Monday, April 9, 2012

Buona Pasqua!

Buona Pasqua! Happy Easter! I can’t believe it is April! (I think almost every blog post starts with “I can’t believe it’s_______” ha ha!) I have about 1 month left to explore this beautiful city! So I’ve been taking advantage of every opportunity! There is so much left to see, I know I will never be able to see it all, but I hope to see as much of it as possible, and continue to explore Rome, and the rest of Europe for the rest of my life! Last week my roommate Alicia and I were on our way to the library to do some research for a big paper due at the end of the semester. But Roma didn’t want us to study so she graced us with some good luck… The library was closed! So we spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Rome. And I think one of the best things about Rome is that there are THOUSANDS of churches! And most of the them have free entry, and they have the most amazing works of art inside! Some of the greatest artists of the Renaissance left their fingerprints all over this amazing city in small corners of little churches scattered all throughout the city! In a couple hours Alicia and I saw about 6 churches, all with something unique and interesting to offer. I have a map of Rome that marks most of the churches in the city, and so my goal is to see as many as I can before I leave!

Speaking of fingerprints, I had mine taken yesterday! Since my trip to Rome is longer than 3 moths, I had to apply for a “Permit to Stay” when we arrived. Once I applied, they gave me an appointment to have my fingerprints taken. And let me tell you, it was even worse than waiting at the MVD (which, if you’ve experience the MVD in New Mexico, you know what I mean!) First, it took us an hour to get out there, then I waited for 2 hours to have my fingers pressed up again this machine (Italy doesn’t do old-school ink fingerprints!) and then another hour to get back to my apartment. Four hours of sitting and waiting. It was exhausting, but I didn’t do anything!!! So no killing my roommates for me… now they have my fingerprints!!

Friday was Good Friday, so after my fingerprints were taken, we went to see the Pope! Every Good Friday he does a service/mass/event at the Colosseum. Of course it was PACKED with people, but it was a really neat experience! I actually saw the Pope in person! Good ole’ Bene the XVI. Apparently he is an ex-Nazi... I can’t even imagine all the work he’s done to be Pope. He is the most important living person in all of (Catholic) Christendom. What all does it take to be Pope? I don’t even want to know! Later that night, on his way back home to the Vatican, he drove by us surrounded by about 20 cops, and inside a black car. But the light was on in the car so we got to see him again! Then on Easter, Alicia and I went to the Easter service at Santa Maria of Trastevere, our neighborhood church. It was built in the 4th century, and has mosaics from the 12th century: pretty incredible if you ask me! I could understand very little of the service but it was nice to be back in a church! Afterwards my roommates and I had a nice little Easter brunch, and then we relaxed for the rest of the day. The Monday after Easter is a holiday in Italy. Easter is called Pasqua, so Monday is called Pasquetta, “Little Easter”. On Monday, EVERYTHING is closed and the people of Rome go outside and spend the day in the sun. They go to the park or the beach or somewhere nice and have a picnic! So Monday we went over to our favorite park, Villa Pamphili, and ate food, played Frisbee, and just relaxed. It was a really nice weekend and I’m not ready to start school again! At least we have a 4 day week! I hope everyone had a beautiful, relaxing Easter weekend!! Until next time… xoxo

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Break!

Oh man, a lot has happened since the last time I wrote!! After Victoria left I had about one normal week before the craziness began again. The first weekend in March my program went to Florence and Venice for an extended field trip! I hadn't been to Florence yet, so I was really excited to go there! We saw lots of churches and several museums. I went with my fashion class to see the Salvatore Ferragamo museum, and that was pretty amazing! He invented so many shoe styles that we use today... like the cork-wedge heel! And he did some other really interesting stuff so it was cool to learn about him. However my favorite thing I saw in Florence was a statue, a really famous statue... Michelangelo's David! It was SO amazing! And SO huge! I just don't understand how you can take a block of marble and carve this incredible person out of it! I absolutely loved it! Another interesting place we went was this apothecary that used to be attached to a church, Santa Maria Novella. The apothecary was built in 1200, and belonged to the church. They had their own herbs, garden, etc and made all of their own products. Eventually they opened to the public, and people came from all over to buy items there! It is still open and they continue to make ancient recipes! It was pretty cool!

After Florence we went to Venice. Although I had already been to Venice, it was really cool to go back and see it in the day light. We spent a couple days in Venice, and we went to several churches and museums, things I didn't have a chance to do during my one night I was there for Carnevale. I absolutely LOVE Venice! I love the water, the canals. I love getting lost there (which is INCREDIBLY easy to do!). And I love the feeling there.. you feel secluded in this old world, still surrounded by the beauty of a different time. I don't know how to explain it, but I just really like it!!

After we got back from our school trip, we had only one week until Spring Break! So we started making plans. I decided to go to Spain with 3 other people in my program. We went to Barcelona for a couple days, and then Ibiza for a couple days! I think I preferred Barcelona. It was so beautiful there, the weather was amazing, and I loved seeing all the Gaudi buildings! The Sagrada Familia was SO gorgeous! It's mind-blowing. I just don't understand how people design and make these things! The Sagrada Familia is a church designed by Gaudi, and was started in the 1880's, and it's estimated completion date isn't until 2026!!! Along with the Sagrada Familia, we saw 2 other houses designed by Gaudi, and a Palace and a Park. The park was really cool because it was on top of a hill that over looked Barcelona! The park itself was beautiful, surrounded by a beautiful view! Barcelona also has a castle, on other hill, that we hiked up to one day. And then from each hilltop you can see the ocean! Beautiful views and beach all in one place! I loved it!! A very minor side note is that Barcelona also had a Starbucks.... my first Starbucks since I left in January!

After a couple days in Barcelona we flew to Ibiza, one of the small islands off the coast of Spain. Ibiza is known as a summer vaca spot, with beautiful beaches and insane European super clubs. Sadly, since we were there during the off-season, most businesses were closed, it was even hard to find a place to eat dinner!! So we spent those days lounging on the beach. The water was turquoise blue, so gorgeous, but super cold!! So after the party days in Barcelona, and the lounging days in Ibiza, we were all ready to come home! We made it back to Rome for St. Patty's day, and then school started up again!

This week we have Midterms, so we're all spending our evenings preparing for those! I can't believe it's been 8 weeks! It's half over already! So I'm off to continue studying... wish me luck!!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ciao Ragazzi!

Today, Spring Break starts!!! I'm headed to Spain for the week, but will write about all my adventures when I get back! I hope everyone has a nice and relaxing break!!


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Where is the time going! I’ve been here almost 6 weeks, and can’t believe how fast the time is flying!! It’s been quite a while since my last update, and a lot has happened!

Every weekend there seems to be some sort of celebration (or we make our own celebrations…) but the biggest party I’ve been to has been in Venice. A small group of us went to Venice for the Carnevale celebration! And it was amazing! It was like one big Halloween party for the whole city. It was a fast and furious trip; we left for Venice on Saturday morning, and arrived around 5pm. First of all let me say that Venice is incredibly beautiful! There isn’t a single car in the town… people just have BOATS! I would love to live like that. We got there towards the end of the day, and the city was beautiful with the sun going down around us. The canals were a tad creepy after the sun had gone down, especially since I was in a city I knew nothing about… but all is well… I survived. After finding something to eat and grabbing coffee, we went in search of masks. The streets were full of people, some in elaborate costumes that probably cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars, and others were in nothing but their street clothes and face paint. And I think everyone was drunk. At 7 o’clock. Even the children. Just kidding… But seriously.... But I guess it made it all the more exciting! The main streets were also packed with vendors selling costumes, wigs, masks, and souvenirs. We picked out masks, and the party began! We made our way to San Marco Piazza, and that was breathtaking. It was an interesting tourist experience because I had never been to Venice before, and my first impression was after dark, with the streets crowded with crazy, costume-wearing people, and huge bands and projector screens in San Marco Square. It was the most fun, but it was different! I’m excited to go back and see it in the daylight, with normal people walking about. But on with the party…  Cities in Italy are structured around several “piazzas” which are like squares. Usually they’re by churches or big monuments, and they’re central to city life (at least they were in the olden days). So for the Carnevale celebration there was a different party in each piazza. Some had big stages with DJ’s or dancers and other entertainment. Other squares just had people hanging out. And in some places, there were people who had brought their own sound system and played whatever music they wanted while we danced around like crazies. And that’s how most of the night went. There was this group of people that were dressed like sailors, and they had a big cart that housed a big speaker and their iPod DJ. The cart had wheels, so we basically followed them around the city all night long! And danced! And it was awesome. We went to Venice with no hotel, hostel, B&B, etc. so our only option was to stay up all. night. long. And that’s exactly what we did! Sunday morning (after being up for over 24 hours) we grabbed pastries and coffee at the train station, and our train left Venice at 9:20am. It was a 6 hour train ride and we slept the entire way. I think we were all asleep before the train even left the station. Good thing no one wanted our stuff, because they probably could have stolen it and we wouldn’t have noticed until we got back to Rome. We got into Rome about 3pm and the rest of the day was lazy. We did our best to recover from the party before classes started again on Monday.

And then I had another great adventure on Monday when my friend Victoria came to visit me from England. She is from England, but she studied abroad at UNM for a year, and that’s where we met! When I told her I was going to be in Rome, we made plans to meet up, and so Monday evening she arrived in Rome! It was so good to see a friendly face!! Someone I knew back home. She had never been to Rome before so I did my best to show her around the city. It definitely made me feel more at home with this place, knowing where I was going and how to get places… it was a nice surprise. I’m a local now!!! We ate LOTS of pizza and drank LOTS of Cappuccinos (Cappuccini is the proper way to say it in Italian because it’s plural…) but that’s what you’re supposed to do in Italy :) Vitoria stayed until Thursday afternoon, and I was really sad to see her go! (*Thanks for coming Vikki! Love ya xxx)

This coming weekend we have a program trip to Tuscany and Venice. We will have classes, and I have a presentation to give, so it won’t be all play, but I’m excited to be traveling more and going back to Venice! Since I was a kid, when learned that Venice was slowly sinking, it’s been my goal to see it at some point in my life. And I can’t believe I’ll be going twice!! I’m so blessed to be here, and am SO incredibly thankful for everyone who helped me get here! I won’t ever forget this time in my life, and hopefully I’ll continue to have some great adventures! 

*Pictures coming soon!