Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Who ya gonna call?

Margaret Rockefeller de Larrain's farther had the villa built in 1912, and she spent most of her childhood here. Before her death, she donated the villa to Georgetown in 1979. But many people say she never really left. Many claim to have seen her around the grounds dressed exactly as she is above, on her wedding day.

While I've yet to see her (thank the Lord in Heaven), I promise you I respect her presence. My director's very sensory mother-in-law has said the she is a friendly spirit, so while many would be frightened to share a large villa with a ghost, I have tried to put a positive spin on it and think of her as a guardian-angel-type that looks over and protects me. Or I just pretend I live at Hogwarts.

Still, I never go into her old room (where most of the incidents have occurred) when I'm alone. Mostly I just try not to think about her. Regardless of how lonely the empty villa might get without students, I do not want Margaret to keep me company!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Villa Party

Having decided to stop complaining about an empty villa and instead fill it, I invited two Calabrese friends studying in Florence, Cristina and Stefano, to bring along some others for dinner at the villa. We ate out on the terrace, overlooking Florence, on the first cool evening in a week.

After dinner, we retired (in all our old-world classiness) to the music room, where we serenaded each other on piano and guitar, just as they did in the original days of the villa. We probably should have recited poetry to each other as well. Maybe next time.

I'm still holding out for a Great Gatsby-themed party. I want long dresses, a Big Band, and tumblers with boot-legged booze. But that's going to take some more planning. Expect an invitation in the mail.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Allontanarsi dalla linea gialla

There are times when I think Italy is the most glorious, pleasureful place in the world and I would be lucky to live here forever. And then there are the moments when Italy kicks me in the ass and I'm ready to board the first flight home. This weekend provided prime examples of both.

Perhaps my Italian lamenti would be cut in half if I refrained from taking public transportation, but alas, it is unavoidable. Between train strikes, hour + delays, lack of air conditioning and seats, and poorly labeled bus schedules, it was as if the annual convention of The World's Most Annoying Transportation Nightmares had rolled into town. Here we are, on our way to Ancona, squashed into an un-ventilated corner of our dilapidated train, perched on suitcases next to the bathroom, feigning contentment:

But then of course, we were greeted in Ancona by some of the nicest people I've come across in a long time. From the owner of our pensione to every bus driver in town, people were so kind and went out of their way to assist us.

And of course what would any trip to the sea be without a bucketful of seafood? The pasta of the house with clams and oysters had me singing praises, as did our platter of grilled fish.

And then, after a gorgeous bus ride through sprawling fields of sunflowers, or girasoli (literally: sun-turners), we got to enjoy the beach. This area of Le Marche houses the national park Conero, and the protected water was wonderfully pure. I spent lots of time submersed in the cool sea, relishing the relief from the harsh summer weather. And as I floated atop the salt water, soaking up the sun and listening to the rocks clinking on the sea floor, I had never felt more at peace.

"Prey-go, prey-gooo!"

Gio, Kevin, and myself

On the way home our train ended up being 85 minutes late, but at least we had seats and air conditioning. Still, the man across the aisle from us felt stick and ended up vomiting, so that knocked a couple extra points off our comfort level.

I tried my best to hang on to the memory of floating aimlessly and carelessly in the water, and even after saying good-bye to Gio for the last time before her South African adventure, I was still able to maintain a certain level of serenity after this weekend. So while the practical side of me was ready to abandon this mission for the functionality of Amerricuh, the optimist in me has decided to hang on to any remaining threads of la dolce vita she can get her hands on.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Festa di San Romolo

July 6 is Fiesole's celebration of their patron saint, San Romolo of Fiesole. Everyone has the day off (in Fiesole only) and there are several special masses at the cathedral, a procession through the main piazza, and a fireworks show. Not a lot is known about San Romolo except that he was, well, very saintly, and the first to martyr himself for Fiesole centuries ago. As a poorly-informed American biddy commented, "Italians will use any excuse for a party."

Mass was presided over by a Bishop, and one of the 100 priests present chanted the Gospel. It was intense, but beautiful.

The Cathedral of San Romolo on a more peaceful day

The procession from Santa Maria to the cathedral

I want to know where I can find myself
one of these snazzily-dressed men.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Happy 4th of July, everyone! I'm not missing America today. No, not at all.

As I count down the days until my summer trip home (current count: 18) I realize this also means Giovanna's impending departure from Bologna. My heart map is going to lose another European presence and I'll have to move Gio's invisible tack to South Africa next. Fortunately at the same time she's leaving I'll be distracted by my California trip and getting to see my other, more geographically stable friends. Still, I'm really going to miss her.

We had another wonderful Bolognese weekend together-perhaps my last there for a while. When all you do is eat, sleep, shop and dance, you really can't go wrong. We went to a couple of our favorite spots, including Viccolo Bolognetti (awesome club in a courtyard come summer, elementary school come scholastic year) and a semi-outdoor club named Chalet in the huge park near Gio's.

We also managed to survive the first day of July sales. When an entire country only has two sales a year, things can get crazy. Imagine the Victoria Secret semi-annual sale in every single store. Madness! I had fun though because I'd been holding out for months on buying anything new. Now I've unleashed a monster.

The other reason this post is titled Countdown is because it was basically Gio and my theme song this weekend, from Beyonce's new album. Have a listen here.

Love and miss you all.