Wednesday, May 25, 2011

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And yet again, another month has passed without my noticing. Believe it or not (I’m inclined to not), I’ll be leaving this incredible country in just 2 days. I am definitely excited to go back home to the States (where there are dryers, peanut butter, and pancakes!), but I will miss my host family, friends, professors, and living in Italy. I have to come back!
            In the meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying and seeing more of the country. For Easter break, I spent 9 days down in the south of Italy in a tiny little town called Durazzano. My friend Marly has lots of relatives down there, so we stayed and ate at the family owned hotel and restaurant, Guardanapoli, and were able to meet a whole bunch of her relatives. It was really an amazing and unique experience to get to meet and talk to her family, many of whom are older and have had such different lives than we have. We were able to eat at their houses, walk through town with them, see a youth league soccer game, and go to church with them. These are things you would never get to do as a tourist!
            We arrived on Good Friday, and one of Marly’s great aunts took care of us for the evening. We had coffee and cookies with her (lots of cookies – her husband literally shoved them in our pockets as we left!), then visited another family member (more coffee and cookies, hospitality is very important in the south), then participated in the Good Friday procession. It was amazing. Every year, a group of adults from the church reenact the Stations of the Cross, setting each station at different points around town. The crowd follows them around, singing and praying. The priest of the church led us in songs and prayers and read the Gospel at each of the Stations. It was so powerful to see it acted out right in front of you – a man carrying a large wooden cross, three people up on crosses – amazing.

Cemetery in Durazzano

            During the week, we spent a lot of our time hanging around Durazzano and spending time with the family. We had a huge lunch one day with Marly’s great aunt and uncle – and I mean huge; I could barely walk afterward – and dinner another night with another family. One thing to note – the food is better in the south! My favorite was the mozzarella – so delicious. We also did a couple day trips to places nearby. The first was to Naples and Pompeii. Naples was really interesting, beautiful, but really dirty. There were piles of trash everywhere. We did a tour of the Naples underground, then, of course, tried the pizza. Incredible.

            We took a short train to get to Pompeii, and spent a few hours exploring (and getting lost…). It was really cool to see how well preserved this ancient city is!
There were casts of bodies they found, perfectly preserved from the ash

Mount Vesuvius in the background

            Another day trip was to Positano on the Amalfi Coast. It was so beautiful! It’s famous for ceramics and lemons. We had lunch at a restaurant looking over the water, then did some shopping. We also had a break to eat REAL cannoli. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:

Real Cannolo

            By the end of the week, I didn’t want to leave! The culture and environment is so different in the south of Italy. I definitely want to do some more exploring down there. Since then, we have also had our last BU program trip – a boat cruise from Padova to Venice, stopping at three different villas along the way. It was a great trip – beautiful weather, amazing villas, and approaching Venice by boat – awesome.

            And I’m not done! Last weekend a group of friends and I went to the Dolomites in the north of Italy. It was incredibly beautiful. We stayed at a cute little hostel run by a family with the CUTEST baby, and the grandmother cooked dinner for us each night after we came back from hiking. So fun! We planned to go home on Sunday, but arrived at the train station in Feltre only to discover that there was a train strike for the rest of the day. We literally we stranded. After spending a few hours in the train station, we booked a bed and breakfast and extended our vacation for one more night. Oh, Italians and their strikes.

            Another very exciting experience was yesterday when my friend Katie and I went to Belluno to watch a stage of the Giro d’Italia. She and I are both cycling fans (I watch the Tour de France every summer!!), so this was really cool for us. We got a spot right up close to the barrier and, since it was a time trial, we got to see each of the riders go by individually! We stood in the same spot for over 4 hours, watched 166 riders go by, and cheered for every single on of them. We even got to see Alberto Contador, the winner of the Tour de France last year. Awesome.

Alberto Contador

            Well, this will be my last post in Italy! Can’t believe it. Hopefully I will be able to continue this blog the next time I come to Italy! Ciao tutti!

Learn Italian
nave – boat
giardino – garden
rosa – rose

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