Monday, February 22, 2010

Otel, Motel..

So Gram thinks I need to post more since she's in freezing cold Florida and my Florentine escapades are her entertainment until it warms up and she can sit out in the sun :) Well, here you go! Last weekend I stayed in Florence and continued my exploration of life outside the "Centre". Megan and her roommates invited me to an aperitivo on the other side of the city which was not such a pretty area but at least we saw something different. Quick correction to a former post: I found out that aperitivo is only about 5 years old in Italy and you are supposed to treat it like dinner. So now I can feel better about pigging out when we go. Friday we went to Rex, the bar across from my apartment, which was nice because a) it was raining and b) if the line for the bathroom was too long we just came home to use ours. Saturday night Megan, Lena, Libby and I cooked dinner at my apartment and then went with a friend to "Otel", a discoteca also outside the Centre that cannot be accessed by most transportationless American students. We were the only non-Italians there and the place was huge. It might be the best kept secret in Florence.
Next week we are going to Lake Garda and Lake Como so I will hopefully have some new pictures up on Flickr soon.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Giardino di Boboli

As I had hoped for, my professors are very aware that most of came to first experience Italy and then to deal with our Lorenzo de'Medici course load. My homework for drawing each week is to visit various historical locations Florence and sketch. Today, that location was the Boboli Gardens, built by the Medici in the 16th century and located behind the Pitti Palace. This was my first trip to the Gardens and it was such a beautiful day to go! My assignment for photography was to take pictures of large landscapes and there was so much opportunity. The views were unbelievable - I'll post the pictures to Flickr soon. I was so caught up in the photos that I completely forgot to draw so I only got one sketch in. It's an excuse to go visit again.
Last night Lena, Libby, Cecilia, Megan, Jen (from VCU), and I went to a bar called Kitsch for aperitivo. It's 8 euro for one drink and a small buffet. I've been to a few aperitivos already but Kitsch's was the best by far. You're really supposed to eat a little there and then go to a real dinner but we just use it as an opportunity to stuff our faces non-stop for a few hours. How un-Italian.
After my Garden visit today I met Libby and Lena on the Ponte del Vecchio to do some across-the-river café hopping and try to have a more local experience. We also found the yoga studio I've been researching and it seemed like a nice place so we will try it later this week. I am in need a few good sessions to combat all the wine and chocolate consumption. Every storefront window is filled with chocolate, pastries, pizza, or shoes. It's almost impossible to go a day without caving in to at least one.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


This weekend we went with Lorenzo de'Medici to the opening of the Carnevale in Venice. The Carnevale goes from Feb. 7th to the day before Ash Wednesday so it's basically an extended version of Mardi Gras. It was incredible! The masks were fantastic and the weather was great. Saturday night we were bussed to a "Traditional Carnevale" dinner which included about 5 courses and free wine. The next trip I take with school will be to Pompeii in April and I hope it will be just as great an experience. I just uploaded the pictures to Flickr so take a look - Ciao!

Friday, February 5, 2010


Today we made the mandatory trip to Pisa which no one really gets excited about but it would be considered sacrilege to return home from Italy without pretending to hold up the Leaning Tower and documenting it for future generations. Everyone who has been says "Pisa - There is one thing there." And it's true. Nevertheless, we took the hour train ride and tromped through the rain to get our precious photos and I am happy to announce that you can now view them on my Flickr page at

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Secret Bakery

Last night I went out with Monique and Jackie to Salamunca, a Mexican place about 3 minutes from our apartment building, with the intention of having a glass of wine and retiring to bed before midnight. When we got to the restaurant, we met a group of guys who were traveling Europe separately but all had rooms in the same hostel. They were fun and we decided to stay out with them to await the opening of the "secret bakery" down the street. I had no idea what secret bakeries were until about two days ago, but they probably fall in that category of things American students do that the locals make fun of them for. Around 2 or 3 am, when the bakeries are making food to sell the next day, if you go around to the back door and knock, a man appears and sells you slices of pizza and various pastries for only 1 or 2 euro. This is illegal (hence must be kept "secret" even though there were about 30 people there) because the food is supposed to be sold wholesale to whichever pastry shop it is being baked for and because the guy at the door probably just pockets the money. Anyway, the pizza was amazingly fresh, cheap - and all you have to do to get it is hang around in an unsafe Florentine alley at 3 am.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Shoe Quest

My feet have bled every day since I've been here and no amount of yoga or sock layering is changing it. I know why the Italians take their shoes so seriously... quality and comfort are two definite necessities. I went for a run this morning across the Arno (during sunrise - beautiful!) and scoped out shoe places the whole way. There are so many options! Sorry, this is a really boring post but it's 11 pm and the ache in my feet has been at the forefront of my mind all day.
In other news: I visited the Mercato Centrale which is the main place to buy fresh (and cheap) produce, meat, wine, etc. There's a bunch of vendors outside the market selling clothing and shoes as well. I've been finding random American foods in different smaller markets throughout the city and by the end of my stay here I just may have a pantry that looks similar to the one at home. One great find was Crispy M&Ms (in the light blue bag) at the 99 cent store on our corner. I have been looking for those in the U.S. for years and haven't seen them so it was thrilling to say the least.

Tomorrow is Advanced Drawing and Modernist and Contemporary Art. Word on the street is the classes aren't as difficult as back home because they want us to be able to travel and do things in Italy besides homework, but I'm trying not to count on it until I've met all my professors. Thursday I start my Photography for Advertising class and hopefully an assignment will be something along the lines of "Create a postcard that captures the beauty of Tuscany" so I can have an excuse to get going on my travel pictures. They are coming soon - promise!