Thursday, July 28, 2011

Siena & San Gimignano

 I may be in Paris now, but here are some of the photos from Siena and San Gimignano I promised!  Siena was a bit of a let down, but that may have something to do with our entire bus getting car sick on the way in...

Siena is smaller than Florence, and also unlike Florence, is situated on a hill.  The steep winding roads were picturesque but left many of us wondering how they manage in the winter if there is ever an ice storm! Snow is not as common in Florence, but is in other parts of Italy so it is possible they may sled their way around town!

The Duomo at Siena was spectacular.  I was really excited to see the pulpit by Nicola Pisano and his son because we had studied this in art history! The carving is so intricate! There is another pulpit like this one in Pisa which was made just before the one here in Siena.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


The city of Florence is situated in a valley in the heart of Tuscany.  In the summers, as I have certainly noticed, it can get really very hot because of the geographical location, so it was a real treat to take a day to explore a small town just about 5 miles north of Florence in the hills, Fiesole. According to my guidebook, the village was settled around 7th century BC, and there are still Roman and Etruscan remains here.  

I walked up to San Francesco, a friary founded in 1399.  Apparently, the last Pope visited the friary and it was a great big deal because there were signs (in Italian so I only got the gist of what it was about) posted around the area.

I found a great place to take in views of Florence, feel the breeze from being outside of the city, and sip on a Tuborg -- a beer produced in Copenhagen which I've found I prefer over the common Peroni Italian beer.  

From the largest photo you can see the Duomo dome very clearly and get an idea of exactly how huge it is.

End of Program & Rome

There is only one week left in my program in Florence and thinking about this seriously breaks my heart. I can't believe I have been here five weeks already.  I feel as though I am finally feeling at home here and now it is almost time to leave!

I have currently five posts in draft form waiting to be published for all of you.  Not bringing my laptop turned out to be a critical error on my part.  The computer lab at my school is only open a few hours after my classes end during the week and there is only one good computer for uploading photos... so you can imagine the difficulties.

Anyway, I am headed to Rome this weekend! Yes, there will be a billion photos, and YES I will share them with you all if not next week then the week I am back in the States for sure! There is so much to talk about I think I could write a memoir from my summer in Florence!

After my classes end, I have a few special places to visit on my own, which, same as above, photos and stories to follow. :)

Hello to my grandparents who are following my blog now as well! I miss you very much and plan on spending some time at the lake with you when I am back!!!

Now, to Roma!

Wine & Stuffed Shells

Since the visit to Siena and San Gimignano and loving the wine there (my post on this visit is still in draft form -- there is so much to talk about and so little time to sit down and write since I don't have my laptop here -- so look for the post soon!), I picked up this bottle at the grocery just down the block from my apartment. Only 4 euros for the bottle and well worth it! San Gimignano is known for their white wines and I too am now a fan!

Here is a photo of my pasta creation: Stuffed shells.  Although my roommate, the chief chef, helped me do most of it, I felt rather proud of learning how to make the dish. We used large shell noodles, mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan cheese, one egg and some basil, mixed into a paste.  We then stuffed the shells with the cheesy goop and laid them in a pan with red sauce to simmer over the stove.  We added a little more red sauce and let them cook for maybe 15 minutes.

*Note: I made this dish again on my own for my friend a few days ago and she said it was delicious! So "HA" to all of my friends and family who still believe I am incapable of making anything... just wait until I make my stuffed shells for you! ;)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Piazza San Marco & Piazza della Santissima Annunziata

Here are some photos from one of my favorite places in Florence: Piazza San Marco & Piazza della Santissima Annunziata.  The last two photos are Piazza San Marco and the others Santissima Annuziata.

I went here during my first week in Florence and saw some of the locals hanging out.  There was a man teaching another man to draw, with the learning man's son creeping over his shoulder and watching his pencil strokes very carefully.   

An older man, probably grandfather, was teaching a young boy to ride his bike.  When the boy fell over the man comforted the boy, who was clearly trying as hard as he could to hide his pain.  It was neat to see how different they both reacted in this situation I have seen replayed a thousand times back home. They were very quiet but very intimate.  There was no yelling to "walk it off"! Nor did the boy burst into a tearful rampage.  Perhaps it all depends on how different people react differently, but I still found it touching to watch these two.

Lastly on my way leaving the Piazza I caught a glimpse of a young couple, maybe 15 or 16, the girl crying and the boy with his arm around her and wiping her tears.  It looked so sweet coming from such young people.  

The pre-teens here always seem older than they really are.  For the first few weeks of my class there was one Italian girl who could not speak any English.  Since I can only speak minimal Italian, there was such a language barrier in the classroom.  I watched her come and go every day and I assumed she was nearly my age.  However on one of the last days, with our professor translating, I learned that she was only 15! The age of my younger sister! I could hardly believe how she was this young.  As I have learned since then, the youths here are permitted to dress a little older style for their age compared to Americans.  Also, the drinking age here is 16... something to think about.