Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A month has passed....

I have been in Italy for over a month now and I can hardly believe how fast time has gone. I feel so calm and quiet here - believe that if you can. Perhaps it has a lot to do with the fact that I can't really communicate very well so I keep my mouth shut! :) either way, the quiet has been good for me.

I doubt I have change much, however. My laugh is still as loud and jolly, I still love politics (although I am more worldly in my knowledge) and I still love pizza - perhaps more now than ever! I have gotten a taste for a nice Chianti however, and I am slower to plan things and just sit back an wait for things to play out. Perhaps I have finally learned patience? :)

This past weekend we said good bye to one of our group - Nick is off on his new adventure in Milano where he is now going to be working. Our group seems smaller without his sarcasm and dashing smile. Larissa is leaving this Friday which breaks my heart... She really is a kindred spirit with her sweet giggle and willingness to go on any adventure I concoct. I will miss her greatly! She is moving to Canada in March so I am excited to introduce her to all the people I have talked so much about! 

We stayed in Siena this weekend and had a quiet couple of days and a rowdy couple of nights... Followed by a goodbye breakfast with Bacon for Nick. It was a sad day but we hopefully will see him when we go to Milano next weekend!

Today we went to Castellina in Chianti which is this beautiful little medieval town that is so sweet you swear it's all for show. The people are simply wonderful and the views over the Chianti vineyards breathtaking. Each place we go to has its own gentle charm and loveliness but this one reminds me of some of the small villages in France i recall from my frat trip there. It is so quaint and beautiful I just can't do it justice. These little day trips are going to continue throughout this week which I am excited about as I want to see all of Italy, not just the cities. For 12 euro there and back, how can you stay home?


The windy roads are crazy in that when your on the bus, the swaying to and fro almost makes you ill. Nothing a glass of Chianti won't cure! :) the views out of the window are simply spectacular however an it makes it so worth it! :)

Tonight we are heading to a traditional Osteria where we will eat until we explode and drink great wine and laugh well into the night! I say it again, Italians know something about living! 

A month has passed but this smile has seldom left my face. It feels so good to have joy back - it is all that I feel - joy and peace which means that this trip is exactly what I needed and so much more. I will be returning more whole, less broken and with an insatiable thirst for great wine, espresso and good food. 

Life is messy, but that doesn't make the messy bad - the messy bits are just turning points for the next amazing part of your life. You just have to be brave enough to wade through the mess and find peace. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Firenze - day 2

We rise and go and have the breakfast of champions - McDonald's breakfast sandwiches. It is the first American meal I have purchased since being here - everything has always had a Tuscan feel to it until now. It was shockingly disappointing. We head to the Museo Della Academia only to find the queue 1.5 hours long... Where there's a will, there's a way. For an extra 5 euro, we can jump the queue with a pre paid ticket - sold! 15 minutes later, we are in and roaming around looking at some substantial renaissance art! Then we turn a corner and your breath leaves your body... Before you stands the giant in all it's splendour- David - the marble masterpiece of Michelangelo. Even having seen this sculpture before... I was still in awe. It is truly a work of genius and amazing when you think of the fact that he was only 26 when he sculpted arguably his finest piece. We wandered around the rest of the museum but everything seems ordinary and plain now that we have seen David! We do really enjoy the unfinished works that were exhibited, found at Michelangelo's house. We leave the museum not knowing what to do with ourselves!

Food beckons so we find this amazing pizzeria and have some delish pizza and wine. The lunch of champions! 

Final stop for the day, the Duomo... We are herded inside like cattle as the doors open at 1:30pm and the feeling never leaves. The inside is not nearly as beautiful as the outside and we are less than impressed. We aren't able to go up on the dome as it is closed on Sundays, so we conceded and call it a day. 

Sitting on the bus heading home we are all silent and tired and thinking about all the things we saw this weekend! A whirlwind trip to Florence, beautiful and filled with sculptures, great food and some lasting memories with my new friends.

Nick leaves next weekend to go to Milano to start a new job and it will be weird without him. You develop such a close bond with people in such a short time and then they leave... It really is the weirdest scenario out there. Larissa and I already have plans to go to Milano for a weekend to visit... But she's leaving in 2 weeks too... I can't imagine our house without her - and we will get a new roommate... Booooo! This experience here is like life on fast forward in some respects - you meet amazing people and the are only here for a short time... It makes you appreciate the time you have with them and really try to make some solid memories. That's what I try to do at least! :)

Florence

I think that Florence, or Firenze to Italians, should be dubbed the city of Michelangelo! We hop the bus in Siena and in an hour we are here! We find our hostel and we are off to explore.

My travelling companions, Nick and Larissa, are like me in that the love to wander and get lost in new places. We wander ad come across the fashion streets boasting names like Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, and of course Prada... Sigh. We wander to the river and see Ponte Vecchio and wander across gazing at the different jewelry shops that line the bridge. We find the Uffizzi only to find the 2 hour wait line and decide to forgo this wonder for a lesser known museum that houses some of Michelangelo's earlier works... Some from when he was 19 and just studying anatomy in a monetary. He was absolutely brilliant from the very beginning and remains my favourite sculptor. 

We finish with the museum as it closes and make our way towards the Duomo. As you round the corner, your jaw can't help but drop with the magnificence that is this building. The sheer size of it is amazing but the marble and sculptures and designs and colours, simply one of the most beautiful buildings I have seen to date. We try and go in only to find that it is closed for the day, but the bell tower is open and we walk up the 414 stairs to the top. We see Firenze in a new way, the sun is just starting to go down and the bells in all the churches chime and we just watch as people below scurry along. We don't have a care in the world and spend some quality time soaking in the views. 

The decent is easier, as it always is, and we are down in a bar having a pint before we know it. We people watch and chat and figure out where to go next only to realize that everything that is interesting is closed. We go back to the hostel to freshen up - or reorganize our faces as Larissa says - and we head out for the night.

We had a recommendation for a restaurant called " l' Che c' e, c' e" which means "what you see is what you get" - we get a reservation then go and sit in a piazza for an aperitif - we talk about soccer and sculpture and travelling and the wine is so good that the time we had to kill disappears! We get to the restaurant and are treated to delightful hosts, incredible food and a traditional Italian feel. We have wine and bread and 3 courses each, so so so good. The chef - named Gino - even came out to find out where we were from and shared his story with us - so wonderful! By the time we are done, it's 11pm so we start wandering looking for a beverage. 

We find a club, get a drink and wander outside to find the action! Italy is like Savannah in that they give you plastic cups for your drinks so you can take them with you when you go. We walk into this Piazza and it is loaded with kids around high school age. There are hundred of them. We hang around hoping something exciting is going to happen but realize soon that this is just how they spend Saturday evenings! Wild. There is even a guy going abound selling beer out of his back pack... Sketchy dude!

We wander around hitting a pub here and there and watching people. I look at Larissa  and her face is just blank - she speaks German normally so having to translate to English or Italian all day has tuckered her out! We head back to the hostel, giddy and giggling from all we saw today. A wonderful day in Florence!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sick

This week has been a bit of a dull one as I have had a cold for most of it. Thanks Dorothea! :) so I stayed in bed for 2 full days only coming out for school and food. 

Today was much better and so I ventured out with Larrissa and we went to an exhibit of Steve McCurry's photography - inspiring, amazing, breathtaking, heart wrenching - they are all words that I would use to describe his art. It amazes me what someone can do with a camera and the right moment! The colors in his photos were outstanding and surreal, some of them pulled you right into them and you could almost feel what was going on on them. A truly talented artist! 

Dorothea, Larrissa and I then proceeded to have supper at the Campo where we drank Chianti, ate pasta and revelled in the beautifully warm Italian night. We finished off with a stroll to the Fortezza that overlooks Siena at night - which is so very pretty! It was a lovely evening!

This weekend - tomorrow we are hitting up the Karaoke bar again hoping to redeem ourselves from the debauchery of last weekend... Gong show alert! :) since the bus drivers are on strike tomorrow we are saving our trip to Florence until Saturday. :) nick, Larissa and I are heading to Florence Saturday to check out some museums, have some good food, shop a little and hit some of the clubs. Oh the life I lead!!! So very thankful! :)

Until this weekend, ciao - Buona Notte! :)

Canadian Thanksgiving

So, since it was Thanksgiving in Canada on Monday, I decided to have some of my new international friends over for a traditional meal to celebrate. 

Nick, Ryan, Casey (from the states) and my roomies, Dorothea and Larissa joined me to raise a glass and fork to toast all we are thankful for. 

Prep started at 4... And for those who know me, know I am not a big cook... So when Ryan said he would do the stuffing, I was pleased as punch. So with the potatoes peeled and carrots cut, I rolled up my sleeves to tackle the chicken since they don't have turkey in Italy. I said one sentence to Nick "well Jaime Oliver says..." And Nick says "well, I fancy myself a bit of a cook" and the chicken was in his hands before he knew what to do! :) this is me making Thanksgiving dinner...
Larrissa, Ryan, and Nick did most of it and I helped cut, stir and washed a lot of dishes. I did get complimented on my potato peeling technique and I said that my mom would be so proud. It was nice to have a meal we all had a hand in making!

We sit down, clink glasses that are filled with great red wine (of which I am developing a taste for...) and dive into a wonderful, filling and satisfying meal! It was simply wonderful and made us all realize how thankful we are for all that we have.

The night continued well into the evening as we played many games and drank many, many bottles of delicious wine. I think this past week I have had a steady buzz on for all of it.

What am I thankful for? A wonderful, giving, amazingly supportive family; friends that are out of this world awesome; an opportunity to live my dreams and the courage to do it. I am so blessed that its hard to know where to start! Thank you all for being a part of me... I carry you with me on my journeys thinking about those at home often! 

Sending you love on Thanksgiving!
H

Monday, October 14, 2013

San Gimignano

It was interesting... I was talking to my new friend from the UK, Nick, as we were atop the tower in this mystical, magical town asking him how to describe such splendour, such beauty, such peace. Both he and I came up at a loss... It really is a magical little town. 

Friday night... Lets start there. We "pre-game" at our house meaning we get well lubricated before we hit the bar. Finally we venture out to the Irish Pub that serves as a karaoke bar on Fridays. Humm.... Isn't that on my bucket list? Yes, yes it is! Sooo, I convince my tiny little roomie that singing would be the best idea ever. After 1 more beer she conceded. Haha! So, we select a song we think we both know - by Maclamore...  So we start the song only to find out that it is WAY to fast for us, and we botch the ever loving crap out of the song... Except "this is fucking awesome"! Thank God for our saviour - Phil from New Jersey who busts out some mad rhyming skills and when the song ends we are all rock stars and high 5s all around! Eventually I convince Phil to sing "Summer Lovin" and Nick some random song with Eileen in the title. Needless to say, some songs will never be the same! But so much fun! In between random songs, Italian songs would get the bar going - but none like a song from La Boheme that my fab friend Ryan from South Carolina and I sang along to! AMAZING! The whole bar sang along. The night finally ended at 2:30ish and Nick, Ryan and Larrissa and I had agreed to meet for the bus at 10:30 the next morning. 

Morning comes and 3 of the 4 show for the bus... Where's Ryan? We text and call... Finally he shows up with his umbrella saying, I've been waiting for you all on the bus. Sigh. An hour and a half down windy streets and we see on the horizon this magical little walled town. Anticipation and excitement stir... This has been on my travel list since mom and dad went in 05. We disembark and find our selves taken back in time when knights fought gallantly and ladies did needle point all day... It was brilliant. Even now, words fail.

Shops line the street boasting their wines and cheeses or the local delicacy, wild boar salami. The artists abound with their water coloured paintings depicting typical Tuscan landscapes and the arched cobble stoned streets of San Gimignano.

A bite to eat was mandatory so after wandering we found this little restaurant out of the way. We were treated like royalty, had some of the best food to date and the wine - oh the wine! After having the owner of the restaurant take a picture of our very international group, we were off the explore. We roamed the streets, taking in the landscapes that peeked at us from over the walls - so close and within touching distance. How did I ever get so lucky to be here? We climb to the wine museum only to find it is merely a place to taste wine... Yes please! We wander with our glasses soaking in the spectacular views, the olive groves, the vineyards... Wow. We find the tower and ascend the stairs to the top. Feeling like kings, we are silent and contemplative, thinking about life and who we are, why we are here, and only deep inspiring thoughts that come to you when looking out over such beauty.


Returning to the main square, we find some gellatorias - one boasting its the best in the world and another saying it has won international competitions. How does one decide? We picked the one where the "chef" was outside talking trash about the other one. Dudes got some gumption! :) I had "Rosemary's baby" which was raspberry and rosemary which was amazing and Ryan had "grapefruit and champagne" which was maybe the best thing I had tasted. Ever. 

As we wandered this tiny town it appeared that every turn we took lead to the puppet show put on for the tourists. I found it really funny and by the end of the day, my comrades hardly wanted to walk with me for my laughing... All in good fun.

The day wound to a close and I hardly wanted to leave this mystical little town. We purchased wine, cheese and boar salami for antipasti and made our way to the bus.

A brief stop in Poggibonzi for a bus change and we were home. Larissa and I found pizza and the boys went their ways. We were exhausted and wanted to revel in our day silently. 

Honestly one of the best days since I have been here. It felt like a dream! I must go back soon! 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Update - week 2

I haven't posted all week, mostly because hasn't been overly interesting.

We welcomed a new roommate on Sunday night, Larissa who is from Switzerland - she's 22. We had the typical 2+ bottles of wine to welcome her. Life has gotten into a lovely and simple routine... Go for a run, go to school, go for lunch, do homework, have some quiet time reading, make supper with roomies, visit with roomies, then bed. It's a quiet and stress free life here... I didn't know how well I would do without being busy ALL the time like I am back home, but on week 2 it seems to suit me well. How does one return home after this I wonder. 

Last night was a return to high school for me. All of the people that are friends here are at least 10 years my junior - save one - and along with that comes all the same drama... Just in different languages. "Does he like me", "why is he ignoring me?", "she's such a bitch"... I avoided this shit in high school and I avoid it here... Like the plague. We did have a good night, despite the drama, and wound up at a bar down the street on singles night. New roomie, who weights 80lbs soaking wet needed to go home before the party broke because she couldn't really stand anymore so I took her home, got her to bed and told her tomorrow is going to suck. This morning she wanted death - I guess that's what happens when a youngun' tries to keep up with me and my old and seasoned liver! Chalk one up for this old gal! :) Today, all roommates were hung over and sick, I felt like a rock star... Something to be said for having experience I suppose. :) 

This weekend I am heading to San Guimiamo on Saturday and then we are hosting Canadian thanksgiving! It is going to be delish!!! We have a couple of American friends coming over to celebrate so we will have about 6 or 7 in our tiny kitchen... We will make it work! :)

Life is calm and quiet and precisely what I think I needed... It is hard to believe I have only been here 2 weeks as it already feels so familiar and like home. I got my first piece of mail today so it is officially home :) thanks mom! :)

Italian is starting to come, I understand more everyday and can respond to the basic questions... Time and vocabulary are what I need to actually learn this language - and patience, which I am learning... I have been trying to have more patience with myself... I can't be instantly fluent and I am not pressuring myself to be. I will get there, I am confident! :)

Well, that's the update for now... Hope all is well where you all are. I am happy and joyful and quiet (believe that if you can) - except that raucous laughter of mine... That's still here! :)

Love to you all!
Ciao, 
Heather

Monday, October 07, 2013

Last day in Verona

Woke to go and have breakfast with Emily this morning. As we walked to Piazza di Erbe, we chatted like old friends. We laughed about how polite we are compared to Europeans and how we say "oh man" all the time. It was nice to have a small piece of home, if only for a brief moment. We shared our love for the Italian coffee and relaxed in the warm morning air watching people. I walked her back to the hostel, gathered my things, said good bye to my new friend and went to find breakfast. 

Honestly, I feel like the Hobbits on The Lord of the Rings - "haven't you heard of elevensies?" I sit and have a post breakfast, pre lunch macchiato and revel in the delicious amount of time I have! 

I had seen all the sites that were interesting to me so I wandered. I wandered right into the finish line of the Verona marathon!!! They finished the 42.2kms in the Roman arena... What an amazing finish line! I stood and watched and before long I was shouting "Bravi" or "Brava" depending on the gender of the runner. Some finished really strong, some were glad it was over, an some you could tell had a rough day. I guess it didn't help that it had begun to pour! So, under my umbrella, and out of the rain, I encouraged these faces of joy and pain! I reminded me of my marathon and how amazing it was to have people cheer for you when they didn't even know who you are! I did get a number of smiles and winks... Really? Focus on the end game dude! Siiiigh!

More wandering after my soaking feet told me to move on. I found a little buffet that hosted a variety of different Italian delights, what could go wrong, right? Seriously terrible! It all tasted like sawdust... Live and learn!
View of Verona

I figured that it was time to make my way to the bus station so I stopped at the information place for tourists and asked what was happening with taxis and busses since the city centre was closed for the marathon... She gave me directions to the taxi stand and I found it, so to celebrate and because I was early, I sat and had a delicious glass of wine. Sitting in the bar, I looked at my map an low and behold I found out where I needed to go and it was in walking distance... Simple! :) so, since I was so smart and saved a 10 euro cab ride, I had another glass of wine!!!:)

Now I am on the bus headed "home" from a wonderful weekend away. It still feels funny that "home" is in Italy - but to me, home is where you get mail and if I know my mother a Thanksgiving card and Halloween card are on there way!! :) 

I can't describe this experience so far... A week and my heart is just so full of joy. I am so very lucky... So very, very lucky!

Verona day 2

Second day in this beautiful city! I woke to rain... Boo! That didn't stop me tho, I made my way back to Juliette's house and I was the only one there! I wandered around her house, it was quite plain but I loved how they had Shakespeare quotes everywhere! I even got the touristy picture of me touching Juliette's boob as its supposed to bring you luck... A dude surely thought of this one! :) who am I to tempt fate?

I then made my way to Torre di Lamberti (the Lamberti Tower) and climbed the 368 stairs to the top. I got my workout in for the day! It boasts some of the most amazing views in Verona and even with the rain it was stunning. I descended and just as I got back to the square, the towers bells chimed... My timing is impeccable!:( I sat in a bar (which is a caffe here) and had a wonderful breakfast watching people. I haven't found bacon, FYI. :( 

I made my way to the arena which is the 2nd oldest coliseum in Italy, dating back to about 400AD. It is an oval shape and they still use it to have Operas in during the summer months. Originally I wanted to see an opera here but the season is over for this year. Boo! :( I walked about in the underbelly of the arena imaging Gladiators and noble men and women in the stands, cheering. It is quite magnificent if you think about it! In the middle of the floor, they were preparing for a production of some sort and I watched as men dangled from scaffolding in the rain - I didn't envy them at all!

I then found my way to Castelevecchio which is a castle that was built in the 1400s to safe guard the town of Verona. The museum inside was filled with Renaissance art, sculptures and weaponry that left your mouth gaping open. Granted most of the art exhibited was that of Jesus' crucifixion or birth, but the art was wonderful. They had a large exhibit of frescos as well that have been taken from their original locations. The Castle itself was giant and you could walk along the medieval styled walls. I resisted the urge to yell out "it's 7 o'clock and all is well" - like they did in the Robin Hood cartoon... These walls showed some of the best views of the river Siena has. When exiting, you can go in the pont Scaligero and explore the market along the bridge. I saw fresh cheeses, bread, wine and prosciutto - It would have made the best picnic ever! Next time for sure! I crossed back into Castelevecchio - across the moat (to the moat) - and I was off again to continue my exploration. 

A lovely lunch in some bistro and I hit the shops. Somehow I found myself on the street wih Valentino, Gucci, Dolce & Gabana - yikes. Then I saw it... The most beautiful Prada bag I have ever laid eyes on... It was perfect and exactly what I would want - perfect, soft black leather, golden zippers. I fell in love. After much consideration, I didn't purchase it - I have to be responsible right? Besides I have 3 months to go still - I can't fall in love with the first Prada I see! So... Walk away I did, and I got a gelato to ease my broken heart! :)

Eventually I ended up at the Chirc di Sant Edmo. I was not very impressed with this place. It had lovely frescos and was very unique in that there are two churches built one on top of the other. This building was started in the 1200s but was less than Inspiring - even if it did have more of a calming feeling to it. Maybe I am jaded already jaded after the Duomo in Siena and the Basillica di Sant Anastasia. 

Night was coming so I supped on pasta that was just ok and headed back to the hostel. I was soaked from the rain, cold from the wind and tired from walking all day. I had settled into the hostel and my book when Emily, a hostel mate wandered in. Right off the bat I recognized that Québécois accent and asked her where in Quebec she was from. We were fast friends and it turns out that Emily is an Interior Designer from Montreal. We talked about work and travelling an before long we had plans to meet up for coffee in the morning before she takes off for Venice. 

Another wonderful, but tiring day exploring.... I am going to sleep well tonight!

Verona

Times on tickets for trains or busses seem to be a recommendation for when you should be at the station. The bus I needed to take was 20 minutes late and by the time we got to Bologna where I had to transfer we were 40 minutes late. I thought I was screwed and had resigned myself to staying in Bologna. Nope, they waited for the tardy bus - how nice of them - and so we were off to Verona.

I hopped on a city bus and purchased a ticket with the help of giggling school boys. The smelly man in front of me is drinking wine from the bottle and I can't help but smile. The teenage girls at the back of the bus are giggling hysterically - the bus antics of any country! :)

After getting lost finding the hostel (street signs aren't very prominent here) I found it, checked in and was on my way!

I found the main plaza easily and it was alive with a market place. This market was for tourists tho, and had every knickknack from Verona you could find... No thanks! I continued on to the Basilica di Sant Anastasia and went in. With 97% of the Italian population being Catholic, I'm think I am going to see many churches! This church was exquisite in that every inch of it was decorated with marble, frescos, ornate floral painting, sculptures. A wonder for the senses really! It was totally different than the Duomo in Siena.

After spending quite sometime in this church I headed back out to explore. I got lost in the winding streets and medieval architecture. It's wonderful and old and so ornate just even walking the streets! After some time, I made my way back to the Piazza and stumbled upon the statue of Dante that I had wanted to see... Oh Dante how delightfully cruel you are to leave us your writings! I hung out with Dante revelling in the architecture that surrounded his statue and wondering what he was like when he was alive. 

I wandered some more and saw Juliette's balcony - hundreds of tourists surrounded her statue and so I decided to see this to tomorrow. It was getting late so I hit up a restaurant for some delish pasta and headed back to my hostel. A complete afternoon of seeing the sites, and I topped it off with a couple beer and a book. Verona is delightful!

Friday, October 04, 2013

Update

Alright I have spared you all for the last couple days but now I am on a bus destined for Verona - the city of the star crossed lovers and Dante. There is wifi so I am updating my blog! :)

Tuesday was a great day at school. I know it takes time to learn but I want to speak the language now! :) I am so patient! :) after school it was a nice lunch and a nap... Life is so hard here! I woke to yelling in Italian... The neighbour across the way was having a dispute with someone and the cops were called. There were 4 cops and Bruno (the neighbour) was not letting them in. He would wander from one window to another yelling at them out the window. The lady in the apartment below him would join in sometimes. Turns out this lady is his ex wife. When the cops couldn't get him out the paramedics were called - 4 of them came. They tried for a good 45 minutes to get him out but they couldn't. He yelled for the whole time. I couldn't help but watch the drama trying to understand what they were saying. Luca, my German roomie, said that they were using words we won't learn in school. Finally, 5 firemen came and they know him well apparently. They had Bruno out of there in 15 minutes. He then got into the ambulance but then decided that he didn't want to go. Luca said he was talking about how they have to respect his Liberty! He was kicking and screaming - even when they closed the ambulance doors. Oh, the drama! Apparently this happens about every 2 weeks when Bruno hits the vino too hard.

Wednesday went like this - run, school, lunch, laundry, nap, explore. I went to the Duomo and I can't believe how amazing it is inside! 
It is absolutely stunning - there are at least 7 different colours of marble, mostly black and white, but I saw pink, grey, yellow, ivory, and maroon. It was so beautifully decorated with carvings everywhere, detailed marble carvings on the floor, frescos that looked like carvings, sculpted ceilings... It was amazing. I spent 2 hours or so exploring and in awe of the beauty! When I got home, Dorothea was home so we made supper and had a bottle of wine. Casey and Ryan came over and we ended up drinking 2 more bottles and spending the evening laughing, playing on Pottermore and enjoying the evening. Casey and Ryan are here until December as well, so I am sure we will spend a lot if time with them. 

Yesterday started the same but after school I did my homework and the work I will miss on Friday. Then I went out to find a cell phone. I figured that if I am going to be travelling most weekends, I should have a phone to make reservations with, call taxis, and keep in touch with the roomies. I had brought a phone I used in Canada but it wasn't unlocked so I bought a new one an now I have a phone with an incomprehensible number and a weird ring. When I was walking back to the house I stumbled on the Museo Della Tourtura - I had talked about going to this a while ago... So, in I went. I get spooked out so easily and going into this place alone was perhaps a poor decision. I spent a long time wandering around looking at stretching tables and tongue clamps and face masks and hanging devices. The history of some of these things is fascinating and I learned that some of these devices are still in use in Latin America. Yikes! I have concluded that humans are cruel to each other and it is an ugly part of our history.

I came home and made shepards pie (as Dorothea had never had it). She loved it and for a small girl, she sure eats well! :) a quiet night in and bed early - I'm heading to Verona tomorrow after all! :)

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

A new life in Siena

Today I woke early, laced up my shoes and went for my first run since April. It felt so good. It was a crisp autumn
 morning and the streets were bare, no crowds, no Italian, just me and the sound of my shoes. It was awesome, incredible, quiet. I could imagine knights on horses walking through these streets thousands of years ago. I could almost hear the clop, clop of there shoes on the cobblestone. I have found myself in a magical place - I am quiet and peaceful and content. I ran up to Il Campo and then around to the Duomo and back to my house. By the time I got there I was tired but satisfied with the mornings run - its so great to feel the path beneath my feet again! 

A relaxing breakfast and then off to school. Today was a bit better, I understood a few more words, looked up a million of them in my dictionary I am sure. I do ask a lot of questions and I had one lady roll her eyes at me - to which I responded to by laughing. She is here for a week... I'm here to learn this language!! So, it was a day of conjugating verbs and subjects and prepositions. Oh the love of language! :)

Schools over and I am now sitting in Il Campo having lunch, watching people and enjoying the sunshine. I think I will sit and write or read or just people watch... It feels like I have so much time and I've no where to be... How will I ever get used to this? :)


Il Campo in the early morning light

The Duomo - the Cathedral in Siena

First day of school

I arrived to the apartment only to say goodbye to two roommates already. We are now only 3, Luca a quite Germany guy who is 19 and Dorothea who is a Swedish 18 year old. She is very chatty. I settled into my room and went out to explore only to find most things closed at 7 on Sunday. A quick pizza and I headed back to the house in the rain. 

It was a nice night in and an early to bed. At 4am, I woke scared to death from the crazy thunder and lightening. It shook the brick house I swear it did! 

Morning finally came and Dorothea and I walked to school... It is literally 2 mins from the house and all up hill (but only one way). The school is basically a floor that had 10 rooms or so with white boards and tables. Very plain but functional. There are 9 of us in the beginners group and I am the youngest - the oldest being 72 and second youngest being 46... I am in the Grandpa/Grandma group. I am the only North American in the class while people come from Uruguay, Sweden, UK, Japan and Norway. A mixed bag really.

Julia is our teacher and her smile is infectious and warm. It was Italian spoken from the first minute in the class to the last - no cheating if we didnt understand something, we had to use our dictionaries. Needless to say, I used mine a LOT. One day in and I feel that I have already learned so much! I can't wait until I can string together a sentence! :)

After school I went to one of the Italian government agencies that I need to fill some paper work out for only to find that It was closed for the day shortly after noon... Typical Italian! I wandered around for a bit and got really lost, but it doesn't matter here because it is so beautiful and I've no where to be. I found a cafe, got some pasta and sat down to write. I must have been there 2 hours before I figured to should head home and get some groceries. 

Buying food in a store when you don't know what it is is a interesting experience. I think I did ok... We shall see when the time comes to cook anything! I headed back to my new home and proceeded to have supper cooked for me by Dorothea and her friend Casey from North Carolina. I could get used to this! We sat talking until late into the night and after 2 bottles of wine and plenty of food I said good night to my new friends and hit the sack. It had been a long day and so much Italian.