Where to start?

I’m in Arezzo now and it is so beautiful. It smells like flowers here. We are staying in a monastery, which I love. I have a nice room that I share with two girls from the program. The monastery provides two meals a day, which is great for saving money. I feel like I have finally settled down. I go to class in the mornings and then excursions or walks around Arezzo with my professor in the afternoon.We are learning some really interesting things about fascism and the false medieval appearance of Arezzo.

I have had the most amazing food. One one of our excursions, we visited Michelangelo’s birthplace. Since I had already seen his final resting place, it felt right. Nearby, we had lunch at a restaurant that, from the outside, looked like a sandwich shop. You could walk up to the front and buy newspaper or gum, but the food we had was out of this world. They made a lasagna with the freshest pasta I’ve ever had and cream sauce and truffles. There are no words good enough to describe this dish.

The most exciting thing so far has been the Joust of the Saracen. It is a very important tradition here in Arezzo. It seems medieval, with horses and knights and processions, but in reality it is just an abstraction of a tradition by the fascists. Nevertheless, it’s a big deal. The entire town gets involved. Everyone belongs to one of four neighborhoods or “quartieri.” Our professor put us into groups, too. Mine was Porta Santa Spirito. The others are Porta del Foro, Porta Sant’ Andrea, and Porta Crucifera. On last Friday night, we all went to our separate neighborhood dinners. The food was good, but there were many rowdy young men. I suggest staying away from rowdy groups of Italian men. They have limited interests. The next night, we went to the actual Joust or “Giostra.” It is a joust against a dummy (the saracen) and not other knights. It took a long time, which was surprising because horses are fast and the actual jousting goes by very quickly. The traditions and processions and arguing about points are what took so long. It was like Arezzo’s personal Superbowl, with horses and flags. When it was over, my team lost. It’s amazing how quickly I got invested in a neighborhood and team to which I don’t even belong.

I am looking forward to this week. The school part of it will be short and then we have a long weekend, where almost my entire group is going together to Cinque Terre. I have only heard good things about this place, but I am not sure what to expect. Every day here has brought some new experience. One day it might be seeing a joust and another it is learning how to order a kebab in Italian. Actually, those both happened to me yesterday. I recommend the roasted zucchini.

I was going to use the rest of this post for pictures, since I have so many to share, but the internet will not comply. I will try again soon. It will probably just be a long post of photos from the past two weeks. Then I’m sure I’ll post again about the wonders of Cinque Terre.



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