Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Alrighty kids- I've enabled comments! Also, as you can see, I've revamped a bit- not the best template ever ever ever- but cool enough for this school. So leave me your thoughts and brutish criticisms! I just dare you!

Snow Day in Florence! (Have some cheddar)

Well! The wonders never cease!

This morning I met my Museology class at the world famous Uffizi Museum (for those of you who don’t register that name- think of it as Italy’s Louvre- some of the Medici’s greatest collections... amazing) around 9:00am. Our class gets out around 11:45 but we usually run over, so I expected to have to run from the museum up to the bus to make it to my 1:30 class which is a good 20 minutes by bus- 45 minutes walking. But... I was happy to be at the museum!
We took notes like madwomen (it is all girls) and followed our professoressa around, learning interesting facts about not only the pieces themselves, but the people who owned them originally, the artists, the museum’s display of the pieces... never ending information! At about 9:25- after we had gotten to the Vasari Corridor (a long corridor connecting two palaces of the Medici- it’s over a mile long and stretches across the Arno River!) which is filled with windows we saw bright white cotton balls drifting down from the grayed sky- it was so lovely! Now they say (there’s that mysterious they again) that it never snows in Florence... we’ve had a few bursts of gallantry frozen rain and snow the last two days, but nothing that was too impressive- usually only lasting around five minutes. But today- it was still snowing at 12:15 when my professor stopped to call and see if the school was closed.
IT WAS! We had a snow day- IN FLORENCE! I haven’t had a snow day since... junior year of high school? I don’t really remember the last time, but I know that I least expected it to happen here! It was so nice to be in this wonderful museum with such a knowledgeable woman- and to be given a sort of (parmiggiano) gift of getting to stay there longer with her and learn more... it was really quite great. It was a great moment, I have to say- not much else I would have wanted at that time (don’t take that offensively, all you who I miss so much!).
So... it was a snow day! How was yours?

Sunday, February 20, 2005


Well, it was a lovely time we had in Venice! We (that is Josh Ziesel, Staci, and me) didn’t go in to a single museum, and we popped in only one church right at the end... other than that we just hung out in Venice! It was a wonderful day- really sunny, and pretty cold, but nice! We arrived in the late morning, got acquainted with some canals and some of the “roads” and walkways, and then took a water taxi our to Murano, and island in the lagoon of Venice where the Venetian glass is made! It was neat, but very commercialized and cheesy at the same time- I’m sure that our free tour of this glass blowing place was aimed at us buying something, and those somethings were not anything impressive... but none the less it was a cool thing to have done!
After that we headed back to the “mainland’ and wandered around in circles due to horrible detour signs in order to find the Rialto bridge... huge! And really cool! We took our gondola ride too... not so cheap, but hey, I’ve ridden in a gondola in Venice! I can’t complain!
Venice is a super cool place... I don’t think you understand that the streets REALLY are water... there really aren’t roads for cars except to get IN to Venice, and then you’re better off walking or paddling! Though I must say, you’d NEVER want to fall in that water!
It was a great day- really relaxing and a welcome break from the typical tour of cities... there was no agenda, no worries, just soaking up that city of canals!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Trim Spa Baby!

Don't’ worry, I’m not going on that Anna Nicole Smith slimmer... but Italy is, in itself, a bit of a Trim Spa. Not in that I’m losing weight, I’d love to say I am but I really have no idea- no scales around. The pants are fitting fine, however, so hopefully that means something good. So what do I mean, if I’m not losing weight? Well, I just feel better about myself. Staci and I (pronounced Stah- chee here in bell’Italia) were discussing the the other day- people just SO aren’t concerned about weight here. Carbs.. gasp... are really GOOD here. I would bet that about 80% of the grocery store is bread, cookie, and pasta products- usually in any given grocery store the first two or three isles are sweets breads etc.; croissants, cookies, bischotti, chocolate filled pastries, and so on. Everyone eats them and you know what? Not many truly obese people here in Italy!
I still have my concerns- I certainly hope that I dot’ show up on May 7th looking like Santa but you know, if I do, that means I ate some REAL good food in the mean time. I don’t want to be this season’s “fat bridesmaid”- so that whole Santa trick isn’t in the works, but if I come back with a few more pounds in the saddle... give me a few weeks to readjust, yeah?
“Want my bahhdayy? Italia baaabyyy!”

Sunday, February 06, 2005


On Friday Staci and I hopped a train to Rome! We arrived around 11:00am and headed straight to Vatican City on the metro! The system in Rome is very navigable which was great. We took in the sites at St. Pete’s including the Pieta (which caused tears in my eyes, I must say). We attempted a look at the Sistine Chapel but it was closed already- so we headed to the Colosseum! I won’t belabor the events- I’ll just let you know we saw: the Sistine chapel, the Musei Vaticani, the Roman Forum, Trajan’s Market, Arch of Constantine, The Pantheon, Capitoline and the Musei di, Santa Maria Maggiore, San Giovanni Laterno, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Piazza Venezia, Sant’ Ambrosia Basilica... and so on! It was great! The men were, uh, extra friendly- to the point that we were nearly run-over! Nothing threatening and no contact, but definitely more excited about our presence than the Florentine men!
Something I thought was interesting is that there are beautiful fountains everywhere you look- and most of them you can drink from! The water system is SO great that the fountains (unless a sign is posted) are like drinking fountains in the US! Wow! I have to admit I didn’t dare to just sip away on the street, but it’s neato nonetheless.
I’m off to do homework but I have t demand that all of you who has just seen those pictures go make your own- GO TO ROME! COME TO ITALY! See for yourself!

This is Cain, signing off for now! Ciao!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Well here I am, returned from a weekend in Milan! Here it goes...

So I woke up at 6:30am on Friday and got ready- we left the house at 7:55 and were ontime for our 8:28 train. The train ride was about three and a half hours so we all slept and did homework on the way. Oh, I’m sorry! I forgot to introduce you! The ‘we’ in this story are: me (Claire), Staci, Andrea, Stephanie, Alexis, and Sabrina! Now that you’ve all met, let us continue! We arrived in Milan around noon, hopped on the subway to the Loreto stop, and then walked about ten blocks to our humble little Hotel La Pace (Hotel of Peace) where we were to stay for the next two nights. Though sketchy on the outside, we were please with the interior- you can see pictures of this stale wonder on my photo album!
After settling in a bit we headed down to the centro of town. On the way we stopped at a place called Spizzico which, as have figured is the Milanese version of fast food (think combo meals with a 1/4 of a pizza, a coke, and either fries, potato cakes, salad, arancinos (little potatoey meaty cakey things), or a fruit tart). We forged on to the center of town (which was at least a half hour’s walk from our hostel- but hey, can’t beat the prices, I suppose!) and were happy to meet several H&M’s on the way. We approached the Gothic Duomo of the city and were absolutely in awe of it’s beauty. I have never seen anything like it- it was amazing- and this too you can glimpse on my pa! :)
We walked all around in the Piazza del Duomo, went in the duomo, walked over and saw La Scala (famous opera house), and then went to Santa Maria delle Grazie church were Leonardo Da Vinci’s Ultima Cena (Last Supper) is located. The security at this place was pretty high in that the group of people who were to be admitted to the inside of the church where the fresco is have to have the doors shut behind them and be confined in a small room before the doors into the church will open. Once inside it is clear that the main attraction is the fresco- it is at the end of a rectangular room with spotlights- absolutely amazing to be standing there looking at it. At the other end of the room there is a crucifixion fresco by Donato but this clearly is less than second to the Last Supper. The time inside the room is limited to 15 minutes- so we paid 8 euro to look at this fresco for 15 minutes, and then it was gone. As I was walking away I felt the need to keep looking at it as long as I could- who knows if I’ll ever be back to see it again!
After L’Ultima Cena we walked back, ducking in to churches along the way, and then headed back to Piazza del Duomo for some Milanese shopping. After we had our fill of the crowds (everyone seems to shop at night in Milan...) we headed over to the ice-skating rink that was set up in front of the Duomo on the Piazza- a fund raiser for handicap kids, and some good clean fun too! The skating lasted for about a half hour, but because the skates were most likely made from iron and barbed-wire we were unable to enjoy the entire hour our six euros bought us. We then did what all Americans want to do in Italy- eat! We found a little place with a grumpy old man of a waiter and enjoyed a really nice meal.
Our second day in Milan was filled with shopping, of course, and seeing the sights! We went in to the Castello Sforzesco which houses several amazing museums, not least of all is the Civiche Raccolte d’Arte Antica where Michelangelo’s Rondanini Pieta. Seeing this piece (a work that was never finished- Michelangelo began it, then changed his mind about the concept, and so was still working on it when he died) was so exciting- the first of Michelangelo’s works that I have seen in Italy (which is ironic since I am literally around the corner from the David). After the Castello we moved on the some afternoon tea and then headed to La Teatro Alla Scala- the world famous opera house. This place was truly riveting- I WISH there had been something playing there to see! Seeing that amazing theatre made me want to be on stage again SO bad! I’ve got that itch to perform- help! But really- the house was truly beautiful and the museum was lovely.
Next was St. Ambrosia’s church where there was a wedding about to begin- consequently we felt as if we just might be intruding if we stayed much longer- but there are a few pictures of the church courtyard etc. on the photo ablum. It was neato, but I have to say after seeing the Duomo everything else seemed to pale in comparison. If I had to suggest one thing to do in Milan I’d say see that Duomo baby- and if you get around to it check out La Scala, L’Ultima Cena, the Castello, and I guess some shopping if you’re that kind! Hooray for Milano!

PS> Sorry that this one was sort of boring- I’m going to try and put some more personal thought type stuff in to the next one! And I’ll try to update more often too!