A Welcome Note: On Filling the Gaps

Dear Friends and Family:

Although I haven't added any posts since the summer of 2007, this blog continues to be a warehouse of my thoughts and experiences from my time abroad.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Firenze Con la Classe della Storia dell' Arte

Friday, March 9, 2007: At 9:30AM, I boarded a train to Florence from Termini with my art history class and Paolo, our flamboyant professor. Nati and one of Rachel’s friends studying in Geneva came along on the trip as well. Upon arrival we checked into Hotel California and began at the Museo Borgello where we saw a number of original Michelangelo sculptures including Bacchus and another smaller young boy who according to Paolo tended to be overlooked by scholars, but was significant because it was the first instant in sculpture in which an artist really conveyed a complex emotion in the subject’s facial expression. After this gallery, we split into our two onsite sections and while the Thursday group had free time, the Wednesday group, myself included, conquered the Uffizi. What an incredible place. To go once is clearly not enough. There are so many impressive pieces of artwork and we only focused on the seminal ones. I am always amazed at the incredible collection of art that is held in this country’s galleries. One could take the scraps from the Uffizi, the storage closet of the Borghese gallery and the Vatican basement and create the most impressive renaissance collection in America. After we finished with the Uffizi, we were free to enjoy Florence at our own will, so Jenny, Nati and I walked around the city a bit and poked in and out of a number of stores until it was time for dinner. I had made a reservation at La Giostra, a restaurant my family and I had been to over the summer, for 8pm, so by the time we arrived, we were getting quite hungry. It was so exciting to be back and we received royal treatment and a wonderful explanation from the head chef (who looks like a mad professor) and his son. The appetizers were incredible as were the main dishes and the wine. After dinner, we went to a bar on the main piazza by the Palazzo Vecchio and after listing to the live music for a bit, returned to the hotel. Jenny and I hung out on the rooftop terrace for a while before crashing.

Saturday, March 10, 2007: Since the Thursday group was to do the Ufizzi in the morning, we weren’t supposed to meet up with Paolo until 3:30 in the afternoon. Free to roam, we spent the day shopping at the marketplace and further exploring the city. At this point I was very comfortable navigating. I purchased a scarf and wallet to replace the ones I either lost or had stolen in Rome and found myself very adept a bargaining now that I had Berber training under my belt. For lunch we ate at CafĂ© Mario where the food was incredible and very reasonably priced. Full of Florentine steak, we joined our class at 3:30 in front of the Duomo and proceeded to study a few of the remaining important statues and buildings in Florence, excluding the David, which we were to do on our own. We proceeded to the Academia immediately after the lecture was over and saw the David in all its glory, before heading back to the hotel to grab coats and make our way to dinner. Tonight we ate at another place we had been over the summer called Golden View, Open Bar, and had an excellent dinner while looking out over the Arno and listening to live jazz. After dinner, our next destination was gelato, before we returned to Nati’s hotel so she could pick up her bags and make a 10:53 train back to Rome. Unfortunately, the ticket machines can be confusing so when she originally bought the ticket she didn’t realize that it was for the next morning at 10:53 am and not 22:53, that night. Nervous that she’d miss her flight home, we searched for another train that left Florence that night for Rome but found nothing. We even bumped into Paolo and a friend of his who we thought might be able to help, but unfortunately we couldn’t do any better than a 6:40 train for Rome that left the next day and arrived in Rome at 8:30. Nati decided to stay over in our hotel that night and I woke up the next morning at 6AM to walk her to the train station.

Sunday, March 11, 2007: After accompanying Nati to the train station for her 6:40 train, I returned to the hotel and caught another few hours of sleep in my room (that smelled awful (probably thanks to the two other roommates with whom I had been placed) before waking up for our final onsite of the trip at 10:30AM. Paolo took us to the Medici palace where we saw a spectacular chapel and a courtyard designed by Michelozzo. At around 12:30 we were free once again and Jenny and I finished tackling the city before our train left at 5:30PM. We climbed the tower of the Duomo (I had already climbed the dome) did some more shopping, and made our way to Santa Croce and it’s marvelous piazza. It was here that I made my only navigation mistake of the trip and instead of leading us to the giant trapezoidal piazza, I directed us to a giant parking lot, the same shape and size but a few hundred meters away on the map. It should have been more obvious to me perhaps that the giant white “P” in a blue box on the map signaled “Parking” not “Piazza.” After laughing that off, I made it up by taking us by the very house of Michelangelo Buonarotti before finally getting to the square I had originally intended to vist. At 5:31 we left Florence and after a brief train ride on the high speed rail line, arrived in Rome. As we had discussed earlier in the week as a possibility, Jenny and I decided to check out an Italian movie in the theaters, an outing which also happened to be our first official date. We bought tickets to a movie called "Ho Voglio di Te," or “I have want of you,” and grabbed pizza for dinner to satisfy our stomachs and kill time before the movie began. Around 10pm, we returned to Piazza Republica where the flick was showing and massive popcorn tub in hand, entered the beautiful movie theater. Despite my usual distaste for romantic comedies, and the film’s meager quality, the movie was so much fun! It was much easier than I expected it would be to comprehend a film in another language, and the fact that it was a Romantic Commedy certainly helped.
Thanks for visitng!