Again it seems I have quite a bit to catch up on. Every day is filled with awesome and exciting things, and the weekends are like complete whirlwinds!
Last weekend, the school organized for us to visit a winery in Chianti, owned by (literally) a Count. This guy was a complete caricature. A large man with a british accent, smoking a pipe. I felt like I was in the Italian version of Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was hysterical. All of us were fully aware that this was probably a “shtick” he does for all his visitors, but we totally bought into it anyway. It made the whole day so much fun! When we first arrived, he took us into the wine cellar where all of the barrels are held, and showed us around the entire vineyard. It was so cool to see the wine being made right in front of us! After, we had an incredible lunch (and way too much wine) in the main villa where he and his family live. He took us on a tour of the entire house (mansion), and told us stories along the way about the famous and fabulous people that used to come to stay in his home. Apparently it was once occupied during World War Two by SS officers (creepy), and he showed us three books in his grandmother’s old room (completely preserved… like a museum. also kind of creepy) all signed by Mark Twain. It was absolutely surreal. Finally, at the end of the tour, he brought us into the villa’s personal chapel, once used by his family and other visitors. He opened up this small chest just underneath the main altar, and inside was a full skeleton of a saint from the second century! This had to have been one of the coolest things I have ever seen. The relic was completely dressed in imperial Roman garb, and decorated with jewels and dinnerware. It was insane! I absolutely loved this trip. Every step of the way got weirder/cooler, and our Tim Curry-esque tour guide made for some wonderful jokes when the day was done.
Last week was great as well. School is going really well and I am feeling very secure with my class choices for this semester. I love my Italian cinema class. So far we have watched Bicycle Thieves (which I LOVED), and Rome Open City, which was very intense but super interesting. My studio art class is extremely challenging. We have to keep a sketchbook and make sketches every day, to be critiqued on Mondays by our professor and fellow classmates. It’s extremely intimidating, but I guess I am learning a lot.
On Friday, my friends and I all went to a club that was actually featured on the Jersey Shore (they filmed the last season in Florence… you know, so that they could fully immerse themselves in their “home” country or something). It was called Twice, and it was really gross. It was one of those things that we kind of had to do once (haha), and I don’t think any of us plan on going back. I am discovering that I am not sure I am a “club” kind of girl. Although I am excited to compare my experience with european clubs to ones in America.
Saturday we spent the day recovering from our Jersey Shore night, and later went out to dinner at this fabulous tiny restaurant, kind of removed from the center of town. I loved that we got to explore a new area. It was a little bit past the Uffizi, near the Ponte Vecchio, but kind of away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown area. The restaurant was incredible! It was so small, with about 4 other couples eating there, and one chef! Apparently his family owns the restaurant and lives right above it. After dinner they gave us complimentary prosecco and tiramisu! The tiramisu was so amazing and fresh. We saw him whipping the cream and marscarpone right in front of us. It was such a wonderful night!
Today, I went on a day trip with some other classmates to Fiesole, a small town just outside of Florence, known for its Etruscan and Roman ruins. We saw ruins of an Etruscan temple, Roman baths, and a Roman amphitheater nearby. After, we went to an archaeological museum, hiked to a vista that looked over all of Florence, visited a gorgeous Romanesque church, and climbed up a huge hill to see a convent. The convent was especially interesting, because attached to it was a museum that held artifacts gathered from missionary trips the nuns and friars took all over the world. Perhaps most interesting was the room that held all the Egyptian artifacts, including a fully intact sarcophagus and mummy (I couldn’t help but wonder how these people managed to bring that home…). We also got to see the hill where Leonardo da Vinci tested his first flying machine!
On a social note, I am really enjoying the new friends that I have made here. I have a little group of girls that I hang out with all the time and they are all so amazing! I wish I could have gotten to know them when I first got to Sarah Lawrence. I feel like it would have made my first two years so much better, socially. Their names are Meredith (we live together), Berlin, Clancy, Mia, Stephanie (I was already friends with her at school… she’s how I met Corey!), Melinda, Jillian, India, and Ally (duh). It is so great to feel so secure with my group of friends here… especially because I constantly crave girl companionship since I am so used to The Six (y’all better be reading this) back at home. I just love hanging out with them, going out on weekends and spending time with them at school. They have all contributed so much to the amazing time I am having here. I described them to Rachel McAndrew on facebook the other day as my “souvenirs” I am bringing back for us. Needless to say, they all thought that was pretty creepy, but understood and agreed with the sentiment.
So, at the risk of sounding completely cliche, I must admit that things pretty much get lovelier and more perfect each day here.
Also, definitely thought I would be sick of Catholic churches by now, but it seems I just can’t get enough of ‘em!
Pictures to come!