What I will not miss about Italy

There is nothing about Italy that I won’t miss. Of course I’m looking forward to people always understanding me, knowing exactly where I’m going and how I am going to get there, and I really am so looking forward to butter. They never use butter here.. so American of me to crave movie popcorn and butter on my toast or in mashed potatoes, but I don’t care!

The one thing that I can not wait to never have to cross again is my roommate Bianca. I’m not saying this at all to be caddy, or mean, but plain and simple, I will not miss living with her for a second.

However, I already look back and laugh at how I used hand lotion for two weeks instead of hand soap because even though being half Italian and living here for two years, she couldn’t tell she was buying lotion instead of soap.

 

The inner Danville almost came out in me today ( Danville being my hometown and notorious for the ratchets and thug life, all of which I am proud to have been raised around) because I have never in my life lived or shared space with someone so messy, hate to say it, but gross, and has troll like tendencies. What are troll like tendencies? : living among other girls and staying in the bedroom as if one is a hermit, cooking dinner and not cleaning the mess, cooking with oil and allowing it to splatter all over the ceramic back-splash and stove, buying lotion and not soap, making odd noises and weird laughter morning noon at night with no one else but her computer, using all of the WiFi and being on her computer religiously, putting on pajamas at 1:30 in the afternoon after her class, slumping around when living in one of the most beautiful and magical cities on this earth, and a lot more that would be so much funnier if I could describe it in person.

 

She is a nice girl. She has told me and my roommates many stories that make me question her morality and if she even possesses morals, but who am I to judge! So I won’t.

 

Today however, may have been the most excited to go home as I have ever been since being here.

Both Marissa and Paola are in Amalfi Coast (my dream destination, costs too much for me to afford) leaving me alone with Bianca on my last weekend in Florence. I made friends with Mari, a girl from Brazil who goes to school full time here and is by far one of my most favorite people I have ever encountered, she is awesome. And ended up going to the MTV awards with her last night. Crazy right? I didn’t watch them in my living room, I went to the awards show for free. It was the Italian MTV awards and I knew like two songs and had no idea what was going on, but definitely something worth experiencing.

 

So I decided after having a lazy Friday, and a somewhat busy Saturday that today I would be productive. My mom will love this next part. After living here for five weeks and trying my best to clean this apartment that looks as if it had never really been cleaned before… I attacked it. With soap and water and without rubber gloves, with brooms, and mops, and buckets and Dave Matthews and Al Green playing all the while. I did laundry, washed the disgusting rugs I can’t believe I let go until now. I scrubbed the oil that had been caked on that stove for what must have been 15 years, I mean I gave this apartment a cleaning I don’t think has been done to it since students have lived here. And I was and still am so proud of how squeaky clean it is.

 

What does this have to do with Bianca?! As previously stated Bianca has troll like tendencies, meaning that there is never any cleaning involved. Maybe a rinse of her skillet and then left on the same burner for use the next day (drives me crazy, there are cupboards for a reason. If not then we might as well leave our glasses in the fridge next to the milk carton for the next use right?!)

I’ve never said anything though, I don’t mind cleaning up after her if it’s a few things and I’m doing the dishes anyway.

After mopping, I go to take out the dirty water and dump it outside. So I open our apartment door, leave it open and walk into the apartment building hallway and open the entry door and step outside and pour out the water. Just in time to spin around and watch the door close in my face. I had no keys, no shoes, and a bright neon orange bucket. It was close to 90 degrees outside today, so the stone was scolding hot. I’m tip toeing around in disbelief looking around to see if anyone noticed what I just did. At this point my feet are burning so I have to step into the dirty water puddle so that I don’t burn the bottoms of my feet. I run around the building to Bianca’s window and knock and yell and knock some more. I didn’t think she was home because her door was shut and it was dark underneath her door. So I gave up and slump back to the entry door trying to figure out how to get in. I’m standing there with my bucket and in a dress and no shoes and all of a sudden realize I have my bandana tied around my head with a bow up top. Looking like I stepped directly out of a Cinderella movie, so I rip it off my head, noticing some guy laughing and staring at me because he knows I’m locked out.

I keep looking in the distance for Bianca or listening to see if anyone is inside and walking out. Then the light bulb turns on. We have doorbells! Doorbells for each apartment. So I ring one. Nothing. I ring two more. Nothing. I’m hoping that someone will come down and let me in or open the door to see who’s there, or just unlock the door. I ring a couple more, and then try the same ones over again, and I questioned in my head if all the tenants knew I was locked out and were upstairs giggling to themselves because I was so American in that moment. I try one more when I’m about to cry, and the door opens. The lady who lives across from me had her head sticking out the door, and I motioned that I was locked out, said thank you and sorry and she just laughed. I walk into my apartment, and there… in the newly cleaned kitchen, stooped on a plastic green chair, head hanging low and eyes focused on her computer screen sat Bianca. I almost fell over.

Here I was outside for 20 minutes jumping on my toes and yelling and knocking and ringing doorbells, and there she was, perched like always at her seat watching some girl drama series.

I said “Wait, you’re here?! You didn’t hear me knocking at your window and yelling your name, or hear me right outside the kitchen window?”
“Oh, you were outside? No I didn’t hear a thing!” She giggles. As if something is funny.

I said “Yeah I was locked out for like twenty minutes.” She said sorry and I said it was no big deal even though I was livid inside.

I hurry and clean up and get myself together because I have church in like 30 mins at this point. I run into the kitchen to grab the trash and take it with me, it’s on the way to Santa Croce and here you take your trash to the bins. I notice her stupid skillet sitting out. I see oil on the stove, and utensils laying on the counter covered in whatever she ate. I didn’t have time to say anything or clean anything, so I just grabbed the trash can from under the sink. Well what do you know, the trash is piled as high as the can itself. She sits there yelling “AH! NOOOOO. No he didn’t! Gasping at whatever was happening on the show. I’m struggling to pull the garbage out, and she sees this, and sits there and says nothing. I grab a new bag myself and get it all together, and leave the apartment huffing and puffing and carrying three bags.

I step out into the hallway, and the biggest bag breaks. Then I scream. And I stomp. And I rummage for my keys, unlock the door, fly into the apartment and grab another bag, and yell “I’m not the maid of this place!” And slam the door and clean up the garbage and clean off the rug outside. And then I march to Santa Croce, drop off the trash, head towards church, all to be stopped by the police who are guarding the Piazza because a huge soccer tournament is going on and they’ve closed down the Piazza except for those who have tickets. I couldn’t go to church. I was so upset. I was already late and any of the other churches were 20 minutes walking distance.

So I head back home and pick up myself a bottle of beer and stride through the apartment, clean the remainder of Bianca’s dishes and decide that my act of grace to try and replace missing church will be me refraining from yelling, arguing, and or becoming violent (I would never be violent, really, I would like to think I could be). And I make myself dinner, finish chores, do a little homework, and then a couple hours later I just start laughing at this whole day.

Like I said, I’m looking forward to being away from her style of living, but this whole thing makes for some really good stories, and I’m actually thankful they all happened. I don’t think that I could appreciate all the amazing things I’ve done and seen without having a few hiccups here and there to fully realize it.

 

 

 

A Few to Get You By

Apparently here in Italy, when a place closes (like my photography studio for instance) it really is closed. Unlike Doudna at EIU (the art building) students are not allowed to stay all night and work, they can’t work a few hours past the building being closed, not even 15 minutes.

For the first time in my life I was kicked out of studio. I have never had anyone tell me while working it’s time to go.

Back at EIU you’ll find students Sunday through Saturday both day and night working outside of class. Not in Italy!

Because of this I only have a few photos ready to upload *sad face*

 

Please remember these are copyright, if you like them share them!  (just remember my name)
I’m considering ordering some prints from my lab I order through back home. If anyone is interested in buying some let me know! Maybe not these but some photos I’ve yet to upload will be beautiful printed.

 

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First Picture is from the Boboli Gardens. I absolutely LOVE it there. I hope I am rich and can one day be married there. (ha.)

Second is a street on the other side of the river across from where I live. Right by the gardens. That side of the river is very hilly, so the streets are that much more beautiful.

The last two are me! Part of my self portrait project for my photography class.

 

More to come later!!

 

 

 

Get ready!

I’ve had horrible wifi connections this week. So I haven’t been able to post anything.

Two of my roommates will be gone this weekend leaving me almost allllll the wifi…. so be prepared for an explosion of photos! (The good ones, not my iPhone photos)

Roma round 1

Lets start with last Friday.

I hadn’t planned on going to Rome then, but Alex flew out the next day and wanted me to go with and had an extra bed. So, I decided I’d make a quick pilgrimage to the Vatican that late afternoon.

Once in Rome we go to the hotel, drop our bags and head back to the train station to take the metro to the Vatican. The metro was as busy if not more so than in NYC. Except full with tourists and groups of masses of people and smelled worse because some people here don’t use soap. Or deodorant, which costs double as it does in the states.

I arrive in the Vatican City, and I’m pretty excited. It didn’t seem overly crowded. Little did I know why.

I walk up to the square at about 5:05 pm. It closed at 5.

I was so upset I almost cried!

I spent money on a metro ride for no reason, but mostly time, time I didn’t have. So it was very disappointing.

After that I went back and visited the ancient ruins and the forum which was very cool.

I saw the colosseum after and also awesome. Except all of the points of interest are surrounded by tourists (naturally) so much that it impacted my experience and not in a good way. I should expect lots of tourists at this time, and I did. I guess it’s the fact I had imagined how it was going to be like seeing these things I learned about in grade school..and sirens, pushy and rude people, horns, people yelling, and tons of street vendors just sort of tainted that.

Now don’t get me wrong! It’s not like the whole trip was bad. I saw Caravaggio’s “Calling of Saint Matthew” which is a painting I learned about freshman year and inspired me to give painting a shot (now I’m a painting major for those that don’t know). That by far was the highlight of my trip. It’s in a small hidden French church in the middle of Roma so it wasn’t crowded when I discovered it.

I’ve had so many surreal moments with pieces of art since I’ve been here. Seeing things I’ve only learned and studied in books. And now I can go sketch them as they sit in front of me.

After seeing all I cared to see of Rome I headed back to the hotel with nothing but excitement for the next day.

The next day would be me leaving Rome and heading to Venice, where both the Venice biennale (major art festival) and my boyfriend Ross would be awaiting me.

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I haven’t forgotten!

I’ve been really bad about staying on task with blogging. I’m sorry!!

A lot of traveling this past weekend and a lot of pictures and MANY stories to come. So stay tuned.

I’ll have to break up events and the things I’ve done into numerous posts, so some may seem random.

Sick

It’s all caught up with me. This weather, cold and rain and then sun and then cold, and all the walking I have to do in it every single day.. And I now have a head cold, sore throat, congestion and I can feel the horrible coughing attacks coming on.

I go to Roma tomorrow and then Venezia Saturday so I need to be healthy!

All I want is soup, can’t find it anywhere. I think the only canned thing they have here are beans, and pickled peppers and olives. I just want some Campbell’s chicken noodle, or even chicken broth, is that too much to ask for?!

I went to the pharmacy a couple days ago. I got a form of cough/throat drop thing and the pharmacist gave me cough syrup. I tried explaining what I have but I don’t think she understood. My cough syrup is basically the Italian version of robitussin. It is by far the worst tasting taste of anything I have ever experienced in my life. Plus I already have a mental block with taking cough syrup, so every night before bed its like a ten minute ordeal of me trying to face the medicine and just take it.

I want to enjoy this weekend! Lets hope this sickness goes away.

Weekend in Rimini

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I have a wifi connection again! (Hardly because Bianca is streaming videos and on her phone at the same time stealing the wifi again.)

With the weather in Florence being so horribly rainy, cold, and just temperamental I decided to leave. And go to the beach. I left Saturday morning for the city of Rimini. A small but still good sized town directly east of Florence on the coast of the Adriatic Sea.

I swear I need a video camera following me at all times. I’m sure to other people my series of unfortunate events would be quite comical. And after a good 48 hours they can be to me too.

So I pack my bags early Saturday morning to head to the train station. I go to zip up the inside of my luggage, and the zipper just kept going flying onto my floor. Of course Mother Nature brings a tropical storm to Florence immediately as I step outside with my small luggage and half beaten umbrella and no coffee.

It’s important to know that the sidewalks in Florence are stone. The roads are stone. The “sidewalks” are nothing but little slivers along side the “road” which is usually about 9 feet across.

I’m stomping along in the pouring rain and realizing how I never noticed Italians don’t move out of the way. I always have. And at this point I’m not having it anymore. So those who didn’t get the hint to stay on the right side figured it out shortly when I shoved in to them yelling “SCUSA…UHM SCUSA!”

I make it to Rimini just fine with the accompany of Alex. The sun is peeking out and there’s much less noise and people. What should have taken us ten minutes to get to the hotel took 45. Google maps is a liar.

We are taken to our room and it’s facing the beach with our own little balcony and a huge bed and big bathroom. I think I’ve learned to be a pretty savvy traveler. 40 a piece for two nights beach front in a 4 star hotel with free breakfast!

We freshen up, step outside. And it’s pouring. I think..this is some sick joke right? This is not real life. But it was. The weather was so beyond unbearable we sprinted to the hotel and ordered a mojito.

For dinner we end up at the “First Pub in Italy” called Rose and Crown. I was unaware that the Super Bowl of European soccer was happening that night. It was so fun. After the Munich team won this older couple got up and began singing 80s rock and love songs. Apparently Italians love bands like ABBA? My mom would’ve died. It was hysterical because everyone was so nonchalant about it.

Sunday was spent at the beach for a few hours. We were two out of about 8 people on the huge stretch of beach but I did not care. I came for sun and the beach.

There’s these guys all over Italy, mostly African and Indian who sell pointless things like sequined fedoras, beaded bracelets in the colors of the Jamaican flag and random things you’d find at the dollar store. They hit the beach as well. One came up to me trying to sell henna tattoos and a toy car that serves as an iPod dock with speakers. I say “no grazie, no no grazie” this guy doesn’t get the hint. He sets down this car speaker thing and urges me to buy it. I say, “no but I’ll take it for free.” And he laughs and says no you buy! “I respond with, how old are you?” He says he’s 20. I said “Ok, so then you know the struggle, I’m a poor college student with no cash, I’m sorry I can’t buy anything” he goes to tell me his name is Roy and a mini life story and he’s actually very nice. He urges me to buy the speakers and I tell him I can’t but I’d love to. And I got a free henna tattoo as a result! I told him I’d be free advertising telling people to buy only from Roy. What a sweet guy. I saw him later that night on the street at about 10 pm still trying to sell things, he’s working like an equivalent of 14 hour days.

It was a good reminder of how beyond blessed I am to be here.

We went to this little restaurant shack right by us and stopped in for lunch. Unlike the states the food was priced accurately and almost cheaper than in town. I decided to try a tuna and onion pizza. It was so good. I promise it was good. The tuna was fresh (obviously) and it was the perfect size. We wanted to pay with credit card, and the owner who spoke broken English told us, “oh don’t worry! You can just come back tomorrow and pay!” I almost fell over. Come back tomorrow?! Another moment of “toto we’re not in the states anymore.”

And last night I experienced the most beautiful sunset on the pier. Couples everywhere. Public displays of affection to the max. Which is very European. But that close to hotels and you can’t I use one of them? Although there were times it was very sweet, European men are so affectionate to their significant others, there would never be any slight chance of temptation because you can just tell they’re so in love with who they’re with. So it’s reassuring to know that not all of humanity has lost real love and that the divorce rate isn’t higher than that of actual marriages.

Today was spent on the beach and I got beyond plenty of sun. And too many views of men in speedos and some woman in a thong doing yoga much to close to my vicinity.

Of course there were bumps in the road in between my highlights of the trip. My day ended coming back home finally dragging my luggage behind me. And then a pigeon pooped on it.

Week three here we go!

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I’m never leaving.

I’m never leaving.

No I have to of course. Or do I?
I’m in love with Firenze! I want everyone to come here. If I could I would fly each and every single one of my family members and friends over here.

And it’s a city you can’t experience in one or two weeks. I don’t think my six weeks is enough. I’m lucky to have a friend who’s lived here for some time and professors who both want to show me the local’s places to eat, drink, shop, etc.

The barista at the cafe I go to on my way to class knows who I am now. I walk in and he just yells “CAFE LATTE PER ANDARE!” (Latte to go) and I pay my euro and 50 cent. Let me repeat, a euro, uno euro and 50 cent for a latte that would cost me 4.50 at Starbucks. And they wouldn’t even know who I am!

The people are so kind here in Florence. The scooters “meep meep” makes me really happy. The people on bikes have that little trill bell sound. The ambulances sound like the ones off of Madeline the movie. I can walk everywhere on the cleanest city streets, sidewalks, and even alley ways I’ve ever seen in my life. People drink espressos and macchiatos all day long. Businesses take breaks 2-4 for siesta (nap). Dogs don’t need leashes. People go to church on Sundays in their Sunday best. Dinner time is family time. Weekdays are for friends and Sunday only for family, and the teens? That’s how they want it. Art is everywhere, literally every piazza (plazza or suare). Leather jackets are real! Every window has shutters and petunias waterfalling down the length of their building. The water is from the mountains.

I’m never leaving!

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I live by a beach!?

The other day on my run I discovered a small man made beach along the river, almost right across from my apartment. I was thrilled! My roommates didn’t understand how happy I was…they’re from Florida.
Today I didn’t have class. So I planned my own personal day to get some sun and hopefully dry my face out to help get rid of my mosquito bites.
Now I’m trying to figure out when I can squeeze in beach time each day before class. It’s not even a real beach and you’d think I’m at some white sand resort in the Caribbean. I look around smiling and gleaming and these half naked Italians go about their normal daily routine just catching some rays on lunch. No big deal. They also are surrounded by the city design and art works of Michelangelo and every other master so I shouldn’t be surprised.

Other than that today was pretty uneventful. I went back to my favorite pizza place for dinner. I hope they know me by name by the time I leave.

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I was taking a picture of the beach and didn’t even notice the random old guy staring back. Oops!

Lucca and Mosquito Bites

This past weekend was..interesting.
Alex and I went to Lucca, this small town that’s a two hour train ride outside of Florence.
The train ride itself was an adventure. Well getting on the train at least.
We walk to Santa Maria Novella train station, go inside, and it looks like o’hare airport. People everywhere. Buying our tickets had to be done electronically, so no one is there to ask questions and nothing is in English. Dot get me wrong, I’m picking up Italian fast for only being here a week… But not that fast. We do make it on the train however after a minor panic attack, nothing too serious. The train ride was great, getting out of Florence you realize you’re in Tuscany when going through the countryside.
Before the train took off, 3 different people got on with their dogs. I’m telling you, Delphi would thrive in Europe. These are her people, or her dogs.
Back to Lucca, It’s known for the Saturday market, which is all antiques. I love antiquing. There was jewelry and door knobs, tons of cool trinkets… And a pair of never worn 1980 something vintage Givenchy made in Paris sunglasses that I should’ve bought. I’m going to get them before I leave, somehow, someway.
After that we went around to the local shops and it was the worst encounter I’ve had with Italians thus far. They were so annoyed with us because of the fact we’re American, talking about us, customers shoving us etc.
We dressed for warm weather like the forecast said. But yet again, Mother Nature in Florence had different plans. It poured off and on and the temperature dropped to mid 60′s.
I payed 10 euro at the restaurant for “roast beef” I just wanted something hearty and warm. ….Instead I got deli sliced roast beef that was cold and some tomatoes and this green lettuce called rucalla or whatever that I’m already sick of.
So when I thought my day couldn’t look up it did. I found my authentic handmade all natural Italian leather jacket that I wanted to find. For the cheapest I’ve found anywhere! I was and still am elated. Now I need a motorcycle or moped.

So after a long cold day I go to sleep almost immediately. Only to wake up to EIGHT mosquito bites on my face. I’m allergic to mosquito bites. I look like a mix of a gremlin/troll with bad Botox. I had to go to the pharmacy immediately. I’ve been miserable all day.
You wouldn’t know but the Mosquitos are terrible here. It’s not even bad yet. All of the windows need to be shut at 5 and we have these things you plug in the wall at night to keep them away. I’m going to have to invest in a mosquito net.
So after all of that Alex and I went to this place called “The William” for a burger and fries. Go ahead, judge me, i know its only been a week. But that usually fixes everything and it did. They make burgers and fries better than we do!
They make everything better than we do.

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