Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Final post and final photos

All of my photos are loaded and primed for your viewing pleasure, so that means my trip is officially finished and wrapped in a bow (if only my jet lag felt the same way)!

Here is the complete album. There are lots and mostly scenery shots (that's what happens when you travel solo), but if you like pretty things, you may just like these:

All in all, it was a great experience. I loved being in some new places, exploring the countryside and getting fresh air, enjoying beauty at almost every turn, eating of course, and practicing my Italian language skills. Languages usually come pretty easy to me, but for whatever reason- I'm not quite as good at Italian right now as I'd like to be (and I'm not good at NOT being good). However, if you need to ask for a sample of gelato flavors or befriend a hotel concierge, I'm your girl :)

Thanks again for reading!

Arrivederci, til the next time!

PS- Blog clearly under construction; I have no idea why some of the photos in the posts below disappeared. I will investigate as soon as it bothers me enough...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hello Old Friend!

My last couple of days back in Rome! I did not at all intend on doing sightseeing while I was there, but as you will see, it just sort of happened. Things like the Colosseum called to me when I saw them in the distance. I figured as long as I was meandering, why not do it with a purpose? I ended up visiting the Colosseum and Piazza del Popolo, eating at my favorite pizzeria, which is photo-documented here, reading in Villa Borghese and on the Spanish Steps, and walking through Piazza Navona and Campo dei Fiori during my last hours in Italy. Whew!

I'll post a link to my entire trip album when it's complete, if you haven't gotten enough of the highlights here and/or have withdrawal. Until then... grazie mille amici! For following my travels and for all your sweet notes along the way.

Roma photos:

Really old, extraordinary architecture never ceases to amaze me

Nor does this!! Pizzeria San Calisto, I have been dreaming of you for 9 years, and you did not disappoint. Amy- I got extra funghi just for you!

Roman emperors looking over Piazza del Popolo

Literary references make me happy (this was in Campo dei Fiori)

Last meal (tear)! Breakfast in Piazza Navona

Loved being back in Rome! Fingers crossed it will not take me this long to return again.

A Seaside Retrospective

Some sights in Vernazza and elsewhere in Cinque Terre:

Day 1 was filled with umbrellas (albeit colorful ones), a rainy outing, the definition of a gray day, followed by a spooky night by the sea (in that order):

Day 2: Breakfast of champions at Sicilian bakery, Il Parata

Vernazza town

Bathers taking on the angry (and cold) waves in Manarola

Steep climb down to the sea in Corniglia and one defector

A series of sunset pics in Vernazza and my dinner that followed (trofie, pesto and of course wine at Ristorante Belaforte)

Day 3: Hike Day!

Trail markings made me feel like I was in Troop Beverly Hills. Sadly, there were no patches for my cute outfit.

Beginning of trail on the Via dell'Amore. There are locks all throughout the path put there by youngins in love

Aloe graffiti on the Via dell'Amore

The bella Ligurian Sea (this was before the phone incident when we were still on good terms)

Looking back on Vernazza

I'll be nice, but would love to know if there are other members. And have they been sitting there since 1975? Ok, I'll stop.

Monterosso Beach

Somewhere in there are my footprints... Hike complete!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ciao NYC!

Made it safe and sound to JFK this evening in the midst of a gorgeous pink sunset... somewhere the gods knew I needed some beauty to rival that of Italy (apple and orange... mela e arancia). AND my suitcase arrived with me to boot :)
Off to sleep off some of this travel with the promise of photo downloading tomorrow!
PS- phone is very likely a goner (see post below). I'll be reachable by email until that situation is figured out. To be continued...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Just Call Me Sporty Spice

So I arrived Saturday to Cinque Terre amongst some rain and hail. Though it derailed my plans for the next day or so, it made from some great pictures (to come) and cozy meals with glasses of wine. Yesterday, I had a funny experience just walking around when this guy hollered at me in Italian from his 2nd story apartment to toss up his speedo. It had fallen off the clothes line and was starting to rain again. He caught it on the 3rd try, if you were wondering :) It felt very crazy/ Italian, but speedos are clearly a cherished item here!

Today the sun was out and I was finally able to tackle the famous Cinque Terre trail- a 9 mile hike to all 5 towns from Riomaggiore to Monterosso in some pretty precarious circumstances. Lets just say its lucky I came away with just a scratch on my hand. Good news, after the 4 plus hour hike, I rewarded myself with some beach and sun time. The waves had a different plan for the afternoon and tried to wipe out my backpack and sneakers (and did wipe out the inner workings of my iphone it seems). Regardless, it was a really lovely day.

Off to eat some farinata (another regional specialty) and gelato and watch the sunset. 5Terre is also the birthplace of pesto, focaccia and a regional white wine, and I am loving taking advantage!

Its hard to believe I head back to Rome tomorrow, then just a few more days before home. I am partly sad, partly excited to be in my own bed and to see everyone again. Its hard not having easy access to all my peeps!

PS- this is where I am staying here in 5Terre (town number 4 of 5, Vernazza) and if you click on the photos, you can see my room and view (number 1):


Friday, August 13, 2010

The Renaissance City

Il Duomo in all its Renaissance glory

Baptistry doors in gold...

Ponte Vecchio

A real life cupid!

As you may have guessed, I took a brief trip to Florence for the day yesterday. Above are some pics! It was nice to be there again, despite some large transportation struggles (including a woman at the tourist office in Florence- lets call her "Mis" Information- who told me the wrong bus stop, which then in domino effect caused major problems getting back to Montepulciano!)

Today is my last day here and at school. I may be MIA the next couple of days as I travel to Cinque Terre, but will be back with full reports!


Food and Wine Series

The above was my dinner (on its side) at the beautiful Bistrot Spieza overlooking the hillside of Montepulciano Wednesday night. I caught the sun right as it was dropping and enjoyed my salad "Nordica" and bruschetta caprese. As you will see below, it was one of my only honestly aquired foods that day :)

I also took the opportunity earlier that day to take another little hike down to the San Biagio Church just outside of town and this time explored more of the country-side (read: trespassed onto private farms).

Delicious juicy plums- not giant olives (or dinosaur eggs) as I had previously feared. I may have picked one or 2 off the tree for a snack...

Ripening grapes...

A close-up and right before I snatched one for a taste!

One of my least favorite foods (olives), but so pretty upclose. From the distance, olive groves shimmer in silver for whatever reason. One of the many things that makes the Tuscan countryside so picturesque!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Do a Little Dance...

if you know a good one for sunshine! I just looked at the weather forecast for my long weekend in Cinque Terre and it looks like my time at the beach may be a bit rained upon. Boo:

On a happier note, I ventured into new gelato territory last night and tried watermelon flavor (anguria)! It wasnt a sweet, unnaturally tasting watermelon a la jolly ranchers, but fresh and wonderful. There were even still seeds in it. I combined it with fior di latte, which naturally I assumed was some floral concoction. I just googled and found out it is this: So, the combo was misguided on my part, but still delicious.

Tonight is the towns annual summer festival, Calici di Stelle, and likely involves more flag throwing (why not?), some free concerts and wine in the Piazza Grande, etc. Who knew this was Montepulcianos month of fun?

A presto...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Brief Update...

I have also received inquiries regarding my luggage situation. Trust me- if it hadnt come yet, you would know, and I would have been unable to talk about anything else! The suitcase arrrived last Wednesday, and I have never been happier to see an inanimate object. I think I scared Heike, our secretary, with my squeals of delight.

Gambe di Gatto

... a new idiom I learned this weekend referring to a cats ability to always land on its feet. The Italians use the phrase "gambe di gatto" when something is 100% certain- just like a cats landing prowess. Dont be surprised if I start finding ways to incorporate this in English, as well :) On a related note, this was also the name of the restaurant where I ate with my roommate and her friend last night in town- the husband and wife owners, Laura and Emmanuale, were as sweet as can be and showered us with tastings of olive oil and wine as we waited for our food. They also took a brief interlude to dance the tango to the tune of a passing accordian. Adorable.

Here are some photos from my weekend- I spent it in Pienza and Siena (the buses were not running Sunday and prevented the Cortona trip- but it meant I stayed in Montepulciano and witnessed unbearable cuteness in the form of little flag throwers... see last pics below). Theres a whole medieval type festival going on this week, so there should be similarly amusing events to come!

Baci e abbracci

Palazzo Piccolomini, Pienza

Ive become one of those people who photographs my food... but how can you not with this deliciousness? Melted pecorino, honey and chestnut cream on crostini (in Pienza).

Un cappuccino? Si! (Il Campo Piazza, Siena)

View from the Siena City Hall Tower (300 steps up)

Side entrance to il Duomo, Siena

Flag throwing competition in Montepulciano... Cuteness over actual ability was definitely their strong suit...

This kid was my favorite...

Friday, August 6, 2010

The City Mouse and the Country Mouse

I guess I would be the city mouse in the country these days (the childrens literature reference is for you, mom). Its something I assumed I would embrace and I have for the most part. The peace and quiet, along with fresh country air has been an amazing change of pace- so relaxing and lovely. Every once in awhile I get a craving to be somewhere with a little more energy, but try to push that down and just enjoy my time here in beautiful Tuscany. Because before you know it, I will be back in crazy NYC, annoyed with tourists and locals who dont obey subway etiquette.

My days are spent with classes for 4 hours in the morning and then afternoons free. Ive been mostly relaxing in the apartment for a the bit and eating lunch, then heading out for some sightseeing. The main sights of Montepulciano took about 2 days to complete, but I have been making adventures for myself and taking different trails here and there. Yesterday, I hiked down a hill and back (very steeply!!) to a pretty little church on some farmland, then attended a wine tasting with school back in town. This weekend will be filled with some sidetrips- Pienza this afternoon (home of Pecornino cheese- could this be my trip to mecca?), and then Siena and Cortona this weekend.

Thanks for all the sweet messages- miss you all!

Hope all is well in your worlds-

Wine tasting with the United Nations of classmates

La chiesa San Biagio

Fancy shoes

View of Piazza Grande after a long tower (Palazzo Comunale) climb up

Tuscan sunset

Me too!

After the rain...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Language of ...

Love? Im pretty sure thats French, but alas. I have officially begun my Italian studies and definitely feel slight improvements and comprehension here and there. For such a laid back people, though, they sure have a lot of verb tenses! Luckily my class is only covering a few basic ones.

Its such a diversity of people here, though, which makes it interesting- in my class we have me, an Anglican priest from Australia, a 19 year old from Switzerland, an Austrian environmental engineer, a labor lawyer from Barcelona, and a Russian girl whose family just bought a country house in Tuscany. I may start making up tidbits about my life to make it sound more interesting :) Although I always forget until I leave the US just how fascinated people are with all things American. It makes me feel tres cool.

Off to relax in the sun...

Ciao amici!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Roma Photos in Brief

First gelato (canella) or likely countless gelati...

Urbanites create fake beaches in Italy too! (Tiber River near Castel Sant'angelo)

St. Peters Square, Vatican City

Via dandola memories! Can you see our apartment number 12?