City of Fictional Love and the Big Pond -
This weekend I headed to Verona with my program. It’s famous for being the setting of Shakespeare’s tragic play, Romeo and Juliet. The city itself is absolutely adorable with it’s narrow streets and sweet little market places. The hills surrounding it were just covered in vineyards and I have never seen so many people making out within a one block radius. Safe to say, Verona is an extremely romantic city. We caught a wedding while looking around and since my program is 98% women, there was much gawking and the scenery was momentarily forgotten. I think it is interesting how this city has practically become famous because of this love story, besides its obvious cuteness factor, but it is a work of fiction. The people of Verona saw the great interest in tourists to see the setting of the play. Result: they picked a house for Romeo and they picked a house for Juliet. Juliet’s house did not have a balcony (for the famous scene) so of course, they built one. The consequence of this of course becomes that tourists flock to her courtyard in search of luck in love. The whole courtyard is just covered in graffiti and gum with stuff written on it (which I still don’t understand). There is of course the love lock gate, filled with locks and then there is the statue of Juliet where if you touch her right breast, you will have forever luck in love. It is cool how people get sooo into these ideas, however it seemed a little too touristy to me considering how much real history I have seen in the past three months.
The next day we went to Lake Garda, which is the largest lake in Italy. I really loved it here because it was so local and was very much like any beach town. It rained the entire time we were on our trip, but nothing could diminish my excitement for our boat ride around the town. With all of the mist and stillness of the lake, it was very Mists of Avalon esque, which was fairly epic. The lake contains hot springs underneath so the water is naturally very warm and because of this many resorts and rehabilitation centers are located here. The town was so cute and I could tell it would be amazing to be here in the summer! Everything else around here is getting pretty crazy and everyone is getting stressed out about leaving, so I am trying to make the best of my time left!
Stibbert Museum -
And of course, I forgot about the Stibbert Museum too. Yesterday, Kal joined me in wandering off to find this apparently awesome museum owned by Frederick Stibbert. The museum is his old palace and is just filled to the brim with collectable everything! He was really into military pieces however. I don’t think that I have ever seen so much armor, swords, dagger, shields! You name it, this guy had it. The most amazing thing that I noticed was how small all of the armor was, they must have been so tiny! Speaking of tiny, my other favorite part was the exhibit of Napoleon Bonaparte’s clothes. I don’t even think I could have fit into that little vest! The best part was on his cloak, he had little N’s embroidered everywhere! It was quite ostentatious and I can just imagine this little sassy man in his cloak, wrecking havoc. All around definitely one of the hidden jewels of Florence for sure. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take pictures of the inside, but I took pictures of our little walking trip to get there, oh and of course my dream villa I am hoping to purchase in the next month, along with my little car out front.
Easter Sunday -
My Goodness, I completely forgot to share by far the most memorable Easters I have ever had (no offense mama, you always make the best Easter baskets and Al is quite talented in egg decoration), but it was nothing I expected it to be at all! Myriah, Kali and I all got up on Sunday, got ready and walked down our street early to get a good spot for the annual celebration they hold out front of the Duomo. So I told you what I thought it would be like, huge mistranslation on my part! There was no fire, or wheeling that fire cart into the Duomo (that one always sounded off to me). We got good standing spots and wait for about an hour until things started really happening. There was a parade with drummers and flag throwers and finally they wheeled this huge hut looking thing into the piazza, placing it in between the Baptistry and Duomo. Throughout this process, a huge crowd forms and we become pretty smashed in there (Italians have no sense of personal space). Waiting for the celebration to start, it begins to rain. I am talking huge drops! Instantly soaking us, all we could do was laugh! People start bringing out their umbrellas and this tiny, ancient Italian woman lets us hunch over under hers all the while wiping our faces down with tissues. She says to us in Italian, “Today we are all brothers and sisters”. The best part is the archbishop faces the rain and attempts to bless the entire crowd with holy water….like we weren’t getting enough. After he blesses the cart the rain slowed down enough for everyone to put away their umbrellas. Suddenly, this rocket just shoots from the Duomo into this cart and apparently lights some kind of fuse, setting off a firework show. It was a good end to all that waiting and of course we had to finish it off with some Easter brunch, finally got some long awaited pancakes…
Luckily, I think you can see the entire transition in this pictures so enjoy!
Florence is experiencing a torrential downpour and the Florentines could not be more thrilled! I don’t know how it works in the rest of Italy or what, but the Florentines get their water supply from surface water and don’t have ground water wells. They rely so heavily on the rain because it happens so frequently here, but not recently. The city was thinking about turning off water rations at night to preserve because we were runnin’ out! Well, they got what they wanted. In my Italian class today, Leonardo was singing and dancing during the lightning storm. It’s safe to say they are stoked.
This picture is from last night. All the ladies and I went out for my friend Hailey’s 21st birthday party at Dante’s, a tratorria across the Arno River. For those of you who don’t know a tratorria is classic Florentine food and boy do they know how to make pasta here. The truffle sauces are my absolute addiction, I am honestly thinking of moving to France and cultivating them myself. They are so rare and expensive in other parts of the world, but here it is more just a regular sauce and let me tell you I will be getting as many truffles in me as possible in the next month. Everyone here is turning 21 and it is so interesting to watch people figure out what to do on their birthdays because the legal drinking age is 16 here so there is not too much excitement in going to bars for the first time.
Another crazy thing happened to me this week when I went on tours with my classes. Yesterday, I went back (for the fifth time) to see my main man David and my Renaissance Art teacher, who I was not totally fond of but is now growing on me, took us upstairs (which I didn’t even know existed). We went up there to find peace and quiet for presentations, but I also found an art conservation office! I originally wanted to go into art conservation, but upon learning how much schooling was entailed and the fact that one has to pass Chemistry with higher than a D+ (not my proudest moment), I removed that from my list of occupational interests. Anywayss, it almost made me want to try again! It looked incredible in there with all of the art under lights and tools everywhere. It actually looked like a complete mess and judging on how the Italians handle their art, I don’t know how impressed I would be with their skills.
That leads into my other story which happened today, in the Uffizi with my same teacher, who happens to also teach my Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Bernini class. This being my sixth time in the Uffizi, I am already aware of what a complete mess this place is. Unfortunately, gift shops and contemporary shoe displays take up the bottom floor so the beautiful masterpieces of Caravaggio, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and endless upon endless amounts of Madonna and Child’s are squeezed together on the uppermost floor. We near the end of our class and my teacher tells us that he is taking us to the new permanent installation. No one in their right mind, unless you were a local, would ever have been able to find this place! He took us to the snack bar, which is on the third floor, we went through this door to walk down three flights of stairs into what is practically the basement. There were no signs indicating where this place was or what was in it. I walk in the room to find Rubens, Rembrandt, Velasquez! I mean there were some major masterpieces in this place, I could not believe my eyes. Not only were these works of art stuffed in the Uffizi’s basement, but the walls were blue. Everybody essentially expects galleries and museum’s walls to be off-white so it’s not distracting and now I see why. This terrible bright (and I’m talking bright!) It looks like they allowed the curator’s three-year old pick out this color.
Figured you would enjoy some anecdotes from my week, I hope that you are all well!
Cinque Terra….hhmm the most amazing beach, even after a killer mudslide. So beautiful, it completely reminded me of Santorini in Greece, which has always been my favorite. It’s comin down to the end, so I have started a bucket list and am trying to do something everyday and plan my weekends up! Should be a great close to an amazing semester :)
Ciao Apresto Bellisimas xoxx
Boboli Gardens -
My little friend Josiah came for his santa semana break from Madrid to come visit Florence for the weekend and it has been great. Today, we ventured over to the Boboli Gardens which has the most amazing views of Tuscany, but is all around just gorgeous. They are the gardens of Palazzo Pitti, perhaps the largest palace in Florence and one of my favs for sure. The gardens were great, kinda reminded me of The Shining, but then again all gardens with a design do!
In other news, it has been soo hot here, it got up to 80 degress this week and it has been lovely! I found my new little favorite terrace overlooking the Arno River, in the hopes of transforming my pale little legs into slightly browner versions of themselves. I have been running again, which is an activity in itself besides the exercise. It is surprising to the Italian people that women exercise, let alone wear shorts while doing it. Since I have to run past the hundreds of people walking by the Duomo and along the streets of the Ponte Vecchio, I quickly become quite a spectacle. Finally reaching the running park, the sun is so nice so it makes it all worth it.