5/17/10

Ciao! (That's all the Italian I know...)

I'm now in Italy, after over 24 hours of travel, and I'm going to be dedicated enough to write a blog post. It might be the delicious cappuccino that we had at the local cafe, or the few hours of sleep that I got on a bumpy 3 hour van ride from Rome to Assisi, but I'm fairly wired.

As we landed in Rome, I couldn't help but think sentimentally about the place that I've dreamed about for years. We flew over fields and fields of green before the plane hit the tarmac with a double-thud. I first noticed how lush everything is - flying into Rome isn't like flying into the ruins of the Colosseum. My second thought was more of a personal realization; in my understanding of Italy, or of Europe in general, I've always known it to be a dead place. It died when I ejected my Italian for Dummies CDs. It died when I closed my travel guides. It died with Caesar, Nero and Augustus. It died with the heroes of my Latin textbook in the fiery eruption of Mount Vesuvius. It was a place that belonged to an old world, a fictional world.

But this place was alive! It was filled with scarf-wearing Italians, Mercedes taxis, seat-less toilets and bus drivers who didn't speak English.

We departed the airport wary from our 8 hour flight, collected our bags and stood outside at a formidable bus stop for a bus that supposedly came at 9 AM (3 AM Eastern). When the bus arrived, we piled into the back with chocolate and Jon's (our professor's son) warm cream cheese and bagels to tide us over.

The bus ride was worth staying awake for, if only for the first half. We were first a little shocked by the run-down dinginess of the place that appeared so green from the sky, but the history came upon us suddenly. We were at the windows snapping pictures by the dozens, like the trusty tourists we are. It wasn't long before we couldn't fight it any longer - we were all asleep within 30 minutes. A view from the bus...

When we awoke, the bus driver was kicking us off at a remote gas station in a town just outside of Assisi. He pointed to another bus in the parking lot, signaling that this other bus could take us the rest of the way. As we rounded a corner, I could see Assisi on a hill in the distance. This was what I expected Italy to look like: cobblestone walkways and olive trees along the road. It was breathtaking.

But we weren't done with buses. After meeting up with our professor, Wendy Murray, the class boarded its final bus up the very hilly roads to our home for the next two weeks. We pushed (and sometimes chased) our luggage down some paths until we arrived at the home that we share with a few Franciscan friars, the Centro Francescano Internazionale per il Dialogo. It houses single rooms with big windows, strange showers, and a small desk. We also have limited internet access, a lecture hall, a kitchen, and, best of all, a terrace that overlooks the valley. I'm in love. View from my window...

For the rest of the afternoon, we went out for pranzo (lunch) at a cafe in the Piazza del Comune. We all ordered pizzas from the woman who loved responding to us with "prego!" - which is most closely translated as "not at all!" Then we took a relaxing walk through the town to get our bearings. It's unlike anything I've ever experienced before. Aside from Disney's EPCOT, which pales in comparison :)

Cappuccino...

A hillside view...

Makin' friends...
The eleven students then went off together in pursuit of some Italian fun - shopping, gelato, and vino. And, as is inevitable with me, a bathroom. We sat down to talk in the square as the sun set on the hillside, sipping Faceilla and talking about our plans for the trip.

The classwork starts tomorrow, so I need to get some sleep!




3 comments:

  1. woohoo!!! have SO much fun and keep blogging! chao bella;)

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  2. ah hah! i finally figured out how to right on one of these new fangled blog thingys! i didn't know you started before you left! anyhoo, we miss you and i hope you are having tons of fun. feel the francis. be the francis. love youuuuu

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  3. i lived in italy (florence) for 6 months and made some of my best friends there! it's awesome to be able to look through your stay in italy...makes me italia-sick though!

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