Mar. 29th, 2009 04:56 pm
jedir4p17: (Default)
[personal profile] jedir4p17
Ah, Spring Break, that magical time when classes cease to exist and students pretty do crazy shit all the time. OK, let’s be honest, I didn’t do any super crazy shit, but were you really thinking I would? I did, however, do quite a few things I don’t normally do. Let’s take a look back at my Spring Break.

Friday the 20th, pretty much did nothing, hung around the room, talked to the maid, packed for Florence

Saturday the 21st, left really early for Florence, a trip that Mams totally thought I was taking with someone. Well, I was, if you count my computer as a traveling companion. So, first big lie of Spring Break. Arrived in Florence and made it to the hostel by 10:30. AWESOME hostel, would stay there again in a heartbeat. I’d booked a single, because, come on, I was travelling alone and didn’t want to share a room with people I didn’t know. When I checked in, the guy told me, in possibly the most adorable broken English I’ve heard in Italy, that another girl who had booked a double really needed a single because she had a test on Monday, so she needed the quiet for studying. Not entirely sure why someone who had that big of a test would come to Florence for the weekend, but OK. They put me in the double for the same price, so I was able to take photos of the room, because you know Mams wanted them, that made it look like two girls stayed there. Left the hostel, went to the Bargello, a lesser-known Florentine museum, filled with really impressive sculptures, decorative arts, and an entire room for Islamic art. Have to say, I think that may have impressed me as much as the Michaelangelos (Bacchus and Brutus). From there, visited the hotel in which Mams and I will stay in July, seems quite nice and is very near a restaurant that I’ve heard is good (but would want to visit anyway because it’s owned by an actual Medici/Hapsburg, too awesome to pass up). Continued in the north of Florence and visited the Church of San Marco, where I saw lots of Fra Angelico frescoes, look him up, a cell used by Cosimo il Vecchio de’ Medici, Girolamo Savonarola’s cell, hair shirt, and other fun objects of his. Oh, I also realized that my room here in Rome, yeah, totally like half the size of a monk’s cell. Not cool, Notre Dame, not cool. At this point, I decided I needed lunch, so I went to this bakery/pastry shop/restaurant recommended by the Rick Steves guidebook I ‘borrowed’ from a roommate. (Side note: His son may be an idiot, but Rick Steves finds some pretty good restaurants.) There, I began what I’m going to call the Trip of Many Grapes. Mams had told me to put as much as possible, and especially all my meals, on the credit card she pays, so I didn’t really worry about finding cheap food. Oh, that’s not to say I found super expensive places, just that I let myself enjoy myself. So, lunch, a most delicious pesto garganelli and a glass of local Chianti. Very good. From lunch, I proceeded to the Duomo, where I climbed the cupola, all 463 steps of it, in 10 minutes. NOT a recommended activity, trust me. When I could breathe again, I visited the inside of the Duomo, then went to the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, where they’ve stashed all the really good stuff from inside the Duomo. Saw several Verocchios, some of the real gold Gates of Paradise by Lorenzo Ghiberti, and Michaelangelo’s last work, an unfinished Pietà. Thence, to Piazza Signoria! I arrived at the square to find that the Palazzo Vecchio was open, so naturally, I had to go. It was AMAZING! Really awesome, if a touch too Mannerist for me, frescoes by Giorgio Vasari, a room with, for the 1600s, fairly accurate maps of the world, and Machiavelli’s desk, portrait, and statue. Also, Dante’s death mask, not as creepy as you’d think, and yes, his nose was like that. Leaving the Palazzo Vecchio, I realized it was only 5:30, and the restaurant that I wanted to eat dinner at didn’t open until 7. So, I decided to cross the Arno and head for some of the scenic outlooks in the nearby hills. I trek up a really quite obnoxious hill to the first, only to discover, it’s closed, so I head back down the hill, because yes, to get to the other outlook, you have to go down the hill, then back up it. Unfortunately, I fall, bust my knee open and mess up my ankle pretty good. So, I continue, finding an open shop, it happened to be a butcher’s shop, I ask the little old guy, who was fairly surprised to see a young American in his shop at 6PM, where the nearest pharmacy was. When I get there, I communicate my injury by saying “I fell” and pulling up my jean leg to reveal the injured knee. OK, so injury cleaned and covered, not much I can do for the ankle, but oh well, let’s continue. I finally make it up to Piazza Michaelangelo, and take some great photos overlooking the city. It’s on two levels, so I climb down to the lower level, and yes, I manage to fall on those stairs, not once, but twice. Rock on, me. Leave Piazza Michaelangelo, head over to my favourite little restaurant in Florence, da Ganino, and since I’ve been there three times, I think I can actually say that. Have their most delicious homemade ravioli, the size of your fist, I kid you not, in a brown butter and sage sauce, with a quarter-liter of their Chianti, also quite good. Wander around Florence for a while and finally stop in Cafè Rivoire, where I have a caffè latte, that’s an addiction that deserves its own post, and strawberries with whipped cream. After that lovely end, I return to the hostel, about 10:30, and go to bed.

Sunday, the 22nd, Florence continued! I get up really early and realize that this hostel does not have the same hot water difficulties our apartment in Rome does. Oh long hot showers, how I miss you! Leave the hostel about 7 to head to the Uffizi, where I have reserved tickets for 8:15. I’d noticed yesterday that Florence was about 300 times quieter than Rome, but I honestly think I only saw ten people in the 1.5 km walk between the hostel and the Uffizi. Got some really awesome photos of the Duomo without any crowds in the way, but couldn’t find anyplace for breakfast. So I hung around Piazza Signoria for a while, and realize that Cafè Rivoire is open for breakfast. Another caffè latte and a cornetto. Don’t ever let the French tell you they make the best croissants, I’d take an Italian cornetto over their French stuff any day. Ah, the Uffizi. Still amazing in so many ways. I took the names of the art I really liked this trip and will hopefully find them all online and post it. From the Uffizi, I went to the Palazzo Medici, where I saw the famous Magi fresco with a young Lorenzo il Magnifico de’ Medici, poor lad, not handsome at all. Then, lunch, at a really nice place between Piazza Santa Croce and Piazza Signoria, where I had tagliatelle with a lemon cream sauce, strawberries with lemon and sugar, and two glasses of the best white wine I’ve ever had. Then, Santa Croce, where you can find the tombs of many famous Italians, Galileo, good old Machiavelli, and Ugo Foscolo. Oh, Ugo, you may be known as the Italian Goethe, but I still like you because your sonnets are actually understandable, and you reference Homer and Catullus. From Santa Croce, on to the Palazzo Pitti, where the second-largest collection of Raphaels are scattered haphazardly in some of the most luxurious royal apartments I’ve seen. At this point, after nine museums in two days, I admit that I’m a bit museumed-out and decide to do a little shopping. What I really wanted was a copy of Machiavelli’s Florentine Histories, in either Italian or English, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. So, I consoled myself with a lovely black belt, which the stall-owner shortened for me. Rather exhausted at this point, I drag myself over to another Rick Steves recommended restaurant for dinner, where I have a most intriguing salad (I wouldn’t really think to combine prosciutto and pears, but ok) and another glass of white wine, not as good as lunch’s though. For dessert, the classic Tuscan combination of sweet crunchy almond cantucci with rich Vin Santo, very good. Feeling a little bit tipsy, Vin Santo is made from dried grapes and therefore has a higher alcohol content, I return to the hostel, where I make an early (10PM) night of it.

Monday, the 23rd, get up really early once again, that’s 5AM for three days in a row, enjoy another fully hot shower, and pack my things. I’m out of the hostel by 7, have the usual breakfast of a caffè latte and cornetto in the corner bar, and catch the 7:45 bus to Siena. Siena is GORGEOUS, really beautiful. My first stop is the Pinacoteca, which is absolutely deserted and has some amazing late Medieval, early Renaissance paintings. Leaving there, I stop at a local bakery and pick up some ricchiarelli, which are far better than anything I’ve ever baked. While munching, I continue to the Duomo, where I purchase a combo ticket good for the Duomo, the Crypts of the Duomo, the Baptistry of the Duomo, the Museum of the Duomo, and the Oratory of San Bernadino. Me being me, I resolve to find this Oratory I’ve never heard of and visit it. First things first though, the Duomo. Very different than the Florence Duomo, beautiful, but different. There’s an early Michaelangelo and a Donatello, so yay for that. Continuing to the Crypts, which are rather bland, but the Baptistry has Donatello panels which prove once again that he was the master of rilievo stiacciato, and some other Verocchios. The Duomo Museum is fairly straightforward, the main highlight is a ridiculous Duccio fresco of the enthronement of the Virgin. Yay for perspective! There’s also a great view over Siena from the unfinished part of the planned expansion of the Duomo. A very nice trip. For lunch, I find a nice place near the Duomo where I have another of my new loves, pasta cacao e pepe, and some Sienese red wine. I then head back toward the center square, Piazza del Campo, and wander about until I find the Oratory, on the very outskirts of the city. Not very impressive, but hey, I found it. Back in Piazza del Campo, I head for the Palazzo Commune and the Torre del Mangia. I realize I probably shouldn’t have climbed the tower with my ankle the way it was, but I did, oh well, add it to the list of bad decisions. So, with an aching ankle, I continue through the Palazzo, filled with art ranging from after the Risorgimento (unification of Italy) to a fresco by Simone Martini, another early master of perspective. Leaving the museum, I realize I’ve missed the 4 bus back to Rome by about 5 minutes, so I decide to chill for a while. I have a caffè latte and another ricchiarello at a cafè on the Piazza, expensive, but so worth it. Then, I wander the streets for about an hour, buying a box of ricchiarelli to take back to Rome with me. On my way to the bus station, I realize I really have no food back in Rome, so I stop at a grocery store and buy some milk and bread, to at least hold me over until Tuesday morning. I catch the 6 bus back to Rome, and actually sleep for about half of the three hour ride. It drops us off at the Tiburtina station in Rome, which is a part of Rome, I really don’t want to be in alone. Fortunately the Metro’s right there, so I take that home. I arrive back in the apartment about 10:30, toss my stuff down, eat a dry flatbread for dinner, and crash.

Tuesday, the 24th, I sleep through the maid arriving, changing the sheets on the other six beds, cleaning both showers and toilets, and go to the grocery store.

Wednesday, the 25th, I wish Mams a happy birthday over the phone and go to John Cabot to get some work done. Not nearly as much as I should, but still some. On the way home, I have to fend off Daniel, the RA of incompetence.

Thursday, the 26th, On Mams’ orders, I head over to the Piazza di Spagna, Via del Corso shopping area, where I wander through various bookstores and get a manicure and pedicure. Very fun.

Friday, the 27th, Have to mail Michael’s portion of the HMC manuscript to England, so I head over to the FedEx store, only to find that they closed two weeks ago. My not-so-happy face was used. Finally find a place that uses UPS and get that sent off. Only good news, the ankle’s back to normal, so I can actually do some walking.

Saturday, the 28th, Slept through the maid again. Laundry and grocery shopping day. Not very exciting, but what can you do.

Sunday, the 29th, It’s looking like the most exciting thing I’ll do is make two-and-a-half liters of iced tea. I also need to write an Italian presentation for Wednesday.

So, that’s my Spring Break. The planned Thursday trip to Orvieto didn’t happen due to the ankle, but I clearly needed the down time. Have to be honest, in the three days in Florence and Siena, I drank probably two bottles of wine, more wine, more alcohol, than I’ve had the rest of the time I’ve been in Italy. It was a good Spring Break. I’ll work on posting the photos from the trip, all 366 of them, sometime this week.

I know I’ve sucked on the facebook thing, but I will do my very best to do better this last month and a half. Postcards are forthcoming, I swear, so look for that.

I’ve got a hell of a lot of stuff to get done before exams, two art history papers, one 15 pages, one 8 pages, a presentation on the 15 page paper, two short Italian papers, one longer Italian paper, and two Philo papers. The upside is I’m about 90% sure I’m going to go to the ATP Masters that’s here the last week of April and first of May. You can get decent semifinal seats for €30, and that counts for both matches, so that’s the current plan.

Now that I’ve written more than I need to for that 8 page paper, I will bid everyone a fond farewell. I hope your Spring Breaks were fun and that your remaining school goes by easily.
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