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Category Archives: The City

(Day 97) The Heartfelt *Headdesk*

Saturday, 11:40 pm

I am still working on the paper.  Incredibly, outrageously, horrifically, I am still working on this paper.  I think it may just have an ethical objection to existence, but that has never yet been accepted by a professor as a reason for not doing your homework.

Anyway.  Still can’t write much (which is very frustrating, as there’s actually a fair bit to say), but I’ve been taking photos lately and how about we just look at some pretty things and don’t think about typing anymore.

         

Alright, back in as soon as I can, and let us just acknowledge for the moment that A) it is December, B) we have six days left, and C) this means that I can only have paper + presentation + project + presentation + final exam + library + last-week events for so much longer.  C is obviously not the most significant implication of us being down to less than a week here, but turns out that it’s awfully hard to think grand-scheme-of-things when you’re on a deadline, so C makes me happy anyway.

…Yup, back later.  Buonanotte : )

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Classes, The City, Travel and Touristing

 

(Day 77)

Sunday, 9:54 pm

Alright, we’re going to try this; I’m approaching the data limit on my internet key, but I feel like you guys deserve an update and some nice sunshine-filled pictures before we up and leave for most of a week.

Thursday, my art history/Medici class took us to Casa Buonarroti, the museum housing many of Michelangelo’s early works.  It became an automatic favorite because it’s just fun to look at; for one thing, it’s fascinating to get to see the drawings and sculpture studies that fed Michelangelo’s development, but quite independent of that is that it turns out that even Michelangelo’s quick-study early work is wonderful, all twisty torsos and floaty figures and everywhere that dynamic BAM quality that made him a legend.  Good stuff : )

Oh, also, they had another Renaissance architectural model!  *Obviously* you guys all remember those, because I mentioned them maybe once in an offhand footnote ages ago, but bottom line is that Michelangelo was once commissioned to design the facade of a church and he did and he built one of those models I love:

The rest of Thursday was just more school stuff, blah blah, and then this weekend was sunny and gorgeous and I got out of the apartment for a while:

 (Piazza Santa Croce)

 (Lower eastern side of the Duomo)

 (Lucky boar : )

 (Street artists working on a Raphael Madonna)

 (Random intersection)

(^ Piazzale Michelangelo, which I apparently really like.)

 

Traipsed around for a good long while doing errands, came back to a roommate-less room (reason being that she betook herself off to Amsterdam for the weekend, in case I haven’t mentioned), and have since experienced an utterly astonishing productivity streak; it’s been a little interrupted because of all the internet/list-making/stare-at-the-wall breaks, but I’ve had out-of-nowhere ideas for all my ongoing projects, roughed out outlines, done readings, made plans for personal work, and even got in some of those quick sketches we’re supposed to be doing.

 [~Per Esempio~ ]

Such a novelty to be actually on top of things : )

 

So, that was this weekend, and for this week we’re looking at a bunch of classes, work study, two on-site visits, an oral report, an orientation meeting, and our Italian final, all by Wednesday.  Thursday morning, off for Rome by 8:00 am.*

I may be back in prior to that, but if not, I’ll definitely be seeing you soon after.  In the meantime, happy rest-of-Sunday!

 

*Also, we got our itinerary for Rome, and YAY because we’re going to the Galleria Borghese *\o/*  …That is all  : )

 

(Day 73) Countdown-ing

Wednesday, 9:12 pm

Ciao again : )

It appears that we’ve just dropped another week, so we are now officially down to 30 days left in Florence.  And, because we only have four class days before Rome and will have only 19 total days after, this means that it is already time to start panicking about what is left on the Florence to-do list and deciding what places/things are worth a final re-visit.  It is inexpressibly weird to be thinking like this.

It has only just occurred to me, for example, that at some point in the near future I will not be walking past the comforting orange-and-white mass of the Duomo every day.  Guys, there will be a *last time* I see the Duomo.

I’m sure that by the end I’ll feel like I should emote a little about all this, but let’s skip it for now and give the brief update for this week.  Which is as follows:

  • Yesterday, went for the first time to Santa Maria Novella, that church right next to the station that I’ve seen almost every single day I’ve been here.  Got a story about how people managed to ‘lose’ hugely valuable artworks by forgetting how they’d rearranged the furniture.  Got another story about how they’d put on sacred plays for special feast days, and would hoist people up to the ceiling and then swing them down the aisle so they could have a ‘descending angel’.  Spent about 20% of the remaining class time wondering what it would be like to zipline in a basilica.
  • Then, today, another ‘first’ when my literature class took us inside Palazzo Vecchio.  This place is a massive, massive fortress/palace that has been the ‘town hall’ since the medieval period, and some crazy stuff (as in violent crazy stuff) went down here, but suffice to say that it is a huge and important building and I’d only ever seen it from the outside.

  • As we’ve discussed multiple times in class, the outside is not exactly pretty, because it was really only there to be sternly intimidating in the face of invaders/angry mobs.  The inside, though, is all about diplomacy, which means that it’s still trying to intimidate but is now just trying overwhelm with opulence: i.e., there are paintings in there that may literally have more square footage than my house.  But of course I can’t show you that, because Florentine museum attendants insist that all the cool places are camera-shy.  *Sigh,* no foto.
  • Tomorrow, just have to give an oral presentation at Casa Buonarroti (the Michelangelo museum), take an Italian quiz in the afternoon, and go to drawing.  Work in the library Friday, meet up with a couple friends sometime over the weekend, prepare for the Italian final, start fourth-to-last week.
Here we go : )
(P.S. — Just to clear up any confusion, yes, I will be sad to leave Florence.  But yes, I am also beyond-words excited to get home again, and will be fully ready to get on that plane and come back and start making everybody cookies.  So pick out your favorite kind, and just know for dead certain that I *am* capable of having more than one emotion at a time and thus am still thinking about you and miss you guys and already can’t wait to see you again <3)
 
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Posted by on November 9, 2011 in Classes, Family, History, Persons & Peoples, The City

 

(Day 70) An Update?

Sunday, 8:09 pm

I have now been called four times on not having updated recently (even though the last one was Thursday), so okey-doke, here are my great secret doings of late:

  • Still homework.  Followed, usually, by a little *more* homework.  Still don’t know how I did on that Medici midterm from Tuesday, but I’ve just been doing regular class assignments and working on wrapping up the first big project for Weaving the Tale.  After working in the library for a few hours, this was my Friday.
  • Yesterday morning, Saturday, got out of the house for awhile.  This whole weekend has been one of rain and clouds and wind and The Ominous Dark, and I figured that Piazzale Michelangelo would be one of the nicer places to be under those conditions, so that’s where I went.  (In case I haven’t said, Piazzale Michelangelo is that place up on a hillside known entirely for its view, which is up-close-and-personal with Florence from just across the river).

  • It spit out a couple drops and got alarmingly windy, but didn’t rain so no harm done.  And, as a bonus for being there, got the surreal experience of joining a crowd of Italians to listen to a Native American band:

  •  After that, just a walk through the city and a game of count-the-pigeons.*

  • Today, I have literally spent about 90% of my time doing homework and finishing that project.  Which is now done, and manifests itself in 14 glorious pages that will account for 1/3 of my grade.
And…that is it.  I can feel your jealousy from an ocean away, but try to rein it in, okay?
As far as this week, we’re going to three places I haven’t actually been before, so that is automatically something I want to blog about.  And if anything else throws a blip on the Excite-o-Mat, I will happily stroll back in to ramble.  Otherwise you can assume silence to mean that I am either continuing the life of an ascetic academic or have been kidnapped by corsairs.  Maybe both.
Anyway, my brain feels kind of broken right now, so think I’m going to go dink around on the internet for awhile and give it time to recuperate.  Have a great Sunday night/Monday!
*When it becomes boring, you can spice up the pigeon-counting game by adding a second step, called ‘Guess Which Pigeons are Diseased.’  Or, since the answer to that is probably ‘all of them,’ you can also try to ‘Guess Which Pigeon Will Trigger the Next Global Pandemic,’ etc.  So many pigeons, so many questions, hours of fun at your fingertips ; )
 
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Posted by on November 6, 2011 in Classes, The City

 

(Day 67) Another Thursday

9:22 pm

Been getting caught up in the sudden appearance of more homework than I thought I had, so sorry for the continued absenteeism — and thank you for your continuing patience to those who have sent me emails, I will have replied to all of you by tomorrow.

Still actually have stuff I have to do tonight, so this will be kind of brief, but I had a good day today and happy moods are worth sharing.  So:

  • This morning, everyone had to meet at Linguaviva at 8:00 so that we could all go down to the police station / immigration center and deal with the ongoing visa checks.  This necessitated getting up at an ungodly hour to catch a bus downtown, but it also meant that I got to wander around for a couple of minutes when the sun had just risen and the streets were still more-or-less empty.  The only people around were some nuns, and some vendors in a state of pre-pushiness as they set up their stalls for the day.

 

  • It is also important to note that the street in ^that picture^, with the stalls, smelled like apple fritters.  They have no such things here, so I know I must have been hallucinating, but it was nice.
  • The police station stuff was no big deal (although they got all our fingerprints, so I am now in the system D:), and after that we were all told to go to a cafe near the station, where our professor bought us each a drink and a pastry.  Day instantly better, and also meant I scored a free lunch ; )
  • Came up with an idea for my final paper in the Medici class, got books, getting started.
  • Had another successful exchange with a random Italian, and a fairly long one at that.  A woman came up to me at the bus stop to ask a question (I get this at least once a day, apparently me surrounded by other people at a bus stop = glowing symbol of trustworthiness), and I gave her a one-word answer and then apologized for not speaking Italian.*  She made my day by replying that she thought I spoke very well, with a ‘buon accento,’ and proceeded to pursue conversation for the entire 20 minute ride back to the station — and by God, ~I got it.~  Even though she spoke very quietly, and even though she ultimately insisted on using English so she could practice, talking with locals has been achieved \o/
  • In the evening, went to drawing class, and actually came up with a finished project that I don’t hate (or at least not yet).  Plus, we get to spend the entire time before Rome continuing to work on figures rather than casts, and this makes me one happy camper.
  • Learned over dinner that “mm” may translate into Italian, but “mmhmm” may not.  Requires further investigation, but made for a good talk.
  • I go in tomorrow morning to keep working on the library’s catalog process, and can already officially say that we’re almost done.  Or rather, that we’re ALMOST DONE! 😀
Have to do a project/paper and preparation for an oral report this weekend, but shouldn’t be bad.  Then it’s a week and a half until Rome, three weeks until Thanksgiving, five weeks til home.  Woah.
*Funnily enough, all of my truly successful conversations have started with me explaining that I don’t speak Italian.  God bless low expectations?
 
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Posted by on November 3, 2011 in Classes, Language, Persons & Peoples, The City

 

(Day 63) I Aten’t Dead

Sunday, 5:34 pm

Hokay, so it’s been a week.  Don’t actually have a ton to report yet, but I was starting to feel bad about the lack of updates so here it goes anyway:

  • Visiting professors this past week were uniformly excellent, or at least all the ones whose lectures I attended.  Learned about mythology, Etruscan banquets, art theft in WWII, and 16th/17th century musical hijinx; at that last lecture, got to watch a woman play a spinnet, examine a hurdy-gurdy, and ponder over the great unrealized potential of the piano-guitar.*
  • Extra-lecture-induced business ended Thursday night, and then I immediately had to switch over and start studying for our Medici class midterm.  Still working on that, so art history ahoy.
  • Yesterday night, turned the clocks back for Daylight Savings Time…which means that I will now be attending my 5:00 drawing class in complete darkness.  I think that deserves a *facepalm.*
  • Woke up this morning and realized that we are down to six weeks.  Or, more precisely, 39 days.  Am still not entirely sure how to feel about that.
  • On the other hand, definitely already excited about getting home again, and starting to make plans.  SOOO many plans.  (Also, while I remember, any home-people should let me know if they want anything from here.  Or more specifically if they want a scarf, mask, or tasteful statue of a nude man [David, other David, or angry-classical-youth-with-severed-head], because that’s what I’ve got access to.)
  • Also getting good and pumped for our trip to Rome on the 17th, for reasons mainly inclining to the nerdy.**
  • Have to get back to studying now, but have some random photos taken while walking to classes:
 
 
Catch you soon : )
*Not a keytar, but rather just a guitar with piano keys on it that were apparently responsible for pulling the strings taut.  The experts with us couldn’t tell how it would have been tuned (or played, for that matter), and refer to it as a failed experiment…which of course just means that we were one successful experiment away from well-bred citizens of the 18th century twanging away on keyboards to prove their musical prowess.  For all those pianoforte scenes in Austen…*sigh,* what could have been.
**My secret wish, which will probably not happen, is to get the chance to go see the Galleria Borghese.  It seems just a bit too off-the-beaten-path for a group that’s only going to be there for four days, but I keep hoping I’m wrong and I’ll finally get to see my Bernini.  Lord but I do love Bernini.
 
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Posted by on October 30, 2011 in Art, Classes, Family, History, The City

 

(Day 55) Lazy Days

Saturday, 2:34 pm

Break is winding down (noooooo), and I’m spending the last couple days going nowhere near homework and enjoying the hell out of free time.  Observe:

  • Yesterday, went to Palazzo Pitti (an enormous palace with about 6 mini-museums in it) and the adjoining Boboli Gardens.  This is one of the big historical sites that we haven’t been to yet for class, and as our museum passes get us in for free, figured there was no harm in checking it out.
  • Recommendation: CHECK IT OUT.  The building itself has a great back story,* the art in the Palatine Gallery constitutes (for me) a much better collection than found in the Uffizi, and it’s so weirdly large and twisty that it’s just a ball to wander around in there.

  (<– the back side of one wing : )

  • After a while in the house, out the back door to the Boboli Gardens.  The gardens are essentially a park filled with trees and hedge-lined walkways, and yes, it was very pretty — but far and away the best part of the gardens was just the chance to be way up on a secluded patch of hill at noon.  Florence has a lot of churches and a lot of bells, and getting out into the open where you can actually hear them all ringing together?  Awesome.

  

  • At this point I was done with Palazzo Pitti but still not ready to head back to the apartment, so walked back a ways along the river.  And this was very nice right up until I started realizing that the scarf wasn’t really cutting it anymore and the wind was kind of slapping me in the face repeatedly.

  • Solution = bus hopping, one of my very favorite time-wasters.  Go to random bus stop, board bus, get a little tour through new parts of the city, hop off whenever, board new bus.  Repeat until sick of violent vehicular bouncing.
  • End of Friday was just a lot of reading + internet, and then we get to this morning, where I have to get myself out of the house again because Saturday is cleaning day.  Another windy walk down through the city center, and I end up in Piazza della Signoria, parking it in the open-air sculpture gallery and doing a quick doodle for the sketchbook we have to keep for the drawing class.  Hooray for scribbling in public!
  • When I’ve been sitting on cold stone long enough to make my legs numb, over to Rivoire.  Rivoire is a fancy cafe that looks out over the piazza, and it is rumored to have some of the best hot chocolate in Florence*** — which is great, because for the month and a half remaining to us I have made it my mission to find the best hot chocolate here.  Go in, order at the bar, receive cup and keep standing at the bar (this place in particular is notorious for outrageous price hikes if you sit down), and finally decide that this is probably what it tastes like to drink a molten candy bar.  Wow.
  • Back to the house, more internet.
Over to you guys : )
*You know the famous Medici family?  Well Cosimo de’ Medici (basically the founder of the family’s wealth and position) decided to build a grand new house, a palazzo, in the middle of town.  Brunelleschi, THE architect of the Renaissance and the mind behind the dome of the Cathedral, created a design.  But this design was, in fact, a little too grand for Cosimo; he rejected it, and Brunelleschi supposedly pitched a fit and smashed the model.**  But then the rejected design is picked up by another Florentine banker, Luca Pitti — and generations later, when the Medici have become actual nobility, they buy the place and double its size and fancify it like you wouldn’t believe, ultimately building a private elevated walkway (the Vasari Corridor) all the way from the palace to their offices (now the Uffizi Gallery) on the other side of the river.  Just…wikipedia.
**Architects at the time apparently depended more on models than plans; that is, they actually built little wood mock-ups of their buildings to show what the final project would look like, and this was what got presented to their patrons.  For some reason I find this really fantastic.  In fact, one of my favorite parts of the museums here (and especially the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo) is getting to look at these models…and if I ever get bored and need a new hobby, building replicas of these seems like it might be more fun than ships in a bottle.
***Hot chocolate in Italy is called cioccolata calda, and it is not *actually* hot chocolate in the way we think of it — that is, its richness goes way beyond the taste of a liquid with powder, and it’s so thick that it’s almost like drinking hot pudding.
…But that sounds gross, so just know that I mean it in a good way.
 
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Posted by on October 22, 2011 in Art, Classes, Food, History, The City

 

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