Monday, May 30, 2011

Locks of Love

Today was our first official day of classes.  Needless to say, the students probably could do without this part of their trip.  However, we are trying to make it as painless as possible and integrate as much of Florence into our classes as we can.  Unfortunately, that's much easier to do with English or Architecture than Principles of Management.  But, we try nonetheless.

Some followers have commented that my last post was a cynical comment on love.  So, today I will redeem myself .  

One of the interesting and unique sites in Florence are the "locks of love."  Lovers visit Florence to "secure" their love along the structures near the Arno River.  Everywhere you look, you will see padlocks.  Many have names handwritten with markers or engraved with the two names like this one.  The story goes that if two lovers lock their padlock together then throw their key into the Arno River, their love will last forever.  There are literally thousands of these locks along the river.  Unfortunately, the Florence officials don't particularly care for this practice since they've discovered that all the keys tossed into the river are not particularly environmentally safe.  They periodically use bolt cutters to clean the areas only to have them "re-locked" within a matter of days.  Regardless, in this instance, it does appear that love conquers all.  And to all my critics who accused me of being cynical,  I truly believe that Jennifer and Adam are out there somewhere living happily ever after.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Italian Words of Wisdom

Today was another beautiful day in Florence.  We started with a long, long, long...did I say long hike up to the Piazzale Michelangelo.  The walk was worth it!  The panoramic views of the city are breathtaking.  I hope you think so too.  Although I can tell you that a photo doesn't do it justice.  While there, we visited the Basilica of San Miniato.  Legend has it that St. Minias, an Armenian soldier who wished to testify to his faith in Christ, was killed by Roman soldiers of Emperor Decius by decapitation on the banks of the Arno river.  The saint, nevertheless, gathered up his head and climbed up the hill where he was then buried.  The church dates back to the 11th century and is considered by many Florentines as the "gate of heaven."

For lunch, we stopped in for a foccacia.  It's the local verson of a sandwich using delicious homemade, warm bread.  After the morning exercise, we decided that we deserved desert.  Fortunately, we are here just in time for the Firenze Annual Gelato Festival.  Gelato is part of the history of Florence.  Buontalenti, a famous architect with a passion for cooking created the first fruit gelati for the ruling Medici family in the 16th century.  It's not mass produced, but is considered artisinal or an art form.  Today, there were many different vendors from around the world.  Wonderful flavors like lemon, melon, mandarin, tahitian vanilla, and caramel.  Also not so appetizing flavors like fig, avocado, and tuna.  Yes, there is a Japanese gelato company at the festival.  My favorite flavor was green apple.  It tasted like a jolly rancher but with fresh apples!  Bellisamo!  The way the festival worked is that you purchased a card for 7 euros which got you 5 "samples."  Their sample size was like a 1/2 cup!  Three samples in and I couldn't eat another bite.  Thankfully the festival continues tomorrow! 

So, you're probably wondering, what are the Italian words of wisdom.  Well, in the local English newspaper today there was a story about a woman from Poggibonsi who just turned 111 years old.  When asked about her secret for long life, she had a different take than most people.  She encourages more of doing what makes you happy.  She eats cookies and pastries whenever she wants.  She has a gelato every afternoon.  But she says the most important thing is the fact that she never picked up a husband! So, to all the single's to long life!!

Friday, May 27, 2011


Today was the first full day in Florence!  We settled in mostly yesterday.  There are two good things to say about my apartment.  First, it's in Florence, Italy!  Second, it's the perfect motivation for spending all of my time out and about exploring this beautiful city!  This is a picture of my kitchen.  It reflects the rest of the apartment pretty well.  Nevertheless, we forge ahead.  We had orientation this morning, followed by a trip to one of the markets for a typical lunch, and then a walking tour of the city. We ended the day with a small welcoming party at a local bar.  I've already learned my way around quite well.  My apartment is about a 20 minute walk from our "school" and everyone else!  All this means is extra gelato for me!!!  See, there's always a silver lining.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

12 hours and counting!!

It's time!!  I leave Lafayette in exactly 12 hours!!  If I don't go tomorrow, I'm not going!!  Getting ready to leave has been much more stressful than I originally anticipated.  But everything is marked off the list and frankly, if it hasn't been finished or packed or prepared...too late!!  Stick a fork in me, I'm done!  We have our apartment addresses.  I'll be living at 25 Via Maggio for the next 6 weeks.  Check it out on Google Maps.  You can even see a street view!  I'll post pictures as soon as I can.  Until then, Ciao!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I need a bigger bag!

I think I'm going to have to seriously reconsider my packing strategy!  Uggh!! 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday the 13th and only 12 more days until Italy!

This is my first post to my Italian Adventure.  And although I'm not officially on the trip yet, the adventure has definitely begun!  How long would your "to do" list need to be if you were leaving the country for 2 months?  Every time I scratch something off I add another task to the list.  It's been crazy!  I can't wait to get on that plane!  No more questioning "do I have everything I"ll need?"  Because, if I don't. too bad!!  I'll just have to make do.  This weekend no Italy preparations for me.  Off  for a weekend girl scout board retreat.  Given my stress level, those cookies are going to be oh so tempting!!  Just say no to mint chocolate!!