Sunday, February 1, 2009

Weekend Trip to Urbino!

On Thursday my AII class toured the Santo Spirito church, which was beautiful, and then this weekend my AIC class went to Urbino! We all met at some awful hour like 6:45am Friday morning at the train station. Once everyone had arrived, the bus left for the 3 hour drive up to Urbino. Urbino is east of Florence, and we had to drive through the mountains to get there. It was a very twisty road, but what I saw of it was very pretty. I even saw a few minutes of the sunrise before I fell asleep completely! I do remember waking up once, seeing snow outside of the window, and quicky deciding that sleeping was much more favorable. :) The picture here is looking up at the Palazzo Ducale, and the big rounded thing is actually a ramp which the Duke had built, so that he could walk his horse up into the city...We used it the first day to get up to the main street level. The whole city is on MAJOR hills....quite a workout. :)

Once we got to Urbino, and got off the bus we went to the Palazzo Ducale, which is where the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche is based. The Palazzo was origionally where Duke Federico IIda Montefeltro lived. There was lots of really amazing paintings, but the best part of it was the basement!!! There was a whole system down there for collecting rainwater, and heating the palace. The whole thing was made of thousands of bricks....I really want to know how many make up the town of Urbino.......We then split into groups and wandered off to find lunch. A group of about 6 of us found a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that had really good pasta, and quickly ate and then ran back to the bus.

From there, we were driven a few minutes up the hill towards the University housing. Urbino is a University town, and the dean of the University, Carlo Bo, hired the architect John Carlo de Carlo to transform, and preserve some of the existing old buildings of the town for the use of the University. The dorms are on one hill overlooking the rest of the town. Once we hiked the rest of the way up the hill we were given keys for our rooms. We were each given a single bedroom, complete with bathroom to stay in that night! *And* they had turned the heat on in preparation for our arrival!!! This was probably the best part, because it was COLD in Urbino. It must have been at a much higher elevation than Florence...

Once we had left our bags in our rooms, we were taken on a tour of the 4 dorm buildings, where we proceeded to try out every chair in the complex. My favorite parts of all the buildings, however, was always the roof. All the roofs were green roofs, and most of the rooms had terraces that they opened up onto. I'm sure the students of the university were rather amused to see all of us running around on their roofs, taking in the sunshine, and relaxing in the grass.

Once the tour was over, we had about a 2 hour break to do what we wanted. Laura, Karen and I headed back up to the roofs to take pictures, and then we all met up to walk down into Urbino to get dinner at one of the University cafeterias. Cafeterias in Urbino??? MUCH better than Hillside Cafe!!! And only 4 euro for 2 HUGE plates of food, bread, and 2 pieces of fruit!! After dinner we walked up to a bar that the university radio DJ had told us about, and relaxed for a few hours before heading back to the dorms to sleep.

On Saturday we were up at a much more sensible hour, and were allowed to eat breakfast at the cafeteria in the dorm. I had a croissant, and a cappucino. :) And anyone who knows me, and how I am on caffiene can imagine what I was like for the rest of the day.....LOVED the cappucino. Once we had finished, we loaded our bags back on the bus, and then headed back into Urbino for a tour of the University buildings. All of them had amazing views, and were really fun to tour around. The library in one of them had this saying in...Latin? maybe Italian....either way I couldn't read it. :) "May this building last as long as it takes for the ant to drink the sea, and the turtle to circle the world."

Once we had finished our tour, we went back to the cafeteria from the night before for lunch, and then had the rest of the afternoon free to do what we wanted. Christine and I decided to tour the Duomo (big surprise. ;) ) and then walk around the city walls.

At 4:30 we met at the bus, and at 5 we were on our way back to Florence! It was a really fun trip, even though I was exhausted when I got home. :) How all I've got to do is decide what I want to do next weekend....

Pictures from the weekend are up on Picasa. I tried to narrow them down a little bit!!! But I took over 500 pictures...:) oops?