Monday, May 2, 2011

Is This Real Life?

Wow! I can't believe there is less than 2 weeks left in this semester! Ah! I have been bombarded with schoolwork lately and, since I knew I would be, I didn't make any huge travel plans. I'm here in Tuscany for the rest of the semester! Finals are already next week but I haven't had time to think about them! I've had an audio documentary to produce and edit, 2 7 page papers to write, 2 oral presentations, an Italian composition, and an exam. I will never know why professors always insist on cramming all of the major assignments at the end of the semester.


On Saturday, API (my program) took us on a day trip to Lucca, a small Tuscan town about an hour from Florence. It is known for its medieval wall which still exists and encircles the town. Also, one of the towers in the city has trees growing out of it!

The churches in Lucca are gorgeous. One of them contains within it the Volto Santo (Holy Face). It is actually a sculpture that was created by Nicodemus just after Christs' crucifixion. Since Nicodemus actually hung out with Jesus, this sculpture is said to be the most accurate representation of Christ in art. It definitely does not fit the typical Anglo-Saxon image of Jesus that we've grown accustomed to seeing! The story of how it came from Jerusalem to a relatively small church in Lucca is quite miraculous and was definitely an act of divine will (I don't remember the whole story so, if you're curious, do what I always do and ask Google).

Catholic churches, particularly ones in Italy, often contain the relics of the saint for which it was named. For example, St. Catherine's in Siena actually contains the thumb and skull of Santa Caterina. And they are proudly and weirdly on display. Another very interesting church in Lucca contains within it the entire corpse of its saint, Santa Zita. She died in the 1200s so I was extremely thankful for the glass case (Do you know what 800 years of decay smells like? Neither do I and, frankly, I prefer to keep it that way!).

After lunch and window shopping, we had some time to kill so we found a playground and became 6 years old again for about 30 minutes.

It was all fun and games until Eve's purse fell off the Merry-Go-Round and into a puddle. :o(

We then arrived at Fattoria il Poggio in Monte Carlo for a tour of an olive grove and an olive oil tasting. When it comes to dipping bread, I much prefer balsamic vinegar and nothing else so I was not crazy about the tasting but it was fun to learn about the process of olive harvesting!

Notte Bianca

In cities around Europe, on the same night, the White Night is celebrated. Its origins are highly debated but, as far as we were concerned, it was a HUGE party in the streets of Florence. Most stores and restaurants were open until 5am Sunday morning. There was a different live band on almost every block (including the space right in front of my apartment building!), museums were free to the public, DJs were raging in the piazzas, and random art exhibits were scattered throughout the city. I have no idea why the US doesn't adopt this idea. It's family friendly; literally everyone and their mom was out.

One of our school's professors doing a performance art piece.
"Tape Florence" - a spiderweb made of masking tape.
Normally, I'm a party pooper and don't really stay out too late. Since I was out at 1am for Notte Bianca, I was determined to visit a "secret bakery". These bakeries are only open past 1am every night and their purpose is to bake all of the pastries to distribute to the nearby cafes the next day. They are not marked; if you saw the outside of them, you'd have no idea it was a bakery. There is one less than a block away from my apartment and it is literally just a door. You can smell it from a distance, though.

I asked for "qualcosa fresca e con cioccolato"...something fresh and with chocolate. Yum! It was super cheap and the guys working there were so friendly! (a highly unusual quality in a northern Italian).

Vai Fiorentina!

Today, API took us to a professional soccer game. It was Fiorentina (Florence) vs. Udinese (Udine) and, despite Udinese's much higher rank, we won 5-2! It was such a great game! We had no idea what was going on as far as the cheers but, hey, clapping and screaming is a universal language.

Fans are so hardcore! They have to separate the Fiorentina fans from the Udinese fans with a huge wall! And even so, several fights almost broke out! Unfortunately, there were no streakers. I was pretty sure that was standard at European soccer games...guess not!

Well, mi sono molta stanca (I'm very tired) so I'm going signing off! I've got another week of schoolwork ahead of me! Bartoli out!


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