Monday, January 30, 2012

Rome may not have been built in a day.. But we saw it in a day

Warning to the reader: This is a long blog.. Wine tasting and a packed trip to Rome. Enjoy!
Back tracking to Friday night: Wine tasting was amazing. You learn so much, and somehow she is able to describe every different taste and tingle that happens on your tongue or in your throat. After this, the chef offered us a 15% discount, so of course we had to have dinner! First time I ever had wild boar-Amazing- In the pasta and for the main course. For dessert we had chestnut mousse and a biscotti.. very delicious. Our chef friend Gabe told us about an apple crepe so he also made us that with fresh cut apple slices and cinnamon apples. A very delicious night! It was ended by our friend Josh Farley playing his guitar and singing to us. Nothing like a good group of friends together all in one place enjoying good food, wine and music.
The morning arrived fast and we were up and at em at 6:30 to head to Rome! We departed Orvieto and took a fast fast that our ears popped worse than on planes when we went into underground tunnels. Of course we didn’t wake up in time for breakfast so upon arrival to the train station in Rome we ventured for food. What did we find? ..McDonalds :) a little American indulgence-no breakfast menu so a cheeseburger for breakfast it was! We also ventured down to the bathrooms..and get this.. you have to pay one euro to use the public restroom. My mind was blown.
We finally met up with our professor, Marco, and headed to our first stop—the Colosseum. Sleepy eyed we walked out of the bus station, and all of the sudden I wasn’t so tired anymore. What an amazing site to walk out on the sidewalk and have the Colosseum, Triumphal Arch of Constantine, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum all presented to you in one shot. An architect’s dream-I couldn’t get to my camera fast enough. We stood at the base of the Colosseum and listened to Marco talk for a while and then he walked us around. Past the Roman forum to Vittorio Emmanuele’s monument-which Romans don’t like because “it looks like a wedding cake”.. which isn’t completely false. We saw so many ancient ruins, Rome is truly beautiful. Of course some are preserved, but a lot are also just incorporated throughout the city-another way of preservation, building on top of what is already there. We made a stop at the steps Michelangelo designed, which were quite interesting. Each tread sloped, so it was like a ramp with steps incorporated. We were able to walk around the plaza the steps lead up to and catch new perspectives of the Roman forum.

Marco took us then to the Ghetto..not quite like you may picture it.. and he gave us tips to cross the street. “Cross when it’s green, not when it’s red..” for obvious reasons.. and “look both ways and then just push yourself out into the street.. they will stop. They may scream at you, but they will stop”. Very insightful. We made our way towards the Patheon from here, but of course had to stop by a very important stop-the largest cat populated place in Rome, maybe even in Italy. They live down by a bunch of ruins and are fed twice a day and cared for. Some people took more interest than others.. I was not one of them haha. Finally, we arrived at the Pantheon. Walking in was absolutely breathtaking.. the dome, the occulus, the shear detail of everything was amazing. And what made it even more so was just sitting in the pews and taking it all in, wondering in the back of my mind how they were able to build something like this back then. The scale and the strength.. It just blows my mind.
We were dismissed and set free.. and thus our weekend adventures of miles of walking, sore feet, and “wow” faces began. We sat down for lunch at Miscelanea, which unknown to us at the time was ranked number three in places to eat while you’re in Rome. The waiter was a hoot, joking around the whole time. If Europeans tipped, he would have gotten one no doubt. At the end of the meal he brought us their “sexy wine”. It basically tasted like strawberry soda. Very good. We were confused as to why we got it though. So he pulls out his Rick Steve’s Europe guide book to show us.. low and behold, if you have a Rick Steve’s guidebook on your table while you’re eating, you get their famous sexy wine for free. Hm, good choice!
After we were re-energized we began our journey. Trevi Fountain, and yes we through our coins in. One for me, which means I will return to Rome. I’m not going to argue with that. More stops on our list included a path around the Roman Forum, Circus Maximus, a walk along the river, back to the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain for the night shot, and the Spanish steps. Tired and sore we made our way to the hostel, which actually was a lot nicer than I predicted. Not bad for 13 euro. Morning arrived again, and we were up to beat the crowd at the Vatican. We worked our way through the museum, which included going through Sistine Chapel. Another breathtaking moment.. no pictures were allowed or I would share with you the experience, but I guess I need to leave a little surprise so you have an excuse to come to Rome. After the museum we went to Saint Peter’s Basilica- goal: to make it to the top of the dome by foot to get the amazing overlook of the city. 320 varying stair sizes, heights, and angles later, we made it! I will say, it was worth every single step. We ventured down and into the church-2+football fields long and 7+ stories tall… again, how? We strolled through taking in all the ornament and listening to some of the masses going on. Then we got into the catacombs where all the tombs of prior Popes were. The pope wasn’t in town today so we didn’t get to see him.. maybe next time..
After a stop for food—pizza with prosciutto and on with potatos (only in delicious)- we boarded the subway to get back to the Colosseum. You better believe we weren’t going to leave Rome without seeing the inside! We circled through-again with the shock and awe- and appreciated all the was placed in front of us and this amazing opportunity. Our ticket then got us into Palatine hill and the Roman Forum –finally a view from within, and not the outside. We had to run to the gate because we had about 8 min to spare before the stopped letting people in. We made it and began our walk. The views were absolutely gorgeous. I don’t think words or pictures can describe it. Let’s just say it was a great ending to the trip. I felt like the whole time I was just walking through a postcard. It didn’t feel real, but it was amazing- if this is how every trip is going to be, I’m in for a ride. :)

We boarded the train and headed back to Orvieto-I think it took this trip to make Orvieto feel like home. And boy was I ready to be back. The night was finished with dinner, homework, and a very early bedtime.
Leaving Rome as the sun was setting :)
I love it here.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Wine Crawl = success! We had most of the crew there Wednesday night; it was a great time hanging out with everyone and immersing ourselves in the culture.. aka-wine haha. The morning came early- off to the market for cooking class. We met up with Chef Lorenzo at his restaurant, Zeppelin, and he fed us cappuccino, and for a lucky few, cognac. Gooood Morning haha. We headed to the market and he taught us about different meats, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables. We got some samples and he bought food for us to make our meals with. We ended the market tour with, you guessed it, another cappuccino… I learned the hard way that their coffees are A LOT stronger than ours. I tried to go home and take a nap after, but instead I laid in bed… wide awake. Haha
Skype date with Emily-she got up bright and early just to talk to me! It was supposed to be a coffee date, but I thought maybe I should play it safe and not have anymore caffeine. Cooking class came and boy did we cook! Of course as soon as we walked in he fed us another espresso.. my heart got a work out--but you know what they say "When in Rome"...errr Orvieto? We got right to work with our menu- bread with 4 cheeses, breadsticks with mozzerella and prosciutto, pizza with mozzerella and tomatoes, fried artichokes, homemade pasta with broccoli and anchovies (actually delicious), lamb with sundried tomatoes, turnips, and a salad.... not done yet.. for dessert we had a coffee/chocolate mousse with a biscotti and lemon gelato and a shot of grappa... food and wine was great, grappa was not! We were there for 7 hours.. whew! After we finally digested and were able to move we headed home with our leftovers and went into a food coma-thus no blog yesterday.
Woke up with more energy and actually had an appetite..weird. We got all of our tickets and information for Rome--leave bright and early tomorrow morning! Then we took a brisk roommate walk around the Rupe- lots of hills, quite the workout! The rest of the day has been spent finishing up our project for studio so we can stay in Rome for the weekend. Tonight is our wine tasting seminar back at Zeppelins! mmmmm... followed by dinner with a 15% discount. They love us. :)
I don't have any pictures of our food because I forgot my camera.. but I will steal some from people and share with you later! So for now enjoy this panorama at the edge of the cliff. :)


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Good Food, Good Friends, Good Wine

We were craving pizza last night- So we ventured out to eat at a place previous students raved about.. Charlie's! However.. we learned when we got there that they were closed on Tuesdays.. interesting day to be closed. That's how Orvieto is though, odd working hours. So we walked around until we found another one- La Cordone. We got 3 different pizzas to share between the four of us- one with ham and cheese, one with whole slices of tomato, and one with mushrooms, olives, and artichokes. Oh.. and a bottle of Orvieto red wine. They were by far some of the best pizzas I've ever had! (this is the good food part of the blog...) The night was ended with some reading for my seminar class and a chat with my big sis! :)

Day three of class today, and its our Friday for the week! We had studio to work on our projects then had some lunch and a nice siesta :) Love the Italian lifestyle! Wrapping up the day here with some dinner - decided to change it up and have scrambled eggs instead of pasta!! haha  Tonight will be eventful with a house to house wine crawl with the study abroad crew! (this is the good friends and wine part...)

Our landlord/cleaning lady came by today so we got to come home to fresh sheets and towels! And a new cake of the week! :) Our land lady is so nice! Update: my laundry is almost dry...


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A, B,C.. easy as.. uno, due, tre...

Today was another full day of class, but it didn’t seem like it. Lana, Anne, and I got up at 7 to go out and sketch before class *note to self: next time bring something to sit on because the stone is freeeezing in the morning.* We also had our first day of Italian… Not allowed to speak English in the classroom.. little bit challenging to say the least! But they are teaching us the essentials to function in Italian society so it should be great.
We had another history class with Marco too, and it was just as interesting as the first. Never thought I would be able to sit through a 3 hour history lecture course and enjoy it without falling asleep!  We also  learned during class that there will be a railway strike Thursday night til Friday night.. so our Rome trip is getting postponed til Saturday. This works out perfectly though because now we can stay the rest of the weekend and explore without interfering with Orvieto cooking activities. Get Pumped! Colosseum, Palatine Gardens, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Vattican Museum and Saint Peters-lots to see in one weekend. Maybe we can see the pope.. haha. Be prepared for lots of pictures!
We are spending the rest of the night coordinating our Rome stay and wrapping up some homework—it does exist here too – and watching our laundry dry… One thing I took for granted at home (dryers) They don’t have dryers here so you have to hang your laundry, which wouldn’t be so bad except we don’t seem to have a spin cycle so your clothes come out dripping wet.. :S Maybe we are doing it wrong? Hm.
Random picture of the day-during my walk with Anne and Lana
Until tomorrow! Ciao!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Centro Studi- Official Day 1

Today was our first day of classes. We started off with studio and talking about our first assignment which is a "get to know Orvieto" type of project. We are split up into 5 groups and are assigned a part of the city, and we have to explore and basically make a page for a guide book that includes information on the shops, gardens, what there is to do, etc. It's a great way to get to know the town. Then we give tours next week of our section. Going to be a looooot of walking.

After class we had lunch - Katie and I met up with Naihao and he showed us a place to eat. We ordered Piadina which was a burrito like thing. It was a tortilla with what we thought was shaved lamb (actually pretty tasty), and some lettuce, cabbage, onion, tomato, picante (HOT sauce), and ranch. All for 3,50 euro! It was very filling and very delicious! We went and got some bread since ours was hard as a rock. I would say the bread we got was about twice the size of my head-so good :)

We had our other class which is a seminar- the class I'm in is studying the topic of "healing places" which is a study of how to design a space in such a way to heal the 4 bodies and not just design something to have. It is also studying the idea of "citta slow" which Orvieto is a founder of. It's the idea of slowing down the pace of life and enjoying it-not taking anything for granted. I am really excited for this class... should be pretty interesting. Not too much more going on today, just getting into the swing of things. Getting ready to go get some gelato with my buddy Katie! Mmmmmm.. :)

Here's a couple pictures of the Duomo at night that I took this evening.. such a beautiful place-looks like a painting everytime I walk by. Still feel like I'm in a dream...


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Little bit of this and that..

The ballet Friday night was awesome. We got all dressed up and Lana, Katie, and I went to get dinner at a restaurant one of our teachers recommended before the show. We gave ourselves what we thought was enough time to eat, but then remembered we are in Italy… nothing is fast. We ordered a salad that had oranges and almonds in it that was pretty tasty! We had our desserts picked out, but couldn’t get it because we were running late.. L Guess we will just have to go back!
The theatre was beautiful inside, although the seating arrangement wasn’t the best-there were nice seats on the first level and then just chairs that you couldn’t move lining the edges of the mezzanines on all the other levels-made it hard to see over the guardrail! But the ballet was great. It was nice to go out with the whole group.

Saturday I took the opportunity we had to sleep in! The shutters in our room keep it pitch black no matter the time of the day.. so 11am rolled around and I finally decided to get up. We made our way to the market to restock our fridge-got a whole baby chicken for 7 euro! The great thing about the meat here is it comes pre-cooked and seasoned! So the cooking time is cut in half and it tastes delicious! The people at the market seemed a little more accepting and nice to us – probably because we were actually speaking Italian this time..
After the market and lunch, a nap was in order- don’t judge, that’s what they do here! I spent the rest of the afternoon walking the city again and taking more pictures. I caught a glimpse of the sunset from the wrong side of town, but it was still amazing.. check it out.

 I got to talk to my family for the first time since we left, and to Melissa and Emily. It was a great day and it wasn’t even over! A group of us went out to Clan Destin – restaurant by day, bar by night- and Bar Duomo. We actually were around people our age for the first time since we arrived. They told us that all the kids go to school somewhere off the hill and then come back for the weekends, which is exactly what happened. Anyway, I tried a couple new beers (birra) and was actually pretty pleased! Their way of doing things is a bit different, it's like an honor system.. you take your drinks and at the end of the night go tell them what you had and pay. Very interesting. We also discovered that of all American music, the Italians love the Beach Boys-quite the choice.
Today was another lazy day.. we originally planned to go to church, but 8:30 rolled around and no one got out of bed. We will give it another shot next week. I went for a run through town and down to the Rupe-a trail below that circles the whole city. I soon discovered this isn’t meant to be a running trail –lots of steep hills! I’ve spent the rest of the day sketching and walking and not much more. Classes start tomorrow so just trying to relax until then!

Buena Sera!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Buona sera amichi!

Dinner was fantastic last night. We enjoyed pizza and many other appetizers cooked by Chef Lorenzo’s students. It was delicious. We also got our taste of three different wines (one tasted just like our favorite Moscato Melissa!) After dinner we stopped to get gelato at a place recommended by one of our Italian professors. I had cappuccino flavored-I was in heaven! We ended the evening by getting a couple bottles of Orvieto Classico (a local wine) and enjoying the company of friends at our apartment.
Today we had our first day of class, and I have never been so interested in a history class in my life. Marco is our professor and is by far one of the most interesting men I’ve ever met. He enjoys everything so much, the three hour class felt like nothing! We were dismissed and free to go off on our own.  The day went from foggy to sunny and beautiful, so I decided to take a long walk around the city to try to discover some new things.  It is so relaxing to just be able to wander around and just appreciate what the city has to offer. I have found myself just strolling through the streets and taking it all in, something I think we lose and don’t appreciate back home. This city is definitely one in a million, and I’m enjoying every minute of it.
Single rose above a door during our walk
Favorite Road :)
Tonight we are going to go to the theater to enjoy the ballet Swan Lake. Can’t wait to see it and share how it is—it will be amazing I’m sure. See facebook for more pictures from my walk today!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ciao! from Italia!

We made it to Italy after a long day of travels. First the flight out of KC got delayed. Then we finally headed off to DC--which took about 2 1/2 hours. We had a layover for about 5 hours there, and then headed off to Rome. We got into Rome as the sun was rising-it was absolutely gorgeous.

After the 8 1/2 hour flight, we landed and were funneled out of the airport to the bus. 1 1/2 hours later, we arrived in Orvieto. Although we hadn't slept for about a day, everyone was too excited to go to sleep (not to mention it was about 10 am our time, 3 am your time, so sleeping wasn't an option if we wanted to avoid jet lag...)

Upon arrival we were all taken to our apartments- ours is about a 2 minute walk from the school and the Duomo -prime location! It's a lot larger than I expected- small kitchen, large living room and dining area, outdoor patio, 3 bedrooms, and 2 bathrooms. The only bad thing about Italy so far is the roads..errr..sidewalks..?? Cars drive everywhere! our door opens up and bam! a car drives by.. we have to poke our head out to make sure nothing is coming. It's not like Manhattan-cars don't stop for you!

 The Duomo-right next to our school
We were served a free lunch and wine after we got settled in, got our first taste of Italian cuisine! Delicioso!

After they stuffed us, they knew we were tired--so they fed us an espresso. Talk about strong! But I took our professor's advice and put a lot of sugar in it. Kept me awake, that's for sure! After lunch we wandered around and took in Orvieto in all it's beauty.  So far, all we had been in contact with had spoken english.. then we went to dinner. This is when we had our first run in with the language barrier.. but we made it through with our chopped Italian and enjoyed our pizza and watched some TV. (btw kevin and garric, jersey shore here is still in english.. but the subtitles are in Italian! haha)

Today we did our orientation and paperwork and were dismissed to hit up the local farmers market that comes every Thursday and Saturday. It was pretty intimidating at first, a lot of fast Italian speakers going on.. So first we observed.. then we dove in. We got some fresh fruits, delicious cow cheese like nothing I've ever tasted, some meat, and bread. After lunch we took a walk around the whole city, I felt like I was in a dream. Everything is so beautiful. There is a path that goes all the way around the city-about 3 1/2 miles.. I would attempt to run it as part of my work out regimine, but it's pretty hilly.. Maybe by the end of the 4 months..

 Farmer's Market in Palazzo Publico
Tonight we are going to a local resturant owned by the chef that is going to teach us how to cook! His students, who are also American, are going to cook for us. Should be a good time! I'll let you know how the food is :)

Anyway, I think that's long enough for today-just filled you in on the last three days of my life-loving it.



Monday, January 2, 2012

Stay Tuned

So I'm going to give this blogging thing a shot. I hope to keep up on it while I'm in Europe so I can share my adventures and pictures with you! Take off - T minus 2 weeks!

Stay tuned...