Thursday, April 5, 2012

An Italy Memory: Easter

In celebration of Easter, I am posting this Italy memory of mine which details my Easter Sunday during my study abroad experience in 2005 and the few days following spent traveling. I visited Bologna and Florence with my two German roommates, F and C. (This is actually not drafted from my memory but is a slightly edited version of a livejournal post typed up immediately after the events. Since this was seven years ago, I tried to keep my 20-year-old self's voice, just for fun.)

On Easter or Pasqua, my roommates and I ate a delicious breakfast. (Didn’t have any chocolate 'til after breakfast. Really! And I started on my chocolate bunny that my parents sent me.) Both my roommates and I snuck Easter gifts to one another to the kitchen table in the middle of the night. After breakfast, they presented me with my Easter presents- they got me a huge Milka chocolate bar with nuts (which is the German brand I fell for), Fruitella candies (which are exactly like Starburst minus the cherry flavored pieces), and postcards to decorate my room with. They are so sweet! I think they liked my gifts to them. Inside F's large hollow chocolate egg there were two Milka cow (white with purple patches) water squirters- he´ll have tons of fun with them (and much to his fiancee C's dismay, he already has, LOL). I read for awhile- a book called Save Karyn about this shopaholic who racked up thousands in debt and then created a website asking people for a dollar to pay it off. It was pretty good, I went through it pretty quickly. Around 4 o'clock, I called home and spoke with both of my parents. K (my sister) has been driving a lot, with her new license. Sunday night, C made a lovely Easter dinner, featuring the traditional lamb. (I also remember a dove-shaped cake, also traditional.) E, who was my closest study abroad friend and hailed from Estonia, came over and we talked for a bit, we showed each other pictures from our recent and separate trips to Rome.

Easter Morning in the Kitchen

I had such an awesome time on my vacation! My roommates and I ran to the train station a bit after 3 AM Tuesday (that kinda took a lot out of me!). Our train was scheduled to leave at 3:26 and did a bit after that. There were six seat booths with an aisle of wall fold-out seats- so full and everyone was asleep. So we had to stand up for over an hour and then finally got three of those aisle seats. (I came for an experience right? LOL) I guess it took about 4 hours to get to Bologna. We arrived before sunrise. Had an espresso at a bar and tried to figure out how to get to our hotel. We dropped off our luggage at the hotel, (had it tagged so it could sit in the lobby). Then, we had breakfast at a bar- I had a yummy swirl pastry with cranberries in it and an espresso. We toured the city- looking at all these churches, very old churches (like 5th Century old) and walked through many of the colonnaded porches (which Bologna is famous for). Bologna is a very old and beautiful city. We had lunch at McDonalds and dinner at a nice pizzeria restaurant. My roommates and I only split up once so I could go to this one art museum (the Pinacoteca for 14th to 16th Century art, by Bolognese artists, of course, which included Guido Reni and the Carracci Brothers) the hour before closing and they could check out this special architecture. (F studies architecture.) We also walked around after dinner to experience the city at night, it was nice, kinda deserted though- everything closed at 8, we suspected the piazza would be filled at the same time during the summer months. The hotel room in Bologna was really nice. The complimentary breakfast was so yummy, I had two pastries and fruit punch. (This fruit punch I later discovered was actually my first try of blood orange juice that I adore.)

My Personal Photos of Bologna:

Bologna just before dawn

One of the porticos of Bologna
Those two tall thin blonds are my German roommates.

Neptune near Piazza Maggiore

Ha! This was posted in a window.

Florence was soo great. We took a train there around 9 I guess on Wednesday morning. We deposited our luggage at the Florence train station and then figured out which bus went to Piazzale Michelangelo (for a panoramic view of the whole city) and where to buy the tickets. This view was sooo fantastic!!! It's one of my favorite things of the whole trip. You could really see the whole city across the river. We had beautiful weather. I shopped around at the several stands spread out along this point. Then, we took an espresso outside where we could take in the view. There were two Asian couples getting their wedding pictures done, and getting observed by us. We explored Firenze, doing the touristy things, taking lots of pictures. Saw the Duomo which is the main cathedral and then we climbed so many (god… so many!) stairs to the top of the dome- the cupola to check out the view from there, also fantastic. I wasn't so inclined to hang over the ledge. F "comforted" me with "Don't worry, Michelle, there's nothing underneath you." Grazie... We had amazing gelato near the Ponte Vecchio (the bridge lined with gold jewelry stores). I bought a really nice address book with light pink flowers all over it (which I still use to this day). We saw the David at the Accademia gallery, he was great! While F was sketching, C and I looked around; they had a few other rooms of art. Right next to the David, there was a computer were you could turn a 3D image of him (all of him, his head, his sling, and his hand) all around and have a light source change all sorts of ways. C was being goofy and asked him silly yes or no questions and had his head shake up and down or to the sides depending upon his answer. After that, we ate at a Chinese restaurant for dinner. We then took a bus far into the “suburbs” to get to our hostel. Three guys got on the bus, who turned out to be going to the hostel too so, luckily, they led us there from the bus. Which was uphill on a long, very dark road, a couple of miles. The only lights were vehicle headlights driving past. The three of us each paired off and talked to one of these three guys. And I got the British guy! :) R's from Bath, and had just arrived to Florence that day from Venice. Since it was dark, we couldn’t see the amazing scenery that surrounded the place 'til the next day. The hostel was okay, freakin' cold at night. There were two beds in each divided little room (their walls only like 7 feet high I guess, the doorway was covered with a curtain on a rod), two rows of these little rooms lined a big cathedral-ceilinged room. The bathroom was just off this big room. I got my own little room to myself.

C read the historical sign the next morning, the place was built in 1214 and nuns took care of ill people there. Thursday morning we had the complimentary hostel breakfast (rolls, butter, cheese, meat, coffee, tea, tangerines, a cereal were set out) with the three guys. The Swedish and German guy (who studied together in Switzerland) left after alittle while. The British guy stayed and talked to F and C about their countries´ government, employment, things like that. A girl from Ohio (studying in Spain) sat down with us too. My roommates and I walked down(hill) to the bus stop, taking some pictures of the farmland and the view of Florence on the way. On the bus, we were joined by the British guy again (God was smiling down on me! LOL…) who apparently took the wrong bus to the city. The four of us explored the city together. :) It was the British guy's first day there so we pointed out the tourist sites that he must see the next couple of days (after a few days in Florence, his next city is Rome, (which I later realized put him there when Pope John Paul II died)). We explored and shopped around. We went to look around in the market (a farmer's market with all kinds of food) which was lined with touristy vendors of leather products, scarves, Florence souvenirs, etc. C bought a fuschia fedora (which F showed us how to wear a couple of times…) I bought a leather wallet in a store near the Ponte Vecchio, pretty much a black version of my old pink wallet, it's cute (and is the wallet I still use seven years later). I loved hanging out with the British guy, he was very cute and very nice. I loved hearing him speak, saying things were "lovely" or "brilliant." :) They had an espresso and I had a hot chocolate. Later we had our (daily) gelato. After 3 we had to look for a place to eat so we could be at the train station at 5 to go back to Pescara, we found a place on the piazza beside Santa Croce and ate outside at a great pizzeria. R came to the station with us so he could purchase some bus tickets. We had to part from him around 5. :( My room mates and I got on a train to Bologna at 5:30 and then switched trains there at 7:30 to get back home to Pescara after 11 o'clock.

Personal Photos of Florence:

a piazza and the warm-colored buildings lining it

the reproduction of the David where the original first stood

detail on the Duomo

Florence from atop the Duomo


That road from our hostel to the bus stop to Florence!
You can imagine how dark it can be!

view from Piazzale Michelangelo

I hope you enjoyed my memories! I love Bologna and might consider living there. Railroad tracks radiate out of this centrally-located city. I could be anywhere else quickly, what an amazing home base! This stunning city is also known for its university. I love a college town. Not to say that Florence isn't amazing and art-filled!

Buona Pasqua!

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