Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sorry I suck at Bologging (But Parma is Awesome!)

So here we are. I'm here in Bologna. What? Nine months deep! wow. I still can't believe it. I miss California, and all of you... but I just don't want to go home!

We've been taking weekend/day trips recently... Today we went to Parma! And yes, as you might have guessed... the hometown of Parmesan!!!!!!!!! We went without much of a plan, no map, and very little research. On a whim, really!

We meandered towards center and saw a bike rental place. I feel that generally, these places are a bit of a rip off... but they charged only 70 cents per hour! What??? So we rented some bikes and cruised into Parma in style. There was a street market with so much fresh food and samples... cheese is awesome, by the way. Pecorino is especially good and comes from the south, and also in a plethora of flavors. Parmesan here is grated fresh to put (dump) on your pasta, but is also cut into hunks that you eat by themselves or with some balsamic vinegar. Yuummm.

After the street festival, we toured Parma by bike. The day was so mild, and I swear I could smell spring in the air!!! Parma was a nice break from Bologna, because comparatively, it is spacier, with wider streets and lighter, more renaissance architecture rather than medieval. I felt like I could breath a little easier. Maybe it was also the salt on the air....

Anyway. Next time you're in Italy, spend a day (or half a day!) in Parma. So beautiful!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bologna, Bordo, and about two months of catch-up...

Hey there everyone, I have finally gotten myself to sit down, sit still, and write. Recently, this has been hard since I have felt like a small child in a very shiny candy shop! There is always something distracting me... Wow. So much has happened! I'll start at the beginning....

So after I left Florence I went to work at a Buddhist retreat in the Italian Alps, without any roads, where they only speak German. Yeah. You read that right. But oh my goodness, it was such bliss. Well, at times!

Bordo, as you can probably see by the pictures is so so picturesque. It is all old wood and stone and grape vines and worn cobblestones. Dio. Mi Manca! I was there for nearly three weeks. At first I was working in the kitchen... Which is quite a task. On breakfast duty, you wake with the sun at about 5:45 to be in the kitchen by six... But if you can keep your eyes open wide enough the view is amazing! The sun just barely working its fingers over the ridges of the mountains. If you can believe it, some mornings I would wake early and sit on the porch and watch the first rays of light touch the valley. There is something about mountains that I feel is in my blood. When I am somewhere high and quiet and full of green, I feel more at peace than I ever do.

So I worked a kitchen shift with William - one of the other workaways at Bordo. I remember most of my time in the kitchen as a blur of chopped vegetables, overflowing pots, and oversized kitchen utensils. But after I had done my time - for about a week- there was FAMILY CAMP at Bordo!  And may I just interject here that I met the most beautiful and sweet people during this time! I don't think I have ever come across so many interesting and serene people in such a short amount of time.

To be continued....

PS: Bologna is pretty awesome. Starting art classes - most likely some printmaking. SO excited.

Ciao Ragazzi! xx

Sunday, August 7, 2011

First Night in Bologna

... Was also coincidentally my birthday!

We had a little bit of a celebration... and I made new friend(s). We ate at Osteria d'orso which was really good! I had the risotto with brie, mushrooms and truffles. YUM! It was really comical trying to fit all 10 of us on one long bench-style table, and then it quickly became embarassing after happy birthday was sung rather raucously first in Italian, then Spanish, and then English (with an attempt in German). Um. Yeah. So much for trying to blend in. :)

Still on the hunt for apartments... which is a bit nerve wracking. I depart for the sanctuary at Domodossola on Wednesday. Ah well. Que sara', sara'. Eh? 

Thanks for the photos John!

This is my bff. She doesn't care if I make mistakes in Italian. 
In fact, she lets me talk as much as I'd like!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Looks like my plans for my very brief "summer" are falling into place. Amsterdam for around four days, and then to a workaway in the Italian Alps. It is a completely vegetarian Buddhist retreat. I just hope that I can find an apartment before then, because I will be much more relaxed. :)

Monday, August 1, 2011


It's funny... 'cause in the next photo I have my arm around Marilyn...

Thanks for the photo skills, Juliana! <3

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bologna e Le Cirque Invisible

Ladies and Gentlemen. Here is an amazing feat of imagination and laziness where I present to you: two events, in one post. Yes. That is right. For one night (and in one night only). Prepare to be amazed.

Okay. A bit cheezy but I just got back from the circus and my head is full of strange and qwerky thoughts (I should probably draw something right now, but I am writing to you. Don't you feel lucky?). But I am getting ahead of myself. I'm gonna tell you a little something about where I am going to live for a year first...

This past weekend I took a train to Bologna. Mostly just because I wanted to see it, but also because I had an apartment appointment. The train ride is lovely... a bit long (if you are taking the slow ghetto train like any self-respecting student) but you go through the forested and towered hills of Northern Italy which is... Bellissima!

Honestly I was a bit scared when I first got to Bologna... it didn't have the immediate beauty and prestige if Florence... and there was graffitti everywhere! But it grows on you as you walk around. Porticoes seem to be the unifying feature in Bologna. Which is good news because I hear that it rains like nobody's business in October/November.

My mission for the day was to try and scope out places to live. Which is very intimidating for me because I can only speak so much Italian and prevalent vocabulary words like "stove" or "heating" are not stored in my head yet. To boot I sound like a severely confused six year old whenever I speak (especially over the phone where I cannot use my outlandish good looks and charming demeanor to win people over). Anyway. I'll tell you about my first Italian telephone call in a moment... Near Via Zamboni is a side street lined with bulletin boards. And on these bulletin boards are layers and layers and layers of housing adds. People ductape their adds over other peoples'... some staple, others tap their add to the end of the one above so they are hanging like chains. I ended up with the first couple layers draped over my head like the hood of an old-fashioned silver-plate photographer. I ended up with pockets full of little tear off strips... oh dear.

Good news is I posted an add on an Italian "craigslist" and got a few hits... there is a fellow art student who sounds very kind. I called her the other day. It was officially my first phone call in Italian. I was so nervous that I spoke very quickly at first (and probably in a round-about way). There was a long, painful silence and then... mi dispiace, non ho capisco..? I didn't have anything prepared after that but managed to stammer out: stanza... ehh. Camera di letto? Appartamento. eh. And then she figured out who I was and what I was asking about and I apologized for my terrible telephone speaking and then we made an appointment. WHEW! Success! My only concern is that she won't want to live with me after hearing me on the phone. Oh well. Guess I'll stick to the charming in person. :)

LOOK! Julie blends into the bush!! Magic!

I should be in a circus. Maybe I will join an Italian circus and never come back to the States. Hmm.