So many people! It was pure insanity, a lot of people were here visiting because of our beautiful Duomo and also there just happened to be a chocolate festival that weekend.

Yes, you heard me a chocolate festival! It was the best way to start the weekend, so much chocolate! I had fresh strawberries with chocolate and whipped cream, also chocolate bark with almonds! So delicious, yummmmmmm!

Saturday was very busy! We went to the market to get groceries for dinner because we were having our Italian friends over for American breakfast for dinner, more on that excitement later. Then we spent a few hours at a winery eating and tasting wine. We went to the Neri Winery and tried two whites and a red, there were about seven of us so it was a good group! The food and the wine was amazing, I am going to try and bring some back to the states! To top it off there was an adorable terrier who liked to like your face when you picked her up, needless to say I was in heaven!

We came back to Orvieto just in time to go to the free concert at the Duomo. The show this year was a famous pianist whose name I don’t know but he was really fascinating to watch and listen too! Even though I have no idea what he said I could tell he was a little weird and eccentric like most great musicians haha.

After the concert we proceeded to head home and start breakfast for our Italian friends. I learned a lot about cooking for boys that evening. Now matter what culture boys will ALWAYS eat twice as much as you think which will in turn leave you with nothing….

It was a little chaotic but so much fun! Italians don’t really understand the concept of our breakfast so we made them French toast with fruit eggs, bacon, and potatoes. In comparison to the usual sweet pastry and espresso Italians have for breakfast this was definitely a change for them, but they seemed to like it, considering they ate everything and we had to make extras for ourselves!

After our dinner things took a turn for the interesting/chaotic, we were playing games in the living room and one of our Italian friends Valerio, got up and somehow hit his head on the underside of the stairs. Not really noticing to much he bent down in pain holding his head and we didn’t think to much of it until he moved his hands and there was blood everywhere!  Immediately everyone jumped into action and started to help Valerio or clean up the blood. It got crazy fast!! Luckily the guys knew exactly what to do and soon the bleeding stopped and all was calm again!

Valerio had a pretty good sized gash but insisting he was fine we headed to our regular hangout Bar Duomo. Later we found out he went to the hospital by himself at three am to get stiches. Crazy right!

Sunday was Easter and we went to service at the beautiful Duomo, I’ve been a few times before and even though I have no idea what they are saying, the familiar traditions make me feel at home. We didn’t have a lot of plans for the day, just relaxing and cooking a nice meal in the evening. Well our friend Valerio decided to kidnap us and take us to one of his favorite places nearby in Torre del Fiore. It was such a great surprise, we walked around the little town say the tower and walked along some country roads before eating some gelato. It was a great surprise for the day and it was also beautiful outside so that was ten times better!

My roommates and I minus our dear Lindsey because she was in Prague cooked a nice Easter meal and relaxed for the evening. On Monday it is tradition for Italians to go to the lake or the sea for a picnic. So a big group of americans and Italians got together and we went to the lake in nearby Bolsano. It was about the most perfect day ever! We laid in the sun and ate some delicious food, played games and right before we left to get gelato, a few of us decided to be brave and jump in the water. I don’t know if it was brave or stupid, only stayed in about one minute for fear of hypothermia! The rest of the day we wandered around the craft market, came home and rested a bit and then met up with our Italian friends again for dinner.

The weekend was very busy but it was so amazing and worth it! One of the weekends I will definitely remember from my time here!

 

Advertisements

The past few weeks…

Standard

Our field trips since we got back from spring break have mainly consisted of visiting beautiful villas around Italy on our Friday day trips. My favorite villa that we visited was Villa d’Este. It was so beautiful with blossoming flowers and fountains everywhere. Our trips to the Villa’s really helped kick start spring!

We also took a trip to Milan for the Salone furniture show which is probably considered the mecca for designers. So much cool furniture, kitchens, tables, and even really pretty toilets! We spent the entire day gazing at miles and miles of wonderfully designed home items.

On the next day we had a few hours in Milan before heading to Siena that evening so we decided to go see the famous Milan Cathedral.

A side note, we had to carry our bags with us all day because the line at the baggage check in the train station was sooooooo long that we couldn’t wait so the day got a little more interesting with our bags.

The Cathedral was gorgeous, we haven’t seen anything like it before! Such a beautiful work of gothic architecture, it was so breathtaking to behold, the vast amount of details was mind boggling.

That night we headed to Siena for a study tour with our beloved Marco the following day.

Our day in Siena did not start out well….

We got lost on our way to the meeting point for the day and at one point we weren’t even sure we would find our group. It was about 30-45 minutes of frustrated yelling and crankiness, thankfully everyone survived and we found our group and didn’t miss a thing!

Siena was gorgeous and we enjoyed most of the day there until we headed back to Orvieto.

 

 

 

Spring Break: Part 3

Standard

In our final leg of our adventure we headed to Dublin, the land of my people! We intentionally missed St. Patricks Day by a day to avoid the chaos and arrived in a some what calmer Ireland.

We arrived and found food and then proceeded to the Guinness Factory! It was a fairly leisurely walk to the factory and we bought tickets before hand so we didn’t wait very long. Now I am not a huge fan of Guinness itself, I know blasphemous, but I still wanted to see the factory and here the story of this insanely successful Irish company.

The factory and exhibit was so interesting and really designed well. We spent a good four hours walking around, learning to pour the perfect pint, and accidentally meeting up with some of our guy friends in the gravity bar on the top floor. On a side note the gravity bar was awesome because it provided a 360 degree view of Dublin, quite lovely. We of course hit up the retail area for souvenirs and gifts, this is where my trip to Dublin got interesting….

I just happened to be perusing around the upstairs area and I went to walk around a display and didn’t see the footing, tripped over the ledge and face planted on the floor! So picture me sprawled over the floor right as I was going to talk to my friends so I am basically at their feet and then of course there is a random lady right there as well. Of course Renee and Lindsey who were standing there couldn’t stop laughing and the lady was very concerned for my well being. I  tried telling her I was fine through my tears from laughing so hard but I think she was still a little worried.

In my usual fashion I also happened to take out a few shot glasses with me when I fell. Luckily the guy working there understood and didn’t make me pay for them.

So after a raucous time at the Guinness Factory we headed back to change and get some dinner!

I had some extremely delicious fish and chips at the bar below our hostel and then we proceeded to mingle and hang out for the night. We met a group of guys that consisted of two Irishmen and an Australian, it sounds like a bad joke I know, and it kind of was hahaha

 

The next two days we invested in a ticket that allowed us to use a bus system at our leisure to tour all of the wonderful sites of Ireland! We spent time in all of the famous land marks and cathedrals and enjoyed the parks and the zoo Dublin had to offer. It really was a great two days taking in the culture and learning history from each site.

On our last day we decided to take a day trip outside of the city to see some beautiful Irish countryside! We took a day tour to Kilkenny, Glendalough, and stopped in the Wicklow mountains. It was a really awesome day tour, we saw a castle and toured some caves and took in the beautiful countryside. We did encounter some rain so we hauled up in a hotel and drank some tea for a few hours. Still worth our trip out of Dublin!

It was our last night in Dublin and we had a 6:30 flight back to Rome the next morning, so we decided to get some rest and pack….yeah right! We stayed out and had fun until the bar closed and then proceeded to the airport with our faces painted with glittery shamrocks, a lovely event from the evening, and then headed back to our home in Orvieto!

All in all spring break was amazing and wonderful and I am still in disbelief that I just went to all those places!

I am glad to be back in Orvieto only if to be able to do laundry! In reality though it is nice to be back here, I did miss my Orvieto quite a bit!

Spring Break : Part 2

Standard

For the second part of our spring break adventure we headed to Holland! Specifically Amsterdam, and before all of you out there start getting the giggles, because yes we all know what Amsterdam is known for, no that is NOT why we went. We all had Amsterdam in mind as a destination for one main reason, Anne Frank.

All of us have grown up with story and as young women I think we all relate in ways to her story. The Anne Frank House and Museum was our first stop in our two day excursion of Amsterdam. Our experience there was unforgettable. We bought our tickets before hand so we didn’t have to wait in line and we got a 30 minute introduction to the house and the history of the Frank family.

The procession through the house was intense, I don’t think we spoke to each other once except for when I of course hit my knee really hard on the staircase, but we were all reverent and stunned into silence.

After our tour we decided to have a pick me up of sorts and get some sweets and coffee. I didn’t really expect Amsterdam to be as beautiful as it was. I was so enchanted by this city and the dutch row houses with the interlacing canals, it was really wonderful. Also the dutch culture loves their French fries so of course I really chose to embrace this. I actually only got fries once and did not choose to eat them traditionally with mayonnaise, ew….

Other attractions on our list were the Van Gogh museum which was wonderful, I am a fan of impressionism so I really enjoyed this. Kelsey and I also decided to spend some time in Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, which does sound corny but it was actually really fun and definitely worth it! The rest of our time during the day was spent doing some more shopping and drinking one of the best chai teas I have ever had and just taking in Amsterdam, the good, the weird, and the just plain bizarre.

On our last night we had a Red Light District Tour set up. I was a little hesitant at first since its the Red Light District but our tour guide was a really nice older women who was from the states but had been living as a artist in Amsterdam for about 26 years! She had a lot to say about the history of the district and about the current proceedings of the area. It was definitely a little weird and not necessarily in my comfort zone but I learned a lot about the history of the city so I would say it was worth it.

After our tour we had a little fun and sat at a bar across from some “shop windows” and watch guys go in and out and timed how long the average customer would be inside. I know its sadistic and wrong and very inappropriate but hey when in Amsterdam…..

The next day we were off to our final destination and my homeland……….Africa!

 

Just kidding we went to Ireland, duh!!

 

Spring Break : Part 1

Standard

Our spring break began when we were released in Venice from our class trip. From Venice my roommates and I went to Milan for the night to basically sleep because we were waking up early the next morning to day trip to Lugano, Switzerland.

We arrived in Switzerland bright and early with a whopping 14 hours to kill before we were to head back to Milan for the night. You might be asking why did we not just stay in Switzerland? Because it is expensive, that’s why.

We stepped off the train and quickly found a place to store our bags and also quickly found ourselves in trouble when we deposited euros into the machine instead of francs and promptly broke the locker. What a great start right? Our problems were solved by red faced frustrated swiss-italian, its really hard to tell who is who in Lugano because it’s so close to the border, and went to exchange our currency.

As we wandered toward the city center we were all quickly enamored by the charming town of Lugano, and then we found the lake and were just completely awestruck!

Since we had so much time to kill we decided to take a leisurely boat ride to a nearby town for lunch. The town was called Gandria and was basically nothing except the amazing restaurant we found that looked out onto the beautiful mountains and the lake. We spent about two hours just sitting and eating and sketching and drinking wine. I would say that we stayed two hours because the view was amazingly beautiful but that wouldn’t be the whole truth. While the scenery was a huge plus, the extremely attractive waiter pretty much sealed the deal on where we were to spend our time in Gandria.

After we arrived back in Lugano we did what all girls do, go shopping 🙂  After we were exhausted from swiping our cards and carrying bags, who are we kidding we can’t afford to shop that much, we proceeded to find a place to eat and I had the most delicious meal since lunch that day.

I had potatoes with cheese and an egg on top, so simple, yet so delicious and the combination had been dearly missed by my taste buds. Well fed and happy we headed back up to take a train back to Milan for the night. 

The next day we would head on to our second destination, Amsterdam…. 

Venice…..wow…..

Standard

The last leg of the class trip was spent on the island of Venice! I had heard a few things about Venice in the past, mainly that it was stinky and sinking. I was more than pleasantly surprised when we arrived, Venice was so beautiful!

The city was built on marsh lands with stone and wooden pylons so it is a canal city. Every part of the city was beautiful, the buildings, the bridges, the water. At times it did stink but not anymore than when I get a whiff of manure at home so the beauty always outweighed the stench.

It also happened to be beautiful weather the time we were there so we spent a lot of time outside soaking up the sun. As a class we visited Doges palace and took a tour of the city, walking through the tiny winding streets and over the canals. One thing that some people might not know is that while there are bridges over these canals, they may not be what everyone thinks of as a typical bridge. These bridges are stepped so they are not just a single ramp but a few steps on either side, some more step than others, but all are stepped, these are Venetian bridges.

I would say that Venice has been one of my favorite Italian cities so far I would go back in a heartbeat. It was just so beautiful to look at, all of the boats and the water and the beautiful architecture, just wonderful!!!

After Venice my roommates and I headed out to the rest of Europe for our spring break adventure!!

A little bit about Vincenze

Standard

Our second day of the class trip was spent in Vicenze. Vicenze is home to a lot of Palladio’s work so he was our main focus in this city. We visited Teatro Olimpica and Villa Rotunda.  We also visited Brion Cemetery by Carlo Scarpa.

Brion Cemetery was another remarkable work by Scarpa, very intricate and fascinating. Also narcissistic because this giant cemetery was for one family but whatever. I again took a little cat nap in the sun, always the highlight of my day, and then we headed back into town.

Teatro Olimpica was cool, the main object of focus was the built backdrop for the theatre. It was a beautiful work of art, built in perspective. Another work by Palladio was Villa Rotunda, after walking five different wrong ways to get there we finally found it and spent some time on the grounds and in the Villa. The most impressive thing about the Villa is how symmetrical it is. It was really remarkable to walk around the grounds and sit and sketch.

Before we got on the bus to go to Venice I stopped and played with some dogs that were in a yard right by our bus. I would like to say that the Villa was better but lets be real here nothing beats playing with a dog. 

Our next stop was Venice…