Monday, March 2, 2009

Last week, week 8 of the program, was our last official week of class. I can't believe how quickly it all went by...I feel like I just got here. Despite the fact that my time in Rome is almost over, I still have a lot of fun things coming my way before I head back to the US. This week is reserved for work on our individual study project (I am focusing on the architecture of the Pantheon, how it was constructed and for what purpose) and next week, week 10 (all quarters at UW are 10 weeks long), we are taking our last class trip and heading off to Capri. On March 13, Sammie and I head to Dublin to visit Michelle and Patrick for five days (can't wait to see you guys!), and then fly to Holland to visit Sam's family for a few days. Lots of adventures left!

Being here has been such an incredible experience. It was so easy for me to adjust to Italian life, and I am grateful for that after seeing so many of my peers struggle with the adjustment. I never really realized before I came here that most of the experience of studying abroad is entirely mental. I suppose I thought that everyone, like me, would be so enthralled with the wonders of Italy that happiness would be endlessly abundant. There have been bumps and trials along the way...missing friends and family, missing the comforts of America that we take for granted, problems with our apartment, broken computers. It is all part of the experience, really, and accepting that makes the whole thing so much more enjoyable. We live in a country that has so many amenities that make our lives "easier": clothes dryers, dishwashers, microwaves, televisions, easy access to internet, cell phones with internet capability, GPS systems. Italian life is so much different. Even though they are a Western industrialized nation (and in my opinion, responsible for some of the best things in life), the typical Italian doesn't have all the beeping gizmos and gadgets that Americans can't seem to live without. It's been liberating, really, to live life in a much simpler way. I love that we walk everywhere. I love that we can lounge outdoors under a heater in the Campo at a cafe and share a bottle of wine in the late afternoon. I love that I can get fresh produce at the Campo market every morning. I love that despite my schoolwork, required school reading, class time and site visits, three papers, individual exploration and a busy nightlife, I'm halfway through my fifth novel on this trip. Despite missing all of you at home, I have never once had the desire to leave this place. I am beyond grateful to have had this wonderful experience and I hope that you've enjoyed sharing a piece of it! :)

All mushiness aside, new things to report. Yesterday Sam, Ashley-Rose, MacKenzie and I went to see the Pope!

Me and MacKenzie in Vatican City

Ciao, Pope!

I'm going to work hard on my paper this afternoon, have lunch and shop a little with the girls and hopefully have some fun tonight! Wednesday is MacKenzie's birthday so Sam and I are busy planning something special for her. More pictures to come!


Thursday, February 26, 2009

FINALLY got all my recent pictures uploaded so that I can share with you. Not having a laptop has proven a bit inconvenient, but life goes on.

When I left you last, I told you about the Roma-Siena game. Here are some pictures!

In the cab on the way over

The night game was so cool!

She-Wolf mascot!

Last Monday, we went to the Vittorio Emmanuele monument for our site visit. It is the largest civic monument in the world, commemorating the first king of unified Italy, Victor Emmanuel.

The monument

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier...they have one too I guess.

Eternal flame. Profe told us that once, a bunch of Mexican soccer fans, um, relieved themselves on the flame and put it out. .....OOPS! Score another point for rowdy soccer fans...

Vittorio Emmanuele equestrian statue. Apparently it's so big that 21 people lunched inside of it before it was placed up there. Don't know if I buy that..

View of Piazza Venezia from the first level.

Risorgimento museum

Then we got to go up to the top level...and the views were amazing.

Bella Roma!

Colosseum and Roman forum!

Close-up of the forum

Christine and me

On Tuesday, we went to E.U.R. It is in southern Rome and was built by Mussolini as a sort of "world's fair of Fascist architecture."

This building is called the Square Colosseum. There are 9 arches across and 6 arches vertically, supposed to represent B-e-n-i-t-o (6) M-u-s-s-o-l-i-n-i (9).

This building is the Fascist version of the Pantheon.

Looking out over Piazza John F. Kennedy (all the streets and piazzas in E.U.R. are named like this, after famous people and sciences) towards the Square Colosseum.

Then we went to the Museum of Roman Civilization.

Plaster casts of the reliefs on Trajan's column.

Scale model of Rome!!!

So cool.

Tuesday was Mardi Gras, so the girls and I went out to celebrate!

Me, Christine, and Sam

Me and Ashley-Rose

We got roses :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

how could anyone not love a place where it is perfectly acceptable to eat pizza every day?


Monday, February 23, 2009

I have become a negligent blogger!

I have mixed news for you all today. I am sad to report that for the first time in about four years, my trusty Toshiba laptop has surprised me with it's first real problem. Yesterday, while attempting to write my paper for class, my screen went black. Luckily the rest of the computer seems to be functioning correctly, it just seems that there might be some issue with the display. I have an appointment with the UWRC resident techie, so hopefully he can help me! In the meantime, I have checked out a very beat up PowerBook G4 from the office...good news! Unfortunately the laptop has no USB ports, so it makes picture transferring a bit tricky, but luckily I still have access to the computer lab (until 5 pm, anyway!) so I can keep you all updated. Bad news, I had already started on my paper and have no access to that information. I have to rewrite it from scratch! BUT! Good news! Miraculously, last night MacKenzie discovered a wireless signal that we have never seen before while she was watching The Office. WE HAVE INTERNET IN OUR APARTMENT! Who knows how long it will last and none of us want to jinx it, but it's pretty exciting news. It will certainly make doing assignments much easier! So! despite the fact that my computer is currently out of commission, life is still good.

A few posts ago I listed the (supposed) best pizza places in my area. I am happy to report that I have checked one off the list. On Friday night Erin, Christine, MacKenzie, Karleen, Reese, his friend Jason (who is studying in Spain and came to visit for the weekend), and I went to Da Baffetto near Piazza Navona. If you find yourself in Rome, don't miss out on this place. Scratch that. Come to Rome FOR this place! It is only open for dinner, anytime after 6:30, and they don't take reservations. The restaurant is very small so it is not uncommon to have to wait in a long line outside for a table. Even though we were a group of seven on a Friday night, we had good luck and only had to wait about 10 minutes. I took pictures....but they're on my laptop :( so you will just have to use your imagination! This is the first time I've seen a pizza place around here with a wood-fired oven...which, as we all know, makes all the difference! I had a pizza with bresaola (cured beef), rucola/rocket (are you sensing a trend? Maybe Elise's new favorite pizza topping?? Maybe the best pizza topping ever??), and parmesan. After we devoured our pizzas, we all split a Nutella pizza for dessert. It was delicious. 'Nuff said.

After dinner Erin, Christine, and I met up with Giulia and she took us to a club out in E.U.R., which is in southern Rome. I don't want to explain to you what E.U.R. is yet, because we're going there as a class on stay tuned! The place she took us to was called Jet Set, and it is a restaurant that turns into a "disco" late at night. I liked the place because it was far outside of the traditionally touristy areas of Rome, so we were the only Americans there. I am so glad that we've made an Italian friend here to show us the places we would never get to go to otherwise! We had a lot of fun dancing the night away.

Christine, me, Erin, and Giulia!

Saturday night, we went to another football game! This time, Roma played Siena. This game was particularly fun because it was at night...and we were really lucky to witness another Roma win! They beat Siena 1-0.

I am currently having trouble uploading my photos, so stay tuned...I will edit this post later and update more pics!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ciao tutti! I know I've slacked this week on updating you. Here are 2 more pictures from Venice that my friends took:

A-Rose, me, Sam, and Erin trying on masks. This was apparently the store that supplied the masks for the movie "Eyes Wide Shut." I've never seen the film but it was interesting nonetheless. All the masks in Venice are really pretty, but I still think they are inherently creepy.

Mike, me, Reese, Sam, and Brandy at the group dinner in Padua.

This week we studied romanticism and the Risorgimento. For romanticism, we focused mainly on the poets John Keats and Percy Shelley. Keats was a 19th century English poet who, after contracting tuberculosis, spent his last days in Rome. We visited the apartment he lived and died in, which is right next to the Spanish Steps. The building is now a museum dedicated to both Keats and Shelley.

Keats-Shelley museum. The museum houses one of the largest collections of romanticism poetry in the world.

This is the room that Keats lived and died in.

Life mask of Keats

Death mask of Keats

Percy Shelley was also an English poet living and working at the same time as Keats.

Look mom! Mary Shelley!!! :) She was his second wife.

After the museum we visited the Protestant cemetery located in an area of Rome called Testaccio. The cemetery is the burial site of Keats, Shelley, and an important name of the Risorgimento, Antonio Gramsci.

The cemetery contains this 1st century BC pyramid which is the tomb of Cestius, a prominent figure in ancient Rome.

The pyramid is built into a section of the old Aurelian wall which ran around ancient Rome. The wall dates between 271 and 275.

Keats' grave

He had time to design his own headstone before he passed, and didn't want to have his name engraved on it. All he wanted was "Here lies one whose name was writ in water," alluding to his early death (he died at 25 without getting the chance to see his name become famous) and his belief that he wouldn't be remembered. The rest was added after his death and against his wishes.

His friend, Joseph Severn, was an artist friend of Keats who lived with him in Rome and took care of him in his final days. Although Severn lived a full life, he requested to be buried next to Keats.

Shelley's grave

Gramschi's grave. Antonio Gramschi was an Italian philosopher, writer, politician, and political theorist in the late 19th and early 20th century and is credited with founding the Communist Party of Italy. His theories and writings were heavily influenced by Marx and is famous for his concept of "cultural hegemony:"

"It means that a diverse culture can be ruled or dominated by one class in part through common sense, that everyday practices and shared beliefs provide the foundation for complex systems of domination."

It was a pretty great coincidence for us to see Gramschi's grave too, because we will be studying him and his writings next week!

On Tuesday we visited one of the largest hills in Rome, the Gianicolo. It is located in Trastevere about a 5 minute walk from my apartment. I mentioned it in a previous entry some number of weeks ago, when a group of us went for a walk and stumbled upon an amazing overlook of the city. Turns out...we had a site visit planned there! The Gianicolo was relevant to our studies because there are a few equestrian statues there of some very famous people in Italian history related to the Risorgimento. The Risorgimento, meaning the "revival," was the movement in the 19th century towards Italian unification.

Click here to read the Wikipedia article on the Risorgimento!

This is the monument dedicated to those who died during the Risorgimento.

Crypt down below, with plaques listing the names of the Italian martyrs.

Equestrian statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, an important political and military figure. He essentially liberated southern Italy from the repressive regime of King Francis II. He eventually surrendered his conquests to Vittorio Emanuele, who eventually became the first king of unified Italy.

Rome or die!

Statue of Anita Garibaldi, Giuseppe's wife. She was Brazilian and an important figure there. This statue was donated to Italy by Brazil.

Here are some views from the Gianicolo:

On Wednesday, we visited the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna. I liked this modern art museum a lot more than the Peggy Guggenheim...there was a lot more works that I was excited about (and, in my opinion, a lot less BS!). The museum was mainly Italian artists, but I also saw a Cezanne, a Monet, and a Van Gogh!

Wednesday night our Italian friend Giulia came over for dinner with two of her friends. I breaded some chicken breast in crumbled bruschetta crackers, roasted some zucchini and eggplant, and made rigatoni in a sun-dried tomato cream sauce. Erin, Christine, and Karleen came over too so it was a huge dinner party. We had a lot of fun! Giulia and her friends are so nice. We are all hoping to get together with her again tonight and go out for a drink.

Ciao for now!