Your Faithful Reporter is sure that all of the participants in the Study Tour have been filling their journals with pages of impressions, explanations and musings.  Being a member of the Theater class I can report that that is certainly true for us.  And we continue a mangare bene (to dine well.)

We relocated to Padova as a base near to Venice and Verona.  We spent a glorious 15 minutes with Giotto and his wonderful frescoes in the Srovegni Chapel.  Then it was off to Verona.  There we walked around the Roman Amphitheater, now the site of an expansive Summer Opera Season.  We saw the House of Juliet, the star-crossed lover.  And the more intrepid of us walked through the entirety of Verona and crossed the Adige to find the Roman Theater.

The Teatro Romano there is in at least enough repair to still be in use.  The Museum there contains mosaics and sculpture from the Theater and the surrounding area.  It contains funerary and religious artifacts as well.  We then wound our way back through town and to the Railroad Station.

There we found ourselves in the right place and time for a dining adventure.  Finding the café in the station closed we walked back to a small beer/coffee bar near the parking lot.  We ordered liquid refreshments and inquired as to the possibility of ‘appetizers.’

“Not usually,” replied our host, “but for you…”  The host of the bar brought out a tray of ham, not quite prosciutto but very good.  He then returned with a large knife an proceeded to carve of slices of a delicious and delicate local salami.  Your Reporter remarked that the only ‘problem’ with this impromptu feast was that it had caused him to drain his beverage, and that he would need un altro bira.

Our host replied, “Not beer, you will please try some wine from my family’s farm.”  He poured us a wonderful, fruity, dry red wine.  It had enough natural carbonation and was quite the tasty sparkling wine.  This little snack was more than enough to sustain us and refresh us for our ride back to Padova.  We of the Theater Class had just experienced a wonderful, gracious piece of theater—no stage, no script, but just food, cordiality, flavor, and wonderful presentation.

We also trained to Venice for a couple of days there.  After making many detours and turns we saw the Palazzo of Goldoni, a famous Italian playwright.  And then it was off to La Fenice, the Venice Opera House.  From the 1700’s, it burned down in the 90’s.  Like its namesake, the phoenix, it rose again from the ashes, as warm and elaborate as ever.

Prior to the performance the Theater Class had a delicious lunch in an adjacent restaurant.  We sampled zucchini flowers, beef cheeks, guitar spaghetti and other delights.

The show itself was wonderful with outstanding vocal and orchestral performances.  It was a tale if doomed love in which the only thing the heroine and hero could share was their sad, untimely deaths at the end of the performance.

Then it was back to the Venice train station after many wrong turns.  Despite the detours we were able to enjoy a lovely dinner along the Grand Canal.  Among the highlights were some very tall, multi-layered lasagna, calamari, and octopus.

There was also a really great Pizzeria/Ristorante just across from our hotel in Padova.  If you are interested in what other dining experiences were had by your daughter, son, spouse or friend, Your Reporter suggests that you take her/him to a local Italian restaurant in Richmond and have him/her recount experiences from the trip, and explain what the similarities and differences are.

Our next report will be from Firenze in Tuscany, the home of Chianti and Bistecca Fiorentina.  Buon Appetito.

David

Posted by: jtccitaly | May 28, 2011

Look Ma, No Pants!

That’s right, you heard me. Today, we went pantless in Venice. Okay, okay, it was because we were wearing skirts! (Well, not Jonathan – he did wear pants – had you scared there for a minute, huh?) The theatre students got dressed up today for the opera so both Beth and I had to forgo our pants so that we could pretend to be fashionable. I think we pulled it off okay, until we got chilly and bought “Italia” sweatshirts. That kind of ruined the effect.

This was a very full day! We started out with the full group in Venice, visiting the Frari Basilica (Jessica presented) and then the San Rocco Basilica and San Rocco Scuola (like a museum for the church – Allien presented.) Then the theatre students went with me via the Traghetto (it went well – no one fell in) to see the Casa de Carlo Goldoni (an Italian playwright known for his commedia dell’arte). We only got moderately lost getting there thanks to our advance recon and the museum was pretty neat. The other students went with Beth to see the Academia (I hear that she hardly got lost at all and that while some of the areas were closed off, it was still a great place to see the works of lots of Italian artists). Then the art students visited the Peggy Guggenheim museum and the theatre students went to the opera. Before the opera we indulged in a very expensive lunch at one of the restaurants right next to the theatre. It was really good and a fun time.

The opera was amazing. Just being able to sit in the opera house La Fenice is worth the price of admission. It is a work of art. My pictures don’t come close to doing it justice. We saw the opera Lucia de Lammermoor which is by Italian composer Donizetti based on the book by Sir Walter Scott. It’s kind of a Scottish Romeo and Juliet (feuding families, forbidden lovers, miscommunications and suicide.) It was, I think, the only minimalist opera I have ever seen. No real set, no spectacle, just a very bare bones, sparse production. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but it was wonderful because you really focused on the singers that much more without all the bells and whistles. And the mad scene was spectacular. The singers were just mind blowing. The only real problem is that seeing opera makes me want to see more opera and it’s way too expensive! It was a fantastic performance. Several of the students had never seen opera before and they all enjoyed it.

After the opera we hung out in Venice, ate dinner by the grand canal and watched the sun set. Venice at night is totally different and absolutely stunning. I took pictures, but they don’t really capture it. But you can see the sky start to darken and the sun go down. It was a nearly perfect day – the only thing that would have made it perfect would have been if I could have shared it with my family (can you tell that I’m getting a little homesick?)

Given that we didn’t get back from Venice until almost midnight and given that it is already 1AM, I am going to just upload a whole chunk of pictures and put them in a slideshow. They will be in order so if you read the description, you should be able to follow along (hopefully). I’ll try to fill in some more details tomorrow night.

Tomorrow we will be mostly on the bus to Florence (although hopefully it won’t take us 9 hours again.) I’ll be blogging from Florence when next we meet!

Ciao!

Kerrigan

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Posted by: jtccitaly | May 27, 2011

Maps? We Don’t Need No Stinking Maps!

Today we went to Venice. I’m going to have a hard time describing Venice for you, but I will try. It is one of the most unique cities I’ve ever been to. It’s truly a magical place. You get off the train and it’s hard to believe that a place like Venice is real. As you walk around the city, you get accustomed to the magic a little but still, there are surprises, wonderful surprises around every corner. Whether it’s a passing Gondola or the laundry flapping in the breeze above the flower boxes, there are wonders to behold.

I’m going to try to let some of the many photos I took speak for themselves. I’m trying out a new feature of the blog – a slideshow – so hopefully that will work out. Check out the pictures and see what you think.

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In terms of what we did, here was the daily agenda. We took an early train into Venice and then had a very leisurely walk through the city to St. Mark’s. Some folks with tired feet elected to take the Vaporetto (water taxi). The Piazza San Marco is amazing. This was the heart of the old city and the buildings and monuments around the piazza are impressive. No pictures allowed inside St. Marks, but you can get a feel for it from the outside. It’s wonderfully over the top – just about the polar opposite of the Scrovegni Chapel. Everything is golden on the inside – and huge – and amazing, but in a totally different way.

After we made it through St. Mark’s we left the rest of the day for everyone to explore Venice in groups and pairs. The art students did some sketching and everyone had many adventures. I think all of our travelers came back with a story to tell. Here are some highlights of today from others. Mahler and Lauren decided to wander and wandered so far that they ended up at the ocean (I don’t know how they managed that one but they have the pictures to prove it.) Many of the students took a ride on a Gondola. Jonathan had a huge and very expensive beer (one liter! 17 euros!) I’m sure many more stories will be told tomorrow morning when we all are in one place together again.

As for my story – well, it was an interesting day! Beth and I needed to do some advance reconnaissance so that we could get everyone around the city tomorrow fairly smoothly. David, Kathy and Alissa came along as well. I’m not sure exactly how to describe the first hour and a half that we spent trying to find the Opera House. Let’s just say that: 1.) I think that the maps (plural) we were using were all designed to try to drive tourists insane; 2.) I didn’t think that it was possible to turn a 5 minute walk into an hour and a half exploration, but apparently, it can be done; and 3.) I think that it is possible that Venice is some kind of experiment and we are the rats in the maze. No cheese to be found as yet. Anyway, we did finally find La Fenice but only because I think we walked on pretty much every street within a 5 mile radius. Oh, and it was on the very last street that we tried.

This is how we spent most of the day

And like this

And this

After that debacle, we decided that since we had already lost our minds, it couldn’t get much worse. We took a traghetto across the Grand Canal. The traghetto is a two man gondola (not the fancy ones, these are working boats) and the best way I can describe them is a water subway. Imagine 14 people (plus the two drivers) on a small boat (similar to a canoe, but shaped more like a gondola) packed in tightly STANDING UP while crossing the canal. Oh and did I mention that there are all kinds of MUCH bigger boats zipping around so that there is quite a bit of a wake? We weren’t really sure that we would arrive on the other side safe and dry but we did! We got separated from David, so I have photos of him crossing and I have one picture of the front of the boat that I took as we crossed. David was the first person in the boat so he got to sit down. (Just like on the subway, there are a few seats). I have to say that all my years of yoga balance moves paid off today. I have decided that I am going to make my theatre students take the traghetto across tomorrow because: 1.) It is the fastest way across; 2.) I think everyone should experience terror, oops, I mean everyone should have an adventure and 3.) Heck, if that isn’t drama, what is!? Oh, also 4.) It’s cheap! (Only 50 euro cents as opposed to about 6.50 euros for the vaporetta). I’ll let you know how it went in tomorrow’s blog.

Leaving David!

David on the boat (near the back)

A view from the traghetto

We needed gelato to calm us down so we had some. I remembered to take some pictures! It doesn’t adequately convey the yumminess though. We then found a few more places we need to find, saw some cool bridges, and did a little shopping. We made it back to the train station and came back to the hotel for dinner and a well-deserved rest.

Gelato, Venice style. Yum!

Moster Calzone!

Pizza!

Cuttlefish and Polenta (it was yummy - kind of like squid)

Pasta Mama Rosa (pasta with delicious stuff thrown in)

Fantastic walnut tortellini!

Group dinner at the wonderful pizzeria across the street from our hotel

Overall, it was a wonderful day. Our group is feeling the effects of walking nearly continuously for a week, not sleeping as well and many people have various aliments. Blisters and swollen feet abound. Sore muscles and stiff joints are de rigor. But none of us would rather be anyplace else than here.

Keep reading! Tomorrow is the opera!

Kerrigan

Posted by: jtccitaly | May 26, 2011

The David Corona Food Diaries Part One: Rome

Dodge raindrops and try to figure out the inner workings of the Coliseum. March through the center of Rome and take note of racetracks, temples, theatres and shrines. Climb the Campidoglio and consider ancient equines and equestrians. Look out over the Roman Forum and attempt to reconstruct basilicas, temples and shrines from ruined foundations and a few still standing columns. Such has been the life of the JTCC Study Abroad Group in Italy.

But all has not been sites and scenery. Walking burns calories, so to keep strong and alert we sometimes must eat. Seemingly every block sports at least one shop where one can grab a quick cheap lunch or snack: mini pizzas, cheese tarts, sandwiches with varied combinations, eggs and tomatoes, cheese and spinach, strange salamis. Even more ubiquitous than the sandwich shops are the gelaterias. Rich, creamy and flavorful, gelati are what ice cream always dreams of becoming in a heavenly afterlife. Chocolate, vanilla and strawberry are there but many others as well: hazelnut, crème caramel, frutti di bosco and more.

If we only limit ourselves to pastas among the several courses on a typical Italian menu, we still find ourselves with an array of choices. Spaghetti is there, but also wide noodles, flat noodles, strange tubes, twisted tubes and other contorted shapes. In addition to the cream sauces there are sauces flavored with hot paprika, mushrooms, truffles, sausages and even simply olive oil, cheese and pepper.

Pizzas here do not have the doughy, floppy New York style crust popular in Richmond, but a thin, delicate, crispy crust. Toppings are very fresh and applied in amounts that allow their own flavors to shout through without overpowering the crust. Here pepperoni is a vegetable and the Pizza of Old Rome has both sausage, spicy salami and lettuce on it.

We have made our choices and traded samples with each other. “Buan appitito” is not just a wish, but an established fact of life!

Posted by: jtccitaly | May 26, 2011

Scrovegni and Star Crossed Lovers

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene . . .
(name that prologue!)

Today was a darn near perfect day! Although if I could just get this blog thing started before midnight, I’d be much happier (so would you probably, since I might write more! And I might even be more coherent.)

We have settled into the lovely town of Padua. It’s basically a university town and it’s incredibly charming, especially after the noise and bustle of Rome. The thing that I think is most amazing is the way the town smells! Verona also – they have these wonderful fragrant trees (we haven’t figured out what they are yet) and the air is literally perfumed. It’s quite remarkable.

Outside the chapel

We started off today with a visit to the Scrovegni chapel, which is known for its magnificent frescoes by Giotto. No pictures allowed so I don’t have much to show you about that but I can tell you that it is an unbelievable experience. I don’t think that I could do it justice with any description. It’s just an amazing work of art. The detail and the vibrancy of the art is incredible. I was moved to tears by several of the individual frescoes and also just by the chapel as a whole. (This may not be saying much, as I am moved to tears by Hallmark commercials, Toy Story 3, etc. but still it was unforgettable.)

Jessica shows the flowers on the trees that make the air smell amazing!

After exploring the museum at the chapel for a while, the group split up. The theatre class went into Verona, the art class drew in Padua and the Humanities class got to pick where they wanted to go. We had a nice sized group for Verona.

Dining in Verona!

In Verona, we visited the Verona Coliseum (the third largest Amphitheatre in Italy). They are preparing for their summer Opera season so we couldn’t go inside but I did get to hear part of a rehearsal later in the afternoon when we were coming back.

The Verona Coliseum

I don’t think that I’ve mentioned this before, but all the students have been doing reports on various places and people as we go along. Today Andrew talked about the amphitheater and David talked about the Casa de Guilietta (see photos). After that, part of the group continued on to see the Teatro Romano (a Greek style Roman theatre). Both the Teatro Romano and the Verona Coliseum are neat in that they do current opera and musical performances. If you look at the pictures of the Teatro, you can see them setting up for a concert series.

Andrew tells us about the amphitheatre

The Teatro was amazing all on its own, but the best part was the view from the top! (And even better, there was an elevator so we didn’t have to climb up a bunch of steps for once.) I don’t know if the pictures truly do it justice, but check out the terrific view of Verona.

On the streets of Verona

After that, we had a very unique dining experience and headed back to Padua. I’m going to leave it to David to write about the dining experience. I have one entry that I’m going to post just after this one that David wrote about the food in Rome. He’s going to do a few different ones during the trip so that you all can enjoy some of the cuisine vicariously through him.

David tells us about the house of Juliet (here's a hint - there wasn't really a Juliet.)

For now, I’m just hoping to get to bed before 1AM . . . tomorrow we go to Venice!

Statue of Juliet. Apparently, men are supposed to rub her right breast for good luck. Who made that one up!?

The Teatro Romano

A theatre with a view!

Underneath the Roman arches

Verona!

Posted by: jtccitaly | May 25, 2011

The Incredible Journey

Oh golly, this is going to be a short one! We spent most of the day today on the bus traveling from Rome to Padua with a short stop in Assisi. Assisi is absolutely gorgeous – a quintessential Italian hill town – and I promise to try to post more on it tomorrow. We estimated the drive to be about 6 hours but it was closer to 9 or 10. By the time we got everyone settled into the hotel and checked out tickets and routes to take for tomorrow’s activities, it was after 11PM and it is currently closer to 1AM! Even though I spent most of the day sitting on the bus, I am still totally exhausted. Maybe it was all that head counting. I think I will be counting people in my sleep tonight.

Anyway, I will post more tomorrow and also I have asked David Corona (our resident foodie) to do some posts on the food of the different regions, and I will try to get the first of those up tomorrow as well. To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace . . . (name that Shakespeare – anyone?)

For now, I’ll post a few pictures and then wish you Buena sera.

Kerrigan

Jonathan joins the sisterhood! Woo-hoo for traveling pants!

Rockin out on the "Fancy Tour" bus!

Walking up the hill to the hill town Assisi!

Enjoying the beautiful view

Streets of Assisi

Did I mention the hills?

Oh look! More hills!

Good advice!

This is where we spent most of the day today! (After all those hills, a well deserved rest).

Posted by: jtccitaly | May 24, 2011

We Saw Dead People

To continue our theme – today we walked, we saw, we walked some more! And once again, I had a quite lovely but quite long dinner (I think I’m just going to have to adjust my dinner clock to the three hour dinner) and once again, I am just plum worn out.

Sarcophagus at Ostia Antica

I think Beth is going to write about our day today in some more detail so I’m just going to give you the three sentence version and a bunch of pictures! I’ll try to upload more details tomorrow sometime. (We will be on the bus for most of the day tomorrow, so that might not happen. We’re off to wive it wealthily in Padua.Sorry, I’m prone to quoting lyrics. That’s from Kiss me Kate if you are wondering. Great song. Look it up.  We’re off to Padua at least; the wiving part – probably not.)

Beth, the Tomb Raider. Note the Urban Ops pants. She blends right into that stone.

Back to today – we went to Ostia Antica, which is an ancient port city, similar to Pompeii (except not half as dramatic in terms of its demise.) It’s an amazing place and you can just walk around all the ruins (some of them quite intact) and imagine what life would have been like.

The traveling pants (in combat ready camo today) take on Tragedy and Comedy at the theatre

From there, 15 brave and intrepid travelers continued on to visit the Catacombs! It was dark and cold and pretty spooky even with the lights on. Personally, it was one of my favorite places so far. I learned a lot and you can’t beat the atmosphere. No pictures are allowed in the catacombs so you’ll just have to go and see them for yourself!

Mimicking the masks

The Theatre at Ostia Antica (I had to put this one in!)

Once again, we left the hotel early (9AM) and didn’t return (or sit down for more than a few minutes) until close to 6PM. Then quick class meetings, yummy dinner and now (hopefully) bed.

Mother and daughter art time!

That was more than three sentences, but still it was very brief for me. I’m going to let the pictures do most of the talking!

Beth talking about Fresco al fresco!

Thanks again for all the comments – it does encourage me to post even when I’m beat. Tune in tomorrow to see more of our now combat ready traveling pants (see photo) – operation Padova Thunder commences at 07:00.

Amazing ancient restaurant ruins

Picnic at Ostia

Jessica does yoga in the train station! (A girl after my own heart.)

On the crowded Metro (nice face, Andrew!)

The Appian Way (ancient Roman road)

Along the Appian Way (passing an awesome tomb)

The "Catacombers" Those brave enough to not only continue walking for another full day but also to visit the catacombs!

I’ll leave you with one last thing. The quote of the night (said by Lynda Cooksey) “I’m like a camel. I have to replenish my hump.” Right Lynda. (I’ll have what she’s having.)

Ciao for now!

Posted by: jtccitaly | May 23, 2011

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in Rome

It’s been another action packed day in Rome! And I just came back from a wonderful dinner, but in true Italian style, it was over three hours long. So, once again, this may be a rather short somewhat discombobulated entry since it’s already past midnight here.

Today was all about walking. We left the hotel around 9:30AM and walked until about 5:30PM. And I think that I walked more than most for two reasons. First, I am the border collie of the trip, which is to say that I am the people herder. Getting 26 people (plus four extras today from CVCC) to all go in the same direction while in a large city is challenging to say the least. So I’ve been doing laps all day making sure that everyone got where they were supposed to get and we didn’t lose anyone. Which brings me to the number two reason why I did more walking – I got lost. Only briefly. And I did find my way to where we supposed to be; I just took a more scenic route. The five or six students who were with me also got a little extra exercise. Anyway, that’s all really beside the point – let me tell you all the wonderful things that we saw while walking!

We started at the Circus Maximus, which is now just a big open field but it’s really fun to look at it and imagine what the chariot races would have been like (think Nascar, but with weapons and no real rules.)

Learning about the Circus Maximus

We walked by the Teatro Marcellus – an old amphitheater that has been turned into apartments. Which is really a brilliant bit of architecture and a great re-use of a historical building.

Theatre of Marcellus - note the apartments on the top

We then walked up (literally) to the campidoglio and down (literally) to the Forum. It’s all breathtaking. The size and scope of the remaining structures are so incredible – just think what it would have actually been like.

Walking up!

Really BIG statue

Hanging out with Marcus Aurelius

Roman Forum. Wow. Just wow.

We proceeded on to the Trevi fountain (threw in coins), saw Trajan’s victory column and of course the Pantheon.

At the fountain

And this is where the title of this post comes in, for those of you who are wondering. It seems that in preparation for this trip Beth and I have managed to purchase not one, not two, but three virtually identical pairs of pants! (It is obvious that Beth shares my impeccable sense of style and fashion.) So we have been dubbed “the sisterhood of the traveling pants.” I will share with you the first traveling pants picture – more to come throughout our journey!

Traveling pants at the Pantheon (say that three times fast.)

Something about us visiting these huge ancient structures seems to bring on the storms because there was another huge thunderstorm when we were at the Pantheon. Which was just fine with me because the coolest thing in the world is to see the rain come in through the oculist in the top. (Just to set rumors straight, the rain does not evaporate before it reaches the ground – I have pictures of it pattering on the marble floor below.)

The Pantheon. Another wow moment.

Rain!

Group picture at the Pantheon in the rain!

From there we journeyed on to two incredible Basilicas (blanking on the names just now – Beth, help me out!) and saw some absolutely breathtaking art and sculpture (including a Michelangelo) and walked up to the Spanish steps.

Spanish Steps

Whew!

So, that’s what we did – let me see if I can come up with anything profound to tell you. Hmmm. Okay, not profound, but here goes. One thing that I think distinguishes Rome from other large cities I have been in is how green it is. Those Romans sure know how to landscape. I love the umbrella pine trees!

Umbrella pines

The art class meets

One more thing and then I’m off to bed. The lights here are different. In the hotel, I mean. When you get your room key (magnetic), you also get another little card. It took me a while stumbling around in the dark to figure out that that other little card went in this slot on the wall. And then, like magic, you can turn on the lights! So if you ever travel to a hotel like this you can impress all your companions by knowing how to turn on the lights.

That’s about all the wisdom I have for now. Thanks for all the wonderful comments – keep them coming! (And honey, I’m going to need that brain cell back . . .)

We have arrived! More or less in one piece. We are all exhausted and bedraggled but we are here! I’ll give you a quick blow by blow on the last couple of days but this may be short since I’m operating on about half a brain cell right now and it could give out at any minute.

We had a picture perfect flight from Richmond to NYC – left on time, beautiful weather and arrived early into JFK. Our first plane was very small.

Happy Travelers at the Richmond Airport

More happy travelers in Richmond

Studying Italian

Not so with our second plane. Our second plane looked as if it ate planes like our first plane for breakfast. It was pretty big – not one of the double deckers, but still big. The second flight was just fine but very long. And pretty much no one slept. We all tried, but it just didn’t really happen.

Bitty Baby Plane

Trying to sleep on the flight

Great big daddy plane!

We arrived on time into Rome, met our charming guide (Dominico?) and got a nice tour of the city on the way to our hotel. It took a while but we eventually got everyone in a room and then headed out to see the Coliseum.

John Tyler meets Dominico

Entering the old city on the bus

Our first hotel in Rome

The Coliseum is just amazing. It’s hard to describe how it feels to walk out of the very modern Metro station and suddenly see this incredible piece of ancient history right there in front of you. We had the unique experience of seeing the Coliseum during a thunderstorm. It rained heavily the entire time we were there. Historically, the Romans would flood the Coliseum to stage elaborate sea battles – I felt almost like I was a part of that spectacle today!

The Coliseum!

Learning about the Coliseum

Slightly Soggy Travelers

Wet and worn out, decided to see the Roman Forum tomorrow and we all headed back to the hotel.

Inside the Coliseum

A view from the top of the Coliseum

I opted to grab a sandwich on my way back and am now typing in my PJ’s and slippers. I’m also eating this incredible dessert. It’s called something like a lobster claw and it’s wonderful. It’s like a chocolate croissant, except the croissant part is a harder pastry shell with many layers and the inside is this goopy melty chocolate. Yum!

That’s what we did. Let me see if I can come up with anything even vaguely profound to say (that brain cell I mentioned is down to about an eighth.) Each city has it’s own feel and Rome is no different. I think it’s a very sexy city – not trashy at all, just chic and flirty. It is also truly the eternal city – the mix of history and modernity is breathtaking. And also, the food is really good.

I think that’s about it – that last bit of brain cell is sputtering out. I’m not sure how long it has been since I’ve slept (I woke up at 6AM richmond time on Saturday morning – it’s now Sunday around 2PM Richmond time – you do the math, I’m too tired! I’m going to upload some pictures and call it a night.

Ciao!

Kerrigan

Posted by: jtccitaly | May 20, 2011

A Taste of Italy

Well, it’s our last full day on American soil! I can hardly believe it. The week has flown by, but before we get on the plane tomorrow, I thought that I would fill you in on our pre-trip class meetings.

We’ve been meeting for three fun filled action packed hours each day this week to learn all about the art, theatre, architecture and cultural history of Italy. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the synergistic teaching this week and I think (I hope) that we’ve managed to give all the travelers some sense of context for the rest of our journey. Beth has packed us full of culture, Diana has filled us up with art and I have attempted to infuse everyone with drama!

Celia said that this week my lectures have been like “theatre on steroids” and Debra commented that she was amazed at how much information I could squeeze into so little time. (While I would like to take that as a reference to my amazing powers of organization, I think what she really meant is that I can talk really really fast.)

Food for thought

Besides the food for thought, we have also been sampling real Italian food every day. We are fortunate enough to be traveling with retired school teacher David Corona, who is an amazing chef. He and Beth have worked together to bring us a literal taste of Italy. Monday we sampled Italian sodas (Limonata and Aranciata), Tuesday brought us peppers and mozzarella (see photo), Wednesday was fagioli )that’s beans in Italian but calling them mere “beans” doesn’t do the dish justice), Thursday we had a lovely assortment of antipasto and today we are having espresso and biscotti. Delicious!

So, we are stuffed full of Italian food and learning and ready to rock and roll our way to Italy! Well kind of. Personally, I’m still trying to figure out what to pack. My bedroom looks like a bomb exploded right now since much of my clothing is draped over bed, dresser, and any other available surface as I try to decide what will stay and what will go. While attempting to pack, I’m also attempting to practice my Italian (Beth has been giving us survival Italian lessons daily) so as I move clothes from pile to pile, I mutter phrases under my breath. My inner and outer dialogue is something like this:

“Mi scusi, dov’e la toilette?” (Excuse me, where is the toilet?)

Can I survive two weeks without my favorite jeans? (Yes, I think so, but I’m still having trouble leaving them. They are currently on top of my suitcase.)

“Non parlo bene Italiano.” (I don’t speak Italian (well)

Do I really need five pairs of shoes? (Well, yes – two pair of walking shoes, my sneakers for running, a pair of heels for the opera and a pair of sandals. Hmmm, maybe the sandals have to go?)

“Vorrei del coniglio. Ben cotta.” (I’d like rabbit. Well done.)

It’s a good thing that my reputation as the somewhat crazy theatre lady is well established so my behavior is basically not that out of the ordinary for me. Otherwise, people might worry.

Well, that’s all for now folks – next you hear from us will probably be in Italy!

Kerrigan

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