Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Paper Faces on Parade

This weekend I stepped onto boat that took me to a magical place. It was full of bright colors and twinkle lights, costumes and confetti. Venice is a fairy-tale land.

Especially at Carnevale.

This was our first big trip we took! I mean, aside from traveling the couple of thousand miles across the world to Italy, Venice was our big step outside of dear Florence. We are serious travelers now.

Venice at Carnevale is a more mysterious, grown-up version of Disneyland. Although there weren’t any rides or Mickey Mouse ears, there were plenty of people,

pretty princesses, 

and kids having the time of their lives.

I couldn’t believe that people were actually dressed up, and that it wasn’t a pep rally or a movie set. This was a real festival that has been in practice for hundreds of years.

We, of course, had to join in the tradition and found masks. I felt super goofy and way cool at the same time with it on. There were some incredible masks and I never got tired of looking in all the shops.

The boys chose traditional Capitano Scaramouche (long nose) and Bauta masks.

 We wandered around Venice the whole day and late into the evening. Whether resting in the sun on ancient stone steps and watching people pass by, a kid tossing a handful of confetti in my hair, or dancing under the stars with a hundred masks glittering around me, my breath was taken away by the beauty of every moment.

 I think I found the most magical place on earth.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Road, Hills, Sky

Beyond the East the sunrise,
beyond the West the sea,
And the East and West,
the Wanderthirst
that will not let me be.'

Yonder the blue horizon lies,
And there by night and day,
The old ships come to port again,
The young ones sail away.

I know not where the white road bends
Nor what the blue hills are,
But I can have the sun for a friend
And for my guide a star.

And there's no end of wandering,
When once the voice is heard;
The river calls, the road calls,
And oh! the call of a bird.

And if you should ask me,
I could not tell you why;
But you can blame it on
The white road, the blue hills, and the sky.
- Gerald Gould, Wanderthirst

(Me - Piazza Michelangelo, Pisa, Stephanie & Leah - Boboli Gardens)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Oltrarno Mornings

Right now it’s Sunday morning, 11:30 and I’m sitting in Cafe Marino, a way cute little place where the people who work are incredibly friendly and everything is amazing. I got my very first croissant at this place and right now I’m sipping some tea.  I would normally be having a cappuccino, but I may or may not have already had one already. Today (at least this morning) is a Lauren morning. I’ve been a little sick the last couple of days, just fighting a cold, no big deal, but haven’t felt much like staying out late. So today so far I got up at 8:30, walked to a cafe near me and had a cappuccino, cheese and bread, and a nice little quiet and journal time.

Before I left a friend told me to spend as little time in my house as possible. These words rang in my head as I scraped the last of my chocolate-y foam from my cup and decided to brave the drizzly rain and grey clouds and find some adventure.  

I headed over to the Santo Spirito Cathedral. I forgot, but they always have a flea market in the courtyard, plaza area in front of the church. It’s seriously the coolest thing ever – better than any swap meet with even more random stuff.  Cheese, paintings, furniture, jewelry, broken odds and beautiful ends.
A few finds:

 Flower Vans

 Ultimate I-Spy

 Un caffe

The rain picked up and I was getting chilly, but nowhere near ready to call it quits. I went back to the apartment to grab another coat, and my camera and headed over to the grocery store to get some apples and veggies. I went back to the flea market to take pictures and finally found myself here with a pot of tea and plenty of time. Una mattina perfetta.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

To Review...

Not having internet really puts a damper on the whole keeping up with the world thing ... Sorry for neglecting all of the emails, posts, and pictures I mean to keep up with!
Anyways, I still don't have a way to post pictures since the only internet is at the school computers unless I drag my laptop with me, but here are some of the goings-on of my first week in Florence:

seeing the David. trying to cook. almost lighting the kitchen on fire (gas stoves that I light with a small cigarette lighter then stupidly place a paper bag next to is not a great idea...) eating our first meal. making dinner for friends. leah's purple toes. stephanie's wild hair. using only one appliance at a time. going to leah's teacher from high school's house and getting family time - dog and fireplace and dinner included! walking. walking. walking... at least 3 miles everyday. realizing that I only brought 10 shirts... four are tank tops. shopping. rain. sun. lots of layering. missing being warm. finding warmth in friends. starting class!

All in all, it has been a week full of new experiences, and still getting star-struck by the beauty, history and pure majesty of where I am.

More later, ciao for now!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I have arrived.

"Certainly, in Italy, nobody takes life for granted."
- Barbara Steele

After 15 hours on a plane, 4 hours standing outside an airport and while checking in, and one big journey, I have arrived in Florence. 

(not my picture, but this is the Ponte alla Carraia bridge I cross every day)

I think that probably the most amazing part about being here is stumbling on treasures I learned about in art history classes. There is so much history here, it simply blows my mind. It'll take some getting used to walking around and passing by a masterpiece like it's no big deal.
Here is some of what I've (unintentionally) come across:

On my way to finding orientation - the Piazza della Signori
The Fountain of Neptune
Bartolomeo Ammannati (1563–1565)
The figure of Neptune the Greek God of water has the face of the first Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo I de' Medici. The reason they choose to do this was to portray the ruling power of Florentine people over the sea.

Perseus with the Head of Medusa
Benvenuto Cellini (1545 to 1554)
The statute was commissioned by Cosimo I dei Medici. it represents the new Grand Duke’s desire to break away from experiences of the earlier republic and send a message to the people, which are represented by Medusa. Serpents emerge from Medusa’s body, representing the people’s many past conflicts that had only worked to threatened and obstruct true democracy. Making the statue proved extremely difficult for Cellini, who truly put his talents to the test.

Rape of the Sabine Woman
Giambologna (1583)
A technical masterpiece by Giambologna. The artist did not originally intend to sculpt the legendary episode from early Roman history with the rape of the Sabine women by Romulo's companions; his intention was to create just three interacting figures in movement: a mature man, a youth and a beautiful woman, taken by the younger man from the weaker, older one.

This morning on my run:
The Palazzo Pitti
In 1458 the wealthy Florentine banker Luca Pitti, who sought to build a palace rivaling those of the ruling Medici family, commissioned the construction of the Palazzo Pitti in Oltrarno, then a rural area across the river Arno. The design of the palace is attributed to Filippo Brunelleschi, but since Brunelleschi died 12 years before the construction started, his assistant Luca Fancelli was most likely the architect. Construction continued until 1465. It was later bought by the Medici family.

A meeting spot:
Il Duomo (The Florence Cathedral)
In 1418 a competition was held to design a new dome for the cathedral. The two competitors were Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi. Brunelleschi won the competition with his distinctive octagonal design, but both were appointed architects. This arrangement did not work, and Brunelleschi soon took over sole responsibility.

So far, this has been a surreal experience, and just knowing that I get to live here for the next 4 months gives me chills (literally, it's pretty cold here!).

p.s. none of the pictures are mine, those will come later!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Step One: Pack

"If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears."
Glenn Clark

I am finding "traveling light" is pretty hard. I mean, 50 pounds of suitcase seemed a lot bigger 51 pounds ago. How in the world am I supposed to fit 4 and a half months into one suitcase, a carry-on, and a backpack?
Hopefully Air France is in a good mood tomorrow ... and all their scales break.

In not being able to take a whole lot, I'm learning to take what I really need. What do I truly need to be sustained?

A coat. (It's really cold.)
An Italian-English phrase-book.
Some pictures to remind me that home follows me.
An open spirit.

Although I am not allowed as many skirts, scarves, and sticks of charcoal as I'd like, I'm ready to travel light and fast.

I'm ready for my avventura, my adventure, to begin.