Posted by: orabalais | July 12, 2010

A Weekend in Veneto

So I’m back in the States, and I’ve already seen a lot of you.  I’m pretty sure most everyone has given up on reading this since my updates were so sporadic, but I feel like I should finish it.  Otherwise it would be missing the last week or two of my trip.  And this way more people can see my photos.

It takes over 6 hours to get to Padova (small town outside of Venice) from Rome by bus. For some reason I had trouble sleeping, so I spent most of the time reading a book I bought the day before.  It was really weird, and I should have known better, since it turns out the author was the one who started the CSI shows.  It was about a really creepy serial killer and the guy chasing  him, but it turned out way more twisted than I expected.

Our hotel in Padova was weirdly modern.  Everything in Rome is either old or trying to look old, and the hotel in Sorrento was so quaint looking.  It was strange to be in a hotel that looked like it belonged in a major city. We only had a few minutes to drop off our  bags before had to run to make our appointment at the Capella Scrovegni.  For everyone who read Dante’s Inferno, you might remember the usurers, one of whom was a Scrovegni.  This chapel was built by his son in the hopes of buying his father’s and his own salvation.  The entire enterior was designed and painted by Giotto, a Renaissance artist who majorly influenced every artist after him.  They have this whole decontamination thing to sit through to keep the chapel perfectly preserve.  It was kind of weird, but hey, it’s Giotto.  Something interesting about the chapel is that one of the frescoes was the first time anyone had been painted not facing the viewer.  Just a little art history for everyone.

Couldn't take photos, so here's one from online. Giotto's blue is absolutely fantastic.

Here's the person with his back to you, also not my photo

After that we walked over to the Basilica of St. Antonio.  The building is a odd mix of Romanesque, Gothic, and even Byzantine.  Though it seemed rather confused at the start, by the time you reach the dome it feel like everything works perfectly.  It almost feels like you’re walking through the different architectural periods.  The basilica houses the tomb of St. Antonio, as well as a chapel just for his relics.  This translates to a really fancy room for his jaw, tongue, and vocal chords.  It was kind of gross, but weirdly fascinating.

Photos weren't allowed inside, so here is the exterior

We went out for dinner in the town and I had pasta carbonara.  It was really yummy, but there was lots of it and it was very rich so I didn’t finish it.  Our waiter was definitely a bit of a creep.  When he saw that I hadn’t finished my dish, he told me that I could only have dessert if I ate everything.  When I replied with something like, aww no, he said “That’s right, baby.”  He even tried to get us to go to a party at a Brasilian club that night (probably the only party in Padova, it doesn’t really have a nightlife).  We turned him down and then wandered around the centro for a bit, did some grocery shopping, and headed back to the hotel.

When we got back to the hotel we hung out at the bar for a little while with some of the other students, and I ordered some sort of Italian cocktail one of my friends recommended to me.  It was called a negroni, but I don’t really what was in it other than campari, but it was way sweet. Supposedly there’s another version of it that is a lot dryer and I should have gotten that one.  We ended up having a bit of a party after that and we didn’t go to sleep until about 3 am.  Which was probably a bad idea since we had to be up for breakfast at 8:30. Also, I learned something new:  if you burn the tip of a wine cork, it makes a really soft, black powder that won’t wake a sleeping person if you draw on them with it.

Train ride with Elin

We had to catch a train to Venice the next morning, but there was some confusion as to which one was our train.  Eventually we just took one that said it was going to Venice, but I’m still convinced it wasn’t the one we bought tickets for.  I was so excited to be riding a train.  I had never ridden one before and I have to say it was so much better than driving or flying.  I wish I could just take trains everywhere.

My first impression of Venezia

Venice was amazing.  It really did look like something out of a fairytale. The streets were all so tiny, there are bridges spanning the canals, and there were little tunnels through buildings to connect different streets.  We decided to split from the group and wander a bit on our own.  We first headed to San Marco, which was beautiful, but very crowded.  Luckily, next to it was a palazzo Shelby and I had wanted to see ever since we studied it in our Art History class this spring.  The gondolas were all lined up along the wall there, and they were all bright blue.  We wanted to take a ride, but they were all ridiculously expensive.

A tunnel for people shorter than us

Some beautiful spices I really wanted to buy

the side of San Marco

The doge's palace, plus advertisement

Gondole all in a row

We walked to the Accademia, an art museum.  It was a fantastic collection and was housed in a beautiful building.  Some of the rooms were overwhelming, with all four walls covered with huge paintings with life size figures.  While we were walking it seemed like it lasted forever, but really it was a relatively small museum.  We found some lunch once we left, and then tried to find the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, another art museum, but this time for modern art. It took a bit of backtracking, but when we did it was fantastic.  So far none of the museums we’ve been to have showcased anything much past the Renaissance and Baroque.  It was a wonderful change to be among 20th century art.

Another view of Venice

By this time we were all feeling worn out and like our feet were about to fall off, so we started to head back to the train station.  Except we didn’t really know how to do that and didn’t have a map.  We had to ask for directions a few times, but it turns out that we walked the long way to get there.  There was a much more direct route that was about three times shorter than our walk across the entire island.

Some graffiti in Venice...of Venice

Venetian masks in a window

The train station was an issue.  In the morning, our professor just bought group tickets for us.  Now we were trying to get individual tickets and on a different train system.  So we bought our 2 euro tickets, but they said nothing on them of the departure time or the platform.  We checked a sign board and it told us our train was leaving in three minutes.  We had to run to the train, but then stop and ask a worker if it was really our train, and by that time the doors were closing. Luckily someone held the doors for us and we made it on the train just in time.

We stopped at a supermarket in the train station in Padova to buy some food for dinner.  We were all too tired to make the hike into the city just to get a meal.  Instead we decided to picnic and crash.  We encountered a car full of young italian guys on our walk back to the hotel.  Turns out they were just asking for directions, which wasn’t quite what we expected to hear from them, but it was nice because it made us feel less like tourists.  Later that night, once we were pretty much ready for sleep, we got a call from another of the kids in the program asking us what we were doing that night for fun.  That was when we realized that we may have become the party people in the group.  Which probably had something to do with the night before and our escapades in Sorrento.  It so doesn’t fit our personalities.

The Arena in Verona, which was going to be housing an opera that night

Sunday morning we woke up a bit early to pack.  But then we had to rush since we found out that breakfast was a half hour earlier than we thought and we were late.  Instead of heading straight back to Rome, we stopped in Verona to do a bit of sightseeing.   We walked by the Arena, and down their main shopping street, to visit the house of Juliet. I really didn’t think it was that big of a deal since they basically chose a house at random and said that “oh this was Juliet’s house, look, here’s the balcony.”  It was interesting to see all the letters people left to Juliet.  They were all full of people wishing for this person to love them, or saying that their love was as strong as the one between Romeo and Juliet, or that they just want to find true love.

Juliet's balcony

The wall of letters to Juliet

We visited a few churches and then stopped by the Adige River (second longest river in Italy) for lunch.  Instead of paying for a more expensive sit down meal, I walked around the corner and found a kebab place.  It was so wonderful to eat a meal that had some real flavor (which basically translates to spiciness for me).  Though I don’t think what they were calling pita bread was really pita, it was still delicious.

Part of a wall....I thought it was interesting

Looking up at a fence

The Veronese prefer to be buried above ground, in something like this

The awesome floor

Some vaulting frescoes in San Anastasia

The door for San Anastasia

San Anastasia again

The Ponte Pietre, spanning the Adige River

The bus driver was mad at us for being an hour late for  meeting him.  So we didn’t have as many stops for the ride back.  I was ok with that though, since I had a new book to read: The Manual for Detection.  It was very enjoyable and thoroughly entertaining.  And of course, a little bit steampunk.  Shelby and I decided on the ride home that since we only had one weekend left in Rome and we still had a lot to do there, we wouldn’t go to Florence the coming weekend.  And we had finals that Tuesday, something I did not look forward to.

Posted by: orabalais | July 6, 2010

Going Home

Well, my time in Rome is over.  Or it will be in a few hours and I don’t have internet to let you all know.  Basic plan for the rest of the time I have left: final exam in 30 minutes, turn in 5 essays, eat food since I’m already starving and it’s only noon.  I’ll be done with classes! But I’ll still have to come back to the school.  We have a “spettacolo” to put on, which is mostly where we take turns narrating while a few students act out a story.  Our host families are invited, even though its probably going to be pretty lame.  I didn’t want to tell Beatrice not to come, since I think she would feel I didn’t want her there, so she’s coming.  I just worry about her since it’s kind of far from her house and she’s 78 and her leg is bad.  After the dress rehearsal (even though we don’t have costumes) and the play, the students have a dinner with our professors.  It should be fun, and the food should be good.  Then the plan is up in the air.  We can’t decide whether it owuld be better to leave for the airport after dinner (around midnight) and just sleep in the airport until our flight at 7, or go home, nap for a bit and then catch a cab at 3 in the morning.  So far we’re leaning towards the 3 in the morning.  And then its a ridiculously long flight before I’m back in Houston! See you all then!

Monday started out pretty normally. Classes were boring, but I went on an optional field trip to St. Peter’s in Montorio.  It’s the legendary site of St. Peter’s death.  I think it sounds more than a bit made up since it’s on a hill exactly between the two pyramids of Rome.  When we arrived there was a wedding going on and we had to wait, but that was ok since then the interior of the church was decorated wonderfully.  The organist and singer for the wedding were still there and were performing the entire time we were touring the church.  It lent us a wonderful atmosphere.

St. Peter's Chapel, all perfectly proportioned and mathematically perfect

The church, with its wedding decorations

Tuesday we had to give a presentation in class. I just talked about my etiquette lesson from Beatrice and how I’ve been having to try everything she cooks ever since.  For my culture class, we went to the Vatican Museums.  And since I am so obviously cursed with bad luck and worse common sense, my camera batteries died as soon as I walked in the door.  But it was still really exciting, and I got to see so many works that I have only seen photos of: the Laocoon, Raphael’s Salas, the Sistine Chapel.  My teacher assigned one of his kids to me to keep an eye on, so I spent most of the time explaining stuff to him.  Of course, then the kid would walk up to my professor and ask really insightful questions using what I had just told him.  There was a Rafael I saw (possibly his Resurrection?) that I really liked.  It was in chiaruscurro style that seemed very unusualy for him but I thought it lent the work so much more drama and intensity.


On Wednesday we went to the Villa di Farnesina  which was suprisingly close to where I live. Everything was very ornate and decorative, you could tell the owner was just showing off.  We had an exam in Italian, and went shopping afterwards as a reward.  Our number one stop was a shoe store near the Trevi Fountain where another student had found some fantastic shoes for cheap.  I ended up buying a pair of black wedges that are over 4 in tall.  They’re rather fantastic.  I almost didn’t get them, but wedges are so fashionable here that I’ve really been wanting a pair.  After that we headed back to Via del Corso.  We followed some signs and found what appeared to be the Italian equivalent of a Hot Topic.  Seeing as my friends and I were all gothic at some point, we had to go in.  What was weird though  was how the two guys working it were both middle aged and wearing normal clothing.   
I got up early on Thursday to go to Santa Maria Sopra Minerva before class.  I was trying to go the mass, but I had so much trouble finding it. Eventually I found it, hidden away in one of the side transepts.  The entire group consisted of three priests, two deacons, three nuns, four worshippers, and me.  It all felt a little bit awkward.  After that I walked around to take some photos since it is the only truely Gothic church in Rome.

Such a pretty blue

The knave and altar

We headed back to Via del Corso so Shelby could buy some shoes she had seen the day before.  She even managed to get them for 40 euro cheaper than the price the guy gave her.  We stopped by H&M and the dress I had been wanting was back (thank you Elin for finding it because I never would have).  It’s really cute and all stripey.  We stopped at an enoteca to cool down for a bit and eat some snacks, but it was too expensive to eat much so we ended up getting gelato at our favorite gelateria. Other than that, I just packed up for our trip to Venice.
Posted by: orabalais | June 30, 2010

Not a Real Update

Sorry about skipping out for a few days again.  We were in Venice for the weekend and then Monday and Tuesday was a religious holiday for Rome and nothing was open.  So I couldn’t get to a computer and keep on working on these posts.  I realized that I’m probably going to end up writing these when I’m back in Houston since I still have over a week to cover.  That’s ok though, I’ll be able to put up more photos once I’m on a computer from this century.

Random photo of me in Venice, also that's that dress I bought

 Also, I’ll be back in Houston in a week!  I can’t wait to see everyone!

Posted by: orabalais | June 30, 2010

Pompeii, Sorrento, and Capri

On Friday we left for Sorrento.  I had to wake up pretty early since the Stazioni Termini is pretty far from my house, but then we were really early and ended up just waiting around.  The bus ride was pretty boring, but the bus driver was a total jerk and wouldn’t let us eat on the bus.
Our first stop was Pompeii, and the first thing we did was eat lunch.  I should have brought food or something, because the food there was ridiculously expensive.  The restaurant was also terrible about cleaning off the tables.  Pompeii itself was fabulous.  We had a tour guide who took us around.  Walking through the baths, I was reminded again of how genius the Romans were.  In the hot bath and steam room, the ceiling was carved with grooves so the water would slide down the walls instead of dripping. 

A road in Pompeii

We also got to go in a house that wasn’t open in previous years.  It was so cool to be able to see how decoratively they painted the walls.  There were lots of dogs running around.  I made friends with one and kind of wanted to keep it, but then when I stopped petting it, it just walked away.  I think he was using me. 

Some Roman tiling I would want in my house

 We drove to Sorrento from Pompeii.  The entire bus ride was a game of trying to get a perfect landscape shot out the window of the moving bus.  Our hotel was really pretty, and our room even had a balcony.  It was also only just around the corner from a beach.  We went walking around and ended up climbing a hill to the centro.  There we went to a salumeria and bought some wine for the evening. 

The view from our walk to the centro of Sorrento

We had dinner at a little restaurant with a deck over the water.  We made the mistake of ordering separate dishes and ended up with way too much food.  I ordered mixed fried fish as my main course, I didn’t realize it would be entire fish.  Not just the meat, or even the main body, but with the head and tail still attached.  It kind of freaked me out.

My scary dinner that I ate anyway

After dinner we had cookies and wine (which was suprisingly tasty for not being expensive) and then went to hang out on the beach.  We drew in the sand for a while, Elin drew a skull and Shelby drew a skull.  It was probably around then we decided to start a band that would be a death metal – reggae fusion.  Shelby will play the bagpipes and our band will be called The Cardigans. 

A few of us in Sorrento

On Saturday we caught the ferry to Capri, which is probably the most beautiful place I have ever been.  A woman actually fell in while boarding the ship, but they pulled her out and she was ok.  We thought about renting a boat in Capri, but decided instead to just hang out in the town and on the beaches. 

The fantastic beaches in Capri

We hung at this beach for a while, just to get some sun.  It was a pretty hot day, but the water was pretty chilly.  Also, the beaches there were pebble beaches.  This one had some sand, but the other ones we went to were all stone.

Me at the beach

We thought we would take a leisurely stroll around the town, but the walk to the centro was more of a hike.  We kept expecting to turn a corner and we would be there, but it just went on and on.  But the view from the top was fantastic and totally worth it.  Instead of buying overpriced pizza or panini, we decided to find a market and buy lunch there.  We ended up with chocolate milk, some loaves of bread, cheese, and tomatoes.  Which I actually volunteered to eat.  We ran into our friend Brianna after lunch who had heard from a few other students about a free private beach.  So we went exploring and found it.  It was absolutely beautiful and we spent the rest of the afternoon there swimming, sunning, and looking for seashells.

Our secret beach

Some sailboats that went out later in the day

 After that was just the ferry boat back to Sorrento.  We decided that since we splurged a bit the night before, we would just find some pizza for dinner and then eat gelato afterwards. We wandered about the centro a bit before heading back to the hotel and the beach. On the way we passed by this security guard/police officer who was so creepy! He asked us our names, where we were going, where we were staying, and all that.  Then he told us that he lives in Pompeii and would give us a tour when he finished his shift at 2 am.  We basically ran back to the hotel room after that.  Later on we walked down to the beach to hang out with some other students, but then a storm came up and we had to head back. 

We stopped in Naples on our way back to Rome to see a museum there.  It was very large and confusing, but had so many fantastic paintings.  We saw plenty of Rafaels, Caravaggios, and so many others that I can’t even remember the names of. 

Sorry about the weird light, but that was the museum, it went on forever

On the bus ride back to Rome, Antonio, one of the kids travelling with one of my professors, was telling me my fortune.  Apparently there will be a World War III, I’m going to get drafted, but as a FBI secret agent.  I’ll be sent to steal important works of art from Russia (somehow the Mona Lisa ended up there) but will go rogue.  Using all the top secret info I’ve gathered in the field, I will set up a rebel colony somewhere underground.  I think my future sounds pretty cool.

Posted by: orabalais | June 23, 2010

Week Three

I went to school really early so I could update my blog before class only to realize that the building didn’t open for two hours.  So I ended up wandering around for a while.  I had heard about a market in Campo dei Fiori, and it was really cool.  Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, which are nice to look at even if I don’t want to eat it.  There was also a vendor selling stuff like limoncello and grappa who gave me a free sample.  It’s way too lemony for me.  Then I walked over to do some studying at the Pantheon while I waited for the building to open. 

Some graffiti near Campo dei Fiori, I think it's a zombie centurion

I went with Shelby, Professor Antonella and Antonella’s husband to see about getting Shelby’s phone fixed.  The phone store people have been so unhelpful this entire time that we were expecting to have to fight them for anything.  But then it turned out Shelby’s battery was just bad, so they gave her a new one.

 After class we went to a bar to watch the soccer game, Italy vs Paraguay.  I’m not terribly interested in soccer, but the program was paying for dinner so I went for the fun of it.  Shelby and I left a bit early to walk to the Campodoglio and see it at night.  There was a really creepy guy hanging around, so we left to walk over to a balcony overlooking the Roman Forum.  After that we walked around for a while and kind of got lost somewhere near the Circo Massimo, but eventually found our way back to the area near our school.

A night market we saw on our way back from the bar, which I plan to return to

 Tuesday a few of us went to a a national museum, the Palazzo Altemps.  On our way we stopped for pizza, which looked really pretty.  But then it turned out that what we thought was melted cheese was actually mountains of mayonnaise.  So we ended up eating gelato instead.  Palazzo Altemps was pretty cool, had lots of Roman copies and even some Egyptian works.  I don’t have any photos of it since cameras weren’t allowed.  I do have some photos of Shelby and Elin acting like idiots in front of Bernini’s Fontana di Quattri Fiumi. 

These are my genius friends who are imitating some of the river gods

We also stopped at Feltrinelli’s a bookstore near our school, so Elin could buy a 99 Posse album.  I am really looking forward to listening to this album when I get back to Houston.

It was this night that I recieved lessons in proper Italian etiquette from Beatrice (my host mom).  It started when she offered me “melanzane.”  Once I looked up what it was, I had to tell her I didn’t like it since it was eggplant.  So she launches into this whole thing on how if I eat at someone’s house and say something like that I will give a bad impression.  I have to eat whatever the lady of the house cooks because she spends a lot of time cooking.  Beatrice says what I have to do is take some of every dish, eat everything on my plate, and then say that I loved it all.  So after all that, I ended up eating some eggplant, which I must say was pretty gross.

Not too much happened Wednesday, just went to see a movie after class.  It was called “La Nostra Vita” and I actually really liked it.  The only problem was, it wasn’t just in Italian, which I would have had trouble following anyway, but it was in a dialect.  So basically I didn’t understand anything and now I want to rent it and watch it with subtitles.  Also, at dinner that night,  Beatrice cooked tomatoes au gratin, which I had to try after the lecture I recieved the night before.  I decided the flavor wasn’t bad, I just didn’t like the texture, which is my main problem with tomatoes in the first place.  I did eat two though, just to be polite.  Beatrice gave me an ice cream bar afterwards, and I rather feel like she was rewarding me for trying new foods. 

Thursday was pretty awesome.  We had a quiz in Italian that I did well on.  After class, we went shopping since Shelby needed a swimsuit.  I almost bought a dress from H&M, but it was made of heavier cloth and the store was so hot that I just couldn’t bring myself to actually buy it.  It was pretty cute though, all black and white stripes with ruched sleeves.  I might go back and get it this week.  I tried on some harem pants, which I’ve been thinking about buying, but they looked pretty silly.  If I find the right pair, I may have to get them. 

We went to a wine tasting after that, a friend of ours who has lived in Italy for a while recommended it.  The place was called “Il Goccetto” and the bartenders were all very nice.  The prosecco that I had was good, but weirdly salty tasting.  Brianna had a wine, I don’t know the name, but it tasted like roses.  We mostly just hung around for a while, eating cheese and drinking wine before we had to leave. 

Us at the bar, Shelby looks really pensive

On our way home Shelby and I decided to stop at the night market.  It was cool, even though we were there too early for too much to be happening.  There were lots of ethnic restaurants, which I’ve totally been craving, so we’re going to go back to get some Indian food some time.  Shelby tried to win a Hello Kitty toy at one of the crane games for me, but she kind of failed at it. 

Ok, that’s enough for one post, sorry about the lack of photos for this one.  I’ll have way more photos on the next one when I cover our weekend in the south.

Posted by: orabalais | June 23, 2010

Week Two Part Two

Ok, I’m back.  That Friday, class was cancelled because of a strike.  There weren’t supposed to be any buses or trams running, so there wouldn’t be any way for all the students to get to the school.  Shelby and I decided we would explore the neighborhood around our house, but when we were walking around we saw a bus go by! Since apparently the buses were running, we went to the centro to find a church we  had heard about, Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini.  It took forever to find it.  We kept making wrong turns and missing small streets.  We ended up in three random places not the church.  We finally got there and it was so worth the hassle.  Beneath this church was a crypt decorated with the bones of the Cappuccini monks.  It was so awesome.  It wasn’t just skeletons, but actual architectural designs.  They were really creepy, but so cool. I couldn’t take any photos, so here is a photo of the postcard I bought.

One of the rooms in the crypt, everything's made of bone

Saturday we went to Ostia, the local beach.  It was cool since I got to hang out with some students I don’t normally hang out with.  The beaches were lovely, but very crowded.  We went swimming and built sandcastles (which no one else was doing, is it an American thing?) and generally had a good time.  I did get sunburned, even though I put on sunscreen like ten times, but it was my first sunburn in Italy, so I really didn’t mind.  I bought a granita from a guy walking around selling them, but it had way too much syrup and was kind of gross.  The guy also made fun of me for being super pale.  The train ride home was really fun because I found our Rachel has the amazing ability of being able to spell words backwards.  It doesn’t sound that interesting, but she’s so fast about it.  There was also a guy wearing sweatpants that had “hooligans” written across the butt, like all those Victoria’s Secret pants.  So then we had to get Rachel to spell hooligans backwards.

Some graffiti near my school, definitely a reference to a Marat painting

Porta Portense was on Sunday.  It’s a huge flea market where you can buy pretty much anything.  Some of the stuff are antiques (real or fake), some of it’s clothes, and there was also a whole lot of random stuff like Gilette razors (so random, I know).  There was this gorgeous old telephone that I really wanted.  It was the kind where you turn the dial to punch in the numbers and it was red.  I almost got it, but then Shelby pointed out I would have to buy some special converter since it was had a really old plug.  I did buy a clock, just because it was pretty (my parents are going to hate me for that).  I also wanted to buy this really cool little knife.  It was silver and the handle was shaped like a Venetian gondola, but it turns out it was a switchblade, which are illegal in the US.  So sad. 

Me at the Vatican

After that, I walked to St. Peter’s with my friend Brianna to catch the noon mass.  Except we waited outside, and the mass was inside.  So instead we were standing around when the pope came out to give a benediction.  Sadly I did not have my zoom lens that day, so he’s really far away in the photos.  He talked in in five different languages and even dropped names of certain groups. 

You can almost see the pope in the window

After that we went into St. Peter’s basilica, or at least tried.  Brianna was wearing a dress that wasn’t long enough, so she got turned away.  Luckily I was wearing the black and white plaid dress my mom made me (thanks for that!) and didn’t have any problems.  Once inside, I just walked around taking photos and looking at everything.  It was so intense.  I’m honestly kind of glad I was alone because I could linger and look at whatever I wanted for however long I wanted.  The Pieta was so gorgeous.  It makes me sad I couldn’t get closer to it.  I also decided that occuli are my favorite architectural invention.  They make the light fall so perfectly. 

An occulus in one of the chapels

I stumbled upon a mass going on, and had to convince the guy guarding the gate to let me in, but then I got to take mass at St. Peter’s.  It was amazing.  It also gave me an excuse to take photos in an area other people weren’t allowed it. 

I wasn't stupposed to take photos here....

Our class was meeting at a the Crypti Balbi, a national museum to go on an archeological tour.  We even got to go down into the site and see everything up close. 

The theatre beneath the museum

And that was week 2 in review.  It’s weird to think that I only have like two weeks left.  I really need to catch up on these before I go home.

Posted by: orabalais | June 17, 2010

Week 2, Part 1

Alright, sorry for the wait.  The librarians will only let us use this one computer in the school and it’s absolutely ancient.  So let’s see.  Monday the 8th started in a rather humorous way.  I have to take the tram to school and it’s usually pretty crowded.  Today I ended up standing between my friend Shelby and some random guy.  Now this guy was standing really close, which was awkward, so as soon as there was space I moved to stand across from Shelby.  In the mean time, this guy takes this as a chance to stand close to Shelby.  From where I was standing, it looked like he practically had his arm around her.  We’ve decided there’s really only one way to describe the guys here, and that is “sleazy.” After class, a few of us went shopping and found an H&M on Via del Corso.  It was rather fantastic and was four or five stories tall.  Then we went to see the Caravaggio exhibit.  We waited in line for two hours, but it wasn’t too bad since we were in the shade the whole time.  This is exhibit collected as many works as possible by Caravaggio, which was almost all of them, and showcased them all together for the first time.  It was amazing.  All of his paintings were so beautiful.

No photos for today, so here's a picture of Shelby

Tuesday we went to see the Ara Pacis, which is really pretty.  Apparently there was a lot of Roman outrage on the fact that a monument from the Augustan period was placed in a very modern looking museum, but I think it works.  It lets a lot of light in.

Wednesday we went to two churches for our Italian culture class.  One of them, San Clemente, is built on top of a 6th century church, which was built on top of a 1st century Roman apartment.  It was so cool since we got to go through all three parts.

A beautiful organ in Ss Cosma and Damiano, the other church we visited

We weren't supposed to take photos, but it looked like the triforce from Zelda

Also, I had to buy this amazingly cute red dress on our way back.  Hopefully there will be a photo of me wearing it later on.

Thursday was really busy.  We went to three churches for culture class, one of them, Santa Maria Maggiore, is one of the three great Roman basilicas. It was fantastic and absolutely gorgeous.

Santa Maria Maggiore

Part of the cieling, just cause it was pretty

We stopped in a market on our way back and I found an awesome pair of faux-Armani sunglasses for cheap.  After Italian class was a big dinner with all the students and their host families.  It was surprisingly fun.  The food was yummy, I wore my new dress, and we all got two drinks on the house.  I must say, Brandy Alexander’s are quite delicious.  After the dinner, some of us decided it would be fun to walk over to the Coliseum and Roman Forum to see them at night.  It was very beautiful, especially because they light it so well.

Ok, I have class now, I’ll try and get the next half up soon.

Posted by: orabalais | June 14, 2010

Summary of Week One

So much has happened! Also, sorry about any crazy typos – the layout of the keyboards here is completely different.  I still haven’t found the “at” sign. 

Just in the first few days of classes I saw the Roman forum, the Coloseum, the Imperial forums, the Pantheon, and so much more.  Everything is so beautiful (at least in the old parts of Rome).

The Roman Forum, with an ancient Roman crane in the background

A Cat in the Roman Forum

I live in Trastevere with a woman named Beatrice, who is very nice.  She’s actually rather silly and makes lots of jokes.  I do think she wishes I ate more though. 

Here's my room.

We all went Tivoli during our first weekend here.  It’s a city near Rome that has the ruins of Hadrian’s Villa in it.  There is also Villa d’Este nearby, so we went to both.  It was so hot that day, but it was really cool walking around all the ruins.  Also, we decided that Hadrian was totally a nerd for building his palace in the middle of nowhere and then making rooms just for him (it was even separated by a moat).

Hadrian's Private Rooms


A field of poppies at Hadrian's Villa

Villa d’Este was wonderful after Hadrian’s Villa.  There was a huge garden and it was filled with water.  Not just fountains, but waterfalls and all sorts of unusual water features.  We actually had class in one of the little courtyards.

The reflecting pool in Villa d'Este

 We had the day off on Sunday, so I went exploring with Shelby.  We walked all over the centro and ended up meeting Ellen to hang out at a bar to while away the afternoon.

We saw some breakdancers at Piazza di Spagna.

That’s all for my first week, I’ll have a summary of the second week up soon.  Maybe I’ll even catch up to now.

Posted by: orabalais | June 7, 2010


Though it’s rather late, I did arrive in Rome ok.  The flight was long and uncomfortable, but nothing terrible happened so I feel it was a success.  So far I’ve been very busy with classes and learning my way around Rome.  I couldn’t update sooner since my Italian family doesn’t have  a computer and I’m wary of internet cafes.  Since I found out today our school has a computer we can use, I’ll be making more updates from now on.  And I’ll have some photos to share next time too!

Older Posts »