Monday, April 18, 2011

Un sacco di cose

Sorry for my prolonged absence from blogging – I’ve been pretty busy over the past month! I’ll try and give you a quick synopsis of my recent travels through lovely Italia.

The weekend after Florence, Boston University sponsored a trip for us to go to Torino (Turin), the former capital of Italy. It was a major site for the 150th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy, so the whole city was still nicely decorated and spruced up. It also happened to be about 70 and sunny while we were there! We were only there for about 24 hours total, but what we saw was definitely cool. The first day, we visited a museum that basically took you through the entire history of Italy – with cool special effects and all. We then headed over to the National Museum of Cinema. Did you know that Torino used to be one of the major cities worldwide for cinema and television? We got to see old sets of movies, props, and other cinema-related paraphernalia, including the original Star Wars heads they used in filming:

After pizza, gelato, and a short walk through the city, we all crashed back at the hotel (that’s right, no hostel for us!). The next day we went to the National Automobile Museum. I was a little worried about this, as I’m not much of a car person, but I was very pleasantly surprised! They made all the exhibits really interesting and put the cars in elaborate sets, and had cars made out of just about anything!

Car made of matchbox cars

Car made of leaves

We had some free time for lunch and wandering (we found a chocolate festival!), then started to head back to Padova. Fun fact about Torino: It’s the birthplace of Nutella and Tic Tacs!

Mantova and the opera
Two friends and I made a little day trip to the small town of Mantova. It was definitely small, but very pretty. My favorite part? There were lakes! It reminded me a lot of Back Bay in Portland. J We had a picnic outside, then sunbathed a bit by the water. Lovely. We also saw Rigoletto’s house, from the opera Rigoletto, which was perfect because the next day I went back with a friend to Venice to see the opera Rigoletto! It was amazing. I liked this one better than La Boheme. La Boheme was more showy and cool to watch, but the music and singing in Rigoletto was awesome. The man who sang the part of Rigoletto was absolutely amazing. When he finished his aria, the audience just clapped for five minutes straight! I loved it.

Lake in Mantova

Cast of Rigoletto

 When in Rome
So this is the trip everyone has been waiting for. I finally went to Rome! It was amazing. We were lucky enough to stay with my friend’s cousin who studies there, so we had an Italian guide for the whole weekend! It was definitely a huge blessing. We went to all the important and historical sites: the Vatican Museums, the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Trevi Fountain. The first day we went to the Vatican Museums, which was definitely amazing. I saw School of Athens, and, of course, the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo. I just went in there and stared at the ceiling for about ten minutes. I kept thinking about how it was the same man who created this and the David. Incredible!

School of Athens

In Vatican City!

The Pantheon

La Pieta

Inside St. Peter's Basilica

At the Colosseum!

Inside the Colosseum

The next day we did all the main tourists sites, including going into St. Peter’s Basilica. That was one of my favorite places we visited all weekend. The Basilica is SO HUGE, and also intricately decorated. There is also Michelangelo’s La Pietà! I had heard that it was possible to get rosaries blessed by the Pope when you visit the St. Peter’s, so I had brought along with me a rosary that I had bought for my grandmother. I was asking around to figure where to go with it, and I kept getting sent from one place to another, with no success. Finally, a priest was walking by (he must have been somewhat important to be in the Vatican!), and the guard helping me asked him if he would mind blessing the rosary right then and there. And he did it! He then proceeded to bless me, and all my friends! I think that was really cool – I got a personal blessing inside St. Peter’s Basilica! That doesn’t happen everyday! So, we all left St. Peter’s a little holier than when we entered. J

So, I have to mention the food I ate, of course. We had some specialties of Rome: spaghetti alla carbonara (sooo good), bruschetta, and pizza. We ate at a well-known restaurant called Dar Poeta, and the pizza and bruschetta there was incredible. I had bruschetta (toasted bread with toppings) with pesto and ricotta, then a pizza with prosciutto. Yum. We also finished that meal with a unique dessert: a calzone filled with nutella and ricotta. Might sound weird, but it was awesome.

On top of all this traveling, people have also come to see me! I have had happy European meet-ups with three of my roommates, Malachi, Rebecca, and Danny – and all in Venice! Rebecca was here for the longest, so I got to show a bit around the area. We saw Venice, Murano and Burano (islands off of Venice), Verona, and Padova (including the Botanical Garden - oldest academic garden in the world!). We also saw an Italian ballet of Othello. It was a great weekend, and I loved seeing everyone!!

Me and Malachi!

Rebecca, Danny, and me!

Burano - a happy little island with brightly colored houses!

Verona - my favorite!

Rebecca at the Botanical Garden in Padova - with the ferns!

So what’s next, you might ask? Well, I leave on Thursday night for 9 days in the south of Italy!! My friends Marly and Katie and I will be staying in a hotel in Benevento (near Naples) owned by Marly’s family. We will spend Easter with her family and hopefully see some cool places like Naples, Caserta, Pompeii, Vesuvius, and the Amalfi Coast. Can’t wait!

Ciao ciao!

Learn Italian
costume da bagno – bathing suit
occhiali da sole – sunglasses
lentigine - freckle