Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Seen and Heard in Italy (I)

Seen and heard in Italy (most of these are food-oriented):

“You are different than most Americans I meet. They are usually rude. One time, this man said one of my purses looked like a ‘butt!’ Yes, a butt. Who says stuff like that? I kicked him out.”
-said to me by a Romanian saleswoman at a leather purse store in Florence

“Well, normally I would sell this scarf for €15 but since you are Italian I’ll give it to you for €14.”
-said to me in Italian by a vendor in an open market in Florence. While I was excited that my mumbled phrases passed me for a shy Italian, I also realized that not THAT many perks come with being a local. €1? Throw me a freakin’ bone!

Cristina, an Italian-American: “God never met a Italian woman that didn’t like to cook. Our host mom freezes store-bought bread and then microwaves it!”
*Gasps* emit from the group to the high heavens.

Seen: Many Italian women maneuvering stilettos smoothly through the cobblestone streets. How do they do it?!!! I keep getting stuck between stones.
My size-1 Italian teacher, Laura, and I are eating lunch at a cafè. I bring my cappuccino to the table and she pokes fun at me for drinking this “heavy” drink for lunch. Oh, I forgot to mention, Italians have these routines and an unspoken code to which they closely adhere. For example, they’ll have a cappuccino for breakfast or late afternoon, but not at any other time.
“Oh, then you’d be surprised by how many Venti cappuccinos Starbucks sells throughout the day,” I kid with Laura.
Shocked, she cries “But they are sooooo fattening!”
Having become well-versed with the calorie counter at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Starbucks, I reply, “Not really, milk is good for you and Italian capp.s are, like, only 4 oz. anyways (I can finish one in 2-3 sips)”
Then 3 girls at the table spent the next 5 minutes trying to convince me that the chemicals in cappuccino milk release MORE FAT than when the milk is cold...WHAT? They couldn’t understand why I was laughing for the whole of my 2 sips of coffee. Too funny.

My friend Kiera was too shy to go up to this 20-something girl in front of Cafè Pedrocchi to ask where she bought her plaid capris (I think capris are as much a fashion faux paux as scrunchies, but hey that’s just me). So I go up to the girl and ask her “Dove hai comprato i tuoi pantiloni?” She proceeds to explain to me and then shrugs and says “Let me show you!” and she takes me by the arm and chats with me for the distance of 2 piazzas while my friends trail behind. I got a good vibe from her, so, before I leave, I tell her we should hang out some time and exchanged names (hers is Claudia) & numbers. I hung out with Claudia and her boyfriend this Sunday and they took me to what they claimed was the best gelateria in town (I find that everyone has a different opinion to which gelateria seduces their loyalty). They were quite patient with my broken Italian and at the end of our “giro” or “walk” they drove away in their scooter. Che Italiano! (“So Italian”)

Ashley: “Hey, Debbie, you want to get some gelato?”
Me: “I had gelato earlier today.”
Ashley: “C’MON!”
Me: “A girl once said, ‘My heart is saying ‘yes’ but my head is saying ‘no’.”
Ashley: “Who was that?”
Me: “Sadly, I just quoted Christina Aguilera.”

Greetings from Italy!

Greetings from Italy! (Installment II)

First, I’m sorry if I haven’t been on top of my game in keeping in touch. I swear I’ve spent at least 3 hours and $30 writing postcards and buying postage. I’m trying! Writing e-mails is tough since there’s 26 of us competing for 6 computers. Thank you for writing me. I get so comforted by your e-mails and thanks for letting me know I’m missed.

I’ve taken lots of pictures from where I’ve visited so that I can bring you closer to what Italy is like. I still don’t think they are 100% true to Italy’s form. (Copy and paste the links into your browser screen. THEN, to the right of the album, click on "View as Slideshow") Then send me your feedback!

Florence (home of the Renaissance!):
Venice (the sinking city):
Arqua & Colli Eugani (home of the poet Petrarch and wine vineyards):
Ferrara (cute town in region of Emilia-Romagna) & Verona (home to Romeo & Juliet):

Padova is beginning to feel more like home. There is a myriad of art and culture to check out but night life is centered around the piazzas. I heard there are good dance clubs but those are slow in September. Supposedly, Padova is like Evanston, a University town that comes alive when the 70,000 students arrive in October. My friends and I have tried to meet Italians but the locals could care less about Americans. So, until October...

I've become friends with my housemate Ashley ( a fellow Los Angelena). I also hang out with Cristina, Kiera and Allison but they can usually find something to complain about here. I have no tolerance for being jaded in Italy- sometimes I do my own thing. I've made a couple of Italian friends.

I am continually awed by my surroundings. I’m getting used to the idea of living here for the year... I wish my friends and family back home were here- I miss you all!

(click the following links for a map of the Veneto region and of Italy to understand below)
I’ve been doing a lot of traveling with Ashley and friends. I’ve visited Florence, Verona, Venice (for the film festival) and Ferrara. Florence was amazing, but it was a bit hard to have “a plan” with 7 girls. I walked with my friend Andy in Verona along the BEAUTIFUL Adige river at sunset and took pictures in front of the old stone bridge and castle. In Ferrara, everyone rides bikes in a town where bikes outnumber people 2:1. They reenacted this medieval procession in front of the town castle. I love walked Venice and I especially love it when the streets clear out at sunset and the water reflects the orange light. (See pics below)

I’ve seen more art and images of Jesus Christ and Mary in the past 3 weeks than I have in my entire life. But seriously, Catholicism has been lucky to have had the passion of such talented artists behind its depiction. I was left speechless as I craned my head to survey Padova’s Scrovegni Chapel (painted from floor to ceiling by Giotto). Padova's Basilica di Santo Antonio brings many Catholics to visit St. Anthony's tomb. I sat in on their mass on Saturday and it was beautiful. Italy houses the work of a plethora of skilled artists, architects, sculptors and designers- I can’t believe how fortunate they are! I HAVE to take an art history course here.

My intensive italian classes are coming to an end and it’s time for me to choose my academic classes. I think I’m going to take: “Veneto Art, History and Culture” and “Italian Art History: From Giotto to Tiepolo.” Though I’ve been encouraged by my mother and others in the Jew crew to take “Jews in Italy.” People, we’re talking about a country that is 96 % Catholic, how much history can their be? I’ll go talk to the professor and see what he covers...

This weekend, I will finally visit ROME, a city that I have heard has brought tears to people's eyes. I doubt I'll cry, but I may gawk. Of course, I'll tell you all about my trip and send pictures next week.

Ciao for now,

Sunday, September 18, 2005

another year

Tucked away in a northern corner of Chicago, lies our university Northwestern. Yes folks, school is about to start and I am returning tomorrow, a day before classes begin. I am currently in the middle of packing and am not excited to be doing so. I am stalling at the moment...Will you guys please post on the blog....I want to read your stories because at the moment my life is a little bland...help!!! Komster

Monday, September 05, 2005

debbie, i figured this one out for you

Hey everyone, it's the koms. Hope all of you are doing well! I am just excited to finally post on a a blog for the first time and my internet is working. Bye everyone! Komal