Wednesday, December 21, 2011

i ricordi

ciao tutti,
i am pleased to report that i am currently writing you all from the comfort of my very own bed. and boy is it nice to be back. since being home i have indulged in numerous delicious foodstuffs, enjoyed the company of friends and spent quality time with the family. tonight, for instance, my mother recreated thanksgiving dinner for me, and then an old friend popped over to decorate a gingerbread house. not a bad night, if i may say so myself.

it has been weird being able to buy beer (312, of course), and go to bars. i cannot say it is terribly exciting, particularly after a semester abroad, but it definitely makes life easier. tonight was funny though when my mother had me try two different kinds of wine to decide what to drink at dinner. ultimately, i ended up deciding that i did not want to drink as my liver is in dire need of una pausa and i still need to reacquire my affinity for wine after italia.

speaking of, i miss the damn country already. after a nightmare of a time getting home, as excited as i was to be back, i also immediately knew that i was really going to miss italia. if anything, telling people stories about it only makes it worse too.

in the spirit of everyone's obnoxious habit of looking back and reflecting then, (who am i kidding i love reflecting), i give you the following compilation of some of my favorite photos and memories from the semester:

outside of a beautiful abbey on our italian field trip. 
this was also the day that i tasted the best cheese in my life.

praha, where i was all too happy to recreate the outdoor sausage from a cart eating experience that we had had in vienna just a week before. 

the cafe that freud used to frequent that we stumbled upon in vienna. the sachertorte that you see pictured to the right was to die for. seriously.

the under the university dorm club that we went to with our friend kenny in budapest on a tuesday night. 
one word: polinka.

the spectacular view from the top of buda looking at pest

also a stunning view, this time of firenze from piazza michelangelo

a night out sitting at the steps of santo spirito drinking wine

and finally, a typical night at jj's, the bar of our little home town just outside of firenze called fiesole

if the past few days have been any indication, this break promises to be one chock full of activities and food, but then again, what more did i expect. no complaints here though, thus far it has been awesome to be stateside again. i must concede, however, that the travel bug got me, and i am already itching to get to switzerland for a few days before the semester in madrid starts. for now though, i have to settle for trips to michigan and florida, aka food and the beach, respectively. hopefully pictures to come from those trips soon. 

in the meantime, the baking/cooking log update stands at:
  • pumpkin bread french toast
  • white chocolate bark with pistachios, dried cranberries and apricots
  • christmas shortbread cut out cookies with a chocolate ganache
  • helping prepare a recreation of the family's thanksgiving dinner. yum.
whether or not the daily workouts will continue to fend off the aforementioned culinary activities, we shall see. the goal is not to gain back the weight lost in italia!(?)!

ciao for now!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

la viola

as always, this past weekend was an eventful one and in spite of the weather's recent turn, proved to be quite fun. on saturday we went to the opera to see a rendition of la boheme, and after a very italian dinner followed by a delicious gelato, it was a splendid performance. the fact that i was able to understand some of the lyrics projected above the stage was a lovely added bonus.

on sunday, braving torrential rain, the majority of us marched down to il stadio to see firenze play roma. wanting to have a genuine calcio experience, i decided to this time just go for it and get one of the traditional salsiccia covered in fried onions and peppers. it was amazing. the smell of my breath probably could have killed someone for the next four hours, but that is besides the point.

the mood at the game was awesome, and it practically gave me goosebumps to hear everyone jumping up and down cheering "giallo e viola" in the pouring rain (yellow and purple are firenze's colors). we sat in the curve, which basically amounts to the student section where the especially rowdy fans sit. thankfully this time no one on our side lit anything on fire, although there were a few flares set off.  

what was really cool was when at the end of the game, winning 3-0, everyone suddenly looked up to see that the sky had temporarily cleared and taken on a distinctly purple hue with the sunset. we all decided that it had turned viola for la viola.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

le foto

if you all are interested in seeing more point and shoot attempts at photographic documentation of my semester, god bless you. 

pictures from the beginning of the semester can be found here:

from fall break:

from my trip to roma:

and from my most recent wanderings:

send me emails/messages/what have you and tell me how you all are doing too please!

un piccolo viaggio

last weekend i decided to take a day trip to pisa and lucca, two small italian towns an hour from florence by train. the weather was beautiful, the food was fabulous as always, and i got to see the leaning tower of pisa!

the cathedral of pisa

the baptismal font

lucca's medieval walls

you can walk/ride your bike around the top of the walls. this was the only quiet spot that i saw. everywhere else it looked like the entire town was out for an afternoon stroll. at one point, old men were of course playing chess and dominoes   

Thursday, December 1, 2011

a casa

things are finally wrapping up around here and i absolutely cannot believe it. the first of december means that i have all of 17 days left in this beautiful country, and my god am i going to miss it. over the course of but a few short months i have truly developed a serious affection for italia. its people, food, culture, they all really mean something to me now. i am certainly going to relish my last few weeks here.

in the meantime, i thought that i might tell you all some of the other things that i have been up to. thus far, i have really focused here on my travels, as they have been some of the real highlights of this trip. that being said though, i have also had some amazing experiences five minutes from the villa here in fiesole and just down the "road of the ancients" in florence.

view along the walk down to florence from fiesole

one of our courses is called city of florence, and the entire purpose is to compel us to connect meaningfully with the city. the premise of it was that we would have four group meetings, involving lectures, trips around florence (to one of the many medici villas, for instance) and an individual project that came with 100 euro of discretionary funds. awesome, right?

the cathedral of florence

i chose to focus on the musical character of florence, and therefore had a wonderful time spending my funds on such activities as:
  • the tuscan orchestra, twice. think strauss, shubert, part, mozart.
  • a jazz piano concert, held of course in the room of an old monastery, complete with original frescoes. also of note is the fact that we sat with one of the villa professors and his artist friends.
  • a sunday morning at the fiesole school of music featuring the fiesole quartet
  • a spanish guitar performance at the biggest wine festival in tuscany
yet to be attended are the florentine opera featuring la boheme and an italian band called le luci delle centrale. for a taste of italian music you can check out one of their videos here:

experiencing the florentine musical culture here has been interesting to say the least. last night, for instance, i sat in front of 20 teenagers at the orchestra. certainly not a sight that i was expecting. live music cafes have also been fun here, and typically offer an eclectic mix of covers of american songs and italian rock. 

view from the top of the duomo. the villa is off in the distance.

amongst other things, i have also:
  • eaten at my italian professors house twice. difficult conversation, but seriously delicious food
  • climbed to the top of the duomo, brunelleschi's architectural masterpiece that never ceases to amaze me
  • seen the david. enough said.
  • gone to the uffizi with an encyclopedia/astoundingly knowledgeable art history professor
and last but not least, you guessed it, continued to eat and drink delicious food, gelato and wine. there really is nothing like a perfectly made cappuccino taken standing at the bar in the local pastry shop, watching the day go by.