Monday, October 31, 2011

666 Steps --- This Is What My Life Has Become

You know what sucks? Being poor and big-footed in Italy.

Okay, let me explain...

Italy is expensive--a fact most people know. BUT, did you know that it is practically impossible to find shoes in a size 9-10? Okay, let me rephrase... it's practically impossible to find fashionable cool comfortable  semi-decent shoes in a size 9-10. I've been to over 12 stores, and i cannot find a pair of comfortable boots that fit. Cut to last week when i was walking around in a rainstorm in flimsy flats with an even flimsier umbrella...

In other news, yesterday I got together with Dru, Kyle, and Brea to climb to the top of San Luca, this church located in the hills of Bologna. In order to reach the church, you start at street level and climb up stone inclines and stairs for about 30 minutes. There are 666 porticoes, all labeled, to the top... but 200 of those are at street level, so it's more like 466. I like this number better, it makes me seem less ambitious in my physical exercise and less like a devil worshiper. (For the record, I hate working out and Satan is not my homeboy.)
One of the however-many terrible inclines.

San Luca Church. It's much more impressive in photos not taken by me. Google that shit.
 After a half-hour of huffing, puffing, and mild complaining, the four of us reached the top. We sat in the church for about 15 minutes, more or less to rest and take in the medieval interior of the church. Then we went outside and sat around for about an hour, shooting the shit and people watching... more or less because we were too tired to walk back down those damn stairs/inclines. I spent most of the time taking rando pictures, like the 18 i took of Dru's glasses (i was having a hipster/i-think-i'm-a-photographer-because-i-have-a-camera moment), and the semi-artsy photos of the guy wearing the RIDICULOUS blue wind suit. It was just so... blue... and... you know... wind-suity.

Artsy-fartsy picture #1.

Dru let me borrow her shades for Artsy Fartsy Pic #2


Man in blue windsuit in hot pursuit of the water fountain...

Brea going to examine if Man in Blue Windsuit is clinically insane or a fashion genius...


He drank water and walked back to wherever he came from... like a BOSS.
When we finally descended down the stairs, we all decided to go to Piazza Cavour and treat ourselves to the best. gelato. ever. from Gelateria Funivia. This place is DELICIOUS. I got three flavors: zabajone, straciatella, and torta funivia (chocolatey-chocolate gelato with chunks of chewy chocolatey-chocolate cake). So damn good. Afterwards, we were all pooped and went to our respective apartments to shower and pass out. I ended up being extremely productive, reading the rest of my assigned history reading (which takes forever) while i drank copious amounts of tea.

I don't even like tea. I think it tastes like dirty water... but my apartment is ridiculously cold. Like, 58 degrees cold. I'm terrified to turn on the heat because Sara, my old roommate who owns the place, told me how expensive heat is. I think she exaggerated, but i don't want to take the risk... so i walk around with several layers of clothing, a scarf, a blanket wrapped around me, and the occasional red gloves. No exaggeration. I look like Randy from The Christmas Story when the mom dresses him up in his snow suit...

This morning i woke up at 11:24 AM, which was super confusing because all of the clocks in my apartment were telling me it was 10:24 AM but my phone was telling me it was 11:24. Turns out Italy has daylights savings time on October 30th. Who knew? It's good, too, because then i didn't feel too guilty about sleeping in so late--the latest i've slept in since i got here--not that i really did anything all day.

I mostly just watched Hocus Pocus repeatedly and took a very long, cold-medicine-induced nap. Why did I watch Hocus Pocus a total of 4 times today? Simple: I love that movie... that, and it's the only full-length movie worthy of my time that i can find for free on YouTube. Why don't i use Project Free TV, you ask? Well, because PFTV gave Dru's computer a virus--a virus that literally ate her computer. Okay, not literally... but it messed shit up bad. I'm on my last computer (I started with two, see previous post about my beloved Alice) and I refuse to mess up my little mini nugget of a computer.

Oh, and i made some kick ass carbonara today. It was SO GOOD. This could be because i was sick, or maybe because i've eaten buttered noodles for my past 109 meals. I don't even really know how to make carbonara... i just winged it, and it actually turned out really, really good. Super easy to make, too...

Other than that, I'm just chillin (literally chillin... it's effing freezing!) in my bed, wrapped up like an eskimo baby, staring at my art history textbook. I've read two pages--literally two pages--of the 311-page book. I should probably be more worried about it than i actually am. Oh, well... it'll get done.

And it's officially 12:21 AM on October 31st, AKA Halloween... AKA my favorite holiday. YAY! I think i will watch Hocus Pocus again... fifth time is a charm!

Loves yah!

-L
PS: I took my first-ever "planking" photo on one of the San Luca porticoes. Too bad I fogot to take my camera off the ridiculous "blue windsuit man" setting and my hair out of that terrible bun. Oh well, still good.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

RIP Alice

My big laptop died today. I got her three years and two months ago, and her name was Alice. She went up in a cloud of smoke and some sparks when the AC adapter on my charger cord blew.

Today is a sad day.

Internet's a Putana

You know what I love? Not having internet in my apartment. It’s really the best thing ever.
Please note the sarcasm in the above declaration.

In theory, not having internet should be a good thing—it cuts down on major procrastination outlets, hours of mindless youtube sessions, allows one to get in touch with their inner chi, etcetera etcetera. In reality, not having internet at my apartment is possibly the most inconvenient thing that the cosmos could inflict on me. If anything, I waste more time because I am constantly contemplating what life was like before internet, or when the internet was just a baby, AOL was still the shiz, and it took me 4 hours to download one Avril Lavigne music video (by the way, I’d like those four hours of my life back, thanks). Oh, nostalgia. 

Not having internet also means that I have about seven blogs lingering in “My Documents” that are now completely out of date and irrelevant. Here’s a short recap of what I’ve been doing lately:

-My best friend Sarah came to visit me. It was her first time in Italy and we tried to fit as much as possible into a four-day period. One day we did Bologna, the next Verona, the next Venice, and the last we saved for Florence. That’s four cities in four days. It was so much fun but so exhausting, for both the body and the wallet. Now Sarah is safely back in London, and I am lounging in an internet-less kitchen.
Sarah's first gelato! Where else would be go than Sorbetteria Castiglione?

Roman arena in Verona. NBD.

Kyle, Sarah, and I on the Grand Canal in Venice!

I couldn't resist. Shladonkadonk, David!

-The weather has been a changin’. It’s significantly colder than it was a week ago—probably in the 60s. The thing is, Bologna is mad humid, so 65 degrees feels way more like 50 degrees. It’s also been raining a lot, which makes drying laundry very difficult. It also makes your socks wet through your shoes. Not the greatest sensation in the world.

-I have so. much. homework. Okay, so it’s not so much homework as it is reading, but I’m, like, 200 pages behind. This is mostly due to the fact that I couldn’t find the textbook for the class, so I only got my hands on it 2 days ago. I am not completely innocent in this situation, however… watching and rewatching episodes of Vampire Diaries hinders my academic endeavors a bit.

-Went to my first Italian house party. I was scared for my life for most of the night—in a good way, though. I felt like I was back in Madison—people from wall-to-wall in an apartment of questionable cleanliness, drinks being spilled, no one understanding anything that was being said, dancing to Gaga… the usual.

-I have a newfound obsession with couscous. It’s the greatest thing ever. EDIT: Okay, as with most of my gastronomic obsessions, I am now over couscous and totes into boiling potatoes and mashing them with a fork with unhealthy amounts of butter and salt.

-I also have been eating several bars of chocolate a week… okay, more like one a day. The fact that I still fit into my pants is an effing miracle!

-Going to Montagnola, the Friday-Saturday morning market on the other side of town, is not advisable when you are not feeling your best. It took me an hour to talk myself up to leaving the house (I had one of those ‘I am feeling off’ mornings), and within 2 minutes of me getting on the bus, I almost threw up on a seven year old. Cut to me walking around the market for 15 minutes before the heavy smokers, really cheap, obviously not cashmere “cashmere” scarves, and seriously loud crying babies drove me to get on the bus again. Fifteen horrible, horrible minutes later I arrived back at my apartment, crawled back into bed (with my shoes on… grossness), and slept for 6 more hours (on top of the 10 hours of sleep I got last night). I have a stinking feeling that I am getting sick.

-I still haven’t done my Italian history reading. It’s going to take me several hours, and I’m dreading it like a punkabestia* (heh-heh, get it? Dreading it? Like hair dreds? Heh, heh… okay, sorry, I’m done.)

-Can we please take a moment to appreciate how amazingly good the third season of the Vampire Diaries is? I mean, Mason Lockwood has been resurrected. Thank you, Julie Pleck, for answering my prayers. *Drooooool*

-When you sit in Piazza Verdi with anything that even resembles a bottle of alcohol or anything that could have alcohol in it, you will make more friends that you could possibly imagine. You will also make enemies when you don’t let said new friends have any of your Coke Zero. Liquor is one thing I’m willing to share. Coke Zero? Back the heck off, boo.

-Yeah, I should start laying off the chocolate…  just sayin.

Peace out boy/girl scouts,

L

Sunset in Venice from the Ponte di Rialto. Kinda sucks, right?

*In case I’ve never mentioned it, Punkabestia are semi-homeless young adults with really elaborate rasta dreads, bad clothing choices, and several dogs that just chill all around Bologna—mostly on Via Irnerio or Via Pietro San Borgo—looking dirty and meancing. Most of the ones I’ve met in passing, however, are very nice.

Shout Out: To the lovely Kelly Stretz, who I think may be the only person who reads this blog. Loves yah!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fireworks and Flames

Yesterday was a national holiday in Italy in honor of a saint: most of Christian Italy celebrated St. Frances, but Bologna celebrated St. Petronio (patron and protector saint of the city). All schools and most stores were shut down for the day, meaning i got to sleep in past 10 AM for the first time since arriving in Italy. All day there were festivities in Piazza Maggiore and the major streets. Since i had to tutor, i didn't get around to going until 10 pm. While waiting for some friends to arrive, I watched some guy throwing fire sticks and juggling flames.

Since the fireworks weren't scheduled to start until 10:45, so we all went and got some delicious gelato on Via Zamboni before heading back to the square. We got there just in time, because as we were fighting our way through the crowd to get to the front, firework just started exploding. And, let me tell you, Bologna knows how to handle fireworks...

First of all, the fireworks were launching off the side of a 600-year-old basilica (Basilica di San Petronio). Second of all, the fireworks were exploding extremely low. At first, this freaked all of us out... I swear to God that Dru almost had a heart attack and I thought there were problems with the launchers. Nope... they just don't have regulations for firework here, obviously. It turned out to be really, really cool. It was definitely one of the coolest things i've seen here yet. Here are some pictures and a video:

video

Fireworks with the Basilica di San Petronio in the background. So beautiful!

Sizzle sizzle, snap snap.

oooooh, ahhhhhh.

So, so, so, so BOOTIFUL!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Urbino

So I kinda forgot I had a blog for a bit there… or, rather, I forgot to update it. And by “forgot to update” I surely mean “too lazy to update.” Whatevs.

Nothing much exciting this past week—Giuliano moved out, which was kinda sad but not really. He had a dinner with his girlfriend/friends-with-benefits/I-have-no-idea-what-was-going-on-there, and he left me all of his dishes to do in the morning. That, and he left super abruptly. I saw him in the kitchen, we exchanged “good mornings” and then I proceeded to take a shower. When I get out of the shower 10 minutes later, Giuliano is nowhere to be seen and I have a text on my phone that says, “Hey, Lindsay… I left for Naples. Feel free to eat my food. See you in November.” Uh, bye?

Friday we had our “mock oral exam” for the pre-session. This basically means that you partnered up with someone (I partnered up with the lovely Kyle Frost), and then you “acted out” an oral exam, meaning one person plays the professor and the other plays the student. Each person had to talk for a total of 10 minutes as the “student”, then switch to the “professor” role of asking questions. We could choose our topics and prepared ahead of time, but it’s still super intimidating to get up in front of the class and ramble on about Boccaccio’s Decameron for 10 minutes. This was fun compared to sitting for the rest of the 3 ½-hour class listening to my classmates talk about stuff I didn’t care about (and I say this lovingly… I am sure they didn’t care about mine, either). SO PAINFUL. I am so glad that’s over.

Today I was up at 5:30 AM in order to be at Piazza Malpighi at 7:20 AM. The program took us on a day trip to Urbino, where Professor Benevolo gave us an in situ art history lesson. We had a coach bus, which was super nice, but the 2 ½ hour drive there was a nightmare: it was all rolling hills and curving roads. Everyone needed a dose of Dramamine to make it through without puking. When we finally got to Urbino, we stopped for a quick breakfast at a bar and then set off. Our first stop was the main palace in town, which was cool. When we finished touring the palace-turned-museum, we took a break in the palace garden’s, where Professor Ricci’s kid, Ray, proceeded to jump in bushes. Nick tried to wrangle him as best he could, but all attempts to tame this kid are totally in vain. He’s a little monster… but a cute monster, nonetheless.

Ray... in a bush.
Nick trying to pull Ray out of said bush.

Success!.. unless you count the fact that Ray jumped back into the bush about 5 times after this. 

We then went to lunch, where we spent 2 hours feasting on bruschetta, spinach and cheese ravioli, perfectly juicy veal, questionably fig-filled pastries, and espresso. Yummmmm.

Afterwards we trekked it up to the top of the city (which is built on a very steep hilltop), which had an AMAZING view. We stayed there for a good hour, taking lots of group pictures and doing lots of belly-bumps. Lindsay Carrerra even convinced Professor Ricci to do one. It was effing hilarious. 
The lovely Kelly and I in front of some huge castle thing.
video

On our way back down, we went to see Raphael’s house (yes, the Raphael… the one who painted… and became a Ninja Turtle). Thank goodness we just got to wander… we were all done with lessons for the day. The house was huge, maze-like, and had many marble busts of men with very impressive mustaches. Ironically enough, there were no authentic Raphael paintings. There’s actually only one in the whole city of Urbino, and we saw it at the first museum/palace thing.

IMPRESSIVE MUSTACHE, MAN!

DOUBLE IMPRESSIVE.


Before leaving, we had 45 minutes of free time. Most of us just bought a few post cards, got gelato, and watched as Ray ran around like a maniac and stick his head into garbage cans.  That kid is so strange. On the bus ride home, he spent about 30 minutes showing Dru and I the chewed cookie he had in his mouth, then proceeded to threaten to spit it on us. It was delightful.

Me: "Hey, Ray... you do know that's a garbage can, right?"
Ray: "I KNOW WHAT I'M DOING!"

carry on, little man... carry on.

Now I’m just chilling out in my “new” room (I swapped rooms with Sara, since she’s home now… and as fabulous as ever). I’m going to try and make it to midnight without falling asleep, but my attempts may be futile. It’s a good thing I didn’t go out last night… Monday marks the first day of class AND the two written exams for the BCSP pre-session. Considering that I copied all the answers to my homework out of the key in the back of the book, I now need to learn everything we talked about in the last 3 weeks. Tomorrow will be interesting. On the upside, on Tuesday there is a national holiday because it’s San Petronio’s birthday or something… apparently we get off school for every day dedicated to a saint. God bless Italians.