Friday, June 14, 2013

The Tidbits

Things I know now about...

  • In Venice, the bread is crunchy. In Florence, the bread has no taste. In Arezzo, banana bread.
  • A Coke is 4 euro, but they name them. Water is 3 euro, but on the upside you can choose still or sparkling. Wine is 2 euro, well played Italy.
  • If you have just arrived after a very long flight and have been up for, let's say, 30 hours straight and decide to have a nice sit down dinner...don't. You will end up staying up for 34 hours straight laughing at a plate of sliced deli meat and some unnecessarily large lights.

  • One word: Gelato. That is all.
  • Everything is delicious (except for the bread). If you have the opportunity to try ravioli in walnut sauce, I highly recommend it.

  • Two words: Gelato Waffles. Now that is all.
  • There is no ice, but you get used to it.
  • Pizza there is twenty times better than it is here...sorry 'merica.
  • What is the magic word? Juice.
  • You need a spoon to drink your hot chocolate.
  • Tiramisu and cappuccino is a nutritious breakfast.

  • Be ready to get off the train. If you are not you may wind up trapped and running to the other end of the car with your instructor yelling "Get off the train now!" while holding the door open.
  • You can walk right off the plane and into the city in Bologna without anyone checking your passport.
  • The hop-on-hop off might not be a good idea if you are on a tight schedule. You will end up in your own version of the amazing race when you are running to catch the bus (and you don't win a million dollars).
  • Your ears will pop so much worse on a train than they ever will on a plane.

  • If you are clumsy like me, the streets can be difficult to navigate. You might end up looking like this:

  • Cross you fingers they have good movies on the plane ride over.
  • You really can fit ten days worth of clothes in a carry-on.
  • They weigh the carry-ons. 
  • Always bring a jacket. You might need it when you are in Arezzo and it is the coldest spring they have had in years.
Italy and such:
  • It is pronounced grazi-ay not graz-ee. 
  • I am a stupid American.     
  • I wonder how they pronounce "Grinch" in Italian.

  • Sete means thirsty.
  • When it comes to prices, commas are decimal points and vice versa, but sometimes they are not...actually I still do not understand that.
  • Living statues need a smoke break too.
  • Attenzione! Means get the heck out of the way.

  • No means no in any language...well most of them anyway.
  • The real Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael are way cooler than their turtle counterparts.

  • Do not make Michelangelo mad... He will immortalize you with donkey ears.

Commedia dell'arte 

Our time in Arezzo was spent at the Accademia dell Arte. It was a once in a lifetime experience. The main thing I learned was how to use body movement to express a character. It was difficult at first, especially with the neutral masks. 
I have great respect for the actors of Commedia and their ability to bring forth an over-the-top character from behind a mask.
Facts About Commedia:
Originated in the early 16th century.
Highlights the usage of masks, four main character types, improvisation, and comedy.
The old men, the lovers, the servants, and the captains make up the four stock character types.
Stages were mainly temporary structures set up on the streets.
Generated the term slapstick from the prop the character Arlecchino uses
The actors traveled to many different areas, so it was
necessary for then to use their body and performant to convey the story due to language differences.


Rome. Rome. Rome. It is true that you cannot see Rome in a day. I would not see two days even as being a sufficient amount of time to see it. It is funny to see ruins sprinkled about a bustling city.  We were lucky enough to see, in my opinion, the most important sights.

The Coliseum
Millions upon millions of people have passed by these walls. I wonder how often these walls change these people’s lives forever. I wonder if they realize these walls have been here for hundreds of years before them and will most likely be here hundreds of years after them. It does not take a look at the stars to know how insignificant you are and discover how significant you can become.  

The Coliseum is every thing you would expect it to be, maybe a little smaller. It takes a minute for the fact that this has been standing since 70AD to sink in.
 The only warning I would give is to be wary of roman soldiers in sweatshirts and Nikes, they will charge you five euro each for a picture. 

The Vatican
It has been calculated that if you spend one minute looking at each piece in the Vatican, you would spend twelve years doing so. If that does not reveal the grander of this city within a city, nothing will. I suppose we got the crash course then. It was interesting to learn about all the paintings. Raphael's rooms were stunning. We had an excellent guide. I highly suggest doing your research on the art before you go in, especially when it comes to the sistine chapel. It gives you something to look for. Everything is so over whelming that having some information helps you appreciate it even more. I did not realize the artists often included likenesses of other artists and scholars in their paintings. There were also many  pieces of art that reflected ancient Egyptian religion and other pagan religions. It was ironic to see that in the catholic capital.
Twisted Arch

The animal sculpture room

Fallen statue of Mercury before the cross.

Sistine Chapel

Van Gogh

Later in life Matisse lost control of his hands, so he began to use paper cut-outs instead of painting.




Siena is beautiful, hilly, Italian city. It also has a very unique history. The main piazza (Piazza del Campo) was made on a hill. It originally stayed as a field but there were many problems with flooding. It was decided that the piazza would be paved. A drain sits at the bottom apex of the piazza. It is quite a sight to see.

  For centuries Siena has held annual horse races. The city is divided in to  17 disticts that compete twice every summer, July 2nd and August 16th. The Campo is transformed into a racetrack and spectators crowed in the center to enjoy the race. Apparently these are highly competitive. The district that wins gets bragging rights for the rest of the year and they win a banner that is designed differently for each race. People will crowed the street and celebrate well into the night. We visited the Forest district., whose symbol is the rhino. Each district has its own church. This had the collection of all the banners the district has won and relics from the races. This video is italian, that race begins around 7:20.

Siena also had one of the most beautiful cathedrals we visited, the Duomo of Siena. This cathedral was built in the early 1200s and contains work from Donatello and many other artists. Words cannot describe awe of the black and white semi-gothic style structure.