Pictures will come soon!
Pictures will come soon!
We got back and took a vaporetto, basically a water-bus boat to San Marco, the main Piazza. It looked dreamy and fantasy-like, very unreal. There was almost a Disneyland-ish feeling to it. Basically, it's the basilica and a huge square surrounded halfway with a gallery of columns and the church is where there are relics of St. Mark. There is also a Campanile that apparently just collapsed sometime in the early 1900s so the one that stands there now is a reconstructed version of it. We walked around San Marco and found a self-service restaurant which ended up costing just as much as a prix-fixe menu. Since we were tired, we left back for Favaro.
The next day, we headed out fairly early to Venice and after making our way to San Marco again (after visiting the Frari, where Titian is buried and where his Annunciation takes center stage in the church), this time, on foot, we were tired and cranky and hungry. Word of advice: Never eat around that square! Each of our meals were only about 8 Euro but I ended up somehow paying 20, probably covering everyone's cover charge (which was 3 Euros each) as well as some unknown fee that Mishka failed to ask about, because Shannon and I were waiting for the ONE bathroom they had there. Of course, the place was packed with tourists, as it was the beginning of Carnivale. If I haven't mentioned before, Carnivale is the two-week period before the beginning of Lent and basically, the Italians party hardy before it, eating lots of meat. The Venetians were especially known for this and supposedly, as long as you wore a mask, it didn't matter what you did and who you did it with, even if you weren't in their social class (*gasp*). Carnivale in Venice sometimes even lasted three months or something.
So while we walked around that day, there were many women AND men dressed up in full Baroque gear with masks covering their faces. There was a ball later on that evening and many were probably dressed up for that. They set up a stage in San Marco and later that night, we saw some masqueraders doing the waltz.
Back to the day--after lunch, we quickly decided to split, as Adriana and Mishka had been to Venice before or were going to come at some later date, respectively. Since Shannon and I had never set foot in Venice, we headed to the Peggy Guggenheim museum and afterwards, the Accademia. The former is Peggy Guggenheim's, an American heiress, house and she had given her modern art collection to the city of Venice. It had many paintings and sculptures by Pollock, Picasso, and Modrian, just to name a few since I am pretty clueless about Modern Art. At the Accademia, I saw Titian's Pieta, which I had written about in my Venetian Renaissance class. There were a couple of other fairly recognizable works, such as Giorgione's The Tempest and the museum was fairly empty because I suppose no one in Venice at the time would be too interested in being indoors. It was pretty cold up there in Northern Italy though. I was pretty content in looking at art and being away from the crowd and I'm pretty convinced that traveling with even two other people who have fairly different interests from me is going to be very difficult, so I am re-evaluating my Spring Break plans, which had formerly consisted of heading to Greece and Turkey for a little tour of the Mediterranean/Eastern Europe. I think it might be worth it to enjoy the sites that I want to see rather than be cranky with other equally cranky people.
At the moment after extensively having bookmarked many countries and cities in my Lonely Planet's Europe on a Shoestring book, I'm considering traveling alone to many of these places, even if they end up being day trips to sites in Italy. And as I want to go to England/UK/Ireland and maybe Germany after the term ends, I'm wondering how else I'm going to be able to fit in Spain and France since a weekend would probably not be enough. Even if my four-day weekends were enough, I would still have to travel alone on the days that most people have classes anyhow.
So anyhow, wish me luck in figuring things out.
As for classes, they're going OK. I really like my Italian, Photo, and Renaissance Art History professors. I'm also venturing out a little more in cooking for myself and don't want to be so dependent on cereal, yogurt, milk, and bread. And I'm actually enjoying mushrooms and maybe even some string beans.
I've managed to send out a few postcards and am planning to send some more as long as you provide me with your addresses! Also, let me know if you want a postcard of any particular place.
Ciao, gli miei amici! Oh! I almost forgot. Today, with the help of our "Friends of the Uffizi" pass, we went to the Medici Chapels which is amazingly close to our school. From the outside, it looks like a plain brick building but the inside is jaw-droppingly huge. It contains the tombs of the Medici family, has many relics of both the Medici and of saints encased in gorgous golden and jeweled glasses, and has this huge chapel with gorgeous frescoes and statues of some of the Medici family members. The New Sacristy contains the famous statues for Lorenzo and Giugliano Medici, with the Dawn/Dusk and Day/Night statues. It was a quick tour, since most of the written stuff (which is very little) was in Italian anyway, we walked through it in less than 30 minutes flat. I fully intend to take every opportunity presented to visit museums and churches whenever I can so I'm really glad there are some other people who have the same idea.
So a bit of an introduction to these random people I talk about--Adriana is my apartment-mate and she is from Laredo, Texas, graduated from Texas A&M with an engineering degree. Shannon is from Mammoth and goes to Berkeley, she's the girl who I had been emailing back and forth about possibly flying out together and we happened to be sitting next to each other at Orientation. She lives about a block and a corner away from us and she lives with 6 other girls. One of them is Katia, who lives somewhere near Wellesley (Holliston? as with other MA cities and towns, I am completely unsure about the spelling). She even works in Wellesley and goes to Framingham State. We're already talking about how we should all visit each other, or well, Katia and Shannon should be visiting our respective locations since I'm already traveling between both.
Sadly, I haven't met too many people through classes as most are just once a week. I am excited though, because I have three Art History classes so at least 25% of my classtime will be held in museums! One is on the High Renaissance and Mannerism, another is Romanesque and Gothic (so probably a lot of time in churches), and the one I haven't attended yet is Modern Art, which is my Video Production replacement.
Last night, Shannon and I went on our first outing with the Music Club to see/hear the Swingle Sisters in concert at this concert hall (I forgot the name! Something Teatrale, I believe). They were a half-male, half-female acapella group who sang classical songs, mostly by Mozart, with a bit of a jazz twist. Apparently, they are from Germany but we thought they were British because they had perfect English in their songs and would even start off singing by counting "One, two, three." They ended with a lot of jazz songs, one I even recognized which I probably have on my iPod by Ella Fitzgerald. I've also joined the Photo Club so I force myself to take lots of photos and also have extra lab time and we're thinking about the Cinema Club because I want to watch some Italian films while I'm here although I hope it's not as boring as Lo Scheicco Bianco that I had to watch for Italian class last year.
The weather is around 50 degrees usually but strangely enough, it's cold during the day, warmer during the evening, and cold again at night. I had some problems in my room because the heat is only turned on for 10 hours a day and it was always freezing right as I was going to sleep. I bought a 30 Euro down blanket from Oviesse, a store that seems kind of like Ross but with their own brands and that was probably the best investment I could have bought here.
The food's been extremely good but I can't afford to be eating out all the time so I've been trying to cook myself things, which is really hard because we have a stove and an oven--no toaster, no microwave. So everything is a process and it's hard to not just grab a 1.50 Euro panini from a cafe or have some cereal or yogurt for every meal.
This is the only day I've really had time to write a coherent and thoughtful entry, I know all others have been sort of rushed with just a list of the last few days' itineraries. I've been getting a lot of "Konichiwa"s and "Ni hao"s here, almost every two days and it's kind of odd considering I've probably heard as much Korean here as the other East Asian languages. There's always a huge tour group of Koreans near the Duomo; yesterday, I saw a group of Korean students probably around junior high school age. Amazing! I don't know if I could've appreciated all this beauty and history at that age but what a trip for a 13-year-old, alongside your classmates. I wonder if there are any Korean restaurants nearby, considering the amount of tourists I've seen here.
Venice is planned for this weekend because it is the beginning of Carnivale, which basically celebrates right before Lent begins. I guess it's kind of an extended Mardi Gras, because I think it takes place between one to three weeks before Lent season. Pam and I are very loosely planning a trip to Rome/Vatican and I am now armed with a copy of Lonely Planet's Europe on a Shoestring guide. Adriana, Shannon and I are also looking into Greece + Turkey for our Spring Break.
I'm starting to get a little worried because I really need to find an internship for this summer and the deadlines are coming up extremely soon (like tomorrow! and the first of March).
Tomorrow is my Photo class so I hope my negatives come out well and focused, which is always what I have trouble with. I must admit they are very tourist-y rather than art-sy but we've only had one class so we have time to work on the technical aspects later. I also have Modern Art tomorrow and I hope they meet in the classroom; otherwise, I have no idea where to go because I don't have a syllabus yet and I have never taken a course in Modern Art either! (We managed to stop at Picasso in my second survey class.)
By the way, as you can imagine, gelato is amazing. AMAZING. I had a very good one at Pisa this weekend but my advice is not to go to the chains or get one with a brand on it (I think there is a brand called Cinquestelle that sells gelato in gelaterias and supermarkets) and I absolutely hate getting it in a waffle cone because they are the mass produced kinds.
Almost time for spending more money today. Ciao!
It's been 12 days since I have been in Florence but I have had my first week of classes, finished two rolls of black and white film, had my first visitor, went on my first day trip, ate out a lot, and experienced the first Firenze rain.
I switched out of my Video Production class and have yet to take the Modern Art class I am taking instead.
Emily (Huo) visited from Wednesday (late at night) to Saturday so on Thursday, she shopped and hung out with my friend Shannon (someone from Cali!) and on Friday, the three of us + Katia (someone from Boston!) museum-hopped and took the quickest tour ever of the Uffizi Gallery (home to Botticelli's Primavera and Birth of Venus, as well as countless others) and the Accademia (where the real Michelangelo's David statue is). And yesterday, Saturday, we made our way to Pisa where Emily had to fly out and went to the Field of Miracles (or Campo dei Miracoli) to look at the Leaning Tower.
I woke up today thinking Emily was still in the bed next to me ( :: insert sad face :: ). I've seriously eaten out for at least one meal every day and while all the food's been pretty damn good, I can't afford to keep spending all the money I do not have! But thanks for coming HuoHuo and for being such a good tour guide. Today, we went to mass at the Duomo which was freezing and in Italian so I couldn't really understand anything.
Sorry I can't write more but I am finally settling in, kind of. I'm still not used to the late meal times here and I never really know what the weather's supposed to be like. Pictures are up here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stellar/ so feel free to browse through and see what I'm seeing!