Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Where would we be without Samuele...

This is our friend/tour guide Samuele

"And this is the biggest anchor in all of Europe." -Samuele
"I don't know, probably."
And that is how the tour went.

Samuele never went anywhere without his drum or his recorder; He would play them up and down the streets.

Mb and Samuele hit it off as you can tell.

Meg & Mb in Italy

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Dream continued...

Are we in a dream?

So we went to Venice this weekend for Carnavale, and let me tell you it was an experience I will probably never have again; it is hard to even put it into words. Carnavale is a huge deal here, sort of like Mardi Gras, and it lasts two weeks. We knew it would be big, but we were not prepared for the craziness of it all; we really felt like were in a dream. Upon walking out of the train station we were faced with costumes and characters of all sorts, loud music, and we were shocked to find that yes, Venice actually is all on water. We caught the ferry taxi tight outside of the train station to our hotel. It was quite a long journey considering we weren't exactly sure where we were going (We never laid eyes on a map the entire weekend). But never fear, the friendly Italians on buses always help us find our way. So after they got us to the right stop, we made it to our cozy little hotel. It was an entire other fiasco finding the bus stop once we left the hotel. An Italian boy that we asked for help literally yelled back at us three times as we kept going the wrong way and then resorted to running after us to take us the right way. We are very grateful for these kinds of people. It also helps us meet the locals, as we saw the same boy the next night on the bus and we exchanged hellos like we were old friends.

So back to the craziness of Venice...
People were dressed in huge, elaborate costumes, as you can see in the pictures. The people in these costumes are treated like celebrities as crowds of people surround them takinng their photos. They walk around very elegantly and pose for everyone to stare. The first night out we stumbled upon a massive drag queen fashion show, and that was our first eye opener of what this event was going to be like. Everywhere we turned there was a different party, music coming from every side, and the oddest combination of characters you can think of dancing together in one big jumble. My favorites were the ghostbusters and the dancing protesting pigs. What we like to describe it as is a combination of Alice and Wonderland and Accross the Universe.

The next day we got to explore ALL of Venice as we had our own personal tour guide, Samuele, a friendly Italian we met the night before. I know it seems a little creepy, but never fear mother Meg is here, and he was no creepy Italian. He was a lot fun, and he enjoyed working on his English and showing us around the city, as he was from Venice. Somehow he knew us so well, as he took us into a bakery and bought us all a pastry that he said we just had to try. We got to see a lot of the local scenes and hear about the history of Venice, although a few of his facts seemed a little out there. We had fun, nontheless. He showed us around again that night leading us through streets playing his bongo drum and recorder and introducing us to his friends. He attracted people wherever he walked because of his hilarious personality. Bess, he kind of reminded us of you!! So the night wore on, we got exhausted from all the excitement, and had to call it a night. It was an adventure, if not more!

The best gelato we have ever tasted!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Under the Tuscan Sun...

After about two weeks of rain it was so nice to see the sun this weekend. We couldn't have picked a better day to go to Cortona. This is a small Tuscan town about an hour away from Italy, where they filmed Under the Tuscan sun. It was a fun adventure, as we walked to the train station Saturday morning with no plans or schedule. We picked a destination that was leaving soon and less than $10...turned out to be Cortona! We hiked up the beautiful hill country from the train station to the town taking multiple photo stops on the way (MB wil have to post those later). It was an unexpected very long uphill walk, but the views were worth it. We spent the day relaxing and walking around, drinking hot chocolate. By the way, hot chocolate over here is far different from in the States; it is like drinking pure melted chocolate...no words can describe. So, as it got colder and our hand and toes turned numb, we frantically searched for a bus that would take us to the train station, and we made our way home. Without a map, plan, or any knowledge of the town, I would say we did pretty good.

The rest of the weekend turned out to be very relaxing. Being the only four students in the entire program who don't go out every night, we tried to be social for a few nights. It was a lot of fun, but I think watching movies in our apartment suits us best. There is a secret bakery here that is only open from 1:30 AM-4 AM. We had heard so much about this secrety bakery and its delicious pastries that we were just dying to go. So while all the other students who go are up partying and end their night with a chocolate croissant, we went to bed around 1030 only to wake up at 2 AM just to make a trip to the bakery. It was well worth it! Colleen was here to experience the delicousness with us...thanks for leaving us with such a great discovery!

We Love You Colleen!

Colleen Cooper, one of our best friends from home, got to come and stay with us for a week! She is living in North-East England working for a church and a ministry for these next five months! We had so much fun together, she got to share in our: crazy Bologna adventures, nightly Nutella treat sessions, Secret Bakery run, Piazza de Michelangelo hike, and so much much more! Here are some of the pics of our time together...thank you so much for coming down Colleen! We love you!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Firenze, mi amore...

Santa Croce Church
this is the statue of Dante, right in front of the church with the beautiful evening sky and the Piazza di Santa Croce behind! This is literally a block from our apartment, and the bell tower you see is what wakes us up in the morning, and the garden square you see is on the side of our apartment! I have tons of pics but this blogger business doesn't allow many pics to be put up at a time! so more to come...

Adventures in Bologna

So we have somehow managed to conquer our first weekend trip...don't ask me how.

We decided to head to Bologna, a town we had only heard was very cute. No one likes to make any decisions or take the lead, so it very hard to travel in this group. To start off the trip, only half of us made it to the train on time; the half without the tickets. So, as the rest of us arrived, we hopped on another train, had to pay an extra fee, sat in first class without realizing it, but then were allowed to stay. After arriving in Bologna, we got on what we thought was the right bus to the hotel but with no map or any idea of where we were going. So, after about 45 mins of what was supposed to be a 15 min. bus ride we asked the non-english speaking bus driver who then directed us to the right bus. After getting on the right bus, we asked the new driver multiple times if we were headed the right way. We were still very skeptical, so after another 30 mins. Mary Beth began to get impatient and we just decided to get off at a random stop. After all 5 of us had gotten off the crowded bus and started walking away, the bus driver started honking and everyone on the bus yelled at us to get back on. Apparently, it was the wrong stop. We then trusted him to take us the right way and we all sat back and relaxed. After about 15 more mins, we were all casusally laughing and talking when everyone yelled at us to get off because it was finally our stop...and that is how we made it to our hotel.

Bologna turned out to be not as exciting as we hoped, but it was the people we were with that made it so much fun (and our many crazy bus experiences as much of our time was spent on the bus). It was nice to have a relaxing weekend with not much of an agenda but time to just explore.

So with the bus system in Bologna, you are supposed to buy $1 tickets every time you get on, but when we realized there was no one ever checking for these so-called tickets we never bought them and just enjoyed our free ride. Well this turned out to be a bad idea about the 10th time when we were sitting there, and Tiffany and Lizard kept mumbling to each other and making akward stares. It turned out to be a policeman behind us writing the boys behind us a ticket. So we planned to get off at the next stop even though it wasn't ours. As Lizard made the move, the policeman stuck out his arm and blocked her from getting off. He asked for our tickets. We all just stared blankly while Tiffany gave her ticket from the day before that was expired. We all waited in fear. Lucky for us he couldn't speak English and we couldn't understand him, so we shuffled to the front of the bus bought a ticket and waited anxiously for the next stop. We made it off before he came back to us and walked briskly away.

Many more adventure occured in Bologna, most of them involving us being lost on buses, eating Nutella, or running after our bus so we wouldn't miss it. It was definately a fun-filled, very relaxing weekend.

Again with the photos...I don't want to post without MB, so hold tight!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Classes Begin!

The fist week of classes has passed and our time in Florence is now beginning to feel a little bit more real.

As for the classes, I am very excited about my History of Fashion Design class because my teacher seems very interesting and experienced. I'm also looking forward to sketching the city in Drawing in Florence. My schedule is great, and the course load does not seem all that bad (but I guess that's only speaking for myself). While the others get up for their 9 o'clock classes, I sleep in a bit, take my time getting ready, have plenty of time to walk around the city before heading to my 1:30 class. After class, I head home and wait for the others to get out. I don't know how I got so lucky, but I thoroughly enjoy it! Mary Beth and I are taking Sculpture together...should be interesting. Italian will be very helpful even though Mary Beth will be way more advanced than me...she will just have to give me some private lessons. -Meg

As many of you know I am enduring an Italian class that meets 12 hours a week...that seems like a downer but I honestly love it. My prof. is just as obsessed with cappuccinos as I am, and every day in class we walk around Firenze and talk to the locals to practice our conversational skills as we order cappuccino after cappuccino! My art history class is kind of boring since it is really a more intensive review of what I have learned in two semesters worth of Renaissance art history. Like Martian said, we are taking sculpture together! I am excited about working with new materials...and I love seeing what I can create out of compost, garbage and etc. Our professor is incredibly gifted so I expect to learn a lot. -MB

Photos of Firenze and more are comming soon! Mb took all the pics, and I didn't know which ones she liked the best, so I will just wait for her to do that part!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Home Sweet Italia

This is our 2x2 ft kitchen that we love dearly..we cook about every night so it gets plenty of use...probably more than it is used to, or more than it was made for!

All four of the roommates like to cram on this couch and watch movies on one of our laptops! Its always a funny experience....whether Meg is the only one that can feel a wooden plank anywhere she sits, or when people come to visit us and walk in on us sitting in a pitch dark room!

This is me and Meg's room!!! Lisa and Bess...Robbie sleeps with one of us every night, he has been very helpful with the adjustment! On the right is me and Meg's armoire, I didn't take a picture of the inside because it is a bit ridiculous how many clothes we have hanging in there!

Well this is the main ingredients of the physical attributes of our apartment...however the most important thing you should know about our apartment is that we have two incredible roommates: Lizzard and Tiff! Lizzard goes to Ole Miss and Tiff goes to Baylor with us. We all get along great, and we are so excited to travel together these next weeks!!
Ciao, buon giorno friends and family!


So we finally figured out how to post pictures plus we have internet at our apartment so we can actually do this blogging business in a practical manner.

We have been learning our way around the city after lots and lots of walking; we hardly have to pull out the map anymore. After walking back and forth to the police station about five times across the Arno River, we now have a pretty good idea of our whereabouts (but still no wallet). We walked around the Uffizi Gallery, the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio...everything is so beautiful, just look at the pictures!! Our apartment is very warm and cozy, but Friday night we forced ourselves out. We walked around until we heard some beautiful music and decided to follow it. It turned out to be a guitarist hooked up to an amp, playing outside the Uffizi Gallery. His music sounded incredible echoing from the massive architecture surrounding us. Only in Italy can you be surrounded by great sculptures and works of art while listening to an awesome young musician...it was such a neat experience! Saturday we spent the day exploring the city more and practised our Italian with some locals (more like our roommate practised while we watched). And then we ate at a restaurant called Boccadama, our best meal yet by far and then topped it off with some delicious gelatto!
- Meg