The Gateway

The Gateway
The separation between life and death

Monday, December 5, 2011


Well, with one day left on the clock to complete my blog, I think it's time I backtracked to before travel week and covered our weeks at the villa, in one incredibly massive post. Maybe not massive actually...but still, it'll be about 6 weeks worth!
I notice that I last left off with us headed to visit Assisi. That was a rather long time ago at this point, but I do remember the things that really mattered to me. For one thing, Saint Francis has always been my favorite saint, since I was a little girl who loved animals and aspired to be a veterinarian. Though my dreams have since changed, I've continued to love the stories of Saint Francis...and seeing his grave in front of me was the most humbling experience I've had throughout this entire trip. Especially since I went to Assisi expecting to still be under the sensory deprivation of art overload. This incredible success made the rest of that day that much more amazing. Although most of the group split up for a few hours, since St. Clair was in siesta mode, Roberto, Shane, Josh, and I climbed the sizeable hill to the castle at the highest point in Assisi. Not only was it the most beautiful scenery I had seen to that point in Italy, it was lovely weather. It was wondrous~ The guys climbed up on the crumbling wall next to the castle, but I declined to join them, just in case they needed a witness when they fell. We left not too long after that, and the rest of the day was fairly uneventful...but I never have forgotten how much I enjoyed Assisi. I'm almost positive that we visited Siena the day after that, but don't quote me on it. It was definitely the same week though.
Siena was...nice enough~? It was about like Perugia, just another Italian city. It was pretty fun to hang out in, but I don't believe we ever accomplished much, other than shopping around in a lot of interesting places~ Boring to read about, I know, but I will say that the main piazza there is beautiful. At any rate.
The next week was taken up by hastily finishing all of our projects (which have been uploaded on facebook, in my Perugia album, I swear!) and doing a critique. I am currently maintaining an indifferent attitude on my blog towards my drawing teacher, and I will leave that there.
After we did a wide scale critique of everyone, and took down everyone's work, we all prepared to embark on our travel week. But that is a whole other three blog posts, which I will let you read on your own.

And after travel week is where I begin my tale anew. Straight back into villa life, we began our printmaking class, taught by a professor from Western, who I am also planning to stay neutral on for this blog. In the past, I've done printmaking on very flexible linoleum, used more for stampmaking, but I did it all by hand. I'd never used a printing press before, and I was both excited to print again and also a little worried that I would find out I'd been doing it wrong for the last two years. However, my biggest trouble was in coming up with ideas. My first idea was rejected by my professor, and I had the greatest amount of trouble expanding on the one idea she did like. After rejecting about three more ideas, I finally settled on one, which I'm happy I went with. Please see facebook for pictures of it~ I learned to work a press, and my neutrality forbids me from elaborating on the procedure, other than saying it was a lovely process, and everything turned out quite well.
On our last full weekend in Italy, Shane and I took the Saturday as an opportune time for a day trip and traveled by train to Lucca. Upon arriving, we meandered around and observed that it was in fact the prettiest city in Italy. I can't begin to describe this to you. It was clean, there was nature, and the weather was amazing. It was just...perfect~ There are also pictures of this adventure on facebook, should you wish to view them. But it turns out that the town regularly transforms itself into some sort of event, and we were there to witness its transformation into a massive scale flea market/antique sale. I touched authentic WWII uniforms that were selling for 50 euros, and also was granted the opportunity to play an antique mandolin. Which I absolutely would have bought if it hadn't been warped horribly across the body. But it was amaaaazing~ Anyway. But we did that, and walked around on the walls of the city, which are one giant, picturesque park, and just enjoyed ourselves. We shopped through a lot of places, and eventually caught the train back to Firenze as it started to get dark. We successfully found a pair of red trousers for Shane (after an loooong, and exhausting search throughout the day), and finished off the evening with Doner kebabs. And then we made our way back to Perugia!
After that, not a lot happened. We had a week to finish off critiques, which were done very well and professionally, and pack, as well as prepare for the gala. The gala went quite smoothly, and on our last night, Shane and I spent the evening hanging out with Michele Vasta Jr. We listened to him play the piano, gave in to him making us play the piano and teasing us for being bad at it, and then rode with him when he went back home, just to have a little more time together. I'll most definitely miss him a lot~ But Facebook will keep us together!
And then came the day of travel. Josh and Jenni had the same first two flights as Shane and I it turns out, so we checked everything in and got to our gates as a group. Through several interesting mishaps and good coincidences, Shane and I managed to get seats together, although we were forced to pretend we were engaged to sit together on our international flight. It was pretty fun times, I must say. And then we arrived back in the States! My particular adventures did not end in Billings unfortunately, since I spent the 27th and 28th delivering the Rocky students' art projects, and completing Spring semester preparations. As of the 29th though, I am officially back home in Florida, finally realizing how much I've missed it for the first time since leaving for Montana, a year and a half ago. And I think home has effectively closed the chapter on my travels in Italy, although it certainly isn't the end of the story.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Final Travels

 Installation numero tre in this blog of my travel week~ Except that this time I'll probably end up adding more to the end of this before I get a chance to post it. Internet has proved to be rather scarce ever since Venezia, as you will soon learn.
We left the coffee shop planning to explore Venezia a bit before finding a different place for lunch...which was such a good idea. Venezia is easily my most favorite place in Italy now. It's beautiful, the weather's nice, it's not that crowded, and it has so many pretty things to look at. If I didn't know its reputation, I almost wouldn't believe it's a tourist town. It doesn't smell like anything other than a little town, so I have disproved all of the people who claim they dislike it because it smells. Tsk. Our Venezia day isn't going to be particularly detailed really...if you ever want beautiful jewelry or fantastic blown glass, that's the place for you to go. But I can do little to begin to describe to you how much fun it is just to walk around in. As dark fell, we got lost for a while, though we eventually managed to find our way back to the train station with time to spare, as always. I will say that the entire day had been rather cold though, and the night was no exception.
While we waited around in the train station, we uncovered a mountain of difficulties pertaining to the train tickets we had left to reserve for our nightly travels. After a lot of stressing and financial debate, we managed to pull through it, though things were tense for a bit. We also had another two or three hours to wait until our train even arrived.
Once again we all spent the night in different compartments, so I made my way to mine. I found that the curtains had been pulled, the door shut, and the lights turned off. Baffled, I opened the door to find a slightly scruffy man standing inside. We talked for a second, and then he pulled down the case he'd been preparing to lift moments before that, before I walked in. It turns out he was a musician, and he unwrapped a cello and began to play it, blues-style, like a guitar or a bass. It was amazing. We were the only two in the compartment for the first two stops, so we talked about music and he told me he'd studied music and lived in New York for eight years a while back. His English was very good, and he also told me his name was Bruno. Once people started to fill up the car though, he was forced to put his cello away, since they didn't particularly appreciate him taking up so much space with it. He hung around playing with his ipod for a little while, and then left a little before his stop, I guess to get out of the silence. I don't blame him. It was too cold for me to really sleep, and the other silent members of my room didn't seem particularly cuddly. I managed to catch an hour of sleep or so pretty early in the morning, and then woke up in time to get off the train at Napoli. From there, about half an hour later, we caught a train to Pompei, which took little to no time.
We spent majority of today in Pompei, you might be thinking. Well, I wasn't aware either. However, maybe ten minutes after we'd entered the ruins, we noticed a white and brown bundle on the ground behind a gate down next to the ampitheatre. Curious, and thinking it was a pile of cats, we made our way down to it...and discovered it was instead a pile of puppies. PUPPIES. They crawled under the gate and played with us, and there's a good possibility that we played with them for a good fifteen minutes to half an hour. We also debated the logistics of bringing one through customs. They were so adorable~ Probably the highest point of my day was sitting there with those bundles of carefree fluff. We then, well....wandered the ruins. We noticed a very large number of dogs there as well, which was fairly interesting. Apparently they recently started a program to tag, microchip, and care for every dog that lives within Pompei, which I think is a wonderful idea. From there, we attempted to get to the internet at lunch, only to find we had to pay for it. However, there were kittens at the place we ate, so I patted one for several minutes once we'd finished eating and started just talking. Afterwards, we left Pompei to see if we could find some internet back in Napoli. We did not. And currently, I'm sitting in the Napoli train station again, waiting for a train...again. Our next train leaves at 21:50, so we've still got a good two hours of waiting left. However, I will conclude this incomplete entry with: You're waiting for a train. You hope you know where this train will take you, but you can't know for sure. But it doesn't matter. Now tell me why. (Props if you recognize it.)
And now it's time to add a summary of our day in Verona! Verona, while being well known as the site of Romeo AND Juliet, is also quite a lovely town~ The weather, while being a bit chilly, was also pretty mild and we managed to find Juliet's Tomb first off. However, we had no proof we were students, and decided to go see Juliet's House instead, thinking it would either be more worth the money or else cheaper. Along the way, we stopped at a rather nice little cafe, with the coolest tables I've ever seen. They were made of some kind of clear resin, with themed items embedded in them, like the pieces of a violin or a fully deconstructed clock. After we left, we grabbed cups of hot chocolate to go. By the by, Italians don't make hot chocolate like you're thinking of hot chocolate. They give you a cup of very hot chocolate pudding. It's phenomenal, and perfect for cold cities like Verona. We walked over to Juliet's House shortly afterwards and were quite shocked both at the number of locks attached to the iron gates outside as well as the number of names written in the tunnel leading up to the house. The locks might be baffling though, so I'll explain for those of you who don't know about it. It is apparently an Italian thing to put a lock somewhere either romantic, difficult to reach, or both, when you marry, and to get rid of the key. If you want a divorce, you must find the key and unlock it. It's not all that romantic really, since it puts the husband in a pretty awful situation, but I think it'd be sweet if both the husband and the wife placed one~ At any rate, now you know. We bummed around in the courtyard outside the balcony on Juliet's House and then decided to very lsowly make our way back to the train station. We shopped through a small market on our way there, and I myself gained a beautiful flatcap and a gift for the last person on my shopping list. My comrades were equally successful in their purchases. We then managed to make our way back to the train station, and now I am currently sitting in first class, across from Becca, updating you, my readers. There's no internet on the train though, so I doubt you'll hear about this before tomorrow. We have about an hour once we get back to Milano, and then our night train will see us traveling back to Roma, where we'll catch a train to Firenze in the morning. I'm incredibly excited to return, and also equally excited to finally be done with traveling. It's fun, but I miss taking showers, sleeping in beds, not having to always pay for meals, having access to outlets and the internet know, the usual conveniences. Until tomorrow!
This is clearly not tomorrow, but eh. Details. I'm writing this entry from the comfort of the couches back at the villa, as Ben plays guitar in the background, completing the picture of the villa as complete perfection. I'm so happy to be back~ There's only a little more to cover, and then my travel week will be officially closed on this blog.
We were in Firenze the full day, shopping and enjoying ourselves. Much laughter and nostalgia happened, and we made some good deals. I managed to get a suitcase for exactly what I was hoping to pay, and everyone else finished their shopping for friends and family back home. There's...actually not a lot more left to say. You've already read my assessment of Firenze, so I assure you it has not changed.
Then came today. The worst day of our travels I believe. We took a night train from Roma to Bari, trying to kill some time the next day so we'd arrive in Perugia at a time when we could get a ride back to the villa. However, I woke up and my compartment mates informed me that I had just barely missed my stop. So I ran to wake up my traveling companions, and we got off in a tiny town called Monopoli. After exhausting our options on how to make it back to Bari in time for the train we needed, we got a cab back to Bari, trying to find something else to get us back to Perugia. From there, we finally caught a train up to Bologna, after a good hour or so of debating and planning desperately, and from there we got another train to Firenze and then Perugia. There was a lot of exhaustion and stress hidden in there, but all of our trains were first class. We finally got back to Perugia and got a cab back to the villa, arriving home at some time between 22:00 and 23:00. And now? I'm here! And sitting around casually discussing our trip and writing this up. I'll actually post it tomorrow, but for now I'll at least be caught up.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Travelling Continued

Needless to say, as great as our day was, it couldn't continue to stay as amazing as it had been. We meandered about in Pisa a bit longer after my last update and then returned to the train station to catch a train back to Roma, so that we could then catch our night train to Bari. None of our compartments ever end up being together at night it seems, except for this night when Lauren and Becca were together. I myself ended up in a compartment with three young Italian guys (who were definitely returning from an anime convention in Pisa), an African man, and a highly disgruntled African woman. The Italians left in the middle of the night and were replaced by two Italian women, and after a lot of flip-flopping, I ended up having an empty seat across from me and got some sleep. All in all, not too bad though, as far as sleeping in a tiny room with five total strangers goes.
Then we arrived in Bari sometime around 6:00, and stumbled out of the station to regroup and decide on the day's events. While sitting there, we suddenly realized that our train tickets that night were actually leaving from Milano to go to Napoli...not leaving from Bari. After a few moments of talking about it, we decided to abandon exploring Bari (which seemed rather small and not exciting to begin with) and hop back on a train to Milano, and end the day there. This sounds simple enough I'm sure, and we got back on another train about 7:30. About half and hour to forty five minutes later, we were informed that we needed a reservation to be on that train, which we hadn't known about, and were forced to get off the train in Baletta. From there, after wishing wholeheartedly we hadn't made such an error, we managed to catch a different train to Bologna, maybe ten minutes later. However, we'd been on that train for about an hour or so when we were again informed that we needed a reservation...even though the lady on the train before had told us we wouldn't need one. Rather than charging us, they entered us into the train system and moved our seats down to very low class. We ended up mostly just sitting in the hall outside a compartment, being very unhappy with our current lot in life. We finally managed to make it to Bologna, and from there onto a train that wouldn't require us to make a reservation...and arrived in Milano around 16:30. An entire day spent hopping trains and sleeping pretty much, and also being told we were in the wrong place. There was so little time left that we mostly just camped out in the Milano train station until we left on our night train to Napoli.
My adventure for the night involved a very caring Italian man, a smiley Italian who slept a lot, two Americans who were also studying abroad in Europe, and a drunk Italian man. It started pleasantly, and ended as being the worst night train yet for me. But enough of that.
We then were dumped in Napoli...and started warily to explore. We ended up deciding to adventure to the Duomo and orient ourselves from there. There were a couple of Vesari frescoes, but also free bathrooms. The bathrooms were the most important to us at that point. After that, we wandered towards the Castella Nuovo and also the Teatro San Carlo nearby. The Castella cost money to go inside, and we planned to go in the Teatro and look around...but they were filming a thing outside the Teatro, preventing us from entering. However, I did manage to get a video of the short scene they were shooting, complete with Italians in snazzy Victorian costume. It was definitely worth it, though I'm sure the Teatro is glorious inside. We then also carried on along the waterfront to Castella dell'Uovo, which translates to Castle of the Egg. The story is that when the castle was built, Virgil buried an egg underneath it, and that if the egg ever broke, the castle (and Napoli) would fall. Or so the story goes. Either way, it's a fantastic name, and we explored that place as much as possible. And then it was lunch time. Once we'd finished eating, and establishing that Napoli is probably the dirtiest city we'd ever been in, we trekked back to the train station...and rather lengthy walk. And then we sat for three hours, growing more and more uneasy with the people around us. We were very quick to jump on our train when it arrived, as long as it would take us away from the shady characters springing out of the concrete. The train we got on was scheduled to connect in Bologna about 5:30 and then we would catch an early train over to Venezia.
That night? The best night train experience for me. I don't know that I'll ever be able to have such a great night again. Our train left the platform with only myself and a fairly young Italian guy in our compartment. It turns out that he spoke remarkably good English, and so we started chatting. His name was Francesco and he was also headed to Bologna, to go back to university after taking a break for Halloween. He was definitely one of the sweetest Italians I've met since coming here, and I'm very glad we spent several hours talking before we both tried to get some sleep. I had no worries about any of the other people in our compartment for once too, such as awkward leg contact or uncomfortable proximity on head rests, because he was sitting across from me and I was on the corridor seat. So good times~
And now, I've been sitting in a coffee shop in Venezia for a pretty decent length of time, recharging my laptop and enjoying having internet. However, we will soon be recharged and ready to explore, so you'll have to wait until we have more adventures to get another update~

Monday, October 31, 2011

Travel Week~

Day 1, October 29th, Roma:
All right, day one of travel week! The day's events were...well, eventful. Like all good plans, it flopped fabulously, yet I'm still here to type about yet another day in glorious Italy, this time from Rome. We (Lauren, Becca, Shane, and I) caught a cab from the villa at 6 am, of course getting four to five hours of sleep the night before, and arrived at the train station in Perugia somewhere around 6:20. Our train left somewhere around 7:40, so us three girls activated our Eurail passes, while Shane stood by encouragingly, ticket already in hand. On a side note, our teller definitely looked like a Gringotts goblin. It was the greatest. We then sat around, killing time, and wondering why our train wasn't showing up on the board, but not thinking much of it because it was on a printed sheet on the wall. By the way, if this ever happens to you, look into it. Seriously. Don't sit around and wait until time and find out, as we did, that the website Shane bought his ticket from had actually booked his ticket for the 30th instead of the 29th, completely against his wishes. Therefore: Shane had to buy another ticket for a much later time and we worried about the people we were planning to meet up with in Roma.
Thus, we wandered Roma. Only around Termini Station though...we didn't really want to get lost. We attempted to find internet for a long while, and were successful, but found out it required the equivalent of an Italian social security number to be used. Also a European phone number. But most importantly: they track their's weird. And super creepy. But anyway. We did not ever actually get internet access and were forced to eventually relocate back to the train station, though a very sweet Italian lady did try very much to help us with her limited English. And so we returned to the stazione~
Our trip then continued without any real hitch, and we spent a good three hours or so riding the train, in a very lethargic manner. “I feel like” was burned into the ground between Shane and I, and also I realized I hadn't played Elite Beat Agents in a rather long time. Aside from that, I don't remember anything particular about our conversations, and so I will cut to our anxious arrival in Roma. However, we quickly managed to find our meet up, and then carried on. Deciding to go ahead and book our night train ticket for that evening, we quickly ran into difficulties when we found out it would be 33 euros each to reserve a seat on any train leaving Roma that night. We then decided to put off the decision and decision making until later, switching errands into the immediate issue at hand. We split with Shane about an hour later, him going off to carry on adventures of his own, and our party was finally alone and completely female. We ventured off to find a bancomat and a supermarket...and also a bathroom.
Almost immediately after visiting a bancomat, an Italian stopped us and asked if we were looking for a hostel. While we were not searching for a place to stay that night, we were in need of a supermarket, which he happily directed us to. Aaaand...then we did grocery shopping. The details of that are private however, thank you. We did not find a bathroom though. So, shortly after that, we quickly went hunting for both a cheap place to eat and also a place with a restroom. We found both just around the corner, and split a pizza margherita between the three of us. We also gained a business card from our quirky waiter, guaranteeing us 10% off the next time we visited. It also had a tiny heart on it, which is going in my future scrapbook. From there, we came to the conclusion we needed to go ahead and resolve our locational dilemma. We tiredly made our way back to the train station and sat down to plan out the next few days, after finding out exactly how to reserve night trains for 3 euros.
However, while sitting and planning, we ran into Shane again~ His party ran into equal amounts of difficulty in their travel plans, and they were stuck, like us, until tomorrow. After deciding to stay the night in Roma with them, we managed to plan out about half of the next week for ourselves. Our plan for tomorrow, with the addition of Shane's group, includes Pisa, for the day only~ I'll be sure to let you lovely followers know where I am after that on Monday...keeping in mind that internet is currently scarce, and most of these day to day chronicles will be published on the same day, just separately. Oh well~ Ciao!
(Additions to the night's events) – So if you're in a foreign country, and are very low on winter clothes and comfortable places to sit, do not spend the night in a train station. But otherwise, you're good! We spent the night sitting on the platform, getting little to no sleep, until 6:10 am, which was when our train to Pisa left. We were badgered by strange Italians a couple of times, as well as noticed that rats were living down in the train tracks. But anyway, I thought I'd include how long that night was for us, even with several of us watching out.
Day 2, October 30th, Pisa:
As you know already, we left the Roma Termini Stazione for Pisa at 6:10 am, after a rather cold, long night on the platform. I can't actually tell you how that trip went because I was asleep for all of it...I think at that point I'd been up for about 24 hours, though I'm not positive. Either way, we had a four hour train ride, and arrived in Pisa. Currently, I'm sitting on a park bench there, typing this out to you, and the weather is amazing~ The sun is shining, with a slight breeze, and there's not a person in sight (unless you count the cars racing by on the road). Our first order of business was of course to go and seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which was probably about a mile or so from the station.
It was a rather uneventful walk, so forgive me as I skip the details. I will however tell you that Pisa is a rather beautiful city, and the area around the Tower, baptistery, and cathedral set is full of greenery. Also full of tourists pretending they're holding up the Tower in photos. Seriously, I lost count on how many people I saw posing for that. But, the whole area was rather beautiful. Because it's Sunday, we weren't allowed to wander through the cathedral, only to stand in narthex and observe the building. It was quite pretty though, and had a very large amount of baroque art adorning the walls. We could also see the large Pantokrator mosaic on the top of the apse, though we couldn't get close enough to see it very well. Only from quite a distance.
I will admit that today hasn't been particularly interesting, compared to the potential for adventure we may have in other cities, but it's been rather comfortable and not too strenuous, especially since we haven't been traveling steadily for a while now. From the cathedral, we left to find some lunch, and then we went on a quest for a park to sit around and talk in...which we found and are now doing! And so with that, I will leave you to wonder what my tomorrow and this evening has in store, and will type an update the next chance I get. Ciao~

Monday, October 17, 2011

Somewhere Over the Rainbow~

Heeeeeeeeeey! No one's mad that it's been over a week since I updated, right? Right! I'm glad we're all good friends, willing to forgive easily~ So where was I? Oh yes...

Two Thursdays ago! That would be the day we saw David. Who was rather amazing! And I personally believe his facial expression and stance indicate that the moment takes place right after he's thrown his stone, and is waiting to see how it will impact Goliath. Or before he throws the stone. But definitely not after. Just so everyone knows. David is also without a doubt the best Michelangel I've seen on this adventure...though I still stand by Bernini as my favorite sculptor. Apollo and Daphne or The Rape of Persephone...but I can't decide which I like more. But those are predictable favorites, so I'll carry on. Aside from David, there was little else particularly remarkable to witness in the Galleria dell'Academia. though I did see a neat video about how to make a triptych with gold leaf. A mini triptych.

And then we had a free day in Firenze~ Most of the day was devoted to shopping in the market, which means I have officially finished all of my Christmas shopping! Huzzah! And everything will be much more special to people, since it came from Italy. Nothing too interesting after that though.

And then Saturday, and a journey from Firenze to our final destination for most of the semester! There was little as far as events go that happened...though I did have McDonald's in the train station! ...and yes, I am properly ashamed. In my defense, I hadn't had a proper burger in a rather long time. Then we left, and I napped on the train. Yay~ Then we hit...Perugia~ We rode in a bus over to the villa we're currently residing in for the rest of the term, which can be viewed here: That villa can also be compared to something like heaven. We get three homecooked meals a day here, and only have two classes. I'll cover this last week all at once now, since the events happen much less often now.

Since arriving at the villa, we went to the wine tasting festival Sunday afternoon, up in Corciano (within walking distance), which was quite fun. I bought some fantastic Italian honey while I was there~ The week was a blur of art history review lectures from Mark and Jim, and also our first two Italian classes~ I'm so excited to finally be learning the language! Come se dice 'excited'...? Bah. Maybe later. Our Italian teacher is adorable and fantastic though, and I wholeheartedly enjoy her class. That Thursday shone on our "final" for art history class, which was titled the Italy Bowl. Which was, quite simply, a giant Jeopardy game, with an art history theme. Naturally, my team won....we did win actually, but we had to creep up from behind and win at the last second. A few of us very nearly passed out when we saw the winning question, because we knew the answer. We had to calm down in order to dictate our response. But it was great times, and I owe a lot to my fellow teammates: Kelsey, Lauren, Melissa P, and River~

And now the best part of villa life! We have no class for Friday thru Sunday! So Friday was a long day of total laziness for me, while the majority of our group went to a lake. They say it was fun. I'm sure it was. I had lots of fun sleeping and sitting around. Also preparing for travel week~ But mostly relaxing. Then we spent Saturday at the Eurochocolate festival in Perugia! We gained 90 cent pizza slices and much chocolate...and fun times were had by all~ That was...two days ago! Yesterday was another day of total laziness, and then today was the first day we had only drawing class~ Which we're also taking, by the way. We learned about our projects (which are due next Thursday...ugh), and I managed to finish all of my thumbnails planning for the projects in the 5 hours of class we had today~ They were cumulative, not consecutive, don't worry. Aaaaand....that's the end of today! And I feel up to date~ Tomorrow is a day trip to Perugia, and the day after we are spending the day in Assisi~ I will hopefully have updated by the end of the day in Assisi, but who knows how that will go...

Until next time, ciao~

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Clearly Lacking

Everybody remember the last time I posted and said I was terrible at keeping up with journaling? No? Maybe you should go back to that and reread it...and maybe just check the difference in date between that post and this one. Eight days, guys. I never claimed to be good with keeping up. So this post will mostly be comprised of paragraphs summarizing the might be a little lengthy, but I'm hoping to get caught up.

All right, where did I leave off...Thursday, September 29th. The morning dawned cold and blustery, the sky dark, filled with heavy clouds just waiting to open - no, wait, this is an art history blog. But it was funny, right? Right?  Never mind. At any rate, that day just so happened to be Vatican day. And let me tell you, the Vatican is rather amazing. I got a first rate tour of it, sightseeing with only my good friend Becca and two of my professors. The things we were saw were, first and foremost, exactly what most people expect to go and see when they visit, plus thousands of other things...which I might remember a quarter of. By far the best thing I saw there, surprisingly, was a Dali painting. It's called Angellic Landscapes, look it up. But I don't know what to tell that point, and definitely right now, I just feel that I've been exposed to so many masterpieces that I can't bring myself to be really struck by everything anymore. It's a little heartbreaking, but I still see things that do impact me deeply, and I continue to learn. I just simply couldn't really into all that much detail about the things I've seen. Sorry, sorry. But....the Vatican. Yes. Definitely worth a visit, but make sure you have a whole day for it!

I'm just going to gloss over these next two days...on the 30th, we had a free day and so we repacked everything and sat around. We had a semi-fancy Italian meal that later made me sick, but it was still a good time. Saturday, the 1st, we all boarded the train to Firenze (That's Florence, for those who don't know.). And better. The air is terrible, and incredibly smoggy, and there are a lot of people still. But the markets, the people, and just the atmosphere is much, much better I think. I'm currently sitting in a small Cafe, maybe ten minutes walk from our hotel writing this, and I love where I am. I plan to pursue writing in coffee shops more often when I get back from Europe.

So the 2nd dawned bright and early for us, and the day's activities included the Florence Cathedral and the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo...Museum of the Dome or something like that. The Florence Cathedral is beautiful, and I will be posting pictures later, so you may see for yourself...but let me just go ahead and say now that everything I've seen in Florence has been much emptier than the things I saw in Rome. Maybe because my enthusiasm for the sightseeing is taking a steep dive, but I haven't seen many things to be impressed by. Definitely not this day, past the initial "Wow, that's really beautiful!"

Tuesday, the 3rd. The day of the Uffizi. Which should definitely be a book title. Just sayin'. At any rate, I'm just going to say that the Birth of Venus is absolutely beautiful, and Botticelli is quite an artist. I would also like to say how incredibly happy I am that I was able to stand a foot away from the Venus of Urbino. It was Gorgeous. Note that capital G. Those are perks...aside from that, I have to beg forgiveness on not much more detail. It was a beautiful museum, but only a small group of paintings held any deep meaning for me.

And now for today's events! The morning was spent in an archaeological museum, which housed the Chimera. I also saw the Kouros, which was an unexpected surprise. The Chimera was definitely the highlight of that museum for me...everything else was just another passing blur. It really almost made me want to cry with frustration, that I can see so many amazing things and be so completely numbed to it all. But that's another story. Afterwards, I ventured up to the top of the Dome with Johan and Shane...which was so worth the 8 euros we paid. The view from the Dome is unbelievable. It truly is. Even after the hundreds of incredibly steep, stone steps one must climb to get there. Perhaps I'll change my blog picture to one of the pictures taken there later on. After lunchtime had passed, we also carried on to the Cappelle Medici, the main point of which was Michelangelo's "Night and Day". As I earlier told my teacher, I felt very...neutral towards the sculptures. I've almost come to the point where I think Michelangelo's a pretty cool guy, but not quite as spectacular as he's always been made out to be. Call me blasphemous and hang me for heresy, but there's my current opinion. Then again, I haven't seen David yet...that's all tomorrow. But I can't predict the future, so you'll have to wait for that to unfold later.

For now, I leave you with this summary of my days and my sincerest apologies for not continuing to update daily with my activities. I'm really trying to get better about it! Ciao for now~

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Few Days Later

Wow, blogging and journalling: two things I'm terrible at keeping up with! It's sorta been 3 days since I last updated this. However, I'll now attempt to sum up all that's happened. Monday was Coliseum day...and I can't even begin to tell you how difficult it was to remember that. At this point, I've seen so many amazing things, it's all almost blurring together when I try to think of the 'when' I saw it or any specific experiences associated with it. So really, I'll just say what's happened, and leave it to the imagination, since I've already expressed my lack of words to convey my feelings and describe the things I have seen.

As I was saying, Monday was Coliseum day. We toured through the Forums as well, and saw the Arch of Constantine, right next door to the arena. Honestly, I'll go ahead and say that the inside of the Coliseum wasn't as large as I'd pictured it being. Still truly amazing though. I spent most of my time there trying to imagine the screaming spectators, the dying humans on the field below, and the roars of exotic animals let loose to wreak havoc on the sand. It was...unreal. And then that night we made a human pyramid on the front porch of the Pantheon. Jealous? You should be. Check out the facebook picture and I think you'll find you're downright envious. There's really very little to say about this day without rambling on more about nothing, so I'll go on.

Tuesday dawned bright and early, seeing us stationed at the entrance of the Etruscan museum. I highly doubt that's actually the name of the museum, but it's fitting and I'll stick with it. It was (obviously) a museum completely full of Etruscan items...most of which were Amazing. Please note the capital A. I had no idea the Etruscans had been so talented. And seeing the sarcophagus in person was easily made my day. We also visited two other churches that day, one being San Clemente, but the Etruscan museum. Definitely the highlight. It has both pushed me back towards staying an art major and not switching to a minor, and has also made me really want to take the Anasazi class Mark teaches. It's just been a massive inspiration to my life.

And now we can see Wednesday, this morning! ...I say about an hour away from hitting Thursday. I'm probably cutting this a little bit close. Today's agenda was merely the Pantheon, which we have seen on several occasions now, and also the Villa Borghese. Before this morning, I knew pretty much nothing about said villa. But now...I have decided that up to this moment, it is the greatest thing I've seen here. It was like the entire building was one huge set...I've never felt like such a theatre person in my life, not that I can really claim to be one at this point in time anyway. But the walls...every wall in the rooms inside was painted. And yes, that sounds pretty cool but also not too impressive, right? Wrong. They were painted to mimic marble. Not just regular old white marble either....any shade, texture, or pattern you could possibly imagine. It was EVERYWHERE. And not just that, but every decoration on the ceilings and walls was painted too. Nothing was real...but you'd never know it without getting right up next to it and squinting intently for a few seconds. It was mind blowing. Forget the Rape of Persephone, Apollo and Daphne, all of the Bernini statues. They were beautiful and I truly cannot imagine being able to do such things...but the WALLS. I couldn't stop staring at them. I wish so much that I had pictures or words to begin to tell people how amazing that place was...but I can only say that it is the one place I wish to visit again once I'm a much better artist, farther down the road in life. Past that eye-opening experience, we also had a picnic in the Piazza Navono on a bench, enjoying life and Roma. No big deal. After all, we've already had wine on the porch of the what's a picnic in the Piazza?

'Til tomorrow then...once we've been to see the Vatican.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Describing it in Words...

I love to write, really I do. I'd like to think I'm fairly decent at conveying my feelings in writing because of this. However, I really don't believe words can describe the things I saw today. We spent most of our morning paying a visit to the Capitoline Museum, which includes such works of art as the Dying Gaul, the Capitoline Wolf, and the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius. Things I've seen in books, recognize on my own, and was incredibly excited to see. I can't really tell you much about the things I saw, because I saw many, many ancient sculptures that I could probably sit and stare at for hours and hours. The best I can say is to describe my unexpected encounter with the Pantheon on Saturday morning. A small group of us (the students who had arrived early) were wandering around after lunch looking for an art supply store, and rounded a corner, not really paying attention, and then just...BAM. Right there in front of us was the Pantheon. was the freaking Pantheon. I fell in love with that building two years ago when I first took art history...and suddenly it was right there in front of me. I was shock. If I think about it now, and probably if I think too hard about it when we go back, I might burst into tears. It was beautiful. To learn so much about a thing and see its picture is great...but to actually be there, right in front of it, almost close enough to touch it...that's what truly makes it in my mind. The same thing happened a little earlier today, though not quite as shocking, when we glanced down the river and saw a corner of the Coliseum peeking out from behind several buildings.

So here's my thinking: it's one thing to go sightseeing, in all kinds of places around the world. You go to France, make sure and see the Mona Lisa! China? The Great Wall - walk it if you're daring. Montana? Go to Yellowstone. There are just all of these iconic things we associate with each place we go and have a desire to see, but in the end, it's just a collection of pictures and fun experiences. I wholeheartedly expect that this trip will continue to be paved with wonderful pictures, great stories, fun inside jokes, and tons of bonding with many people I've never really met before...but more than anything, I believe this to be the first time I've ever been somewhere and felt moved almost to tears by the sight of the history lying all around me. I've always loved Roman and Greek art, and the proof of my sincere love for it is several blocks away from me. My new goal, following this line of thought, is to see things not just to prove they exist or to say I saw them...but to really and truly see them and appreciate everything that went into them. And just to live life as though everything you touch is beautiful.

This might be a bit more in depth than expected, but I don't wish to go into too much detail on museum trips. There's only so much you can tell people who aren't right there with you. However, I wrote this while watching Becca fix my pants, and feel pretty good about the summary I've managed to give. In about 40 minutes, we'll be headed off to the Trievi Fountain, another experience I hope to share more eloquently later.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

And Here We Go...

All right, my first official post since arriving in Italy! I'll also eventually do some sketching to accompany my journaling, but my lack of time and imagination to draw is leading me to stick to text at the moment. To update on my travels, Shane and I both left Billings on Thursday, excited and nervous to begin our adventure. I'm still very anxious not knowing hardly any Italian, but being here for a day and a half has reassured me a little, despite our less than positive experiences in miscommunications. When we arrived in Rome, we had the mishap of not being able to find Becca, who we were meeting, for several hours...and had a very difficult time liking the information and police people at the airport. But we eventually found her and rejoiced! We then journeyed by shuttlebus to our hotel, though it turned out our reservations had never been we traveled by foot to a different hotel! A hotel by the name of Albergo del Sole, which turns out to be the oldest hotel in Rome, dating back to 1462. It was a lovely room with a great view, and the three of us very quickly passed out once we found out the beds were comfortable. And then we woke up and realized: we're in Rome. And so I say again, to emphasize how exciting this is: I'M IN ROME. IN ITALY. It's beautiful here...and the history lying around everywhere is astounding. I'll probably try to post again soon, so ciao everyone~

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A buon intenditor poche parole

And so, I find myself sucked into the world of blogging. This blog will mostly be chronicling my semester travels abroad to Italy and my studies there.


I am currently not in Italy yet, although I have almost completed my preparations, therefore: I'm sure this blog will not be particularly exciting for several weeks. In the meantime, I will probably have to start getting into the habit of blogging, since I'm already terrible at keeping a regular journal.

For now, ciao!