Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chocolate and bread festival in Corciano proved to be quite a wonderful experience. Me and a few friends headed up to Corciano and found the little city to be quite full of people. We bought tickets for all of the spots and then headed around town to test the chocolate. It was so great! We found many new places to either purchase goods or hang out, not to mention we had some awesome chocolate goods. 

At the end of the route there was the best hot chocolate that I have ever tasted. We all drank the hot chocolate and decided we would walk back. But just then a kind Italian man gave us his extra tickets for the booths... and then!... Another kind Italian man gave us his left over tickets! So the four of us got to go around to all of the booths again because only one ticket from each strip was used up! Talk about fantastic! 
By the end of the second loop we decided we should probably head back because it was getting cold. But then we heard music. So we went to the piazza and found a dancing marching band called the Perugia Funking Band. They were dancing and playing pep band/ jazz music in the square. It was AMAZING! When they were done with a song the started walking away... and everyone in the square followed... So we decided we must also follow the band. They went all around town stopping at every piazza and booth to do a song and dance number! I cannot describe how wonderful it was. It turned out to be an amazing day! 

The start of this week has been quite hectic but also very relaxed compared to last week. Monday was spent in the studio working on projects and getting everything done for final critique on Thursday. Tuesday was more studio time as well as the afternoon full of Italian class. There is so much to learn! On Wednesday the day was spent in the studio and the evening was spent in Assisi watching Rosella Vasta's inspired performance of The Table of Silence. I had taken pictures of the dancers on Sunday while they were practicing so again I helped collect some images during the actual performance. That evening was spent working furiously on the last finishing touches of the artwork for critique. It was a fun time in the studio for sure. 

Today we had the critique and tomorrow we all get kicked out of the villa for a week to go and travel. A group of us is heading to Sardinia which should be wonderful. I am sure there will be many tales to tell! 

This is my picture that I enjoy the most of my pieces in critique, it started out as a joke and just a fun piece to waste time on but then it turned into something I had never done before. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Come va? Bellissimo!

This is the forest of where the light shines through

Wednesday proved to be a wonderous day! We got up early and caught a charter bus to Assisi. As a group we went through the chapel that St. Francis loved (when it was still tiny and in the middle of the wilderness). It was also the church where St. Francis died.
The tree of life from the gardens in Perugia

While there, mass was going on in the inner peace chapel. Some of us stood out of the doors and listened. It was great! At first you think, oh man... if only it were in English I could really take part in this great service. But just when I thought i'd never feel like it was a legit service because I couldn't understand the priest lead everyone in the sharing of 'pace' or peace. There were quite a few people standing around the entrance of the chapel. One sweet older Italian lady turned around and said 'pace si' and thus began my sharing of peace with some of our group and other Italian visitors. What a great experience! (The photo is from the entrance to the garden, this statue of St. Francis always has doves just hanging out on it. They are not trained or anything the just always hang out here and fly around a bit! How cool is that?!)
From here we moved on out to the upper parts of Assisi to see St. Francis' basilica and resting place. The more we learned about St. Francis the more amazed I was. Rosella provided some more contemplative comments to think on while we were there. She said that St. Francis believed every living thing deserved attention and respect. This is why people say he preached to the birds. He helped bring back a connection with nature and an appreciation for other things that God created. Anyway, I was thinking about it and considered how many people still today don't even give other   human beings the time of day not to mention animals. St. Francis had quite the job on his hands.

In the basilica we saw the series of frescos painted by Giotto to explain St. Francis to the common folk. They were pretty great. Then we continued on through town to find St. Claire's basilica and resting place. We found it but it was closed for siesta so a group of ladies from our group went and had a nice sit down lunch together. It was outstanding! The food was good but it was really the dinner conversation and company that made the day amazing. We sat there for a couple of hours before we headed in and saw St. Claire's. Then we had a few hours left so we went and checked out some shops and headed to the bus.
We got back and had some great lasagna dinner. After dinner most people worked on their three big art projects that are due next week.
On Thursday we had a day at the villa. It was much needed because people were getting a little exhausted, snappy, and homesick. We had figure drawing and various drawing exercises. Lunch was a split pea pasta dish, which some didn't like but I thought it was good. (Photo is a view out to the overlook in Assisi, pictures couldn't capture the beauty)
The afternoon was spent in Italian class and just hanging out having a little alone time. I was able to skype a wonderous friend from home which was a blessing. It's always nice to connect with people so you still know they're alive and well :)
Dinner was great! We had zucchini stew, these croissant pizza bite things, a second course of french fries with sliced turkey covered in a very light gravy juice. It was so good! I need to learn how to make it! After dinner we sat and talked and spent the evening talking, crocheting, and relaxing.
Friday was another travel day. We got up early and headed to Siena by bus. We got there and were given free reign of the city for 8 hours. We visited di Campo where they hold the palio di Siena twice a year. It's a horse race around the piazza that lasts 90 seconds but there are so many preliminary pageantry  events and after parties that the festival lasts up to a couple of weeks.
Our exploration of the city brought us to a great local foods market where we tried some bread and traditional local cookies. We passed a square where these adolescent boys were on this pedestal pillar thing pulling down their pants (underwear still up thank goodness) and saying 'coca dae, coca dae'. Our fearless leader from the villa informed us that this was not cool and they were embarrassing for him to see. I told him we all have people in our countries that do things we wish they wouldn't. He continued on to tell us that they had been chanting the Italian version of how chickens speak. Quite funny...
We also found a sports cafe where we got some caffe con nutella. The sports caffe was called Planet Basket. It was quite the place.
We then traveled back and everyone was exhausted and ready for rest. We got back right before dinner so we all headed in that general direction. Dinner was ravioli with an amazing creamy sauce, then mashed potatoes and sausage. It was filling and wonderful. Again we had fun and great dinner conversation which continued for at least 30 minutes after dinner was over. The evening was spent painting nails and having a little bit of a girls night.
Today most everyone is sleeping in and will wake from hibernation before lunch. It's a much needed down day. There is a bread and chocolate festival up the hill later today which I think will be amazing!
More adventures to come...
Looking out from Assisi, if I blew this up to life size it might give a better impression of how beautiful it was but even then it can't come close to what it was. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Lindt Truffle to Kick off the Day... YES PLEASE!

When a chocolate festival comes to a town near you, it would be ridiculous to squander such opportunity. On Saturday we woke up early and headed into Perugia for the Euro Chocolate Festival. We rode the public transportation up to the festival and were amazed. There were tons of people! There were many many booths of just chocolate as far as the eye can see. There weren't as many free samples as we thought but the chocolate was pretty reasonable. The weather was unnaturally cold for the weekend, apparently it was the weather they usually get in December. Needless to say we were pretty cold. I actually didn't eat that much chocolate, instead I purchased a hat to ward off the weather. We ventured around and eventually headed back to the villa with plans to come back later in the week. 
On Sunday most people slept in late some even until lunch. I got up to see Mark and Rhett off. It was a sad day to see two great assets to the trip take off back to life in the states. Every week feels like a million years here so it was like our family was leaving. I had a great talk with Rosella Vasta and I got to venture into the villa chapel which is a very great place to reflect. 
It was chilly again on Sunday but we all spent most of the day regrouping and planning our week vacation. Our meals that day were amazing. We had a stroganoff type pasta dish for lunch and then I believe another pesto pasta for dinner. 
Monday we spent in the studio and out in the lawn drawing. We spent most of the time with charcoal which did a number to our hands but it was so fun. I am a big fan of charcoal drawing and the many effects you can accomplish with it. We have three big projects we are all to be working on before next Thursday so that slightly stressed some people out. I am waiting for a moment of inspiration... which I might find here in a little bit :) 
Today we went into Perugia again to visit a museum and monastery gardens. Before we went to the museum we had time to get some coffee. It is appropriate to order cappuccino in the mornings so that's what I did. While we were in the little cafe drinking the excellent cappuccino the owner brought around Lindt Truffles and gave us each one! What a great way to start out a day! My spirit was boosted immediately and we headed off. The garden was great and had an awesome view of Assisi. Rosella explained the garden to us... At one point she explained the dark part of the garden as the place for hermits. She said, 'a person goes into the dark forest with fear and gets lost, but in doing so finds themselves.' I thought that was a good way to put it. In wandering through the darkness and the unknown we are able to find ourselves. Maybe that's what we are all doing on this trip. It sure seems like it. 
The remainder of the day was spent going back up to chocolate fest and venturing around. We are now having siesta and some people are working on homework until dinner. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Villa Pieve Home Like No Other

On Wednesday we had a full day of drawing. It was quite the event. Many people were getting very stressed out about the Italian Trivia Bowl that was kind of our art history final. This made for a pretty crazy drawing class, many were frustrated and others just had to take a breather. 
We studied much of the day here and there. That evening I went for a run with a few other girls and we headed out in a different direction. We ran to a slightly residential area or so we thought... we got back on a road and found out it went straight into a riverbed where the water had run dry, it was interesting. So we ran back and followed part of our original loop. 
Dinner was good I believe we had sausage, some type of pasta, and fruit for dessert. I am still waiting for the dessert of the first evening to come back! 
On Thursday we had art history, lunch, art history, Italian, Photography meeting, and another session of yoga. It was wonderful! The sun was in the perfect place for wonderful photos. We got some good pics and had a relaxing moment of rest. Following dinner we had our Italian Bowl. It was quite fun. My team got second and won a bottle of wine. Following the Trivia Bowl we all got together and hung out sharing the wine. Everyone staying at the villa came out and hung out and we played the vegetable game. The vegetable game is similar to the game signs but you have to talk the whole game without showing your teeth. It is super fun! 
Today we had the day off so a large group of us went into a nearby town on the lake. We had gelato then caught the ferry to Isola Maggiore. It was so wonderful! I thought Corciano was true Italy then I get to Maggiore and find the dirt paths the olive groves and the beach. Most of us brought our swim suits. It was not hot out today and on the Isola it was actually really windy, but we got in the water anyway :) It was freezing, kind of rocky, but great all the same. After hanging out in the water for a while we came out and a few of us had cuts on our feat from crustaceans on the rocks. It was still worth it :) We headed back on the ferry and train, then got picked up and headed to the villa. What an adventure! 
Tomorrow is the chocolate festival and it is going to be so wonderous! 
(These photos are from around the villa. The first is our bamboo mini forest, second is one of the vines with the Italian Countryside behind, the third is our villa and conference center used as classrooms, the fourth is our roommate pic)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Italy, Yoga, A Castle, and Running in the Riverbanks

It has been quite the day. Not only did we study half a semester worth of material in Art History today we also came up with a new game. The pope game was fun, coming up with words in which pope could be substituted for part of it (inapopriate, popetarts, etc.). But during the second half of Art History, someone was blessed with an epiphany, a new game! No longer is it the pope game but the Mew game. Same game just using mew instead. Get your pets spayed and mewterd, mewtramony, teenage mewtant ninja gattos, etc. It kept us occupied and laughing for the remainder of the day... and shall probably continue for... ever. 
We also had some great lunch of spaghetti then headed off to our first official Italian class! It was crazy fun. We will have a good time with it i hope. It might be rough at the start. 
Following Italian lessons, our wonderous professor of drawing Julia lead us in yoga in the shadows of the castle in the backyard. It was amazing, peaceful and relaxing. The sun was setting and hitting us and making great light across our overlook of the Italian countryside. When we finished Julia lead us in a relaxing time of 10 minutes of (insert the proper sanskrit word for ending relaxation technique). Needless to say it put more than a few of us to sleep. 
When yoga was up me and a couple others went for a run, got to a stopping point when the road turned into a river bed and didn't lead anywhere. 
We had dinner and listened to Rosela's story of her latest art happening. It was grand! And following this a few of us went to take star trail pics. 
It was quite the day and I am exhausted beyond all reason! Pictures to come I promise!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Balliamo and Great Great Fragolas!!!

We are here at the villa and it is quite amazing. What is amazing you ask? Everything! But the most pleasant thing is the food. I cannot describe how wonderful the tastes are of this food. I have sat at each meal and thought I might die of delight in food. Here is a little list of what we have had to eat so far. Note- all of these dishes sound and look like ordinary things that you get/ could make any old day. In reality they are extraordinary dishes of food that explode with flavor in your mouth and make you want to cry. 

Saturday Dinner: 
Bread and great Cheeto's, bottle of red wine, Pasta with creamy slightly chicken tasting sauce, Beef and pea soup/stew, Lemon cream cake type thing

Breakfast- little baby croissants, yogurt, coffee, etc. 
Lunch- Lasagna (sooo creamy and delicious), potato wedges, fried mashed potatoes, salad, and bread 
Dinner- Bread, Pesto Pasta, chicken and mushrooms, mashed potatoes, delectable cake made of flaky floury layers alternating with custard and cream topped with Whipped cream and fresh strawberries (TO DIE FOR!!!), And grapes unlike any I have ever tasted in my life!

Breakfast- similar to what was before
Lunch- Frijoles and Pasta stew, salad, plums, and bread with oil and flavoring on it! 
Dinner- Alredo, bread, sliced roast with the most delicious gravy I have ever tasted in my entire life, salad with potatoes, and the same dessert as last night which I was soooo happy about! 

Sunday provided other fun activities. We got to catch up on sleep and then had a nice run up the hill to Corciano. It was quite enjoyable. When I got back and showered a group of us went up the hill again to Corciano for their wine tasting festival. I have never been to a wine tasting, and this was a great place to start! We tasted many different wines and I was able to figure out what makes a wine different from another. All of the wines were local and we bought a few bottles. You'd think that great wine would be expensive, but no it was in the range of 4-20 Euros a bottle! I want to take one of these vineyards back home with me! 
After wine tasting we went back down the hill for dinner. Following dinner we went up the hill again to listen to the live band. We ended up staying in the piazza in Corciano for a few hours. When we arrived the band was playing to about 4 people. But we got in there and started dancing and enjoying all of these great opportunities that we are able to have and the people started coming. When the band was done we went and chatted for a bit and got their info so we could go see them again for their next show. It was an amazing night, rich with culture and good company! 
I am full of good food and good company! What a great place to be :) 

Saturday, October 8, 2011


The past week has been full of adventure. Not only did we get to see Michelangelo's David but we also got to develop some great connections with some of the restaurant owners/servers. This week has lead to a favorite place called Ali Doner Kababs. They gave a student special and that was enough to get us to walk out of our way for lunch every day. It was delicious! We also found a family run and owned 'Snack Shop' where we found cheap pizza and sandwiches. In addition the sweet old man that owns it would always give us glasses with ice and free pastries! He was wonderful! 
Our last favorite place was called Yellow Bar. Here we had great dinners and a fun server. The pasta was outstanding as was the pizza. They used fresh olive oil which added a ton of flavor to everything. 
Oh and finally the gelaterria. I stopped in one day because it was close to our Kabab shop and the owner gave us free samples of nearly everything. On later trips to get gelato he taught us how to say different words, and the meaning of bacio in Italian. Bacio means kiss... but it is also a chocolate. The Bacio is a hazelnut enveloped in chocolate. Italians are people after my own heart! HAZELNUT AND CHOCOLATE ALL OVER THE PLACE! 
Other happenings of this week: 
- We met a music producer named Tim Poleman who we made friends with because of Steve Jobs 
- We attended a fireworks show on the river near the famous bridge of Fierenze. (to this day we don't know what we were celebrating. During the show we were celebrating Italian independence day because that was the only celebration we could think of).
- We saw David, he was moving and awesome. 
- We shopped the market and found approached a guy at a leather booth about these bracelets he had had at his shop the first day. Turns out the stands/booths move every day so the fellow we approached and badgered about these bracelets was not the initial guy we had talked to earlier this week. The wonderful thing about it is that this chap made us custom bracelets for us and only charged 2 Euro each. He literally took out bags of scrap leather and leather lacing in order to find what we wanted and make us bracelets right there. AWESOME!

More to come...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Museo, Museo, Museo, DOME!!!

What a week it has been thus far! 
The first night in Fierenze we kind of relaxed and didn't do much. But after the first full day we decided to see what the night had to offer. We passed a piazza right near our hotel that had a live authentic Italian band playing so we got our camera gear and sketch books to capture the night life. It was a fun night. We sat in a group and sketched whatever we so desired. Some people walked past and thought we were street artists, others talked to us and we were able to make some connections in Perugia! It is funny how small the world is. Later we were joined by three Moroccans who sat and talked with us. I say talked, by which I mean, I think I got proposed to... Thank goodness for Bene and his body guard skills... aka he took time lapse of the event and laughed at the miscommunication. So we continued back to the hotel after our new friends/fiances left us. 

The next day we headed out to visit some more museos and churches. They were pretty interesting but also kind of tiring. After the last church we went up to Bottiecelli's dome and climbed it. There were 463 stairs to the top and it was completely worth the 8 Euros. 

We had some great lighting for photos and awesome views! 
That evening we had dinner at our new favorite place, then picked up some chocolate and wine. It was a splendid high class evening. The chocolate we purchased was a giant brick of Hazelnut chocolate! IT WAS AMAZING! I highly recommend. 

First day in Fierenze

The first full day in Fierenze has been quite the adventure. We woke up to head to breakfast. Now that there are four girls in the room it is a little bit more of a challenge to get ready so quickly. We were still nearly on time. 
Breakfast was pretty good. It was sad that we no longer had Sidique to serve us but there were many more options. 
We all met up and Jim gave us the run down on all that was going on in the Santa Maria Del Fiora. Then we headed over and visited the museum. It was great and then we got up and found that the museum had Mary Magdalene by Donatello. It was great! She is such a powerful sculpture. 
From the museum we headed out to find some lunch. We had a good little adventure and found a Kabob place (kabob here means it's chicken/turkey on a spit type thing like gyro meat). It was so good! And it was exponentially less expensive and more tasty than the food in Rome. Following lunch we headed to a gelato place where the owner helped us sample all of the gelato and learn the names in Italian. He also told us that it was all home made gelato! It was AMAZING! 
When lunch time was over we got in line and headed into the church. It was a wonderful church a lot less busy than the St. Peter's Basilica. It had a great depiction of the last judgement in the apse. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

End of Rome and beginning of Fierenze

Since there is a 15 min time limit on the internet... and the key board doesnt have the punctuation in the same spot I shall make this a little short. 
The end of Roma was spectacular! We met some friends when we went out on the town. And yesterday we had an authentic Italian meal which was great. The girls at the table had a rough time because they werent going to bring out our next course until we had finished the course before. It was a little rough and we were all very full afterwords. 
The train ride today to Fiernze was great. It was fast and our ears popped a lot but it was good. We got to our hotel and toured the market and around the town a bit. We found some laundry detergent and did some laundry in the tub. It has been a good couple of days!
I shall blog more when I find internet for my computer ;)