Monday, July 26, 2010

And the Beauty Is. . .

Song that best describes my trip: "The Beauty is" from Light in the Piazza. 

It's five pm on the evening before I leave Florence for home.  I'm not quite ready to leave, but so it goes.  This trip has been absolutely amazing.  I have learned so much more than I ever would have imagined about Italy, literature, art, architecture, people and about myself a bit too. I can't believe it's time to say ciao. I have loved spending so much time in a place with such a rich history -- and a history with such an apparent legacy in the form of arts! The people here are lovely too.  They really let you in, and I have so enjoyed spending a month interacting with them.  I feel like culture does create differences, but I find the similarities between people are greater and deeper. I have had amazing experiences here that I will never forget. While I know I will come back, it will never be the same as being able to live here as a student -- with my only responsibility being reading. It is such a rare and wonderful thing to be able to do and I am eternally grateful that I was able to do it. I suppose that's enough reflection for now. Here are pictures to just sum up my life in Florence. Things I'll miss. . .and things that were just a part of my day. I am really going to miss it here. 
My Street
Mercato Centrale
My latte in the morning =)
The View down my street on the way to school in the morning light
On the way to school
The Fish Pub
Our Gelato Place
The Carts (why they have to be taken out so early in the morning, I will never understand)
My classic dinner in Italy =)
The Duomo, of course
Palazzo Vecchio -- love this square
The Lamposts. . . 
The Lily of Florence
The Scooters
The Carousel
The Street Artists
The Country. . .
The Views
The River
The Sunsets

Sunday, July 25, 2010


We had a nice, relaxing train ride (side note: I get the feeling that there are many Italians who don’t pay for train tickets, and just know how to work the system) and as we got to Venice, we ended up stopping basically on the water. .  .it was beautiful.  I honestly didn’t realize how much I love the ocean, until I’ve been away from it for a long time. It’s definitely in my comfort zone. ah. Again, so tired, but here’s what we saw when we got out of the station: 

SO AMAZING! Venice is beautiful -- And it has such a relaxed feeling about it. Oh and there are incredible mask stores everywhere. everywhere. incredible.  After some minor confusion with our hotel, we got in okay, and we had air conditioning. Glorious. By this time, I don’t really know how I’m standing. BUT we go get dinner close by. My spaghetti bolognese (spaghetti with meat sauce) was delicious.  The best part of the evening was when Kelsey and Chelsea were determined to order desserts (and tried to get me to as well), and the desserts they got looked amazing, but ended up being stale. . . and it was the funniest thing in the world at that moment.  I had tears streaming down my face.  Anyways, I went home and immediately went to bed. 

We slept in Friday. . . it was absolutely wonderful =). Kelsey went to meet her family that was in town and Chelsea and I slept more, and then got coffee. We shared a fresh fruit cup for breakfast, and strolled through Venice. Goal of the day: wander. It was basically wonderful. There is so much beauty in Venice.  Many windows have boxes of flowers. . .and it's so peaceful, because there are no cars or scooters. . . it's just awesome. And there is GREAT shopping. Well, if you like shopping for masks and murano glass and the like (which I do).  We stumbled upon Goldoni -- who revolutionized Italian theatre -- it made me so happy to see =) (He wrote Servant of Two Masters)
I guess we kinda stumbled into the theatre district. Here was Goldoni's theatre too:
THEN we stumbled upon Teatro Fenice! I didn't get a tour, but it was pretty cool all the same. I definitely appreciate places with lots of theatres =) 
We wandered some more -- had an okay lunch and realized that Venice has the most fearless pigeons in the world. Seriously. They terrify me. I've almost gotten slapped in the face several times. Aside from that, Venice is an awesome and gorgeous place. It was an absolute joy to wander around. Here are some of the better pictures =) 
Last place we wandered was to San Marco. . . such a cool and unusual cathedral. This isn't the best picture, but it gives you an idea. 
Having learned something from our many travels, we went back to rest during the hottest hours of the day. Truly, the most brilliant plan ever. After a couple hours of rest, we came outside and apparently it had rained?! We completely missed that. But because of the rain, it was incredibly nice outside -- which was fantastic. We grabbed a delicious dinner -- I had an amazing dish of spaghetti and clams. ah. I can't even describe. . . so good.  We wandered a bit more towards the castello district. Here's one of my favorite sights -- People have a ton of greenery for living in a place entirely based around water!
We found our way to the coast, and it was, of course, gorgeous. We walked along for a long while and just admired everything. 
We wandered a bit more and found a random place with lights and benches and a park nearby? but it was getting dark (and looked like it might rain again) so we decided to brave the water bus.  Did I mention that Venice is a maze? It's one of the most ridiculous places to navigate -- it's fun, but it doesn't always match the map. Anyways, we got on a water bus, which was quite fun. The highlight was watching a lighting storm from the boat -- we could see it behind a cloud in the sky. . . it was incredible.

We again slept in, and then grabbed coffee and this amazing ciocollata brioche. It was perfect. Venice has AMAZING pastries. SO GOOD. Anyways, we basically shopped, and wandered and shopped and wandered -- it was quite fun. And we are rather travel weary by this point anyways. So it was a relaxing day.
I did, however, want to find this bookstore that I'd heard about from other people. It was worth it. It's a random, scrappy little bookstore with a giant gondola in the middle FILLED with books. This is the other room. . .with a boat. 
This was the emergency exit =)
I wish I read Italian! The English books weren't any that I wanted. After that we wandered along the coast some more. . .it was beauteous. Oh and here's what the street vendors sell:
It was SUCH a gorgeous day.
We wandered a bit more around the sights and went to the Rialto Bridge -- here's the view:
We grabbed a very late lunch (I had spaghetti and clams again), and then they went back to nap and I explored the theatre district a little more. 
I really wanted to find a book on Commedia and Gordoni, but that was basically impossible. However, I had a wonderful time looking -- and then people watching all the way home. There are a million tourists in Venice. After our break, we shopped and wandered some more (heavy emphasis on shopping)

The sky was amazing. . . 
We finished our shopping and headed to dinner -- well they headed to dinner. I had to grab one last thing, and I passed this gorgeous sight on my way there. . . 
As I was taking this picture, 3 girls asked if I could take their picture -- and I found out they were from California! AND from the UC system. They were studying in Siena. . . totally random. We had pizza at a place that was like the dominoes of Italy (really not that great) and then headed to bed. 

Got up early and said goodbye to Venice, and hello to our last couple of days in Florence.