Sunday, December 27, 2009

Between Holidays

Christmas was lovely. I had a late lunch with my host family. I should say I had a mid-afternoon feast with my host family. There were almost as many courses as there were people. Emanuela prepared funghi, tuna, and salmone spread; tortrllini soup; arancia beef, mela pork, and chicken con salsa verde; spinace and patatine; and I don't know how many desserts. Afterwards we opened presents. Iside (the dog) received the most and they were all destroyed within an hour. It was an adorable destruction though.
Since Christmas I have really just been reading, attempting to cook, and walking around aimlessly in Cascine Park. I found an in-ground amphitheatre. It's beautiful and nice for sitting or pretending to perform in a play...In the park there is also a horse racing track. I don't think I'm allowed in, but there is a door which is always open, and no one is ever around or inside, so...
Florence was crowded this evening, as I'm sure it will be for another week. I went to see a film at the Odeon: Io & Marilyn. It was slapstick enough for me to understand and I learned a few new Italian phrases, so I am satisfied.
I signed up for a half marathon in Vienna. It will be a nice, though strenuous way, to see the city. It is not until April, which gives me more time to prepare than I had for the Firenze Marathon. Phew.
A presto.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Nuovo Appartamento

This place is very classy. High ceiling, wood floor, large windows. I love it. I just can't get too used to it because I move again in a month. I'm still not sure where, but somewhere in the center of the city.
The main differences between apartment life and my homestay:
1. The food is not as good when I make it
2. I now clean after myself and do my own laundry : )
3. I walk less, eat more nutella, and drink more wine
4. Work is sooooo much closer
5. No one says "buonanotte" to me anymore
6. I'm much louder
7. I don't have to run from the shower to my room clutching my towel about me, hoping my host brothers have their doors closed
8. No more dog hairs all over my clothes
9. No more dog to love
10. I could go on for a while...
Buon Natale and happy holidays everyone! The Germans are coming soon. : )

Friday, December 18, 2009


Again, I am sorry that I haven't posted in so long. Finals...well they're finals and that is my only excuse. The good news is that I think I did really well. The bad news is that the semester is now over and I have to say goodbye to my host family and all the friends I have made. I'm supposed to sing tonight in a "concert" organized by my Italian teacher. The Beginner classes are joining forces to sing for the rest of the school. I really want to go, but I might have to work late tonight. I really shouldn't call it work anymore. Yesterday Nerina and I painted Christmas pictures with watercolors and then we danced in the kitchen with our socks on. Is this work? And last week my job was to accompany her on a train to Rome to see her dad (my expenses covered) and I had a few hours to spare before catching the next train back to Florence. I went to an Alexander Calder exhibit and saw the Colosseum again...again, I hate my life. Allora, I move into my new apartment today. I should have internet and will probably update more often since I will have less to update about--if that makes sense. I have accumulated so many things since moving here, mostly books, and I don't know how simple moving is going to be. Hopefully I don't live up too many flight of stairs, because most apartments in Italy do not have elevators.

My plan is to walk around Florence tonight and take pictures of all of the pretty lights. Every street has a different motif. Ciao ragazzi. Buon Natale!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Family Christmas Card 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fair Verona

Verona: a city of children and dogs. In Florence, I sometimes wonder where all the children have gone--now I know. They are all in Verona, running through the streets with hot chocolate in their hands. They are able to accomplish this without (for the most part) spilling because Italian hot chocolate is really just a melted hunk of chocolate and is as thick as a jar of nutella!

The dogs were also numerous, and the breeds were so various that one moment I was worried about stepping on a little toy terrier or Chihuahua and the next I was worried about being stepped on myself by some Newfoundland or St. Bernard.

But this is not why I came to Verona. I came to see the Casa di Giulietta, which I did. The tunnel leading up to Juliet's house was plastered in love notes and love graffiti and packed with people. I had to wait in a pretty long line to touch Juliet's right breat for good luck. Thes rest of my two day stay consisted of walking, a little hiking, and some stunning panoramic views of the city. I will let the pictures speak for themselves

Today is the Feste di Immaculata (The Immaculate Conception), so no school. For now I will get some homework done and later I am scheduled to help my boss purchase, carry, and decorate a Christmas tree. My host mama made us hot chocolate this morning. This is the best Immaculata ever!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Marathon Pictures

Monday, November 30, 2009


My host brothers: Tommy and Nicola

Jorge's birthday party

Santa Maria Novella

Piazza Santa Maria Novella

Map of the Course

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Much to Report

I got the job! And it really couldn't be better. I babysit/tutor a seven year old girl named Nerina. She's the cutest thing. I really like when she gets angry, because she pouts in Italian. Adorabile! But this doesn't happen very often; she's pretty well behaved. She's also very smart, so helping her with her English is no problem.
Ginevra, my boss, owns a publishing company. Centro Di publishes specialized art books for museums. This year, among other things, they are creating a magazine for Florentine art exhibits. It's really nice. Ginevra also owns a house in Paris, in the Umbrian countryside, and an Italian beach house. So the catch was, if I want the job, I will have to accompany her to these places. Tough life, huh? I might be obligated to go to Paris. Also, I will HAVE to go to their beach house this summer and get paid full time. I hate my life. ; )
So aside from occupational bliss, I am proud to report that I ran the Firenze Marathon yesterday. I was very much under trained, but it was actually not that bad. I kept the same pace throughout the whole race (I got my splits via e-mail already). I ran the first hour and a half without stopping, because I didn't want to be a baby, but this was stupid. I was getting really tired. I had been running next to the same man for a while, so I started chatting with him. We hit it off as running partners, and I ran the rest of the race with him. His plan was to walk a min every kilometer. For me, this couldn't have been better. I had enough energy to sprint the last 1/2 kilometer. We were joined by two men from Spain and another guy from Venice. We were quite the team. I wish I had pictures. I will try to get some from the marathon company when they post them online.
It was a perfect day and I got to see the whole city. I don't know if I will ever run another marathon, mostly because of how I feel today, but now I know I can do it. There is one in Rome this spring though...I am taking a personal day from school because I am physically unable to make the 45 minute walk to class. It will be my first day to miss and we are allowed one personal day, so don't judge!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Qui andiamo.

Wish me luck; I have an interview today for a babysitting and tutoring position (thanks Dan). I don't know much about the prospective employer or her offspring, but it's a job I am at least qualified for and her office/home is right next to my school. Even if I don't get it, it will be good interview practice. I didn't intend to get a job this semester, but I was looking on the Internet for ideas and this job practically bit me in the face, so I figured, "Why not?" Here I go.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Pear Pursuit

(Another article for Blending)

This semester I have had the privilege of accompanying my friend Katie on her personal mission to find the best pear ravioli in Florence. Katie first discovered pear ravioli on a restaurant menu a few weeks after her arrival. Usually not disposed to experimental dining, Katie was pleased with her adventurous decision to try something new, and was especially pleased with her choice. But Katie did not stop here. Prompted by her loyalty to the familiar and stirred by her newfound adventurous spirit, she combed the internet and Tuscan guidebooks to find the restaurant with the best pear ravioli. This pear ravioli must be sweet and savory, with a soft and slightly granular texture, and the ambiance of the restaurant must also be taken into consideration. Up to date, Katie now has two contending favorite restaurants serving pear ravioli that she would like to recommend, as she is not miserly about the fruit of her labors. For some of the best pear ravioli in Florence, please visit:

Trattoria 4 Leoni
Via de' Vellutini, 1-red
50125 Firenze, Italy
+39 055 21 85 62

Coquinarius Bar-Enoteca
Via delle Oche, 15-red
50122 Firenze, Italy
055 230 2153

‎Call for reservations. Buon appetito!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I will have a month and a half between the end of this semester and the beginning of the next. School will not start up again until February 1. This is the perfect time to visit me, as I will not have class and I plan to spend the majority of my time in Tuscana. Just a suggestion...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mia Famiglia

This is an article I wrote for Blending, the monthly newsletter for the Florence University of the Arts. This time I was assigned the "Student Voice" column. I thought you guys might like to read it.


Three months now I have been living with a Florentine family of five: a father, a mother, two sons, and a dog. For 14 years they have hosted international students, meaning they have considered over 40 young men and women to be their surrogate kindred.

Though my Italian speaking abilities are developing frustratingly slow, I am still learning so much from my host family. Interestingly enough, the older the family member, the less he or she speaks English (excluding the dog), with the father knowing the least and the youngest son the most. This has proved ideal for me, as I am either obliged to practice my Italian or I can communicate my thoughts freely in English and am then taught to translate them into Italian.

While my host family’s vernacular diversity has helped me learn Italian, their personal differences have also helped me learn more about the Italian culture. For example, from my mother I have learned various culinary techniques and about shopping in the markets; from my father, Italian politics and flattery; from my oldest brother, Italian literature and film; and from my younger brother, contemporary Italian music and the pastimes of Italian youths. I can honestly say that all I have learned from the dog is that Italian cani are spoiled rotten.

Sadly, for me, the semester will soon be over and my family will welcome new students into their home. I once asked the youngest of my host brothers how he felt about all of these strangers moving in and out of his home. He told me he has never been bothered by it; he considers each student to be the little brother or sister he never had.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Maybe not...

Prague was a dud. The day we were scheduled to leave I hadn't received my electronic tickets. So I called the bus company's office to see what needed to be done, and they informed me that I was not even on the departure list. Hmmm....after 3 frustrating phone calls, I was told to go to the office in person. So I ran home, packed, somehow got a hold of Melanie (who lost her phone last weekend) and booked it to the office. Here I found out I had somehow booked a bus departing in December:

"Can I change the date?"

"Si no problem."

"Is there a bus coming back on Saturday."

" there is not."

"What! Your website said there was."

"I'm sorry, there is no bus leaving Prague until Tuesday."

Melanie and I are going to make the best of our weekend in Florence. Last night we went to listen to some Jazz across the Arno and today we are going to a truffle ristorante and we'll see from there.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pizza e Gelato Corso

I thought 30 euros was way too much for a course in pizza and gelato making--mama mia was I wrong! It was the best 30 euros I have spent...since I got back from Germany and England. There were only three of us in the class and our Australian-born Italian Chet/teacher Roberto was molto informativo e incantevole. Normally he has many more pupils in his class, but as it was a Saturday night, well, you know. This being the case, he also aught us to make biscotti and gave us two bottles of house wine to split between the three of us. Needless to say, I was feeling really good by the end of the class. I walked home with a full stomach, a booklet of recipes, and I slept like a rock. I am adding this course to my "Things to Do in Florence" list for those who come to visit me. There are pastry and pasta courses as well, so take your pick!

The picture that doesn't belong is from the Inganni ad Arte (Art and Illusions) gallery I visited with Melonie at Palazzo Strozzi. The paintings appear 3-D, so at the end of the exhibit, there was a "hands-on" frame you could crawl into and look creepy.
I'm off to Prague on Thursday with Melonie. I forget why she has to go, but I know why I am: I have never been to Prague!
Ciao ragazzi!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


After Jan and Max saw me off at the airport I was on a plane to the Stansted Airport, which is about an hour drive from London. A shuttle brought me to Victoria Station, but from there I had only a vague idea of how to get to my hostel. It was already dark and I was worried I wouldn't find it on my own. An Italian family across from me was having the same troubles and they barely spoke English. So, I expressed my concerns and theirs to the surprisingly courteous bus driver (I say surprising because he had been cursing at traffic the whole ride down). I think both the family and the driver were surprised that I could speak Italian..well, kind of speak Italian. Anyway, as it turned out, the Italians were headed in the same direction as me, so they tagged along behind me and I helped them buy bus passes and find the right stop to their hotel. It felt so good to be of use. Helping them, even though I really had no idea what I was doing, made me feel more confident.
After asking a few more people how to get there, I eventually found my hostel. It was not a pleasant place. It was a lot like a dorm, except it smelled worse and I had to share one bathroom with 40 people. But, it was cheap and I was hardly there. I really can't complain; a French girl had been living there for over a month because she couldn't find an apartment. Poor thing.
I only had two full days in London, but I made the most of it. The first day I wandered around Buckingham Palace, thinking I would see the Changing of the Guard. Of course I was there the one day they did not do it. There was some kind of ceremony invoving New Delhi, but I was not heartbroken. I saw the guards on horseback at the front entrance to the palace.
Next I searched for the river, because Shakespeare's Globe is somewhere along the southern bank. When I eventually found it, I spent over three hours there. I took a guided took and then spent the next two hours checking out the exhibit. I bought a copy of The Two Gentlemen of Verona. I plan to read it before I go to Verona. : ) After the Globe, I crossed London Bridge and proceeded to get lost. Luckily I have perfected my skills of asking for directions. I was directed to Kings Cross Station where I visited Platform 9 and 3/4, a monument honoring Harry Potter. It's not really a monument. It's a plaque and a trolley that looks as if it's being sucked into the wall. I liked it.
I didn't feel comfortable walking around London at night, so I grabbed some fish and chips and went bed early.
My last day I got up early and made my way to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. I don't think I've read more than two Holmes' stories, and the museum was nothing special, but I had a good time all the same. I talked to Sherlock a.k.a Stewart for about half an hour outside the museum. Apparently he dresses up like Sherlock Holmes to earn money while he's in business school.
On my way to the Charles Dickens' House, guess who I bumped into??? The Italian family! London is a pretty big city; I couldn't believe I saw them again. We took a picture together. I will post it with this entry.
I also spent a few hours in the Charles Dickens' House. At this point, I was glad I went to London alone. I don't think I could have dragged many people to all of these places.
I also went to the Natural History Museum, but I left after seeing a few exhibits. Entry is free, so there were many many people--too crowded for my taste. I spent my last touristy hours in Hyde Park, which is very lovely. I read that London has more trees per residents than any other city--I believe it.
Because my shuttle to the airport left at 3 a.m., I went back to my hostel, packed my things and waited at the bus stop. My travels back to Florence were smooth and I did not get lost in Pisa!

This week I'm back in school and happy to be back in Florence. Allow me to gloat for a moment: I got all As on my midterms!