Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mac and Cheese :)

Alright... it’s been a little while.. time for a new update.
Last week we spent our time trying to get back into the swing of school and not travelling. Tuesday was carnavale and instead of having Italian, we had a dance party. They really get into it here – it’s like Halloween but for more than a day. Haha. We had our first run through of our studio projects due on Wednesday, so Tuesday night was the closest to an all-nighter I’ve pulled this semester. :( But we’ve done it before, and we survived.. just in time for Wine Wednesday. It was a nice relaxing night-people came over, sipped on a little wine, and just hung out for the evening.
Thursday morning was the market – the first one we’ve gone to in about 2 weeks! It was like Christmas! We stocked up on food and enjoyed the beautiful weather that was given to us. In fact, it was so beautiful that our Italian teachers let us have class outside! After class the beautiful weather pulled me out to the rupe. I decided to take my chances running it. The hills will get you, but I pushed through and hit a 35 minute time. It was quite the workout to say the least.
Friday rolled around and that meant the second trip to Firenze. The tour with Marco was focused on the Uffizi museum. I’m not much of a museum person, but this one was pretty cool. A lot of altar pieces from different churches and cathedrals in Italy and a LOT of statues. After the museum we went out to explore on our own again. Piazzale Michelangelo was the first stop since last time it was grey and foggy. Today it was so clear and beautiful; you could see for miles! It was absolutely gorgeous. Worth the trek up the stairs.. Again.
View from the piazza

After this we made our way to the baptistery since we didn’t have time to go in during our last visit. This was the most incredible baptistery I have ever been in. Ceilings and walls of gold. While we were in there the sun was in a perfect position so it was streaming in through one of the windows. It was one of the most glorious sites I’ve seen in a long time. Definitely glad we decided to go inside this time.
Inside the Baptistery

Our last site-seeing stop was to see the statue of David by Michelangelo. We had seen fake David and pictures of the real David, but actually seeing him was amazing. It was the most incredible statues I’ve seen. It was HUGE, and the detail was unbelievable. I couldn’t even begin to fathom how Michelangelo was able to accomplish such a feat. Also in this museum leading up to David was a series of statues Michelangelo worked on, but didn’t quite finish. Being able to see how he transformed the marble into these sculptures was amazing. This guy truly was a Renaissance man!
After our sight-seeing commenced, we made our way to our dinner reservations at Tijuana. Yes, we needed our Mexican food fix! I got a chicken burrito that was filled with cheese, lettuce and pico. It happened to be happy hour while we were there too, so a strawberry margarita it was! This was probably the best Mexican dinner I have ever had (imagine that… in Italy!). We were miserably full at the end, so we knew it was good! We loaded the train and headed back home to spend the beautiful weekend in Orvieto.
Best Mexican food!
Saturday was sunny and 65 – perfect weather for a trip to the market, a stroll up the bell tower to overlook Orvieto, and a climb down St. Patrick’s well. There were parts of Orvieto we hadn’t had the chance to explore; so now that it was so amazing outside, we took the opportunity! After our exploration, I came home and had a great lunch… Mac and Cheese my family had sent me! It was just as good as I remember! :) We left after that to go kick the ball around and play a little soccer. When we got there a group of Italians were playing and asked us to join; we warned them we weren’t very good, but played anyway. They were definitely better than us, but it was a lot of fun playing with them – I did end up scoring a goal!
View from the bell tower
After our sporting adventures we decided to keep exploring and go into some shops with hand made goods. We went into a leather store with handmade bags and wallets; all the leather came from Florence. They were beautiful. Then we went to a hand-made ceramics shop. This was so cool. The lady had a table set up right in the middle of the shop where she made the pottery, fired it and painted it. It was all her original work and design. There were some pretty incredible pieces in the shop.
From the bottom of the well
We decided the weekend had been pretty awesome so far and would be better with a great dinner. We had gotten an eggplant at the market, and although I have always been a little skeptical of eggplants, I decided to go with it. We had eggplant parmesan with bread, salad and a glass of wine. Probably one of the best homemade dinners since we got here.. and it may have topped my mac and cheese for lunch.. haha. The day was great, and we still had another one coming!
Sunday was more of a relax kind of day. I got up to work on my journal, went to church service at the duomo (which never ceases to amaze me), walked the rupe and planned more of spring break. As much as I love travelling and seeing all these new places, having a weekend to relax and catch up on life it pretty awesome too.
So far this week has just been school and continuing the catching up on everything drill. Trying to get ahead and get work done before the week long north trip and week of spring break roll around. Speaking of… I should probably go get back to work now. This weekend we are heading to Assisi and Perugia. Excited for another adventure!
Until then… Ciao!
Mac and Cheese!!!!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

No title can describe this...

Where to even start….
We spent our Valentine’s Day in class and then all headed to dinner at Zeppelin’s. They made us a special dinner – 4 plates and of course wine. It was delicious, and I ate too much as usual! Like we typically do, we turned the dinner into a 4 hour event before heading home.. because after all we did have to be on the bus to leave by 8:30.
Valentine's Dessert
Morning rolled around, and we got around and headed to our bus.. Our professors told us they asked for a purple bus.. guess what we got?? Powder pink with a dolphin decal on the front. We were gonna be travelling in style for the next 4 days! We departed and were in our first destination by 2pm – Paestum. This is a small city that is just made up of Greek temple ruins. It was absolutely amazing. Walking around these ruins you could see where houses used to be, stairs left over that ascended into nothing and remnants of columns. Of course the most incredible sites were the huge temples that after thousands of years are still standing and are still in great condition. It boggles my mind – first of all.. how did they construct these monstrous structures way back then, and secondly.. how are they still in such good condition. I was in awe the whole time walking around alone just taking in the incredible sites. Sometimes I found myself stopped in my tracks just looking up in amazement at what was standing before me. It was probably the most incredible architecturally significant place I have ever been. The weather helped with this too; 50+ degrees and clear, sunny, blue skies. The sky almost looked fake, which probably enhanced the awe-feeling that was running through me. We stayed here for a few hours, which is at least what you need to be able to ingest what is being presented to you, before we loaded back up to head to our hotel in Pompeii. Of course before we left I had to get a soccer ball… they were so cheap! We had looked for one in Orvieto and the cheapest one was 15 euro! What a rip off. So I found one at a tourist stand for 8 euro. What a bargain shopper – my mom has taught me well! Haha. The bus was leaving just as the sun started setting; we got a beautiful site on our way back to the hotel.. a great way to top off the day. God sure knows how to make his presence known.  :)
One of the temples - amazing!
Sun setting as we left
We got to Pompeii and checked into our hotel. Guess what? It looked like a Barbie’s dream house. First the pink bus and now the dream house? We were modern day travelling architect Barbie I guess! We got up to our room and found that we had a balcony.. with a palm tree right next to it. Could this day get any better? Of course it could! How about a 3 course meal provided by the hotel.. I’ll take it! We finished up with dinner and hit the sack; full day of sight-seeing coming up! We woke up and headed to meet our tour guide for Pompeii which is another city of remains. It was once a city and it was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius and all the people up and left leaving everything deserted. It is quite an amazing site. You can see everything, some buildings are still intact fully and others are just piles of rubble. He took us into a huge villa that had remains of frescoes on the walls.. again, mind blown.. how are these things all still intact and in such great shape? I will never understand! He took us into some other buildings – amphitheaters and bath houses - and he definitely started to get irritated with us. We tend to be bad about taking pictures, sometimes too many, of everything! He would try to keep the tour moving, but people would wander into other parts of the city he wasn’t taking us into so they could take pictures.. what can we say, we have curious minds! The tour was great, and it was again a beautiful day. While we were walking around on the outside of the remains we came across a bunch of dogs. We found out that Pompeii lets them run free and people can adopt and feed them. They get lots of love because tourists are constantly around giving them attention, or at least we were.. surly that’s what it’s like all the time? But the dogs were so cute, and they almost seemed to protect you. While a few of us walked to the supermarket at night, one of the dogs came up and walked with us the whole way there, he wouldn’t leave our sides. I think it’s pretty cool that the city allows it; if something like that happened in America they would all be in the pounds so fast.
View from the forum in Pompeii - Mt. Vesuvius in the background
We finished up our tour of Pompeii and grabbed a fast lunch because we had our sights set on something larger – getting up to the top of Mount Vesuvius. We hustled back to the hotel to get ready. When we walked in, the man at the front desk gave us some bad news.. the park was closed so we couldn’t get to the top! This put a damper on our day – everyone was looking forward to it.. how many times can you say you’ve been to the top of a volcano?? Well we started trying to figure out what to do with the rest of the day, and our professors came up with an excellent solution. We were supposed to go to Naples Friday morning to go to a museum before we got released to do what we wanted for the weekend; so they suggested we go to the museum that afternoon so we could have all day Friday and Saturday to do what we wanted! So that’s what we did – loaded the bus and headed to Naples. I had heard Naples was one of the more crime ridden cities in Italy, but I guess I didn’t quite have the right picture in my head. It was by far one of the most trashy places I’ve seen since we got here. I felt uncomfortable even on the bus. We were getting crazy looks, of course it could have been the big pink Barbie bus driving through the streets, but it still didn’t feel right. We got to the museum and hurried inside and spent the next couple hours there. It was full of archeological artifacts – a lot of sculptures, frescoes, and mosaics. It was a pretty cool museum, and I don’t usually do museums. After our quick stop we loaded the bus and headed back to Pompeii; lord knows we didn’t want to stay in Naples any longer than we had to!
Having fun with the sculptures.. :)
 Back at home we were forced to find dinner on our own. Lunch had been expensive so we were determined to find something cheaper. We walked into the city center and guess what we found? A McDonalds with a euro menu! :) It felt like home haha. We indulged in our American habits and headed back to the hotel, with a stop of course at a gelateria. Can’t get enough gelato! A bunch of us got together in the hotel and hung out for the night and played cards and socialized.. glad everyone gets along, it makes these events so much easier! We headed to bed excited – morning meant bus to Sorrento and then Amalfi Coast!
Road to Amalfi = longest, windy roads I’ve ever been on. Put a warm day, warm bus, and people together.. if you get motion sickness, this may be a little tough on you! I was too distracted by the beautiful views and cliff sides to be too effected though. We arrived and started our search for the hotel, which happened to be right next to the where the bus dropped us off – right on the coast. :) This was a perfect location! We checked in and dropped our bags and immediately left; we didn’t want to waste any of the gorgeous day. We went to a place to eat that the hotel man recommended; we all ordered pizza and it was delicious! The atmosphere of the place was awesome too; even had an old man come in and play his guitar and sing for us. Some of the first Italian music we had heard since we got here! We finished eating and headed straight for… the beach. Duh! We hung out on the pier, climbed on some rocks – naturally – and headed towards the beach. Shoes came off and we walked in.. the water was pretty cold, but we found that if you stand in it long enough it’s not so bad! We muddled around for a while and searched for pretty rocks and drew in the sand; it was a perfect afternoon. We decided we should at least do something with a little architectural significance so we headed to the cathedral after that. A man let us in and once he found out we were architecture students his face lit up; he showed us around everywhere, even some places I think public usually can’t go. He was so excited we were there and he got to share everything with us. We walked around for a bit and then headed back to the hotel so we could watch the sunset from our balconies. The sun set behind the mountains so we couldn’t see the actual sun, but we could see the beautiful colors, and boy was it beautiful. Darkness fell and so did the temperatures; we wandered out to find food but decided to get groceries and go back to the hotel to make a big group dinner of carbonara, salad, and bread. Delicious! With the long day of travelling and beach dwelling behind us, we fell fast asleep – had to be up bright and early to catch the 6:20am bus back to Sorrento so we could make it to Capri!
Laying on the beach in Amalfi
Morning came fast and we loaded the bus. Since we were up so early we had the privilege of watching the sunrise as our bus travelled along the coast back to Sorrento. I thought the sunset was beautiful.. but the sunrise definitely topped it. God has amazing ways of showing his glory, and today he was shining through the clouds. I took countless photographs that don’t even do what I saw justice.
We made it back to Sorrento and loaded up on the ferry to the Isle of Capri. Thinking it would be a great idea, we sat on the top of the ferry outside so we could see everything.. note to self: it’s cold at 8:30am on the Mediterranean in February. It was beautiful, but definitely cold! We got to the island and headed up to one side “Capri” to begin our journey. We walked around trying to find some sites and stumbled upon this set of stairs that went down. I couldn’t see the end of them, it just kept going and going.. so naturally, I wanted to go. We all headed down the stairs; the further down we went the more hesitant we were.. until we stumbled upon a cave. It was amazing! We played around in it for a while and then continued down more stairs. We just kept going and going, felt like they were never going to stop. We got to a flat trail and started finding side trails off of it. These were the best; they were fun hikes that always ended in the most magnificent views. We continued along the trail for hours, and when we thought we were almost to the end, another trail grew off to the side. I ventured up and yelled for everyone to follow. It was amazing – we hiked up a mountain!  The views just got better and better, and we even came across the biggest earthworm I have ever seen. It was about the length of 2 ½ of my feet.. not exaggerating. We took our pictures at the top, and then made our way back down the mountain to the end of the hiking trail. Then we said “remember 4 hours ago when we said ‘hm.. wonder where these stairs lead to..’” guess we found out. It was the best hike I’ve ever completed! Of course we were starved after this so we grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed to the other side of the island “Anacapri”. This side didn’t involve fun hikes and adventures, but we saw Villa San Michele which Marco recommended to us, and we saw why. The house itself was pretty cool, but the gardens are what made the place. It was so vast and full of views to the sea; I can’t even describe in words what it felt like. It was just an amazing, peaceful place; a good end to the trip to Capri. We headed back down to the dock to catch the ferry back. Unfortunately we didn’t gauge the time to get down very well because our bus got there right as the boat was about to leave. I guess this happens often because it hadn’t left yet. So there we are, crazy American tourists, running off the bus and down the dock to get to the ferry before it leaves. The crew taking the tickets were laughing at us by the time we got there; I’m sure it was a funny site for them, and probably not the first time they’ve seen it. But we made it, and smartened up and sat on the bottom of the ferry this time, protected from the wind. I was so worn out, I crashed on the way back during the 30 minute ride. We got back to Sorrento in time for gelato and some food and then boarded the bus to head back. We left around 8pm and got home around 1am.. I slept the entire way. Guess the last four days wore me out.. I mean the last hour+ I’ve been typing this and reliving it has worn me out too!
Made it to the top!
We got home, unloaded, and crashed for the night.. slept in the next morning, but not too late so we could make it to church. I finally made it to a service at the Duomo. It was amazing, frigidly cold, but amazing. I felt at peace sitting there, even though I couldn’t understand what they were saying since it wasn’t English.. It was nice to have the day to relax and catch up on things, and a walk around the rupe of course. And then today was just spent working on studio and posting the tons of pictures from the trips. This past week has truly been an amazing experience. Can’t wait to see what future trips hold in store for me!
This has definitely gotten long enough today.. Ciao!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Firenze to Pisa to Lucca.. Travellin' Fools!

Warning to reader: took an awesome trip this weekend-longer blog than usual. Making up for all the short ones before this! Enjoy! :)

This weekend was jam packed with travelling and beautiful sights! 7:30 am rolled around Friday morning and we shuffled to the bus as the snow began to fall in Orvieto. This sight kind of worried us - was our weekend gonna be full of blistery cold wind and snow? Despite the snow we trekked on! Almost a 2 hour train ride got us to our destination, and guess what? There was a McDonalds at this train station too. I didn't partake in the indulgence this time, but a lot of people did.. I'm sure it will become a habit in all the big cities.

We headed towards the Duomo to meet Marco. It was just like when we walked out and saw the Colosseum in Rome - we had seen the Duomo in our history classes and books; it was amazing standing before it in person. We walked inside, and it was pretty beautiful. HUGE too. We weren't able to go into the baptistry on the site, but that may be on the agenda when we go back next time. After we left the Duomo Marco walked us around some little streets and took us into another little church-Dante's Church. It was a cozy little church and there was a red line on the wall. He told us there was a flood at one point and the line marked where the waters hit-it was above my head. Crazy to think that these buildings are still here after all that.
The Duomo from afar

After that we headed to Santa Croce. It is another beautiful church, but unfortunately they were doing construction on the altar and apse so we couldn't see the most important part of the church. It was a bit of a letdown, but the church is full of tombs of famous people-like Michelangelo. I wish we could have seen more of it.. But from here we moved to the Pazzi Chapel- it was a simple little chapel, not much to it, but still felt powerful. We were dismissed from Marco after this and all separated to go discover on our own.
Inside Santa Croce

We went and had lunch at an awesome little restaurant-calzone with mushroom.. excuse me.. calzoni con funghi.. gotta keep working on my Italian :) Katie and I ventured out on the beginning of our weekend adventure. First stop: Ponte Vecchio--ya know? the bridge with all the jewlery shops. Way out of our price range of course, but pretty to look at!  We moved on to the church Santo Spirito- we did a project second year that was a violin shop in the piazza facing this church so it was cool to finally see where it would have been.. and I realized my building would have stuck out like a sore thumb! haha.
Ponte Vecchio
After this we were on a mission to find the overlook where a lot of pictures of the whole city of Florence is taken - Piazzale Michelangelo. It was so windy.. the walk was hard, but well worth it. It was such an amazing view.. There were a ton of stairs leading up to it, quite the climb. There were a couple churches at the top of the hill that I didn't know were there: San Francesco and San Miniato al Monte. I think the best places we find are the ones we just stumble upon. They were so beautiful.
Stairs to Michelangelo's Piazza.. daunting huh? and this isn't even all of them...

We started back down the hill because it was starting to get windy and yucky outside.. on our way back we walked down a side street to protect ourselves from the wind along the river. We came across an awesome little shop owned by a lady who makes paper. She spoke perfect English- huge plus- so we watched her make the paper and talked to her. I browsed everything and found an awesome little sketchbook that I splurged on and bought. It is so awesome because all the paper is handmade, the book is handmade, and she binds and sews everything on her own. A great little souvenir from this artsy city. After about 30 or 40 minutes browsing this little store and talking to Erin, we finally started our trek to find our hostel.

On our way, we ran into another church we had learned about in class-Santa Maria Novella. We weren’t able to go inside, but it was still cool to see what we had only seen before in pictures. We finally made it to our hostel “Ciao Hostel”-which was actually pretty homey- and relaxed after our long day of walking. We planned on meeting up with some friends to go to a good Mexican restaurant previous students had talked about.. So we ran to get bus tickets, ran to the bus that the lady at our hostel said to take, the guy on the bus informed us that we were on the wrong bus after we started going, he dropped us off, we caught a metro, it took us back to the place where we started, tried to find the right bus, and as we were running to catch it, we got a call saying the restaurant was too full.. So we turned around and found a nice little place to eat on our way back to the hostel. Maybe there is a reason we don’t have public transportation at home.. it’s too confusing for us to figure out.

We hit the hay when we got back to the hostel and decided we earned the right to sleep in.. We rose in the morning and headed back to the Duomo to take on the stairs to the top. Not quite as many stairs as St. Peter’s, but a lot more spiral stairs-I started feeling a little woozy on the way down and were ready to get off that ride.. but the view was absolutely amazing- a 360 degree view of the entire city. I’ll admit that Florence didn’t quite meet my expectations, but it was a pretty cool city. It was a good end to our trip in Florence – Now off to Pisa!
A view from the top of the Duomo

We arrived in Pisa! We decided to go ahead and head to the tower because we weren’t sure when it closed.. but first, to eat! We stopped at a little place on the main road.. I will give you this bit of advice: Just because the restaurant is on the main road-it doesn’t mean it’s good food.. I ordered gnocchi with 4 cheese sauce.. It was definitely a frozen dinner.. some of the noodles were burnt to where I couldn’t bite through it. It reminded me of a $1 frozen dinner with alfredo sauce-and I paid 6 euro to eat it. Hm. I think I was ripped off. But we moved on and headed towards the tower. We stopped along the way at a lot of little churches and piazzas to take pictures. We got to the grounds with the tower, baptistery, and church; it was pretty cool. We took the standard holding up/pushing over the tower pictures. It was funny to see all the people posing in front of it-awesome place to people watch for sure. We got tickets to get into the baptistery and the cemetery. The baptistery was pretty amazing-the acoustics were incredible. The cemetery was ok- not one of my favorite places to visit.. but the grounds were pretty cool. The church is usually free to get into, but unfortunately there was something going on inside so we couldn’t get in :(
Surely this doesn't need a caption...

After our adventure we decided to take a trail on the map that we got from the tourist office. It led us along to many churches – don’t ask me to name them because I don’t think I remember.. We wandered around and then decided our feet hurt enough to go check into our hostel. It was another really cool one. It is hundreds of years old and was once lived in by a famous family (similar to the Medici family). It had so much character-another fun place to stay. We asked them where we could go eat that was good and not so touristy like all the other places we had been. They pointed us in the direction of a pizzeria who sells pizzas by the meter! We got there soon after they opened so we were one of the first people there – pizza and beer, I felt American again! Well.. until all the Italians got there. It was a happenin’ place, filled up fast. It was really cool to be in an atmosphere where it’s just locals and not all tourists. Although I felt like they sat us at a table where they usually sit outsiders because we were off to the side right in front of a door and our table was the only one that didn’t have a cool little pull out thing to set our pizza on. I’ll tell you one thing, Italians love their pizza! We ordered ½ meter to split between the two of us. We nursed it for probably 30+ minutes.. We counted at least 3 tables of two that arrived after us who ordered the same pizza AND dessert and left before us. They weren’t messing around! Although I’m sure part of the problem was that we stopped at a pastry shop for 2 pastries and a gelato place before dinner… :) But we finally finished and headed back to our hostel. We were in bed by 9pm.. Busy days.. we were tired!

Morning came and we caught our train to Lucca. We arrived and made our way to the trail that goes around the city – kind of like Rupe here in Orvieto except it doesn’t have hills and its above the town not below it. We tried to find bike rentals for the trail but failed, but the walk was awesome, and the weather cooperated. Sunny blue skies again! We made it around the trail and saw the outskirts of the beautiful town then we walked off the trail to discover some more stuff. Low and behold we ran into a bike rental shop.. so we each rented one and rode around the city. Lots of churches again (again, don’t ask for the names.. too many to remember). We did find one that we were able to go in to that was absolutely incredible. It took my breath away when I walked in. The bike ride was pretty enjoyable, and the town was so pretty- a perfect place to retire to I think! We turned our bikes in and hit up another bakery before we left. Had a fruit tart that was to die for :) Satisfied with the long weekend of travel-we hitched a train back to Florence. When we got there we had to find our train back to Orvieto-as soon as we looked on the board and found it we turned around and it just so happened to be the train we just got off of. What are the odds—it made our job easy though! We got back on and headed home. It was all sunny and happy and then it was like we hit a wall – BAM! Snow!
A garden in Lucca

We hesitated getting off the train.. should have stayed in Florence. But we had to do it. 9 inches had fallen while we were in sunny Pisa and Lucca. What are the odds. T-minus 1 day til our next trip to Paestum, Pompeii, Napoli, and the Amalfi Coast! Quick turn around!
ummm... welcome home??

Anyway, I think this has gotten long enough… Ciao!

Thursday, February 9, 2012


I feel like I have started to run out of newer things to talk about, which is why I haven't posting everyday. Big posts will come after our weekend trips-which hopefully don't get ruined anymore by snow...

Tuesday night Anne made her group dinner- Apple Curry soup.. probably one of the best soups I've had. Very delicious. :) I called it an early night - still tired from birthday celebration weekend and lots of walking. Wednesday came, and we had class as usual. Studio to work on our new set of projects and a lecture from the director of the cittaslow movement. Cittaslow is something that partially originated in Orvieto where they promote local foods, eating, drinking, and all around community living to protect local identies... this is why Orvieto is such a slow paced, easy going city. We are studying this movement in our seminar and in studio so it's pretty cool to see how it all started and where they are going with it.

After the lecture we got a tour of the local winery and cooking school- very cool wine cellar. The night was another lazy one spent sketching and planning our weekend trip to Florence, Pisa, and Lucca. Today we finally got to go to the farmer's market. We felt like we had been deprived of good fruits and veggies since it was cancelled both days last week.. what will we do when we go home?... We stocked up on oranges, meat, and cheese. Oh how I love market days.

Wine Cellar
Tonight we are all going out to Bar Duomo because a local band said they would be there to play American music for us.. haha. We requested Journey, Eagles, Boston.. all the goodies.. I'm excited :) Then it will be time to pack up for our 7:30 am departure to Florence. Gonna be a cold weekend of travelling, but fun-we aren't gonna let the snow get in our way this weekend! :)
Sunset at the winery tour


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Best Birthday EVER!

Sunday night Lana, Anne, and I ventured out at midnight to go watch the game. Since I had been lazy all weekend, staying up to watch it was a challenge. I only lasted through the first quarter then went home.. It probably would have been better if I cared about NFL or if they showed the awesome commercials here.. but neither of those worked out for me; so to bed I went.

Woke up bright and early.. and one year older. The big 2-3. We only had studio, and it only lasted a couple hours. Great birthday present! :) We started our next studio project which is analyzing patterns in Orvieto. My group is analyzing eating atmospheres, considering we are in Italy afterall. It will be a fun project I think. So we started our research and went to a place called Blue Bar for sandwiches. It's a little cafe owned by a French man and his wife-very nice people. We worked on a project a little bit, and then headed back home to curl up under some blankets--it's freakin' cold in this place right now!

We went out to dinner at Zeppelin's-almost the whole crew was there again. The food was awesome, as usual- flan (or in Vitopaulo's words "a fluffy muffin"), some pasta with lamb ragu, and mousse for dessert. They decorated my plate and even put a candle in it and sang to me! At the end of the night they told me my meal was free! I would say I made it out pretty well on this birthday, what more could I ask for?! In Italy, with good friends, good food.. and good wine haha. Happy Birthday to me :)

First Course
Second Course
My personalized dessert :)
Today has been just a normal day- class, nap, class, trip planning (spring break in Paris and Spain? sure why not?).. ya know, the usual :) It's bitter cold out, and it's supposed to snow again.. I want spring to get here now. Despite the weather, this place is still beautiful.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Trip Cancelled.. Bad thing? Not Necessarily.

Our taste of American food was delicious.. it hit the spot. For the first time ever cooking hamburgers I'd say Katie did a pretty good job! Since we had learned that our trip was cancelled we had all weekend to ourselves. Even though I was bummed that we couldn't go, it was nice to relax and not have to rush around to do anything. Friday consisted of sleeping in, 2 walks around the rupe-in which it started snowing..again, sketching, and a social gathering with some of the other girls to sketch... more talking than sketching got done of course.

Saturday was pretty much the same story different day. Slept in, only 1 walk around the rupe--where it started snowing AGAIN!, sketching, and some skype time with the family. I'll have to say this weekend was pretty nice even though we didn't do much. I think we are all at the point where we are starting to consider Orvieto home, so it's comfortable being here (not so much weather wise right now though with all this white stuff on the ground.. but I guess it does remind me of Kansas, even though it's 65 degrees there right now).

Snowy walk on the rupe

Snack to warm up after the walk :) mmmmm..

Saturday night we decided to have my birthday party celebration at our house since our original plan was impeded by the inclimate weather. Everyone came over, and we hung out and danced to Anne's lovely birthday playlist she made. I love that everyone here gets along because it makes the get togethers so much better. It was a great birthday, maybe my best; I don't know if you can top celebrating your birthday in Italy.

Anyway, short blog post for the long weekend.. It's been a good one though. The people at Bar Duomo told us they were going to stay open and put the super bowl on for us! It will be midnight here, and they don't do football so it is pretty awesome that they are catering to us so we can have a little taste of home.

Until tomorrow! Ciao!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Shopping Italians.. ahhhh!!!

Wine Wednesday.. What a great time. More people showed up than we originally predicted (luckily today was glass recycling day haha) There was wine, cards, music, professors (yes our professors showed up.. pretty cool). Everyone had a good time.. it was evident because there were still people in our living room into the weeeee hours of the morning. Hopefully this becomes a tradition every week just to get everyone together for a good time :)

Since market is on Thursday and Saturday, we get Thursday morning off of class.. However, because of the snow storm yesterday, the market got cancelled.. We needed food; so we ventured down to the bottom of the hill to the coop. Oh...My...Goodness... It was crazy in there! I would compare it to Wal-Mart in Manhattan around back to school time or Country Stampede (except not trashy..) We spent over an hour in an undersized grocery store that didn't quite meet my expectations. It was nice and cheaper than some places up on the hill, but it was super packed.. and surprise surprise, no one spoke a lick of english. So if you need to find something.. well.. better just get to looking. But the labels are in Italian too.. so hopefully the pictures are adequate. haha. I for some reason had the idea that they might sell more "American" food.. but that idea was crushed. It was probably one of the most stressful grocery shopping experiences I've had. I'll probably stick to the stuff up on the hill as much as possible. :)

We got back in time to make lunch and relax and sketch for a while. I worked on my journal for Marco's class, which is actually kind of therapuetic-like blogging. It's nice to be able to relax and reflect on all the amazing experiences and opportunities that are being presented to us right now.

Tonight Katie is cooking us hamburgers and french fries.. mmmm.. we are all going to take turns cooking for the house.. My turn will consist of tacos, rice, and tortilla chips. Gotta spice up our food options every now and then! :) Margarhitta night is also tonight at Bar Duomo.. It should be a good time.

News update: bad news bears... trip to Assisi is cancelled. Stupid weather. This is why I don't like snow.. Now what to do for the birthday weekend... hmmmm... any ideas--let me know.

Another cute dog on our snow day :)

Cold Palm Tree.. :(

Poor fruit..
Ciao for now...

P.S. Some good did come of this day.. We figured out how to make our washer work right.. it was indeed operator error.. haha

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

We're not in Kansas anymore... right?

So don't take my title as a comparison of Italy to Kansas, trust me, there is no comparison. There is a story behind the title and here it goes:

Yesterday, Orvieto started to get cold... and rainy :( boooo.. So after classes we just stayed home all night long. I went to sleep in my cozy bed and woke up... to 4+ inches of snow. It's not supposed to do that here right? Not right.. It's obviously very rare by the looks of the way some people were driving... or not driving. But I will admit, it did look very beautiful in the city today dispite the cold temperatures.

Hello Duomo.. Bit chilly today?

Even the poor dog didn't know what to do..

Panorama of the city down the cliff

Since I haven't posted in a couple days (been catching up on posting Rome pictures, etc) I'll rewind a bit, although there hasn't been too much going on. Monday we did all 5 of the group tours because they knew bad weather was on the way. It was a little rough considering we had spent all weekend walking around Rome, but we made it. After all was said and done Katie and I went out to some of the shops (big sales going on and ending soon..). We didn't buy anything, except food, wine, and gelato.. which were all good purchases haha. Tuesday we just had another day of class (history with Marco and Italian). Italian is quite the class; I feel like I'm in grade school again because we do worksheets, play games, and stare blankly as she rambles on in italian. Hopefully we can speak in some form of sentences when we are done!

Today was another day of studio and seminar. Our seminar class is another very interesting class... I think we have lucked out on all these great classes. We are currently reading about and studying the effects of sustainability and citta slow in small towns since Orvieto is a co-founder of the movement. From this we also talk about healing environments and comparisons of Orvieto to say.. Manhattan. The big group discussions really open your eyes to things you may not have origianlly thought of. I'm excited for this class to really start taking off.. We went to lunch at a small place called "Panini Vini". It's a little sandwich place that is delicious. We spent some time there and talked to the owner (as much as we could), and then he said after Easter he was going to invite us over to his house he and his wife were going to cook for us and give us wine. Italians are so nice! Would any sandwich shop owner in America do that? No way!  Tonight we will be hosting a small get together for Wine Wednesday.. Since it's cold we're not sure how many will turn out, but Gary and Sussane said they would make an appearance! Should be fun! :)

Wednesday means cleaning day, which also means another goodie from Franca.. Check it out! Delicious!