Saturday, September 24, 2011

Arezzo & Urbino

Last weekend we went to Arezzo and Urbino for an overnight art history field trip.  I'd been to both before, but it's always great to revisit towns and see them through a different lens.  You'll remember that Arezzo is where La Vita e' Bella was filmed, and it's also where Georgio Vasari (as in the Vasari Corridor over the Ponte Vecchio in Florence) was born.

Urbino continues to reign as my favorite hilltop town in northern Italy.  It is so quaint and picturesque, and there one can really imagine living under a duke in the 14th century.  I managed to get my hands on another plate of the irreverent strozzapreti, the pasta whose name means "strangle priests", got to see one of my favorite fresco series, about the life of St. John the Baptist by the Salinbeni brothers, and made it back up to a most beautiful vista of the town where I had been with Emily on the same trip one year ago.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2011

On this ten year anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, I am attempting to reflect on the way I felt during the aftermath of those events, marking the first day I ever felt terror in the sense that we acknowledge it today.  Being only fourteen, I could hardly grasp the gravity of that day and initially only succeeded in considering the effect it posed on my own family; most specifically my dad, and his working at SFO.  It was an event of unprecedented magnitude in my life.  As the days went by, I still worried about my family, but I also feared for my country, I mourned the lost, and I admired the heroism of my compatriots.  We sifted through the rubble and when we came out the other side, we had grown more united, more resilient, and more patriotic as a people.

Looking back on it all now I still feel shreds of the fear and sadness, but mostly I feel proud of the incredible sense of rebirth and camaraderie we have achieved as Americans.  I pray that the families of the 2,977 lost will in time find solace and that we as Americans will continue to rebuild the cracks in our collective foundation.

Love to all, and God Bless America.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Annually, September 7th is the vigil for the birth of the Virgin Mary, and Florence has a century-old tradition of a lantern-lit pilgrimage to the church of Santissima Annunziata in her honor.  Over the years this sacred festival has digressed into a parade from Santa Croce to Santissima Annunziata in which young children and families wander excitedly through town sporting their specially decorated lanterns.

Traditionally, peasants would throw rocks at the rich pilgrims to ruin their lanterns.  These days, it's an excuse for young boys to get away with shooting spit-wads at strangers.

Yes, I got hit.  And yes, it hurt.

This was the most beautiful lantern I saw all night.  Hand-made, and of the Duomo!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Give Me Everything

For Britt's and my Friend-aversary this year we went out to eat at a California-Italian fusion restaurant called Cucina Urbana.  My favorite thing I tasted there was a grilled fig and melon salad, modeled by Brittany below.  Afterwards, we went to take in the view at a rooftop restaurant called Mr. A's, where we watched airplanes landing with a spectacular backdrop of downtown and the harbor.

Saturday night Preetam, Shawn, and Ian came over for a BBQ at Brittany's place before we went out in the Gaslamp.  We ate all-American food, sipped on strawberry-basil martinis, and caught up on our increasingly fabulous lives.

Sunday night we headed to LA, got Indian take-out, and watched TrueBlood altogether before crashing at Ian's house.  His adorable dog, half daschund and half cocker spaniel, spent the evening being cute, and in return we spent the evening oohing and awing.  We were in LA to visit some friends and also to go see Conan O'Brien's show at Warner Bros. studios, where Ian works.  We took a walk after breakfast to kill some time before the show and also swung by the Huntington Library, where Charlotte works.

We weren't allowed cameras, but here's a screenshot from our show!
That night we met up with Charlotte and Andrew for dinner in Hollywood.  It was so fun driving around that area with the Hollywood sign behind us and a thousand other recognizable things all around.  Dinner was such a treat for me.  I feel like I didn't even talk that much, just looked around the table taking in my friends and reveling in having so many of them gathered around me all at once.  I don't think any of us realized just how much we would get separated after college--half of my close friends from study abroad are still littered around the world (I, of course, being one of them).  This trip really made me realize just how much I want to be closer to everyone.