Posted 3 years ago

Juliet’s Balcony…is much smaller than I pictured.

On Friday I took a class trip to Verona, the city where Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was set. I had never really considered going there before (sorry English majors), but it’s actually a really beautiful city and is apparently the 4th most visited city in Italy after Rome, Florence, and Venice, who knew?!

See I told you it’s pretty! This is a view of the city from an old Roman bridge (the city has managed to maintain some of its ancient features), such as the Roman arena pictured below. It’s no longer used for gladiator fights, but a lot of big musical artists

like Radiohead and Sting have performed there. I hope to catch a show there sometime before the semester is over.

Of course most people come to Verona to see “Juliet’s Balcony.” Despite the fact that Juliet is a fictional character, one resident of Verona claimed back in the day that his balcony was the one from which Juliet called to Romeo:

 For some reason I pictured it being a little bigger and more elaborate. I’ll just blame Hollywood for my unreasonable expectations about Juliet’s Balcony (and about love in general). Either way it was really fun to see. If you are so fortunate to have a lover, you can also write your names on the walls of the entrance to the courtyard where the balcony is located.

But don’t worry, if you’re single and ready to mingle there is fun stuff for you to do too, like partaking in the long-standing tradition of groping the Juliet’s statue for good luck. Now I too can start counting down the days until I meet my future Italian boyfriend.

Not exactly how I originally pictured my visit to Juliet’s Balcony, but I’ll take it. Some other highlights from the trip include:

1) Chillin’ with Dante at Piazza dei Signori.

2) Watching our friend Ryan test fate by walking under the archway to Piazza dei Signori. Legend has it that when a true gentleman walks under the arch, the statue on top will drop the stone ball he is holding onto said gentleman. Despite all his gentlemanliness, Ryan managed to survive the journey.

3) Seeing Romeo and Juliet’s “tombs.” The tombs are elevated inside these beautiful shrines, like the one pictured here. To be honest though, I can’t remember if that is supposed to be Romeo or Juliet’s tomb.

4) Eating at this restaurant, aptly named Trattoria Giulietta e Romeo. Despite the cliche, it’s actually very good, I’d recommend going there if you’re ever in Verona.

5) Generally enjoying all the great views Verona has to offer.

Last but not least, here Mom, here’s a picture for the mantel. This is me and my Italian class, along with our teacher Mariarossa. Italian 306 is a very good looking group.

I apologize for any grammatical errors in this post, my Italian sometimes interferes with my English and vice-versa.

Ciao for now!

Posted 3 years ago

Roman Holiday (Okay, it was only for 3 days).

So you probably figured out already that I didn’t take this photo myself. Although some may think this is a travesty, I actually didn’t bring a camera to Rome at all this weekend. I had just been to Rome this past summer and figured that I didn’t really need any more pictures of the Colosseum since it’s been looking pretty much the same for the past couple hundred years. Thanks to the miracle of Facebook I can also rely on my friends for photos of the fun stuff. Camera-free traveling is actually pretty liberating, I feel like I actually saw more of Rome this time. In my post below I bolded some places you should go if you visit Rome. So here are the highlights:

Day 1: After spending five hours on a train (more hours spent on a train= less money spent on your ticket) we arrived at our hostel, the Yellow Hostel (the building is a lovely pastel yellow) and then did what any normal dirty, tired tourists would do: we had our first drink. The rest of the night progressed in similar fashion.

Day 2: We split up into smaller a groups, so a few of us decided to take the metro to the Vatican. After getting off at the wrong stop (to future tourists: get off at via Ottivano) we made our way to the Vatican museum to find that both the museum and the Sistine Chapel were closed for a celebration (womp). So we took a nice walk across the river toward the Colosseum, but after getting ripped off by some dudes dressed like gladiators (yeah…don’t take photos with those guys) we opted to save our money and just admire the Colosseum from a far (for people who haven’t been to Italy in a while/ ever, you now have to pay to enter the Colosseum and the Roman Forum).

We had lunch at a great restaurant named Montecarlo on via Vicolo Savelli, 13…if you go to Rome you must go there and the get the Linguini with Pesto…AMAZING. Also if you are near the Trevi Fountain you must go eat gelato at San Crispino on via Panetteria, it’s one of the best gelaterias in Rome. Later that night we went to the Campo dei Fiori for dinner, all of the restaurants around there are great. After dinner we had a drink and so on…

Day 3: We went to see all the monuments we missed the day before, like the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish steps. Definitely eat lunch at one of the restaurants in front of the Pantheon if you have the chance, it’s an awesome experience. And of course take some time to chill on the Spanish steps.

Funny moment: While trying to find the Trevi Fountain we got lost and as I was walking down some random street I nearly had a heart attack when an EGG suddenly came flying at me out of no where. It landed and smashed right in front of my feet, I looked up but didn’t see anyone. I started running in case any more decided to follow, but I still have no clue how or why that happened.

That night we tried to go a discoteca called Babel, it seemed pretty cool at first, but from the line of 50 men standing outside the door it seemed like they were only letting in girls (if you’re a guy in Rome, be prepared to pay unreasonable cover charges even at the most remarkably mediocre clubs).

Day 4: Before we got on the train back home we walked around Villa Borghese, which is a beautiful park (kinda like central park but better). We saw some roller bladers (this is still very popular in Italy), tandem bikes, and a huge protest against Berlusconi. Over the weekend women all over Italy staged massive protests against Berlusconi and his recent escapades (in case you haven’t been reading the news, he likes underage prostitutes).

Posted 3 years ago

An American in Padova

Now that I’ve finished congratulating myself on thinking of such a clever title for this post, here’s a brief overview over the places I like to go in Padova. The above picture is where I live! The house is divided into three separate units, I occupy the basement level. My family has two cats who like to skulk around the front yard and scare the crap out of me when I come home at night. The street is quiet though and there is a nice park in front of the house which is pictured below. Lots of cute dogs like to hang out there…unfortunately I can’t say the same for cute Italian men.

Below is the River I cross on my way to school everyday. The river flows all around city. The city center of Padova is surrounded by a wall originally built by the Romans, some of the ancient wall still exists in certain parts of the city. Below the picture of the river are pictures of the Prato delle Valle, which is the second largest piazza in Europe and is only a ten minute walk from my house.

The Prato delle Valle.

Chillin’ with some friends in the Prato.

In the background of the photo below you can see the church of Santa Giustina and perhaps get an idea of just how big the piazza is, although it’s hard to capture in one picture.

Below is the aptly named Piazza della Frutta, located in the city center near my school. You can buy fresh fruits/vegetables of every kind and buy fresh cheese and bread at the vendors that border the piazza. 

Pictured Below: the Vendors/ Reasons I’ll never loose weight in Italy part 1. Case in point: the other day I bought a ball of mozzarella cheese so I could have some for a snack later on, instead I ate the whole thing while walking back to school. But it was SOOO GOOD, worth every calorie/ bathing suit I will not be able to wear this summer.

So I can’t really show you any pictures of my school since it’s in kind of an office building and there isn’t much to see, but below is a picture of the area where the building is located. There is tons of great shopping and food around (aka, come visit me! Not only is Padova awesome but its only a 3 euro, 30 minute train ride from Venice!) I know you want to!

Stay tuned to my blog for pictures of Venice and the University of Padova (Galileo Galilei studied/taught there back in the day, and it’s still pretty awesome).

Posted 3 years ago

Vaffan-what?!

As you can see from my picture posted below I have been learning lots of useful things about Italian culture during my stay in Padova, like the all encompassing tell-off “vaffanculo”, which while literally translated means something like “go do ass”, actually translates to the good ol’ American “Go f*ck yourself.” My other favorite phrase that I learned from this literary classic is a little-known Tuscan gem, “fare i gattini”, which while translated literally means “to make kittens”, the idiomatic meaning is “to throw up’….(pause for images to form).

Now before you start questioning my vocabulary choices you should know that there is a method to my madness. Although becoming fluent in conversational Italian is my ultimate goal (or should I say, obiettivo), I think it’s also important to be prepared in the event that someone should want to insult me or my touristiness, as I do not want to be caught unarmed in the on-going battle between American tourists and the occasional disgruntled, unfriendly Italian. Fortunately most Italians are super nice and willing to smile and nod while I struggle to form simple sentences and otherwise butcher their beautiful language.

I was surprised to find that my host family, including their 11 and 15 year-old daughters, were so amused by my interest in Italian swear words that they insisted on seeing the Dirty Italian book, which in my struggle to make casual conversation at the dinner table I decided to tell them about. To my shock and relief, they thought the whole book was hilarious, even the unspeakably vulgar Sex and Dating chapter (like seriously, I wouldn’t even say those things in English). So over, I’m glad I could contribute some crass fun to the dinner table. 

Other updates: Padova is still beautiful, the food is awesome, and yesterday I bought a fabulous scarf to wear so I can look more Italian. Time to go study for my first Italian quiz tomorrow *faccio i gattini*.

Posted 3 years ago

Items You May Not Think of, But Are Useful Abroad, pt. 1

Who has two thumbs and can offend unsuspecting Italians? This guy (insert image of me pointing to myself here).

Posted 3 years ago

Ciao Tutti!

Well despite my overweight bag, four feet of snow, and some less than appetizing airplane food, I made it to Italy in one piece! I am living with a family of four, Nicoletta, Antonio and their two younger daughters. Below this post I put up a picture of my new room! It’s about a 25 minute walk from where I live outside the city walls to the city center. Padova is beautiful, but unfortunately I have been too busy trying to find my around to take pictures (the streets are a bit confusing).

I only speak Italian with my family (or at least as much as I can) and I am now starting the intensive immersion month at my school. I will be taking three hours of Italian four days a week until the end of the month when we finally start our elective classes. Hopefully by then I will be good enough to take a class at the University of Padova. The University is over 800 years old and has some incredible buildings. Every morning I pass the observatory where Galileo Galilei used to do his work (don’t worry Dad I’ll take you there when you come to visit).

Although I would like to report that I’ve had many exotic adventures and fallen in love with a fabulous Italian man, nothing of the sort has happened…yet. I promise to write more and post more pictures when I have some more interesting things to say/ show. For right now I am just enjoying getting to know the city.

Ta ta for now!

Posted 3 years ago

The Lair.

Posted 3 years ago

Dun dun dun…..The Suitcase.

Well, if I can get this bad boy down the stairs and it stops snowing long enough for my plane to get off the ground, I should be leaving for Italy tomorrow!