Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Possibly the Worst Blogger Ever

Soooo....this is awkward....I'm sorry its been a month. I know their are hundreds of avid readers.

Its been a crazy four weeks! What can I say. I went to Venice over a weekend in February and celebrated Carnivale, then Berlin and London for Spring break just last week. So crazy crazy. I've also had to keep up with a blog I'm doing for the Reach the World program.

For the moment, I'm going to direct anyone reading to aforementioned blog:

I get to chat with the kids on Friday! Hopefully they think I'm really cool.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Snow + Snow + Kebap

Alright here's the part where I admit that keeping a blog up is hard and I need some more willpower. Good thing this past week has been a bit slow. I'm going to put my problems into words. Disclaimer: these are not actual problems.

Overseas Struggles

1: There are no bowls in my apartment. There are like, deep-dished plates, but that's because pasta is eaten here around 7 times a day. I eat cereal out of tupperware. This isn't a real problem, just the one most pressing because I decided to eat cheerios at 1:30 AM.

2: Transportattttiooooon. Ellie and I have booked all of our flights for break but have to get from Dusseldorf to Berlin by train. I was going to reserve tickets but am hesitant in case our plane is late or something. I feel like it would be easy to lose a bunch of money if we get confused. Especially since we speak a cumulative total of 1 word in German. Ya.

3: Snow is bumming me out. I like snow for about 3 days. This whole 'worst snow in 50 years' thing is cool, but also way too literally cool. I'm cold a lot. I need to buy moonboots but I'm too frugal and would have to leave them here. My toes will suffer for my stubbornness.

4: Oil painting is hard. There's all this turpentine involved which means I've already spilled about a cup of it on our living floor + my jeans + everything. And I dipped my cardigan in oil paint. I'm too messy for such a seriously damaging medium.

5: I can't talk to anyone at home until around midnight. So I get stupidly small amounts of sleep. But this can be remedied by me bucking up and just going to bed.

Had to complain a bit, I actually don't have any problems in the grand scheme of anything.

Let's see...our most recent field trip was to a town called Tolentino. It was small and medieval, which seems to be a theme around these parts. The main thing we saw there was the Basilica di St. Nicola. That's right, St. Nicola = Saint Nicholas = Santa! We went to a church dedicated to Santa! Except this was less about pagan tradition and more about how awesome he was as a Christian saint. This guy did a lot of miracle-type stuff! Alright but seriously, this basilica was ridiiiiculous. It had so many different chapels, a gift shop, a museum....a room dedicated to Nativity scenes from around the world! Only in Italy. Filiberto (site director) has spoken to us a lot about how important the nativity scene set-up is in each household, especially the 'special effects'! Let me preface this by saying....Italy has some low standards when it comes to special effects, but somehow manages to make what sort of amounts to expert train modeling look super awesome. I guess expert train modeling is kindof awesome though. Either way, here are some examples of special effects:

- high key purple and green lighting (completely unrealistic I really don't understand)
- loud church music
- flowing water
- primitive movement (the cow bends his neck!)
- thunderstorm sound effects (actually this was pretty cool)

Alright I'm going to stop being cynical. In all honesty seeing nativity scenes from all around the world was super interesting. And I happen to appreciate the art of model-making.

The main attraction for me at Santa's basilica was a large room completely covered almost floor to ceiling in frescos that were crazy well-preserved. The main background color was this bright blue so it was just an amazing this to walk into. I believe it illustrated almost 40 panels documenting the life of Mary, Jesus, and St. Nicola. He even has a white beard and a red robe! Santa is real! Here are photos from that trip.

So this is an awkward cat-thing statue on a really old tomb. I just liked it.

Churches with impressive ceilings: version 324.

They often leave Roman foundations of buildings and put glass over it. Its really awesome.

This fountain was still working, even in the cold!

Ah! I didn't say anything about the coffered ceiling! It was overwhelming. Like my jaw dropped because you enter the church and the ceiling is golden art and this photo doesn't do it justice. 

Crazzzzyyy frescoossss.

Santa blessing the lesser biblical people's. Actually I think its Mary. I'm probably offending the religious.

Oh my gosh. No big deal, we'll just sculpt 500 tiny cherub angels into this ceiling.

Sow when people in the older times wanted to be thankful for what St. Nicola had helped them with, they comissioned painters to do little scenes describing the help they got. There were HUNDREDS of these in the museum, it was completely interesting to see the evolution of societies etc.

Here are nativity figures from different areas of Europe, I don't remember which.

Nativity video! Look for the crazy special effects!

Oh uh...this is the slaughter of first-borns which happened to be depicted on more than one occasion. Its one of those cases where it is so ridiculous that I can help but think its a tad funny that they went to the trouble of detaching babies heads in tiny sculpture. *I do not support the slaughter of first-borns.

Yum pasta.

Yum beer.

Alright and finally to something I find completely adorable. Italians are so good at snowmen! They seriously show us up. We found no less than 5 snowmen while walking around Tolentino. SO here are all of the ones I've documented so far.

Isn't Italy cool?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Whoo many things to catch up on. I'm just going to start and I this probably won't be in any order.

First, and most pressing, is the fact that its been snowing here for the last 4 days. Like, there's been a foot of snow here all weekend. Look at this!

These are the steps out of our apartment. Eek.

Some adorable Italians made this Snowcat.

All the tiny European cars are straight up buried!

I think the Italians handle it pretty well, there's no mass panicking or anything, but all the produce at the store was gone. They also cancel classes here pretty easily since many people have to drive in for a ways away and its much harder to do that here. So, no art class for me Friday but our classes at the AHA building still happened. 

My art history professor (who is also the director of the program here and one of the most knowledgeable people I know) took our whole class, all 4 of us, to visit two abbeys about a half an hour outside of Macerata. We've been learning a lot about Romanesque churches and their architecture so it was nice to see it in application. Plus they were both super gorgeous. The first one was called Chiesa di S. Francesco and had 3 apses.

It had two levels, a man who takes care of the church let us see the upper level while trying to convert us to Catholicism in Italian.

Oh, plus a bunch more fresco stuff. Filiberto made a comment about Joseph being painted a bit upset that his wife was having a baby even though she was a virgin. 

The second I don't remember the name of but it had Maria in there somewhere. Of course. It was ridiculously pretty and Filiberto said there were a lot of weddings there. All four of us girls became stupid girly about it immediately. Oh the staircase! Oh the facade! The entire interior was made up of cut stone, like the arches were perfectly cut. It was so crazy cool. These pictures look radioactive, but the sun was just hitting my iPhone a weird way. 

Food has continued to be eventful. We had a cooking class for Cross Culture class with our professor Angelica (who is Filiberto's wife). She showed us how to make two different sauces and pastas and we also made a Sicilian salad. It was cut up oranges with olive oil and salt and olives. It was kindof gross but I liked it too. We also tasted some goat cheeses, old and new. We put honey on the old one and I decided I liked it.

On Friday we learned how to make homemade noodles at a local restarant that has good connects with the program. We just made a single serving batch with one egg, flour, and olive oil. It was really cool and then we got to take them home to eat. After that lesson, Filiberto and Angelica treated us to pasta, salad, and an assortment of pruscetta (pork based meat). I was so ridiculously full by the time that was over. It had been snowing all day so Filiberto was sweet and drove us home. Those two are such nice people, we're lucky to have them around! They called and checked up on us this weekend to make sure everything was going okay with the snow and all. 

I'm getting an affinity for artichoke here! The other day I got a slice of pizza at a place we go to often for lunch. It was tuna and artichoke and sooo gooood. We've also been getting cappuccino art lately. Yum.

So finally, I've decided to stay in Europe for an extra month and do some babysitting for a family friend in Berlin. I'm so excited to live there for a few weeks! I was able to change my flight time, but still have to fly out of Rome, so that should be interesting...But anyway, for now I'll be done in Macerata on the 21st of April and then I'l be in Berlin until the 25th of May. I know its going to be so fun, I'm a little worried about homesickness, but at least I'll have some more culture shock to deal with that will keep me distracted. Still, I can't wait to see everyone!

I'm going to finish adding pictures to this Monday because the internet connection here gets really slow when I upload photos. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Roman Ruins + Volleyball + Italian Clothes

This week of school was pretty normal. Nothing too exciting, but I am really enjoying my Art History class. And being really slow at painting. Oh here's something! There are students from other European countries who come to study at the Academia de Belle Arte in Macerata through a program that's called 'Erasmus'. So right now, since the regular students have finals until the end of February, its mostly me and people from Eastern Europe. Thursday my professor introduced me to a guy named Raul (Rah-ool) who is from Romania who was also working on painting things. He spoke a little bit of English and we talked a bit about our different programs. It was kindof hard to explain the AHA program, especially to someone who didn't really understand what words I was using anyway. But still, it was really nice to talk to someone outside of the AHA program. I also met a guy from Bulgaria who said I was the first American he had ever met. I'm not sure if he was joking or not, but it would be really strange if that were true. And really cool. Regardless, he made sure to shake my hand. 

We watched 'Roman Holiday' for film class. I'd seen it before but I loove it. Audrey Hepburn rules the world. 

Two Thursday meals:
1) 2/19: The group went out to eat for a second time at Tratorria da Ezio (look it up on Facebook, so ridiculously Italian) and they let us see how they handmake their pasta. Here is behind-the-scenes footage (that is ONE HUNDRED eggs):

2) This past Thursday, we also seconded a restaurant called Palace, where I got this tortellini and was more full than I have ever been in my life. Like, full the next morning full.

Friday was our second official excursion. We visited two towns in the area: San Ginesio and Urbs Salvia. At San Ginesio we saw the Ospedaletto di San Paolo dei Pellegrini. A mouthful to say the least, but it actually just served as a shelter for those who needed one (ospedal = hospitality). I was built in 1295! I'm never going to get over how old things are and the fact that they still exist and I'm looking at them. The main attraction was our visit to Chiesa Collegiata dela SS. Annunziata = the cathedral of the town. 

I took my film camera on this trip and haven't had anything developed yet, so these are all shots from my iPhone. Which actually works really well for this kind of thing. Ridiculous amounts of decoration, art, painting. Everywhere.

We got to visit an architecture studio in the town because our site director was friends with the owner. It was such a gorgeous little office building; small but efficient and with this stupidly amazing view of the mountains. Monti Sibillini to be exact. Here's a picture of the view and then one that I love of the whole group in front of the craziness that is Italian landscape (credits to Dragona Polimac, fellow student):

Next was my favorite part of San Ginesio, the Abbazia di S. Maria di Chiaravalle di Fiastra. Aka the Abbey of St. Maria. We've been talking about abbey's in art history and their function as well as what they're made up of/technically are. It was great to get to apply things right after talking about them in class, Filiberto is a wonderful professor. There were so many details, I'm just going to show pictures instead of ramble.

I've kindof been trying to document weird plants over here, this is Cork Oak. So corky.

Food from the trip! Lunch and a cappuccino. I'm going to be/already am addicted to cappuccinos + one pack of sugar.

URBS SALVIA! My favorite part of the trip! We got to visit an archaeological dig site where they have been unearthing the remains of a Roman temple, but my favorite part was an amphitheater that survived because a bunch of oak trees grew on it and held it together with their roots. It was increediibllleeee.

These are like...2000 year old dog prints. Bah!

Last and lovely was a short tour of a local winery and a bit of a wine tasting. Filiberto showed us the proper way to taste wine, which is kindof ridiculous, but I suppose it would make more sense to me if I knew more about wine. Regardless, I sampled a red and white. I usually have to try hard to like red, but it was good and tasted a little like berries. Here is the winery/wine:

So that was a full day. This morning I got up early and went to the Saturday market in Chivitanova (30 minute train ride) and ended up buying a good amount of clothes. Oops! I did get some awesome pants. I feel like showing off Italy clothes so here they are:

Okay last thing! Tonight we went to Macerata's men's volleyball game. They don't do sports quite the same way here in terms of college teams, by which I mean there aren't college sports teams. Its more like there are teams for the city and the people on them go to the university in that city. Either way, Italians are BIG volleyball fans.  We got to the stadium place a bit late and it was PACKED. Packed to the point that we had to sit on the stairs. It was so loud and crazy and I loved it. The game was really good to see too, it made me yearn for some ole fashion volleyball playing. I took a video of the first point of the game. Its really loud because, in this case especially, Italians are really loud.