Dec 14 2011

There Are Places I’ll Remember…

It’s been a while.

I’ve been so caught up in traveling, and living, and studying that I seem to have forgotten to update you on all of it!

The last month has flown by leaving me in a state of despair over having to fly home on Saturday. But, regret isn’t something worth having- so I’ll always cherish the good times, the friends I’ve made, and the amazing experience I’ve have the past few months.

It was weird not being home for Thanksgiving, but luckily in a city with so many American students, Thanksgiving still happens. I had the pleasure of going to The Diner with my friend Rachel and her family to enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, complete with all the trimmings. The next day, I had a field trip to Pompeii for my Archaeology class. I continue to be amazed at the ability to see things in living color for all of my classes.

Still standing.

Still standing.

I spent the next weekend in Amsterdam, enjoying the beautiful canals and touring the Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, and Heineken Factory. It was very surreal with all the canals, which make it very difficult to get lost. I’ve grown used to using the Arno in Florence as a point of reference- while Amsterdam has countless waterways in a language I don’t quite understand.

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I took a study break last weekend and went to Venice for the day- another city famous for its canals. After seeing all the main sites, I jumped back on a train and high-tailed it for Florence. I’ve finished four of my five exams, written my last paper, bought all my gifts, and begrudgingly started packing.

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All that I have left to do is my Italian exam and say goodbye. Tomorrow, we’re having a farewell reception in Florence’s city hall (swanky, I know). I’ll part ways with professors, staff (Alessia, the student services coordinator is of course my favorite with Serena, Elena, and Rino coming in close behind), and the friends I’ve made.

It’s strange to be going home, where I can drive, go to a supermarket, have good Internet. Not eating pasta everyday or starting my morning with an espresso will be odd. Not saying “ciao” or “grazie” or “vorrei…” will take some getting used to. But in the end, I’ve enjoyed every second of my time here.

Best class of the semester- Michelangelo.

Best class of the semester- Michelangelo.

And no matter where any of us end up, or what we go on to do, or think about, we’ll always have Florence.

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Safe travels home and Happy Holidays- always with love,

Tom


Nov 16 2011

Life changing.

Ciao everyone,

Let me start off by saying Fall Break was amazing! I started off by taking a train to Naples from Florence. Naples is…something. It was a little bit sketchy and fairly dirty. But, it does have amazing pizza. I went to Pizzeria Michele on the suggestion of Rino, one of the staff members of Palazzo Ruccelai who hails from Naples.

Honestly…it was life changing. The dough. The dough…was the absolute best pizza dough I have ever had in my life. (Julia Roberts is a big fan of their pizza as well.) They only have two kinds of pizza- cheese and no cheese. And since they’ve been making pizza since the nineteenth century, they know what they’re doing.

After hanging around Naples for a night and the following day, we headed to the port to get on our boat to Catania. We decided to get a bite to eat, since it would be a fairly long trip. We figured pizza would be a good choice. False. This was the worst pizza I have ever had in my life. Since I don’t anticipate you being near the port of Naples and I erased the name of the place from my memory, I won’t tell it to you. But really, disgusting.

After sleeping on the ferry for the majority of the night, I arrived in Catania, which was absolutely beautiful. Florence is very set in the Renaissance, so it was amazing to see a completely different style of city. I much prefer Gothic architecture, so it was pretty cool.

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The next day, I got on a bus to Nicolosi en route to Mount Etna. And then I climbed it. Climbed an active volcano. It was very surreal and put me in kind of an existential mood. The views were absolutely stunning, the air so crisp, and the experience was pretty life changing. (That seems to be the theme of this particular post.)

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But, the memories of Fall Break fade as I get back into the grove of classes. It’s hard to believe that I only have a little over a month left here in Florence.

Last weekend, I went to Rome for my Michelangelo class and saw the Sistine Ceiling which was, of course, life changing. It’s amazing the difference it makes when studying art history to actually see the thing you’re studying. Slides do not do it justice. It is so immense, so massive, so awe-inspiring that you can’t say anything.

In the flesh...erm, marble.

In the flesh...erm, marble.

This week, we had the finals of the soccer tournament for American students studying in Florence. Palacco Ruccelai made it to the final game, but unfortuantely lost last night. Still- second place ain’t bad.

Winners in my eyes.

Winners in my eyes.

On Friday, I went on a cultural activity organized by the school to Chianti. We went an olive oil factory to see how the oil is pressed, then had a tasting and a typical Tuscan lunch. The olive oil had literally just been pressed and it was, as you would expect, life changing. Can’t say I hated it. Every shop in Florence has little signs in their windows advertising the “New Oil.”

All about the green- exposure to light reduces the potency of the oil and the flavor.

All about the green- exposure to light reduces the potency of the oil and the flavor.

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Yesterday, I went to Pisa to take my obligatory Leaning Tower picture, before splitting. There’s not much else to see there. (Not quite life changing, but I’m glad I had my five minutes of doing the most touristy thing in Italy.)

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This week, I’ve got a couple of tests, which remind me of the “study” portion of Study Abroad. However, there’s fun in sight, with a soccer game at the end of the week. Luckily the school was able to get super cheap tickets for the Florence vs. Milan game, which is apparently an epic rivalry. (Think Red Sox and Yankees). Next week is Thanksgiving, which we unfortunately don’t have off. But the day after, I’ll be spending the weekend in Pompeii with my Archaeology class getting down and dirty at the dig. Hopefully, I’ll also be able to get to Venice and Balzano for the Christmas markets. Although, I hear Florence has a pretty kick-butt Christmas market too. If you’re not too naughty, you might get a gift when I return…

More updates soon, I promise.

A presto!