Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Here is the itinerary for our trip! Amy and I will first be heading to Venice for a few days, with side trips to Verona, and Murano. Then we're off to Monaco, Paris, Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Berlin, and then finally to Kent, England where Amy will leave me and then I tour England, and the Family! A link to our calender has been added to my 'Link' section of my blog. :) Amy has her baby laptop, so we'll still be able to keep in touch as we travel! Send us recommendations on what to see and do!!! 

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sicily, Studio and Studying...oh my!

Alright so it's been a while since I last posted....oops...but I do have an excuse!!! Studio and Context were both due within the last couple of days...However now I am finished!!! Yaaay! Just two written exams stand between me and my undergraduate degree! Let's see what have I been up to....

Classes have been much of the same -- a mad dash to get everything ready, printed, and presented...On April 8th friends of the family from Paris came up and we had a fantastic time going around Florence, and visiting Siena! I even got to go up into the belltower in Siena this time, so that was fun! It was gorgeous weather the whole time they were here, and it was great to see them! We met in Piazza della Republica on Easter Sunday to watch the flag throwers and the parade, and then followed the crowds to the Duomo to watch the fireworks. Quite the production and REALLY crowded! The parade was...interesting...There were lots of people dressed up in Renissance costumes, and thousands of men in tights. Then came about six giant white oxen hauling a huuuuuge box that they lit fireworks off of, preceded by a not-so-traditional tractor....not quite sure what that was for...I've put up pictures, so check them out!

The next week was spent working on papers, and studio projects that were due, but on April 21st Amy arrived from Seattle!!! We spent most of the night chatting and catching up -- LONG overdue! She has been travelling around Asia since October, which meant I hadn't seen her since August!! It has been so great to see her again, and I'm really excited for our trip! We walked around Florence on Wednesday, and saw a few of the main sights, and on Thursday I had my final Studio Critque...still not quite sure how that all went -- i'll find out tomorrow!

As soon as Crits were done, we were off to Sicily for the weekend! Relaxing after a couple weeks of craziness was fabulous, and the beaches were amazing -- if a little dirty. Despite wearing Amy's factor 55 sunscreen, I managed to absolutely FRY the first day, but the sunburn is fading, and I had fun anyway! We left Florence at 3:35am on Friday morning to catch a bus to Pisa airport. We got to Sicily around 9:30am, and headed straight to our hostel which was *amazing.* There were 6 other people with us besides Amy and I, and we stayed in two, 4 bedroom rooms. Each room had a huge bed, and a pull out couch bed, and came equipped with a kitchenette, a TV, and a bathroom -- with HOT WATER!!! It's the little things in life....

After checking in most of the group headed straight for the beach. We eventually crashed on a peaceful spot, after walking for a ways to find a beach that wasn't gross....I paddled in the Medditerrean sea (which was COLD!) and then I think we all passed out for about five hours, (hence the sunburn......), before the sun went behind the clouds and we headed back to the hostel. We cooked ourselves dinner, played charades, and then called it a night.

On Saturday we decided to try and go to one of the Islands off of Trapani. We decided on Levanzo and caught the noon ferry there, after spending the morning in a small boat fair on the docks. Levanzo was GORGEOUS and reminded me of Greece! We wanted to see the grotto on the other side of the island, so we took off along one of the roads (there were only a couple to choose from!) and followed that for a ways....Aaaaand then the path ended...but we decided to keep going. As long as we followed the coastline, we would find the grotto eventually, right? Yeah. right. After a few hours that ended in scambling over rocks, getting dive bombed by attack seagulls, and running up the side of a cliff to avoid said evil monster birds, we found the grotto -- and it was closed. Of course. :) However it was a great hike, and beautiful scenery so none of us were very put out! We got to the top of the cliff, found the road again, and headed back towards the center of town. Even though all of us had brought water bottles with us on the hike, it was a very hot day, and so we ended up stopping at a little village to ask the people who lived there for water. :) The couple who helped us were called Lena and Ignatio, and they were so sweet and generous!!! They filled up our waterbottles and sent us on our way. When we made it back to the port, we still had a couple hours before our ferry came, so we headed down to the beach, were a couple crazy people decided to go swimming...when we went back into town, we caught the 8pm ferry back to Trapani, and headed back to the hostel for some food and then sleep.

On Sunday we were up at 5:30am to catch a taxi to the airport for our early morning flight back to Florence. I went with Amy to check her into her hostel, and then Karen and I spent the day working on Context, getting our poster ready for our presentation which was today!

This week is my final week in Florence...I can't believe it's gone so fast! I'm really going to miss it when I leave....on Tuesday (tomorrow) I have my AII final, and then meetings with both Franco and Carlo/Stefano for our grades, before the final Abroadco dinner with Laelle. On Wednesday Laura, Amy and I are going to have a day going around Florence, visiting museums, and doing those last-minute touristy things that I never quite got around to.....before dinner with the architecture professors that night. On Thursday I have my Italian final, and then the departure orientation for the school, and Amy and I are planning to have dinner at Quattro Leoni where there is rumored to be a fabulous pear pasta...Then on Friday we're off to Cinque Terre for the day, and on Saturday I leave Florence for the first stop on our tour: Venice and Verona! It still hasn't sunk in...i'm not ready to leave yet....

Details and Itinerary for my tour will be posted within the next day or so. :)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Catch-up! Paulie, and Milano!!!

I can't believe I've got so behind!!! Alright -- here's an overview of what has happened in the fabulous life of your favorite want-to-be Florentina!

March 23rd - March 29th:

This week I was madly preparing for the emminent arrival of my favorite little brother! I had the opportunity to visit the Basillica of Santa Croce on Tuesday with a classmate, Chelsea (funded by Carlo!) to explore the various chapels, cloisters, etc for a paper we have to write. I saw the tomb of Galileo and Michelangelo, as well as tons of beautiful artwork! Unfortunatley some part of that church is always under construction, so our trip was somewhat marred by the proffusion of scaffolding, but we still had a great trip.

On Wednesday I visited the Bargello with Laura and Katie, and saw Donatello's newly restored David. I also dragged them all over the city in search of a birthday present for Evan -- which I accomplished!!! In the afternoon we had the opportunity to attend a symposium on public spaces put on by Syracuse University. Some of the lectures were in Italian, and sadly we came too late to get headsets with translations, but the parts that I *did* understand were very interesting! Unfortunatley, as these things go, it dragged on foreeeeeeeeeeeeever, so we left a little before the end when we were all getting to restless to listen properly.

On Thursday we went to Palazzo Davanzati with Carlo for my AII class -- this is my favorite Palazzo EVER!!!! It has all the original furnishings, and paintings and was so interesting to walk around! It even had a really old chest with the giant locking mechanism!! I dragged Paul back here a few days later, and took pictures - check them out! Afterwards we had a Treasurehunt in my Italian class. A group of five architects teamed up and the native Florentines had a fantastic time watching us run like madmen back and forth across the piazza fulfilling different tasks...We had to: Dress up Jarrod and take pictures, interview a Florentine, send a postcard, find out what the best-seller was in Edison (a bookstore) and figure out what it was about, and take a picture next to the lucky bronze pig. All in Italian, of course, and all before the other teams. Of course my team was far superior and we won!!!!!!! So Elena had chocolate eggs for all of us as a prize. :) Totally worth it...For studio we went on a trip to a newly constructed area of Florence that housed new University buildings, housing, and a new "Justice Palace" which we eventually figured out was a giant oversized courthouse....

On Friday we had our Florence Sprawl Tour with Franco for AIC. We got to visit the Highway church by Michelucci which had amazing concrete columns, and go shopping at the new Barberino design fashion outlet -- which had a chocolate outlet!!!! I was very happy.

On Saturday my little brother arrived!!!! We had a lot of fun walking through Florence and catching up for a few hours before he crashed, and we were up bright and early (daylight savings time = evvvvil.) to take the express train to Rome! We met Laelle and Mitch there and went straight to the Collosseum, which this time we got to go inside!!! It was a dream come true to actually be able to go THROUGH the colloseum, and Paul and I possibly went a liiiiitle photo happy....The we toured the Imperial Forum, and the Palatine Hill (where we had a fantastic photo opp posing as statues!) before heading up to St. Peters and the Vatican City. We tried to get into the Sistine Chapel, but were just a half hour too late, so we went up the cupola of St. Peter's instead, where we had a view of the ENTIRE city. We saw the Spanish steps, and the monster house(!), when it started CHUCKING it down, so we ducked into a cafe at the top of the Spanish steps...where Paul and I enjoyed the most EXPENSIVE sprite we've ever had....and then carried on, practically sprinting across Rome to see the Trevi Fountain before REALLY sprinting across the train station to get onto the train back to time we're in Rome, we'll have to go to the Pantheon, Paul!

March 30th - April 5th:

On Monday, Paul and I went up to Piazzale Michangelo for a picnic, and around San Miniato, the church on top of the hill. While I was in class, he explored the city!!! Thankfully the weather held most of the time, and it wasn't too rainy...On Tuesday Paul went to the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum and played with all the machines, and on Wednesday we climbed the Duomo with Katie and Laura! During studio I had the chance to go around the new Piazza Alberti with the architect, Paolo, and tour his new project.

Thursday, after my Italian test, we took a bus to San Gimignano with Laura, explored the backstreets, and picked up a bottle of wine for Paul to take home to Mum and Dad (funny story about that...............). We made it back to Florence in time to take Paul to Family Dinner, where he met everyone, and Carlo even showed up for a short time at the end! Paul had his first (at least, it had better have been his first....) bar experience in the bar downstairs, and then we headed home to get some sleep before Friday's trip.

On Friday we took a train to Milan with my studio class and spent the day exploring the new Fiera Milano Complex that Carlo talked us into (!!!) and various other contemporary buildings. We took lots of breaks, and even got to play in the park for a little while!!! That night, Paul and I took the train home to Florence, where we got a few hours sleep, before heading to the airport at 4am to send him back home. P.s. you have no idea a suitcase rolling across cobblestones at 4am is.....really...I was afraid for our lives....After dropping Paul off, and seeing him through security, I took the early morning train back to Milan where I met up with the archies for another day of touring Milan. I was a wee bit tired by the time we got back to Florence that night -- but I had a fantastic time. :)

On Sunday I took Laura, Katie, Kelly, and Margaret with me on a hiking trip up around Settignano with Laelle, Mitch, and his friend Andy. It was a beautiful hike topped off by a delicious aperativo-style meal in a small cafe. Laelle and our hiking guide, Melissa left us 'kids' around 8 because of previous engagements, but we were having too much fun to go back that quickly. I'll write more about what we had once I get the list from Margaret or Laura......suffice it to say it was a small MOUNTAIN of food, and we were all stuffed by the time we caught the bus back home around 10. Once we got back to Florence we decided to go on a quest for gelato. We were probably out about the time the earthquake hit south of here, or maybe we were on the bus hurtling down the hill, but we didn't feel anything. A few friends felt it in their apartments, and things fell of shelves, but nothing like the one we made it through in Seattle all those years ago. Italy is in a period of mourning for the vicitims of the quake at the moment - - it was pretty nasty, and a lot of people died....
This week I've been working on catching up on things I put off while little brother was here...:) Only two weeks until studio presentation, and then just a week after that until I have to leave Florence!!! I've fallen in love with this city, and it will be really hard to leave....
This weekend the Youngs are here for Easter, and we're heading down to Siena for the day, today! Hopefully the weather will hold long enough for the easter parade and fireworks on Easter Sunday.
Buona Pasqua everyone!!!