21 September 2011

Drink Water!!! (a repost from my Loyola blog)

Natalie drinking from the fountain at Via del Burro
Susanna Cavallo, Dean of Faculty at the JFRC, said in a speech early in the semester "You'll leave Italy more beautiful than when you came". She was, of course, talking metaphorically - but I'm starting to think that she was also being literal. My skin is clearing up and my legs are toning - and I know this is due to Roma.

First off, about the toning. I live at the Zone Hotel rather than campus and everyday is a fifteen minute walk all up-hill. I'm taking two on-sight classes and I have yet to go downtown without getting lost (and incidentally finding the Pantheon). I walk a lot. And Roma is not flat. It's all built on hills. So basically, I can eat as much pasta as I like at Mensa and burn it all off in the course of the day.

I like to think Caesar drank from here too.
Now about my skin. I have average skin but lately it's been really clear and I'm pretty sure it's just generally healthier. The reason? Water! I drink a lot of it. I mean a lot. I refill my water bottle several times a day either on campus or in the course of my travels. Roma is blessed with an abundance of water - not just the beautiful fountains that are great attractions but also drinking fountains in many main areas of town and along the streets. There's even one on Palatine Hill. The water from these fountains is safe, cold, and delicious when you've been walking around lost for forty-five minutes (yep, there's one at the Pantheon).

Water is supposed to make you healthier, right? Well, it's definitely helping my skin. So what has Roma taught me so far? Drink lots and lots of water.

I also need to tell Susanna that she was right.

12 September 2011

My (future) house in Umbria...

Me in Todi
So this weekend marked the final weekend of Orientation...which we celebrated by touring Umbria!!!

So whenever I return to Italy to do whatever it is I do to get to return to Italy, I'm living either in Roma or Spoleto.

We started out bright and early Friday morning getting on buses (four huge tour buses) and traveling to Todi. Todi is a medieval town with wonderful vistas, glorious churchs (with connections to St. Francis of Assissi), and a long walk up a hill to get to it.

We then went to Spoleto - we never got an official tour of the city but it is the one I explored the most because our hotel was located there (yeah, I got to stay in a four star hotel called the Hotel dei Duchi...which I recommend should you ever be in Spoleto).

Anywho, Spoleto is a wonderfully musical town. The Roman Amphitheater located there is still used, opera is huge there, and this awesome little bar called Tric Trac had live jazz both nights we were there.

Imagine it - sitting on the steps of Piazza del Duomo, just in front of a beautiful cathedral built around 1200, beneath a castle, listening to jazz, sipping a glass of wine. Awesome. We did that both  Friday and Saturday nights.

Saturday we went to Gubbio. This is another medieval town that has a very special festival every year. At this point medieval towns (though awesome) were getting a bit less exciting...especially since to get anywhere in Gubbio you have to climb up...However, I purchased a very pretty necklace there.

Following this (and some lost students) we went to an olive oil tasting - BEST BUFFET FOOD EVER. We were late (we arrived when we were supposed to be leaving) but still we toured the olive oil mill and then the food...We thought that the food brought out was what we were getting, which would have been fine because it was amazing and delicious and wonderful, but no!!! It was only the antipasti (first) course! We had a pasta course, a meat course, and fruit for dessert! It was so wonderful and the hosts were so nice. The moon was almost full and you could see stars...che bella.

I bought some olive oil. It was voted the best tasting in Italy.

Finally, Sunday. We left our hotel and traveled to Perugia, home of Bacci chocolates. Yum. Then we went to lunch. Which was a wine tasting. At a vineyard. Which was the best meal of the weekend. And best wine. And best dessert. And yum.

Jealous? You should be. I'll never get to go on another trip like this.

Coming up:

A day in the life of a student studying in Roma...
What I'm reading...
Trials and Tribulations concerning Insurance and Banks
Did I make it to Venice?


03 September 2011

Il Coloseo e il Foro Romano

O. M. G.

No, really. History has a way of creeping up on you around here. Like, you're sitting on the bus and then BAM! Il Colosseo, or the Colosseum is suddenly right in front of you. Like, right there. In. Front. Of. You. Crazy.

We went to il Foro Romano, or the Roman Forum, first. We refers to Caitlin, Megan, Natalie and myself. This is them: (from left to right...) Caitlin, Megan, Me, Natalie.

And yep, that's the Colosseum, which under went serious work in the early part of this century. I didn't get a pic of all of us at Il Foro Romano.

Anyways, back at the Foro...You actually get to traipse about all over Palatine Hill. You walk by Caeser Augustus's villa, over the remains of his wife's quarters (her name was Livia). There's lots of random old stuff...for more see my Picasa album starring Caitlin: "When in Roma, touch old stuff". (It's not up yet - it takes forever to load stuff. I'll put the link in when it's good). So basically, it's a huge open air museum and archaeological site. And just really cool. And old. And huge. The professor who gave us a lecture before the visit told us to stand in the Basilica Nova and think about how small we are - both size wise and in time.

Following some problems with a bossy student we made it to il Colosseo! And just whoa. I mean yeah. Megan pointed something out though - it's a little strange that we love coming to this site and exploring and find it so awesome when many people came here to die. By the way, did you know Roman Centurions had cell phones? They do. It's quite the anachronism. And the sun...I got some amazing pictures.... The gift shop though...little bit on the pricey side.

Speaking of buying things - I have to keep stopping myself from freaking out about not having any souvenirs or gifts or anything yet - then I remind myself, "It's only the third day Mari. You're here for four months. Seriously. Chill. Opportunities will present themselves - when shopping is involved they always do."


Il Coloseo e il Foro Romano

02 September 2011

Second Night in Roma...

Okay, so first off here's my first LUC blog!

The only problem I have with it is that my links aren't highlighted. :( So I'll sum up for you here!

Basically, Roma is covered in graffiti. I mean, covered. We're talking nothing is sacred. Some of it's cool. Most of it's not. Naturally there's a lot of controversy. And of course, Americans have gotten involved. I still haven't figured out the political undertones. I'm hoping my Political Philosophy course on communism and facism will help.

Here's my Picasa album of Roman Graffiti which I plan on updating throughout the semester.


So last night, my second night here, we decided we had to go to the city center...aka a really old cool thing around every corner. Seriously. The Pantheon will sneak up on you. 

We refers to Natalie, Debbie, Megan, and Caitlin, the latter two being SLU students studying here. 

We decided to try to find the Spanish Steps, Piazza di Spagna. We turned the wrong way and then found something, then found the Spanish Steps, then got lost on the way to Trevi Fountain. Which we found eventually. 

But about the Spanish Steps, the goal of the Evening. There's a beautiful fountain at the base which people were surrounding (it's hot here) and soaking their feet in. The place was very crowded, but it wasn't a raucous crowd. Sure, it was noisy, but the Italian way is to sit, relax, and have a glass of wine (it's legal to drink in public) while talking with friends.

Sure, Americans do that. But not at something popes have walked on

The Spanish Steps, though a pretty famous image of Roma, are relatively new. The Barcaccia Fountain (a work by Bernini, and yes it's the same one people were soaking their feet in) and the Trinità dei Monti (the church at the top) are much older. The Steps were built up a steep hill to connect the two between 1723-1725.

Audrey Hepburn relaxed there in Roman Holiday too.

Here's the rest of what we did that evening...

Più in seguito...