Saturday, October 31, 2009

Camera crisis

"Dear St. Anthony, please come around. Something's been lost and can't be found."

I've been back from my fall break trip for a few days (it was AWESOME, but more on that later) and I have so many pictures to post from the past few weeks, but I misplaced my camera memory card reader. I have no idea where it went, but it definitely has to be somewhere in the apartment. Until I find it, I can't load any pictures onto my laptop, which means I don't have any pictures to post! Sad.

Hopefully I will find it soon, because I have SO many posts to catch up on. I've been having daily conversations with Saint Anthony in desperation...hopefully he will help me find it, since he is the Patron saint of "lost things."

Also, I'm hoping I have an extra "in" if you will, since I trekked all the way to Padova last month and was able to touch St. Anthony's tomb...if that's not dedication, then I don't know what is. ;)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I have four midterms between now and Thursday, so my recaps of Assisi and Perugia will have to wait. Hopefully I will be able to get them posted before I leave for Austria and the Czech Republic on Friday!

Ciao for now :)

Monday, October 19, 2009


One of the art Professors here at AUR died this weekend -- he committed suicide. I didn't have him for a class or anything, but I've seen him around and a lot of my friends had him for their art classes.

All of the people I know that had him said that this is unbelievable that this happened because he seemed like such a happy, fulfilled person. I guess it just goes to show you that you never know what people are really going sad.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The last day of our weekend trip found us in Milan. Since it was Sunday, the city was pretty dead because most stores were closed, but there was still a decent amount of people walking around downtown which made it more fun.

I have to say that of all the places I've been to so far in Italy, Milan was my least favorite. I don't know if it was because it was a Sunday like I said, so I didn't get the full 'feel' of the real atmosphere, but Milan is not a very pretty city, and it is rather industrial and extremely urban. Not to mention, it's hard to navigate! Even with our map, Courtney and I got lost a few times because of the way the streets split and the names change.

Even still though, I would say that Milan is worth a visit, definitely. The things that are considered 'fashion' and sell for many many Euros amaze me:

The famed Via Della Spiga, aka one of the streets of the fashion mecca

Mecca street number two - Via Monte Napoleone

and number three - Via Manzoni

I passed by all of the places below in about ten minutes...I was feeling fashionably inferior at this point :)


Dolce & Gabbana





Michael Kors






Louis Vuitton


Milan loves to plant their trees in these cute little cars...very interesting.

After we walked around all of the shops and went into a few (and walked out empty handed, obviously :)) our feet were killing us but we still had about two hours until our train home to Rome left. We decided to check out the Pinacoteca di Brera museum, which wasn't far from the shopping area. We decided on this museum because it supposedly housed Carvaggio's "Dead Christ" painting which Courtney and I both studied in our Art History class back at TCNJ, and we really wanted to see it in person. However, when we got inside it wasn't there...turns out it was moved somewhere else, or into a private collection, or something like that. It was kind of a bummer, but we got over it and enjoyed looking at everything else...everything there was really nice.

After we wandered around the museum, we walked back to the train station, grabbed something to eat for dinner on the way home, and boarded our train back to Rome.

It was a great weekend, to say the least! I especially loved Bologna - it was such a lively, fun city with awesome food.:)

This week starts crunch time - midterms are next week! I had the oral portion of my Italian midterm today and it went really well, my professor was pleased with how much I've progressed. I just had to sit down with her and she would give me situations that I'd have to role play, and then she asked me some questions about my life and about my past so I could practice speaking in the past tense.

This Friday I have a day trip to Assisi with my program which I am really excited about. We're leaving early in the morning and we'll have a tour when we get there followed by free time. Saturday I have free and I will most definitely have to study for midterms because on Sunday I'm going on a trip that AUR is running to Perugia for its annual, famous chocolate festival. Needless to say, that should be an awesome trip too!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Parma and Saragna

On Saturday we woke up early and took a 9am train to Parma. When we arrived we headed to the tourist office like our program director told us to, so we could get more information about transportation to il Museo del Parmigiano Reggiano, or, the Museum of Parmigiano Cheese. Yes, Italy has food museums, and they are so fun! They also have ones for prosciutto and tomatoes, but we didn't get a chance to go to those.

Anyway, the lady at the tourist office told us which bus to take, and when we got to the stop we realized that the next bus didn't come for another 45 minutes. So we waited there and it finally arrived, but after being on it for about 20 minutes, we were starting to get worried because the museum closes at 1:00pm for siesta and our bus wasn't scheduled to get there until 12:45p. Also, after a few stops, we realized that we were in the middle of freaking nowhere...

We also realized that the bus stops weren't like they are in Rome...there were extra little stops that people could get off of if need be. So our count of how many stops we needed to wait was thrown off. We were getting a little nervous, but luckily the second of the many nice people we would meet this weekend stepped into the picture. The Asian woman sitting in front of me must have heard us speaking English, and she turned around and asked us where we were going. We told her we were going to the Museum of Parmigiano Reggiano in Saragna, and it turns out that she lives there. She gave us perfect directions to the museum from the bus stop we were supposed to get off at because she "didn't want us to get lost." She also told us exactly which stop to get off, and she really tried to make sure that we understood what she was saying. She was so nice! It turns out she was originally from the Philippines, then the United States, and now she has lived in Italy for the past twenty years and her husband is Italian. So thanks to her, we found the museum perfectly, and we were able to get in before it closed. Thank God for her, because if we hadn't met her we would still be on the bus looking for the museum. :)

On our five minute walk from the bus stop

We found it!

Even though it was located in the middle of a random field...

Some tools that were used long ago when making Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Who knew there was a patron Saint of cheesemakers?

Huge vat

Pictures of the old cheese-making process

The best part...our tasting!

It was amazing

The older lady who worked at the museum was very friendly and also spoke no English (noticing a trend for this weekend? :)) [but that was okay because it's more fun that way and gives me a chance to practice] asked me to sign the guestbook because they like to know who visited the museum. She told me to write where we study, where we're from, etc. When I said New Jersey, she seemed confused, so when I told her that it is close to New York, she liked that better, haha!

Afterwards we headed back to the town center of Saragna (which is approximately 20 feet long...okay, I kid, but not by much) and had a quick lunch before we waited for the bus back. This was when another nice person stepped in. We were taking the last bus of the day back and we were waiting by the stop for about 20 minutes. An Italian woman walked up and waited for a bit too, but she approached us and, speaking only Italian, asked us if we were waiting for the bus. I told her yes, and she motioned for us to go with her. We didn't know what she was talking about, but we decided that it had to be for a good reason so we did. Turns out there was a sign near the bus stop that we hadn't seen saying that the bus doesn't stop at the stop we were waiting at on Saturdays for some reason, but instead it picks people up at the next little stop further down the road. She brought us there and we got on the correct if it weren't for her, we'd probably still be stuck in Saragna. We have no idea what we would have done if we hadn't met her, because even though it was only 4:15pm, that was the last bus of the day back to Parma. We were lucky!

When we returned to Parma we relaxed in the main square with a pastry

Walked into another cute church

And admired Parma's most famous products which were sold in practically every store...prosciutto:

and of course, Parmigiano Reggiano

We hopped on an evening train back to Bologna, and had an awesome dinner at a little restaurant we found. This was one of the best things I've eaten so far since I've been here, even though it looks pretty disgusting. :)

Pumpkin ravioli with bacon in an aged balsamic sauce

...followed by delicious Tiramisu, which I have no picture of because I gobbled it up in about five seconds.

And that concluded our time in Bologna and Parma! We headed back to our hotel and went to bed early because once again, we had an early train to catch...this time to Milan!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


This weekend my friend Courtney and I took a trip to three cities - Bologna, Parma and Milan. It was a great weekend!

On Friday we caught an 8:30am train to Bologna from Termini. The trip was three hours long, which wasn't too bad. When we arrived we got a map and set out to find our hotel. Unfortunately it started to rain just as we began our walk, but luckily for us Bologna has covered sidewalks for most of the length of the city so we only had to be out in the rain when we were crossing a street. It would have been miserable to have to walk for twenty minutes like we did in the pouring rain.

We found our hotel pretty easily and it was really nice, but it was definitely strange. It was called Casa Santangelo, and it was basically an old castle/mansion type building that had some rooms for people to stay in - felt like we were in the mansion from Clue :)

We had to enter a gate and then we found the front door...we rang the bell and a woman in regular clothes who spoke zero English started talking to us and told us to get on the elevator and go to the second floor if we were looking for the hotel. We did just that and thanked her, thinking she was another guest. But when we got upstairs and off the elevator (which was even weirder than the one in my apartment in held a maximum of two people and had manual doors) the lady came up in the elevator herself a few minutes later. It turns out she works at the hotel, but she definitely didn't look like she did. It was such a strange 20 minutes...I know I'm in a foreign country, and I do speak some Italian, but if you're going to have someone work at a hotel in a well-known town, at least make sure they can communicate with guests. She was very nice, but she had no idea what we were saying.

Anyway though, after we got settled we headed out to explore Bologna. We found a museum near Piazza Maggiore (the main area) that had free entrance and a special modern art exhibit, so we decided to do that. The exhibit had cool photographs that were taken around Italy...

and other parts of it had other types of art, including many representations of Christ on the cross (this one was the most graphic one I've seen.)

The museum was huge, and also had tons of paintings. I really loved this one:

The architecture and decoration of the inside of the museum was gorgeous.

The best part of our time in the museum was meeting one of the workers there. He was probably in his mid-50s and didn't speak a word of English, but he told us that even though the museum was free, we needed to get a ticket so he could rip it. When we came back from getting the tickets, we had a 10 minute conversation with him about ourselves, Italy, America, etc. It sounds cheesy, but it made me feel awesome that I could actually communicate with him, considering that he spoke no English. I know I'm studying Italian and I already knew some before coming to Italy, but when you're put in a situation where you're forced to use it, it makes you realize that you know more than you give yourself credit for. It was awesome to be able to have a conversation with him in only Italian.

Anyway, after the museum, we headed back to explore Piazza Maggiore. Here I am with la Fontana di Nettuno

Basilica of San Petronio...this church was GORGEOUS, but unfortunately they were really strict with enforcing the no pictures inside rule, so I couldn't take any

After my friend Courtney and I explored a little more, we were getting hungry so we decided to get some gelato to hold us over until dinner. Her guide book talked about this little gelateria called Gelateria delle Molline, which they said is a popular student hangout. It also said it's known for its gelato served on focaccia bread. We thought that sounded interesting, so we decided to give it a shot.

Well, if they could make something more fattening, I'd like to know about it. But it was delicious. :) It's obviously not the focaccia bread you think of (with olive oil and herbs and stuff) but instead it's a sweet bread with powdered sugar on to and scoops of gelato in the middle. Oh boy, it was good.

We headed back towards our hotel then to look around the smaller piazza that was across the street from it.

Basilica di San Domenico

We were allowed take pictures inside this one...

From there we headed back to the hotel to shower and get ready for dinner that night. We went to a little place called Enoteca Divinis. We asked one of our program directors for restaurant recommendations before we left and this was one she gave us. It didn't disappoint! It was on a quiet side street and we got a nice table outside. We could definitely tell that our director had given us the place, because we were the only tourists there. The staff was really nice and the food was awesome and inexpensive.

Tagliatelle alla bolognese in fitting

After a long dinner, we walked around Piazza Maggiore a bit more, which is gorgeous at night, by the way:

And we saw a weird performance of some sort...I'm not really sure what it was. There were a bunch of people surrounding a group of performers in weird creepy masks that we beating drums and holding candles...? We were so confused...

Person in a weird outfit/mask

We were so confused as to what was going on, but it was interesting to watch! We headed back to our hotel after this because we were exhausted from traveling, and the next day we had to get up early to go to Parma!