Monday, October 18, 2010

Letizia visits!

Letizia, my flatmate in Siena, came to visit me Saturday and we certainly made the most of it. I took her to The Diner for some authentic American Eggs Benedict, we did Italy's art capital justice by going to a Bronzino exhibit at Palazzo Strozzi, and of course we meandered through the markets as well.

There was a really cool mirrors exhibit at Palazzo Strozzi. Leti's face is hilarious.

In the afternoon, I brought her up to Fiesole with me to show her the main piazza, Georgetown's Villa Le Balze, and the hotel I'm living in. She couldn't get over how stunning the villa was, thus much photo taking ensued:

It was so nice to finally have a friend visit and to get to show my life here to someone I care about. It helped me remember just what a charmed life I live up here. We had a such a fun day, the kind that makes all the crazy ones worth it!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Georgetown Group Photo

No, we did not photoshop ourselves onto a postcard.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cup o' Nostalgia

Went to Bologna a few days ago with our American professor in residence to do a test run for our field trip in November, which meant university-paid business trip to visit friends and eat well! I spent the afternoon shopping with Azzu and then eating dinner with her, Ale and Vincenzo back at their house. Oh, how I miss kitchens. And eating dinner with friends. And speaking Italian. I felt extremely nostalgic while I was there and was pathetically on the brink of tears while walking the streets and flashing back to sequences of memories on each corner. Still, it was rejuvenating to see the Calabrese and I'm looking forward for more nice visits like this one in the future, one of which will be for Azzu's graduation in a couple weeks!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mantova< Ferrara< Urbino

Emily and I spent this weekend chaperoning an art history field trip about the various historical courts of northern Italy. We spent three days and two nights traveling from Mantova to Ferrara to Urbino. The great thing was that each town got better and better as we went. Urbino, in fact, has jumped high on my list of adorably quaint and charming Italian countryside towns (I should try to sell this official list to Rick Steves, I'm thinking).

I don't even have any worthwhile pictures of Mantova, as we were there for just a quick afternoon. We visited Palazzo Te' and the Palazzo Ducale before moving right on to Ferrara, a town overflowing with people on bikes; the Davis of Italy one might say. One of the best things about Ferrara is that it's famous for pumpkin-stuffed pasta. Oh, how I constantly miss my (dare I say, native) Emilia-Romagna! Also, one day I got to meet up with an American friend from Siena (who used to do this job with Georgetown, actually) who was visiting her boyfriend in Ferrara.

Here I am returning to the castle in Ferrara. You might get a kick out of the next picture, which is me on another pile of cannonballs here at the castle from more than 3 years ago! I look so young (and skinny!)...but come to think of it isn't that what I'll be saying about all pictures of me for the rest of my life?

Emily and I finally took a picture together. I can't decide if she's squinting from the sun or because she doesn't want to take the picture, hmm...

Immediately after arriving in Urbino, Emily and I wanted to explore the town before losing daylight. We stumbled upon a great local foods market selling honey, pumpkins, apples, and truffle oil. This guy was my favorite because he was wearing an Oakland Raiders windbreaker. When I asked him about it, he said he had no idea who the Raiders were but that when he couldn't find his coat that morning he stole this random one from his brother!

When faced with a steep incline of a street at one point during our explorations in town, I insisted to Emily that there must be some payoff for climbing that doozy of a hill. Boy, was I right! We made it up to Piazzolo Roma just in time for sunset:

(optical illusion: white rock, not snow!!)

We followed a sign offering panoramic views to find this incredible gem of a park:

While up there, we saw newlyweds coming to take advantage of the blissful backdrop of Urbino. There were young boys playing soccer in the park that started chanting the wedding march for the couple. I felt like I was in an amazingly cheesy Italian movie.

Pasta dish called Strozzapreti, which means "strangle priests"--please don't ask me why. Intriguing though, eh?

Incredible frescoes inside a church dedicated to St. John the Baptist

Just a small part of Urbino's Palazzo Ducale

Our quaint lunch restaurant Sunday.
We again ordered Strozzapreti, this time with truffle oil!

Everywhere I turned was an awe-inspiring photo opt that reminded me of the simple beauties of this incredible country. I felt content, even merry in Urbino. How could I not? Every image in the town was joyful. So, enjoy.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Villa Wars

Last week we finally transferred hotels from Villa Aurora to our more permanent location at Villa Fiesole. It's such a huge improvement, with a much more professional and capable staff, as well as much nicer accommodations. It was hard packing up and moving again, and it always takes me a while to feel at home in a new place, but once I saw my bathroom here at V. Fiesole everything was worth it! In order to show the striking contrast of the two hotels, here's photos, first of V. Aurora and then V. Fiesole:

My room at V. Aurora

My bathroom at V. Aurora
(you couldn't even see yourself in that mirror)

And then Villa Fiesole came to my rescue:

My bedroom

My "office"

My heavenly bathroom, which includes a huge tub where I take bubble baths worthy of Pretty Woman--minus the hooker part!

In addition, I have a view of Florence out my window, and the chef here is great. And did I mention...the internet actually works!

To be honest, I got along fine with my accommodations at V. Aurora. It was more the incapacity of the hotel to follow-through and several incidents we experienced that made us all terribly happy to seek refuge elsewhere.

Basically, V. Aurora didn't even stand a chance in this battle.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Post Post

My address for any of you that want it!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I've Lost My Appetite

Please excuse the crudeness of this post, but I think you'll all get as big a laugh out of this as I did. Let's just say I'm glad they nixed the spicy cheese, because I think this Sunday's meal is racy enough.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fashion Week

In honor of fashion week in Milan as well as a couple of requests from across the sea, I am making a most facetious post about my own sense of "fashion" and the few key items in which I've invested here in Italy. I seem to be newly obsessed with suede as well as fun, outlandish colors. I had to go with the purple loafers, because, seeing as loafers are already pretty bold, one might as well go big or go home.

These are my green suede boots that I got at the "Antica Cuoieria" leather outlet for 35 Euro, originally 150 Euro. I haven't had any luck there since, but I think my pocketbook is thankful for this stroke of bad luck.

And then...drum roll is my belated gift to myself for getting this new job with Georgetown. It was an impulse buy at the Furla outlet and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I think the black and white polka-dot lining is the best part.

So between this bag and my upcoming flight to Provence, I'm relegated to shopping the sale section at H&M to make it through the winter and stealing apples from the breakfast bar for my afternoon snack. Guess the student life isn't entirely over...but at least I don't have to study for exams!