Okay, I realize I hit it kind of hard in that last post. I promise this one is much less self-analytical and grandiose. It is, in fact, just a simple recounting of my day. It’s not even very detailed because I wrote it on a train. So just in case you were wondering, here is what a Wednesday in my life looks like…
I was almost late for class today
but I broke into a run through the cobblestone streets and across the piazzas full of Italians confused by my rush, so I made it to class before the bells started ringing……and by “bells” I mean church bells from the bell tower at the top of the hill, and by “class” I mean the train station. Today we were going to Florence again.
We crowded onto the train and sat back to watch the bright green hills and blue sky of Tuscany pass by for the next hour. I pulled out a notebook and my degree sheets to try yet again to pick my classes for next semester.
Just another day.
It was “business as usual” when we got off the train–a 15 minute break to use restrooms and get cappuccinos and fresh croissants from a pastry shop near the piazza where we would later meet up.
Fifteen minutes never feels like enough when running on Italian Time, as we have all come to refer to the pace of life here, but eventually class has to start–which today meant going into the Santa Maria Novella, a 576-year-old church that saw the beginning and end of the Black Plague, in front of whose doors hordes of worshippers once whipped themselves in hopes of gaining favor of God, the church featured at the beginning of Boccacio’s Decameron…. Today, it saw a line of students and tourists.
Light shone in on us through huge stained glass windows as we listened to and took notes on Kirk’s lecture, while viewing in context a piece we all expect to be on our midterm next week. We had walked through the cemetery courtyard outside, through the “valley of death,” and seen it straight ahead of us–a Holy Trinity, signifying life after death–in the way the artist intended (plus or minus the sounds of some people working on restoring another nearby hundreds-of-years-old fresco). We complained when the lesson was over–we wanted to stay longer.
However, our next stop was certainly worth cutting short our time at SMN. The “Uffizzi Gallery” is a name anyone who has taken an art history class is somewhat familiar with–only today, about 20 of us became quite personally familiar with it. The building itself is incredible, and was once the location of the offices for the Medici Dukes. Today, it is packed with famous art. From incredible work to incredible work we made our way through the gallery, and I kept having to remind myself to take notes on Kirk’s lecture–the setup is one I’m used to from touring exhibits on vacation, not from an upper division humanities course. It wasn’t until we had seen Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (yep, wasn’t expecting it, couldn’t believe I was seeing it. Oh right, take notes…) that we took a break to get something to drink and to look out at the famous Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, and the countryside on the outskirts of the city. And after that, we powered through a Michelangelo piece and a controversial Venus from an artist in Venice. And then we had two hours to explore Florence.
The city is full of things to do, but since our feet were tired and we know we’ll be back at least twice more for class, a couple friends and I decided to pass our time with a classic Italian “slow lunch.” For 12 euro, we each enjoyed a pasta dish, a main dish (mine was grilled Italian sausage), and a side of roasted potatoes, as well as a glass of wine, great service, and a cup of gelato (which, for those people whose lives have tragically not been graced with gelato, is like ice cream…but better). Everything was homemade–no microwaves, no preservatives–and locally produced, and it came out course after course after course for a good hour and a half. (Note to self: I need to write down my glass of chianti in the wine diary I’m required to keep this week for another class).
And now I’m on the train home, 15 minutes out from Arezzo, watching my exhausted classmates, who have finally all found available seats, fall in and out of sleep as I write and the hills and five-hundred-year-old villas pass outside the open windows. As I finish this entry, I’ve started making a to-do list for tonight. I need to type this journal entry into a blog post, I need to study for my Immigration in Italy midterm, and I need to pack my suitcase so I’ll be ready to catch my flight to Seville tomorrow after class.
Yep. Just another day in the life of a student abroad….
One thing I learned about Italy
Trains are “deletable.” …It is really important to always book in advance…and be flexible since nothing ever seems to arrive on time.
One thing I learned about myself
I’m still not over my claustrophobia…as glamorous as train travel can sound, when you end up standing in the aisles sharing air with too many people, it’s not all fun and games. So I’m going to keep working on that fear.
Best thing I ate
Lane and I won a “Buddies” cooking competition with our amazing “Nutella Ravioli” — shortbread pastries filed with hazelnut/chocolate creme and coated in cinnamon sugar, with strawberries–so let’s go with that.
Italian word of the Week
“Sperare” meaning “to hope”
…I just think it’s a good word.
Travel Quote of the Day
“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” -Robert Louis Stevenson
Will write again shortly,