Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Week Three!

Talk about a crazy week!! If all my weeks are this packed, I can tell that my time here is just going to fly by...To start off the week I had two projects due in quick succession on Monday and Tuesday. Monday was a quick assignment for Architecture in Context (AIC) about creating a 2 page spread, describing yourself, your design experience, and your accomplisments....Basically another iteration of my portfolio! On Tuesday Karen and I presented our analysis for our Studio class, on the San Niccolo region of Firenze. That was slightly nerve-racking, as it was my first presentation in front of all the Roger-Williams students, but it went well, and we got really good feedback from our professors Carlo and Stephano. On Thursday Carlo took us around the Santa Croce neighborhood for our Architecture in Italy (AII) class. It was fun to hear more about the history of the houses, and we were focusing on the transformation of row houses over time, which was fun to be able to spot. I also had a fun adventure involving a crazy startrek pod door, and a half-fluent in English bank manager....Don't ask...

Thursday night was also family dinner night! My new friend Pat, and his 7 roommates invited all the architecture students over for dinner at his apartment. Everyone contributed something, and brought their own wine, and it turned into a really fun evening! There were about 30 of us in the apartment that night...This is a picture of a few of us in their living room. We split off into smaller groups later in the night, and we also ended up visiting a couple bars, where, interestingly enough, we were not the strangest people there...

On Friday, Karen and I decided that we were going to run errands while Jackie and Domencia were on their Chianti trip. Mainly, we wanted to make to IKEA for blankets. However, Karen slept in until the early afternoon, so i had the morning to wander some more around our neighborhood, and i found my new happy place. :) All i need is for it to stop raining, so i can visit it more often! We had a strange experience involving a man needing to see our bathroom early that morning, but the day picked up from there...Once Karen was up and running, we went back to bank so that she could exchange some travellers checks, and then headed to the trainstation to catch a bus to IKEA. We then waited for about....1.5 hours for the bus, before we eventually found someone who spoke broken english who told us that the bus stop for IKEA was in an completely different place. Fantastic....Found the bus stop, had to wait another half hour before it came, but we eventually got there. This whole time it's been raining a little bit, but not too bad. Especially for a Seattlite. ;)

Well we got to IKEA, and i found my blanket!!!, paid, and then ran outside to catch the bus again. This is about when I noticed that it was raining REALLY hard, and of course we have paper bags. Anyone else see a problem? :) We then spent about another hour in stop-and-go traffic to get back to the train station. I have determined that rush hour sucks no matter where you are. ;) Get off the bus -- and the bags are immediately soaked. Thankfully they lasted the 20 mintue walk to our apartment, and didn't break until i was about 10 steps from home!

Saturday we were up nice and early, and got on the bus to Siena and San Gimigiano. These cities are absolutely gorgeous, and I am definitely coming back to them some day!!! Especially San Gimigiano. It was, of course, raining the entire time -- but I was prepared!! And I brought one of the thousands of umbrellas that were left in our apartment for us. It was a little broken, but still worked just fine. :) In Siena were visited Piazza del Campo, which is said to be one of the best Piazzas in the world. It was beautiful, and I could imagine that on a sunny day it would be packed with people. Unfortunatley we weren't able to climb the tower, since it is closed on rainy days for safety, but we did get to go inside Siena's Cathedral. I've posted pictures on Picasa if you would like to see it, but the cathedral is amazing, all done in black and white. The symbol of Siena as a black and white sheild. Supposedly Romus and Remus founded Rome, however, one of them (I've forgotten which) had two sons, and they founded Siena. One rode a black horse, and one rode a white horse -- hence the symbol of Siena! (No Laurissa, no brown horses. :) Unfortunatley I ended up donating my umbrella to the church, since I forgot to pick it up on the way out. Thankfully, one of my friends here was nice enough to share his when it started raining torrentially again on the way back to the bus. I may even like Siena a little bit more than Florence (gasp!) but I reserve the right to make that decision when I can spend more time in the city. One of the main differences was that Siena was actually on some hills, which made for really fun pictures of streets and alleyways.

Then we were off to San Gimigiano! From the minute I stepped of the bus I was immediatly happier!! The views from all over town are amazing, as you can see from this picture! Imagine what it must be like on a day when it ISN'T monsoon season...San Gimigiano is a medieval (thanks mum! :) town, and used to have about 60 towers, which is quite impressive when you consider that the town is really not that big...Now only about 15 or so remain. The towers were a physical symbol of a family's power, and when one family took over another one, they would chop down the loosers tower, and built another one of their own on top of it. The town is even used in modern day movies, because it really does feel like you stepped right into medieval times! It was strange how many times when I was walking around that it was completely quiet and devoid of people -- very easy to forget where you were.

Nick and I went exploring, and we found this fun little fort at the top of the hill, which we climbed, and from their were able to get panoramic views of the entire city, and the outlying countryside....I've found another happy place!!! This last picture is from the top of there, looking towards some of the towers that are still around. After spending the better part of an hour wandering deserted streets we got some gelato, and I picked up an umbrella just seconds before it started poring down rain again! Yay for impluse buys!!!

On Sunday we started the day of right by going to the chocolate festival that was in the Piazza de' Santa Croce. Aaaaaamazing. LOVED IT! I bought myself some Italian ciocolata calda (hot chocolate -- thick, rich and delicious!) and spent the morning browsing the stalls with my roommates, and tasting the samples. I was very restrained though! I only went home with 2 little chocolate, and a slice of fudge. :) There were so many different kinds! Chocolate in the shapes of animals, tools, and in all different flavors. My new favorite was strawberry and balsamic vinegar....Sounds strange, but it was delicious...Jackie, Domenica, and Karen all got fruit on a stick, covered in chocolate. We then spent the rest of the day going to some markets, and doing a little shopping. Karen and I had to go home after that to work on our studio project which was due on Tuesday, and other homework.

Classes this week have gone pretty much the same as last week! On Tuesday I presented my project for studio, and again got positive feedback, so that was good! For this project we were asked to design the missing piece to the Palazzo Rucellai facade. :) It was a really fun, and very interesting design exercise, but I really wanted a few more days to make it perfect...

This weekend my AIC class is taking us to a little town called Urbino, which lies about 3 hours by bus East of Florence. Apparently we have to cross a 'mountain range' and the road is rather windy....However, we're supposed to meet at 6:45am at the train station on Friday morning, so I'm probably going to sleep through most, if not all of that journey. :) We spend friday, and saturday there, and have been invited to stay in the famous dorms of the University there! ...Also between now and next Tuesday we yet ANOTHER project due!!! ...Has anyone discovered a time-stopping device? Because i'd really like to borrow it for a while....

Pictures are being updated as we speak, ( you read), and Urbino updates will come as soon as I have 5 free minutes to write to you all. :)