October 18, 2009

A Birthday Weekend in Florence!

Thank you faithful blog followers for once again bearing with my lack of updates. The closer we get to break the more that seems to be happening around here! In the next four days I have four lovely papers, an exam, and a presentation to complete: party in the library! (The last time this happened we ended up having a dance party on the tables...so this should be interesting)

Well, a lot has happened over the last week. I've been to Milan, Lake Como, and this last weekend - Florence!

We arrived on Friday, checked into our hotel and headed off to an art gallery. After this we made the trip up to a lookout where we could see all of Florence. We arrived just as the sun was setting and all of the church steeples lit up across the city. It was very beautiful...and very cold!

The next day a group of us got up extra early and headed out to do some shopping!!! There was an incredible market where vendors from all over come to sell handmade jewelry and genuine leather...you can get jackets, bags, purses, wallets, gloves, and belts all for really great prices. Most of us enjoyed a little bargaining too...it seems that the girls get better deals :)

One of the highlights of the trip was making one of these purchases. I had joked with Lisa about buying a leather jacket in Florence, and even tried one on for kicks...but after getting quoted the 200 Euro price tag I gave up hope. After being caught up by another vendor I still wasn't willing to pay his 150 Euro "special deal."

I had given up hope when my wonderful friend Caitlyn started talking to another vendor and he beckoned me inside his shop. Skillfully he helped me try on the most beautiful jacket I had seen that day. We chatted about Rome and our travels before I finally worked up to courage to ask how much it was.....He said that in a department store it would go for 370 Euros (I gasped) Then he said since I "live" here now he would sell it for 170 (I cringed) THEN he said since he liked me I could get it for the grand price of 110 Euros! After a few friends pitched in for my birthday I made one of the best decisions of my life:

I am now the proud owner of a leather jacket totally handmade in Italy!!!!

Phew! And the day only got better from there. The group went to the Uffizi galleries to see Michelangelo's sculpture of the David and paintings from some of the most famous artists in history. Da Vinci, Michelangelo...the list goes on and on. Paintings and articles that I'd only read about were right there!

And in the midst of it all was the 14 foot statue of David. So absolutely mind bogglingly! incredible! The detail is what astounded me. Form, muscle, and even veins carved out of marble...it was really amazing!

The afternoon held more shopping and catching a glimpse of Michelangelo and Galileo's tombs - It doesn't it get much better that that folks.

That evening, my amazing friends decided it would be a good time to celebrate my birthday :) so we went into the city and found this amazing little restaurant. Nine of us crammed in the back and had the most hilarious waiters come over and hover around our table. I got kissed - twice (well four times if you both cheeks both times ;) and after some amazing food they turned out the lights, put on some music and sang as I was presented with an amazing assortment of desserts!

Haha, we skipped all over Florence, got gelato, sat on a bridge over the Arno, danced in a piazza to some live music...what a way to celebrate your 21st Birthday.

And now I am "home" in my freezing cold convent in Rome looking ahead to four more days of classes before I head out to Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Paris...what a life!

October 5, 2009

Last Week

Again, I failed in my regular blog posting.... *sigh* readers forgive me, I shall try again this week!

Last week was a pretty interesting week. The homework load lightened (Thank God!) and I had my first Italian quiz (Crap!) We've finished reading Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid which is a glorious myth on how Rome was founding. This week we're beginning Dante's Inferno... or as Dr Szabo says: "You guys are going to hell!"

Our large excursion was the Colosseum...which was breathtaking, awe inspiring, and sobering. It was incredible to imagine what it would have been like at the height of Roman power, filled with screaming people, and bloody gladiators.

There really are no words to describe what it feels like to stand
there in the setting sun and look over the Colosseum.

As I've mentioned before, its hard to know how to feel. I've never seen anything that is actually thousands of years old before - what does that feel like....its just something you have to experience I guess.

This last weekend was great too. I got to sleep in, do homework, and get train reservations for my 10-day break. Friday night was filled with swing dancing on the terrace, chocolate chip cookies, and homemade lemonade - so wonderful.

Saturday night 11 of us got very dressed up and headed out for a night on the town. We ate dinner and sat outside, wandered the streets of Rome, got Gelato, and found ourselves magically ontop of the Spanish Steps looking out over a view of Rome bathed in the light from a full moon. To top it off - amazing seats at the Ballet.

Being here has been really wonderful, but also hard. Homesickness is setting in as well as some frustrations here....The Lord has really been stretching me in many areas, but I know that in the end it will be worth it.