Sunday, October 08, 2006

Hello From Greece


It's been a while since I have talked to many of you, so I just wanted to send an email off to let you know what is going on with me.

I was in Italy for a month traveling all over from top to bottom and many places in between. I had such a fabulous experience, and nothing beats actually seeing the things that you have been studying about for years right in front of your face. It was a really intense experience for me, but I loved it. If you are interested in all of the details of that trip, I kept a daily journal for each of the days I was there, and it has been posted online at

I am now again in Paros, Greece on a little island studying photography, writing and art history. I love all of the subjects I have been working with, and the teachers are amazing. Tomorrow I really start cranking down on some projects, and I get to work on necessary items for my portfolio and the student show.

I will be on Paros until December 16th. Jared is going to come visit me in about a month, and we are both very excited to again be together in this wonderful and exotic land. There are so many things that I love about this place. I feel right at home, and it has in fact been my second home for the past two years making a tie with my house in Portland as far as time spent. :)

And yes, I'm doing all this pregnant. Currently, I'm 19 weeks, and it's really exciting. All of this traveling has really been amazing for me and for the baby. I swear that the baby is going to be speaking more Greek and English, and if I don't cook fully Greek meals, it will experience intense culture shock from day 1. I had an ultrasound last week, and everything looked fabulous. I'm even starting to feel better. It looks like there may be an end to this intense morning sickness! There are some photos of me online, but I don't look 19 weeks pregnant (or so everyone keeps telling me). To say the least, I'm still having to peel foreign men off me. It's kind of fun to watch the reaction on their faces when they realize that they just tried to hit on a pregnant woman though.

I am available again by email. I will try to contact you about once a week.

I hope that your autumn is going wonderfully. My blog has some photos and a lot of writing if you have some time or interest about my intense and wonderful trip to Italy.

Until next time.


Pregnancy Update

For anyone that is reading my blog, I'm sure that you know by now that I'm pregnant. In the middle of all of this crazy traveling stuff I'm doing, I figured that I would give you an update on that end of life.

I am now 19 weeks pregnant. Some photos of my still rather small belly are a little further back on my blog. I will try to post some new ones shortly.

I had a sonogram this last week, and the doctor told me that everything was fine. I got to see the head and the heartbeat, and it was really exciting.

We are thinking of names, and we have some that are definite candidates in the running. However, even if we do decide, its going to be a secret until the baby is born, just for fun. :)

I'm still a little sick, but it seems to go away more and more every day. Hopefully the burning Greek sun I'm in constantly will help with that.

I'm on email again, so if you want to send me one off with any questions, I am totally here.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Ok. I’m really sorry that there has been such a long lapse in my writing. It’s been a while since I got a chance to sit down and write. I’ve spent the last week settling down again on Paros and getting ready for the last semester here at the Aegean Center.

Last weekend, I just got my apartment ready for living in and then I spent some time catching up on my sleep. As soon as Monday hit, I was in photography class almost 12 hours a day either developing my 22 rolls of film and figuring out what to print, or teaching some of the newer students how our darkroom works. I also spent some time cleaning and doing other random things to help the rest of the semester go smoothly.

I can now say that I have developed all of the film that I took in Italy, and I am quite happy with it. Starting at 8:00 tomorrow morning, I will be in the darkroom printing it and getting it ready to put in the photo show at the end of the semester. There are a lot of great shots, and I have put together a project that really communicates how I have blossomed as a person and as an artist while on this island.

There were a couple of things that happened over this past week that really put me back into the spirit of being on this island.

1.) I went swimming. It was amazing. There is nothing more fabulous than floating in the super salty Aegean Sea. It is warm this time of year, and I had a very wonderful time floating around out in the middle of the wine dark sea.

2.) We went on a hike with John. As soon as he started picking the oregano all of the lovely things about this island hit me smack on the head. There was a lovely breeze during the hike, and the ability to pick the spices that I was going to need to use in food that night was amazing.

3.) Speaking Greek is coming naturally to me again, so that is really nice to be around.

4.) Greek food (including Greek yogurt) is really helping me to get over my continuing morning sickness.

5.) Love of the island and the sea overcome me every time I am here, and I forget each time I leave how many of the small details make up the perfect place that is this island.

Tomorrow I get to serious work, and you’ll hear more about that.
We have the snorkeling trip scheduled for next Friday, so you’ll definitely hear about that.

Until Later.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Saturday, September 30, 2006

We took the boat to PAROS. More on this later.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday, September 29, 2006

The fever didn’t break day before or even in the day, so I was miserable when I woke up. I decided that I was not going to allow myself to not go on the trip to the Archeological Museum because it was one of the most important of the trip for me.

I ended up dragging myself there, and I was happy that I did. The things in that museum are amazing. I have been studying them for three years, and having the ability to see them and look at them for as long as I wanted in real life was great. There are so many things in that museum of great importance to Greek history.

After the museum, I was feeling badly, so I went to bed.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Thursday, September 28, 2006

We went to the Parthenon with Jeffrey. I had been there before on my own before, so I was able to see the things I had seen and studied about before in a much more detailed light. It was very nice to see it again, and I loved being in the Greek air finally hearing the Greek language around me. It made me feel wonderful.

Unfortunately, I got a really bad fever while we were there, so I spent the rest of the day trying to sleep it off.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

We took the plane to Athens this day.

The only notable part of the journey was that I was escorted through security for causing trouble. I asked if they would hand inspect my film, and they refused to do it. The security person made me send it through and guaranteed that it would be fine. When I asked for his name, he called the military to escort me away from security as I sobbed about my film being x-rayed.

It all worked out though. The film developed fine, and I wasn’t thrown from the airport and stuck in Rome alone.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

This was our last day in Rome. It was supposed to be very magical, and it turned out to be for me at least.

We spent the morning in the Roman Forum with Jeffrey. It was a lot of fun to walk around what used to be a busy street and try to put it all back together. I had been there before, but being guided through it with Jeffrey really was a big help.

We ended the morning tour in front of the Coliseum, and we were allowed to go wherever we wanted.

A group of us ran over to the church that holds Michelangelo’s Moses for the tomb of Pope Julius. We were kicked out quickly because the church was closing, but I at least got the joy of standing in front of it.

After that, I walked with a group of people to another church. I went in and they continued on to the church that they wanted to go see. My church turned out not to be so good, so I ended up meeting the group on the steps of another church that was closed.

We decided to go see if a museum was open, so we walked past yet another church that was designed my Michelangelo on the way to the subway station that we took to the museum we were interested in.

The museum didn’t look as promising as I thought it would, so I left the group alone and decided to walk across Rome alone on my way home.

It was a wonderful walk. I went into any church I could, and I saw a lot of good things. I ended up seeing the Deposition of the Cross by Michelangelo as well as many Carravaggio paintings. The afternoon turned out to be a very good one. I was ready to head to my Greek land.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday, September 25, 2006

This was one of the most inspirational days I’ve had, and I am doing the very rare thing of writing about it actually on the day because I do not want to forget everything I have to write down.

Early in the morning, we had to wake up and get ready. The Vatican Museums are known for being really crazy, and you have a chance of getting there before the real crowds hit if you get there early.

While Christy was showering, I decided to call Jared, and I actually ended up getting a hold of him right as he was coming back from his surprise Birthday party put on by his mom. He said that there were a lot of people at the party and that it was really nice. I was happy to hear about it.

We headed down and had a very big breakfast before heading off onto the bus. The bus was really crowded, but we managed to cram in as a group of 20 on our way. When we got off the bus, it was still before 8, but the line for the museum wrapped well around the block already. We were told that it was bad news, so we sat and waited. The Museum didn’t even open for another 50 minutes, but we were able to fill the time. The line moved very quickly, and we were in only an hour and a half after we had arrived. However, we were not able to beat the crowds. Once we got in, we were walking shoulder-to-shoulder with the many other people that were in there, there was no room to move or breathe, and it really was very crazy.

We had to walk through four or five very long crowds to make it to the Sistine Chapel, and once we got in there, it was very crazy. However, it was very worth it. When I looked up on the ceiling and saw the real fresco of Michelangelo of God giving life to Adam, tears welled up in my eyes. It was as emotional for me as seeing some of the other amazing Boticelli pieces that I had so long admired. I felt so lucky to be there even though it was difficult physically to get there and to be there.

We spent quite a bit of time in the chapel going over each scene and each character. The impact of the scenes on me was immense, and being in that chapel was one of the best things that I have done so far in this life. Michelangelo really does change the entire space of the architecture of the building with only paint. It was very impressive.

Jeffery then went over the Last Judgment with us. We had a little time then to look at the other frescos in the chapel painted my Boticelli. I was very happy to see them as well.

When we left the Sistine Chapel, we spent time going through the other parts of the Vatican Museums very slowly. We saw the cabinets that used to house the volumes that are now in temperature and climate controlled vaults out of view of the general public.

I saw frescoes that have the maps of Italy on them that are very famous.

We moved slowly through the Egyptian and Assyrian parts of the museum before landing in the Ancient Greece and Rome section. I was able to see some of the statues that were very influential to the people of the Renaissance. The sculptures are just amazing, and it reminds me what an incredible group the human race has been and that this brilliance is not just isolated to the present day. The experience was very humbling.

We then moved back through toward the Sistine Chapel to look at some rooms that Raphael was working on at the same time that Michelangelo was painting. I saw the School of Athens fresco, which was something I have seen many times, but never expected to see today. Raphael did a very good job in his day.

We then headed to the painting section of the museum and looked at the last Italian Renaissance paintings we will look at as a group. The painters were amazing, and the evaluation of them was very easy because I now have a large amount of understanding of Italian art under my belt from which to judge. It was amazing to see the masterpieces in that museum.

Everyone was very tired at this point, and our feet were hurting, so we decided it was time to take a break for lunch. We had seen all of the important parts of the Vatican Museums, so we headed out onto the streets and into the rain for lunch. Christy and I spent some time walking up the street until we came to Saint Peter’s Square. We decided to eat the lunch we packed under the protection of the covered walkway leading to the church. It was a very nice way to eat lunch. I had bare feet because walking in my sandals was slippery, and I did get stepped on. I got accused of being an American for getting mad at the person I stepped on. The charge, for which, I am guilty.

We then headed off into the rain to get gelato and umbrellas, and eventually, we had found both. I had even managed to get a white umbrella, which I have been looking for for a very long time.

We then walked back to Saint Peters because it was raining very hard. We still had quite a bit of time, so I asked Christy if she would be willing to photograph me in the rain with my umbrella. She did a little bit, but then my friends showed up, and we started to run around. Eventually, we had ditched the umbrellas and our shoes and were running around in a torrential downpour. We were dancing and doing cartwheels (yes, the pregnant woman was doing cartwheels). Christy took quite a few photographs of us messing around. We decided to play follow the leader in the rain and ended up running around crazily laughing and smiling. I am told that we attracted quite a bit of attention, and we were photographed by many tourists who found us amusing.

It was finally time to meet up with the group to go into Saint Peter’s Church.

The church is amazing. It is very big and is in fact the biggest church ever. As we walked in the doors, which are great masterpieces, we came upon the stone where Charlemagne knelt and was crowned emperor by the Pope. That was very amazing. I felt like a piece of history.

I was able to see Michelangelo’s Pieta. It is very amazing, but we were not able to get close to it because it has been well protected since a crazy man attacked it. The people were all just standing there trying to take photos of it, but I weaseled my way to the front and got to spend some time looking at it. It was very amazing.

We looked at the rest of the church after that. The church has a lot of legends and other things associated with it like the spear that put the wound in Christ and the rag that wiped his face on the way to the cross. Saint Peter is said to be buried under the church, and the altar over his body is very magnificently made.

There are so many fine things in the church that the only way to describe it would be to send someone to look at it. I was humbled by it, and I plan to return tomorrow without my camera to look some more, even in more torrential rain.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Photos of the Villa in Pistoia

Photos of the Villa in Pistoia

Sunday, September 24, 2006

It was time to leave the villa and head off to Rome. John hired a coach bus to come and take our luggage and us to the hotel in Rome, so all we had to do was show up on time at the door of the villa with all our luggage.

We had all bought shirts on the trip that said “Chao Bella.” Almost everyone had a different color, so we decided to do a group shot with everyone wearing his or her shirt. It was a lot of fun to set up.

The ride to Rome was long, so I slept.

When we got there, we put our things in our rooms and then we headed off with John Pack on a walk. He was going to show us around Rome and take us to some of the sites around our hotel that really inspired him. One of the first things we did was go and see the Pantheon. I was just amazed at the workmanship of the dome, and it was truly an incredible thing to see. Our walk took us all over Rome up to the Capital that Michelangelo designed, down to the Roman Forum and through the Jewish Ghetto back to our hotel.

The walk was really amazing. Rome isn’t one of my favorite cities, but I was able to truly appreciate the beauty of the place that it was and that it has been.

We walked off at night alone to the Trevi Fountain. I threw a coin in for good luck. It is supposed to mean that I will return to Rome.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I have nothing exciting to report for this day. I spent the day packing and lounging getting ready for the next big week in Rome and Athens and then on to PAROS!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Friday, September 22, 2006

It was hard to believe that after all of the things that we had done that our time was coming to a close. It was our last trip to Florence before heading away from Italy. I was really looking forward to it.

Our first mission was to head to San Miniato. It is a church above the hill in Florence, and it is fabulous. It has a really good view of the city. The church is one of the best that I had been in. It was also one of Michelangelo’s favorites, and I can see why. The church was right along the defense walls that Michelangelo helped to put together when Florence was under siege.

The time we spent in the church was amazing because it was all covered inside and out with perfect white marble. It was a really good church to end our tour of Florence on.

After that, the group walked down the hill to Florence and had lunch.

After lunch, we met up at the Medici Chapel. The goal was to go in and see the Medici tombs as well as the work that Michelangelo did. It was a really fabulous visit, and the works are by far some of my favorite works that Michelangelo did. We then went around and went into the church of San Lorenzo. It is one of my other favorite churches. The entire thing was designed my Brunelleschi, and it has a very fabulous feel. It was one of my favorite spaces to spend time in.

We were all tired, but because it was our last trip in Florence, I headed off with a couple of people to see some other churches. The church of Santo Spirito that was wanted to see was closed, so Jeffrey recommended that we go to the Church of SS. Annunziata. It was nothing like the other churches we had been in, so we did not stay long. The cloister was amazing, but that was because Brunelleschi had a say in it’s design, and it was not ruined too much by later people.

On the way home, I stopped off on the train to Prato. The city is a beautiful little city that I had wanted to see. The only thing that Jeffrey told me would be of interest during a quick trip would be the Duomo. I loved it. I was so surprised by its simple beauty. It is legend that the girdle that Mary was wearing when she ascended to Heaven was thrown down on her way up, and it is supposed to rest in the Duomo in Prato. I was able to see it.

It was nice to take the side road off alone to Prato to see all the wonderful things there were to see.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Not much to say about this day. We didn’t have anything scheduled for the day, so I decided to take a nice hike up to the hill above the villa and visit the old monastery there. Christy and Matt decided to come with me.

At first, we started right up through the olive groves, and it was a beautiful hike. We eventually came upon a house where a farmer was working. He asked us where we were going and then opened all the gates on the property for us to be able to go through. He was nice, and it was a “cultural” experience, as my friend would say.

The monastery was very wonderful, and the view was fabulous.

After the hike, Matt and I headed to Pistoia where he bought me some lunch, which was very nice.

The rest of the day was spent doing little else but getting ready to head to Greece.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Lucca was our last day trip out to a new city, and I was really looking forward to it. I had not heard about the glories of Lucca, but I was sure that it was going to be fabulous.

We got there and found out first thing that the church that we were first going to look at was closed. While the professors regrouped and got some coffee, my friends and I discovered that it was an important day in the town and that there was a good market going on. We found a stand that was making fresh donuts, and I had one. It was really amazing.

We then walked on through the town to see the glories that Lucca has to offer.

I am writing this a little bit after the trip. The experience of Lucca is the city itself. There wasn’t a lot of great masterpieces that we saw while we were there. The city is a well-arranged city that has many medieval palaces in it. The streets are lined with the feeling of being old in a modern time.

The churches that we visited were very amazing. I got some post cards of the facades of them because I really enjoyed the time I spent in them.

Of course, as in all churches in Italy, I saw many relics.

We made our way slowly home after a long day of looking at the beautiful city of Lucca.

Dinner was steak, and it was fabulous.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

We had such a small amount of time left in Pistoia, so we decided to again go down into the city and explore the things that it has in store.

We headed in to the Commune building to explore the Commune Museum. It is a museum with a lot of important works done in Pistoia all through history. We spent a lot of time in the Renaissance section. There weren’t a lot of great masterpieces that are well known, but it was very educational to look at the art that was being done. A lot of it was every bit as good as some of the stuff we were seeing in Florence. It’s hard to imagine that Pistoia was also a VERY important city in the Renaissance—unlike it’s role today.

After the Commune Museum, the group headed off to a museum of work by a famous sculptor named Marino Marini. It was interesting to look at his work. He is a modern art sculptor, and I did not like his work at all. I felt that he had never learned how to draw correctly and traditionally and was thus unable to transfer any quality into his work. I did not stay long, and I vowed to never let my art quality get to the point that I thought his had gone to.

I went home and spent the afternoon photographing one of my friends in the fountain of the villa. She has a wonderful personality, and I’m sure that if you see my portfolio that you will see the photos I took of her.

Dinner was Calamari, soup, turkey with spinach, fish, fruit, cheese and bread.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Monday, September 18, 2006

We were going to have another day in Florence. I have really gotten to know the city well, and it was a joy to be able to spend another day in it looking at the amazing works of art that are available.

We all traveled in to Florence together and went directly to the Bargello. The Bargello is the most important sculpture museum in Florence and quite possibly the world. It has some of the most important pieces from some of the most important sculptors in the world. When we got there, we were able to get in for free because we were technically a “European school group.” We then also found out that the top floor was completely closed down for “unknown reasons.” We later found out that “unknown reasons” meant that there had been some minor thefts done as inside jobs and that they were being investigated. (Was I supposed to publish that information or not?)

The sculptures in the museum were very wonderful. I’m sure that on my blog that I have used many different adjectives over and over again in a very tiring manner, but the truth is that they are all completely accurate.

The Bargello had quite a few works that I have been studying for my entire Art History career. The ability to see Donatello’s David was very incredible.

I was also able to see lots of works by Michelangelo. The only ones that I have not seen now are the ones that are in the Casa Buronotti and the two works in Milan and Bruge.

After a long lunch, the group headed off to Santa Croce. The church has a lot of importantance as far as the history of Florence is concerned. Michelangelo is buried in it, and he spent time during his life studying in it. There are some very important frescoes by Giotto and the cloister (which is amazing) was designed by Brunelleschi. I really enjoyed the area.

We went home and made it home just in time for dinner.

After dinner, we listened to music with Jeffrey again.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Jeffrey had us all headed down to the city very early. To get to Pistoia, it is necessary to take two buses. If the buses meet up with each other, it is called “coincidence.” If they don’t meet up, it is only necessary to walk about 10 minutes down to the place where the second bus connects. Of course because we were relying on the bus system, it dictated our schedule, and most mornings we had to be on the 8:17 bus fed and ready for a day of exploring.

We stopped off at the old hospital to take a look at a frieze that has been done by Della Robbia’s sons. Della Robbia is well known for inventing a way to carve and glaze terra cotta so that it looked like marble. He became rich during the Renaissance using his technique because he was able to make sculpture/reliefs much faster and much cheaper than a traditional marble sculptor. His son inherited his workshop and then was able to change the technique to include many more colors. The old hospital (it is actually still part of the hospital), has a really amazing frieze in terra cotta with many different colors. We evaluated it for quite a while after a nice break in the coffee shop.

I had some hot chocolate that was like drinking hot pudding. It was very amazing.

We then headed off to another church to look at the Renaissance architecture. It was a really amazing church. I have come to really love and appreciate Renaissance architecture.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Saturday, September 16, 2006

I had many doubts about going to Siena. Not because I didn’t think it would be beautiful, but I was sure that I was going to be as ill on the bus as I was when we took the bus into Florence on the way to Venice. In fact, I was looking forward to going to Siena so much. I had read a lot about it recently in a book that my Mother-In-Law had passed along to me before my trip, and the images I got from just reading that book made me very excited to spend time in Siena.

The bus ride was not a problem for me. In fact, I spent most of the way asleep. Apparently, Gabriel was not feeling very well behind me, and all of the effort I had put into having things that kept me well and clean on the bus were transferred to him as he vomited in the seat behind me. It was sad, but it worked out well. I had him come sit next to me, and I took care of him for the rest of the trip there.

When we got there, we took a nice little walk around the perfectly kept walls of the city. I was impressed at the fact that they were so well built that they still stood to be admired 600 years later.

We stopped next to a church with a public bathroom. I didn’t have to use the bathroom, so Jeffrey told us that the church we were standing next to was a church that held the head of St. Catherine of Siena. It was an intriguing story. We have seen many, many relics on our trip so far, so I was excited to add it to the list of the ones that I had seen. It was actually very odd looking, and not very nice. The church it was in was a nice church. The modern stained glass windows made it very ugly and hard to look at because the colors were very bright and intense.

After the church, we walked around Siena a bit more and went to have some coffee at a famous café called Nanini. It is famous for it’s pastries, which it exports all over Europe. I decided that it was a good time to have a pastry and some coffee (my coffee intake has been very limited lately). The pastry was OK, but I can honestly say that the ones I eat on Paros are much better in my book. I’m glad that I was able to try it though.

After coffee, we walked into the main square. The square is where the big commune building is. It is also the place where the famous Palio horse races take place. There was actually something special going on while we were there, and all of the flags were up around the city indicating what contrada we were in at all times. It was a lot of fun to see the sprit of Siena. It seems to be a lot more present than in many of the other towns I have been in. If I were to take Jared or anyone else in my family to a city in Italy, Siena would definitely be at the top of my list.

We went in and spent time looking at the treasures of the museum inside the commune. There were many interesting things to see including an incredible fresco in the room where the counselors meet that depicts the world under good government and then under bad government. I really enjoyed the fresco. Everything else we saw in the museum was just stuff that was interesting as far as the puzzle of the Renaissance is concerned and not anything that anyone else would really be interested in or intrigued about.

There was a wedding going on in the middle of our tour, so we ended up splitting up ion the museum to go and see the things we didn’t get to see as a group.

There was a stairwell that led up to a balcony of the building, and we were able to see a really incredible view of Siena from that vantage point.

We then walked as a group to the Duomo in Siena. The walk was really amazing because we passed by a lot of old palaces with the flags of the contrada hanging about. It was a really beautiful walk. It started to rain a little bit on us as we walked along.

Getting into the church was easy, but I saw the counter when we walked in that indicated that there were over 600 people in the church. Part of the problem is that the floor of the church is considered a great masterpiece, so there are only very narrow parts that you are able to walk on. Going through such a large crowd in such a narrow space is a very hard thing to do. We did the best we could possibly do in the given situation.

I was able to see some of the smaller sculptures that were made my Michelangelo to go in a tomb in the church. The sculptures were really nice, but they weren’t highlighted in any way at all.

There is a library in the church that was built for Illuminated Manuscripts that is fabulous. The manuscripts are very amazing, and the room that they are in is full of very bright and shiny frescoes. The time that we spent in the Duomo was really very nice.

We had quite a bit of time available for lunch so Christy and I walked around a lot. It was raining, and I was able to take advantage of people out walking around with umbrellas to protect them, which is a theme that I have been recently using in my photographs. I found a grocery store, and bought food for lunch. Christy and I sat in front of the Commune and ate. Then, we went shopping and I bought a pashmina that is very beautiful. I took photos for a while and we headed back up to the Duomo to meet with Jeffrey.

After lunch, we looked at the façade of the church and then headed over to the Museum of the Works of the Duomo. I like it when there are museums with the original things from a church because it allows you to get a lot closer to the things than you may have been able to do under other circumstances. The main highlight was the Duccio altarpieces, which we spent quite a bit of time in front.

At the end of the tour, we were told that there was access to a very high balcony above the church. Even though it was raining, I ran up to that point with several other people. I even managed to have my photo taken up there. The view was just amazing, and I really enjoyed seeing what has become my favorite city from that wonderful angle.

At 5:00 we went to the bus and headed for home. I was not feeling well, and I had to sort out some things with John regarding foods that were available at the villa, and he agreed to set up having the cooks make food that I would be able to eat. I felt a lot better.

We got back to the villa just before dinner. Dinner was lasagna without tomato sauce, zucchini omelet, sausage, bread, cheese and fruit.

After dinner we finished Dante with Jeffrey.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday, September 15, 2006

We were going to head into Pistoia, but it turned out that there was a bus strike in Pistoia, so it was very difficult to pull off moving a group around odd bus schedules. Everything that was planned in Pistoia for the day was cancelled, and we had classes at the villa in the afternoon instead.

We had the morning off, and I decided that it would be a very good time to catch up on things I needed to do like get my journal up to date. I wasn’t quite there, but I got a lot closer.

I was not feeling very good, so I ended up spending the morning and part of the afternoon making potato soup that I would be able to eat. I had not been feeling well, and I was not able to eat anything that we were having for dinner. John started working on the soup, and I took over.

I missed writing class because I was making soup, but I went to Drawing, Photography and Painting after. It is nice to get back in the groove, but we are reviewing things that I have heard twice already. It will be nice to be in Paros with the ability to work soon.

We had a lovely dinner, but I wasn’t able to eat very much of it, so I ended up eating apples.

Jeffrey talked about the things that we would need to do the next day in Siena after dinner.

A student that was here when Nicole Alba and Savana Kretchmar were here came with her portfolio that she had used to complete college with. The photos were all photos that had been taken while in Pistoia and in Greece, and it was really nice to get an idea of the quality of work that had been done in the past. It was very educational.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Thursday, September 14, 2006

We again decided to trek off to Florence. It feels like we have been at the villa for a long time, and it feels like the days are moving very slowly, but it is just the fact that we have fit so much activity into the days. We have been only together for 12 days, but it feels like it has been much longer.

The big days that we have in Florence have been amazing. My whole life I just keep running into the fact that the things that I want to see are all to be seen in Florence. Boticelli spent most of his life there, and as an avid follower of his life and his work, it has been amazing to walk the same streets that he was able to walk.

The first thing we did was going to the church of Santa Maria Novella. The church is right next to the train station, so it was an easy walk to get to when we got there. Of course, we stopped for the morning coffee with Jeffrey.

When we got to the church, the façade, was completely covered up and being restored, so rather than be able to lecture in front of the façade, we had to buy a postcard of it and get what details we possibly could from what we could see in the post card. The church has a graveyard around it as well as cloisters that the nuns lived in when it was an active convent.

The first thing we did was walk around the cemeteries where the noblemen of Florence are buried. When we walked in, we took a look at the space of the church. It is fabulous. It is really well decorated inside, and it is the most inviting church we had been in to. The space was so inviting and the Pisan Romanesque stripes were stylized in a method that really appealed to me. I really liked the church.

We spent time in the church looking at the architecture itself. I was very impressed with it. Above the main door in the back is a painting that is in the Boticelli style, and has been attributed to him. I was happy to see it. His work is more abundant than I originally thought, and that has made me very happy and filled me with surprise.

We then walked up to the front of the church and looked at some rater odd frescos by Filpo Lippi. We also got to look at some amazing Ghirlandio frescos that are painted in the area of the church where the main altar is. He is an incredible master, and the frescoes made me understand his work and come to respect him almost as much as I respect Boticelli. One of the other very neat things was that Michelangelo learned how to make and paint frescoes working on those exact paintings. They were a really wonderful experience.

Santa Maria Novella has a lot of other incredible things like a painting by Massachio that was one of the first to illustrate perspective and a wooden cross by Brunelleshi that was also very fabulous.
Santa Maria Novella was by far my favorite church in a lot of ways that I never would have expected.

We then walked across Florence to the church of Santa Maria del Carmine. Inside a chapel are some amazing frescoes done on a collaborative effort by Massachio and Masalino. The frescoes were some of the most influential of the Renaissance, and were the first to illustrate perspective. Every artist after that time (including Michelangelo) learned to draw from those frescoes. I enjoyed the time we got to evaluate them.

It was then lunchtime. We had quite a bit of time, so I decided that I would go to the Medici Palace and check out that area. I have read a lot about the Medici, and the palace was mentioned quite a bit in my book about Michelangelo. It was one of the most influential palaces because of its architecture, which all later palaces in Florence copied. Additionally, it housed the family that acted as the guardians of the Republic of Florence and the Fathers of the Renaissance.

Most of the Medici Palace is now used as office space, but enough of it is open to get a good idea of the way that it was set up in earlier times. The courtyard is full of the crests of the family, and the garden is very nice. The garden is the one where Donatello’s David was commissioned to stand, and it was the place that Michelangelo saw it standing. The Medici Palace is also the place where Michelangelo got his start as a sculptor. I’m sure it has changed a lot, but it was nice to get a feel for the way that it used to be.

The one room that has not been changed is the chapel. There are some frescoes on the wall of the chapel that were commissioned by Cosimo (father of Lorenzo). They are very beautiful by Fra Angelico, who is the teacher of Boticelli. There are some portraits of people in the family in the frescos that were very amazing to see.

In the garden there was a sculpture museum with some sculptures from ancient Rome that I was able to look at. I enjoyed them quite a bit.

After the Medici chapel, I walked around the San Lorenzo market and bought some shirts and a tie for Jared for his birthday. It was nice to get something for him that was going to be useful, and he will really like them.

I was also finally able to find some post cards that show important buildings in Florence that I didn’t get good photos of, and that I wanted to show to others. I was very happy.

I met Jane and the rest of the group on the steps of the Duomo and we went to the art store to get some art supplies.

Of course I got home with little time to spare for dinner. Dinner was gnocchi, chicken, potatoes and vegetables, salad, fruit, cheese, fig cake.

We almost finished Dante after dinner, but Jeffrey decided to put it off for a little bit longer.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It was our last day in Venice, and we had the morning to ourselves. On the long ferry ride we took the first day to Burano, we ran into a photographer/architect that was taking photos on the ferry. He pointed out a place to us that didn’t have any tourists but was very pretty. We decided to spend the morning in that area taking a lot of photos.

It took a little while to get there, and we were happy to be on the ferry early in the morning. It is very surprising how wonderful Venice can be in the middle of the morning with the lovely golden light shining on everything. We were surprised by the incredible authenticity of the place. There were no tourists to be found, and we saw lots of streets with Italian people and markets. There was also a lot of laundry hanging on lines between houses.

We decided to walk slowly back toward the main church and then take the ferry to the hotel to get ready to go home. We walked along the waterfront looking for things to buy at tourist’s shops, and we finally just settled on eating gelato and getting on the ferry.

Unfortunately, we ended up on the line that goes the opposite direction than what we were looking for, so it took us about an hour to get back. It was nice to tour the outside of Venice, and we got to look at a lot of the facades of the churches and other buildings. It was definitely worth it even though we did it by mistake.

The rest of the day was spent on the train on the way to Pistoia.

Dinner was again at the villa. We had vegetable soup, chicken, baked zucchini, mashed potatoes, salad, fruit, cheese.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

We had breakfast delivered to our room again at 8:00 because we needed to head off to meet Jeffrey. Christy was very tired, so I did end up eating by myself and then heading off to the market. It was a lot more set up when I got there than it had been the day before, and I spent time taking photos of the octopus, squid, tomatoes, plums, nectarines and flowers. I really enjoyed my time there alone. At the end, I ran into Christy, so we headed back together to meet the group on the middle of the Rialto Bridge.

While we were waiting for the group, I just stood there watching the sun come up and the light flow over the buildings of Venice. I liked watching people on their morning commute via boat. Some of the people working on the boats amused me because they would go about driving their boats with a cell phone and cigarette in hand. I was very amused to watch it all.

Jeffery spent the morning with us in a church called The Church of the Glorious Saint Mary. I really enjoyed the church. It was elaborately decorated. We got to see some paintings that I really enjoyed. We also fulfilled an Aegean Center tradition of throwing a red rose on the grave of the founder of opera music. It was really fabulous. The church was very amazing, it definitely did help me add more pieces to the puzzle I’m working on called the Italian Renaissance.

After the church, I got together with Matt, and we headed out to Torcello. We had a good boat ride together just relaxing and talking about frivolous things. When we got to Torcello, we went in one of the churches and then walked around taking photos before we ran into a group of Aegean Center students. He went up in the campanile with the group, and I stayed down and took quite a few photos. I was impressed there was such a fabulous church in such a remote location.

I decided to head off to Murano and maybe look at some glass. On the way, everyone went their separate ways, so I ended up on Murano with Lindsey. We walked around for a while, but since I had spent a little time there the day before, we looked only a little and walked back to the boat to head to meet everyone for dinner.

I got back a little early, so I took off alone with my camera to take photos of people riding in gondolas. I got some gelato, and had just a really nice walk before dinner.

We met everyone at 6:30, and we were going to go to dinner, but a lot of people wanted to go in gondolas, so a group of them got together to do that. I went for a walk with Georgie to find a supermarket because I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to go out to eat for dinner.

When we got back from the market, we caught up with everyone getting off their gondola ride, so I decided to go and head out to eat with Mark, Matt, Liz, Marilyn, etc. I decided finally that I was going to eat, so I ended up eating an entire pizza by myself. Matt and I went for a walk to talk about some girl problems while we were waiting for the food to come, and I did the best that I could to help him out.

At dinner, the food was not very good. It was actually very comical. The service was very bad because the waitress did not speak English and wasn’t will to work with our Italian. She got almost every order mixed up and tried to pass off a meal with polenta and cuttlefish on three people in the group. It was kind of comical. We ended up just laughing about it.

I went to the bar with the group after, but decided the best thing was to again be the boring one and head off to bed alone. It was just fine.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

After the long morning, it was time to get up and get going again. A funny thing to think was that it was in fact the anniversary of September 11, 2001, and I thought to myself as I woke up in the morning that I was very glad to be in a country that wont be spending a lot of time buying in the drama of the whole thing. I took some time to remember that there was definitely some work still left to be done in the world and again vowed to renew my purpose in that. I think that was a just remembrance of the day.

We were supposed to meet Jeffery at 9:00 at the door of the Academia. We were also told that before that if we wanted to do something interesting that we could walk to the market to take photos. Christy and I had breakfast delivered to our room at 8:00, and we left early to head to the market.

Venice looks amazing in the morning light, and I took photos of the local people getting up and getting ready for the day in their beloved city. The market was still setting up, but I did take photos of the vegetables and fruit in the morning sun, and I was quite happy with some of the photos that I did take. Christy and I admired the boats all going down the canal, and I watched the local people take gondolas across the river. It was very lovely.

We took the boat to the Academia stop, and we ran into Liz and Jeffery in the coffee shop right next to the museum. It was fun. We spent time talking to them because we were early, when John Pack and John Van Buren showed up. I was surprised to see John because I didn’t know that he was coming. I was glad to see him though because I knew that part of the scholarship John was able to give to me was in part due to the kindness and determination of John Van Buren. He is an amazing man, and he deserved to spend time in Venice with us. I was told that he was actually going to spend the rest of the Italy session with the group, which was very nice.

The Academia Museum did have some very good masterpieces in it, and we had a lot of fun looking at them. I must say that I am a Florentine Renaissance woman. The Titian paintings were interesting, but I can’t say that I am the biggest fan. The paintings we did look at helped me to piece the Renaissance together in my mind, and a lot of them are Masterpieces. It was a very enjoyable museum visit.

After the Academia, Jeffery said goodbye to us for the afternoon. Part of the theory of having so much free time was so that we would be able to go out and get a feel for Venice on our own. I decided with Christy that I wanted to go out and visit some of the islands just outside of Venice. One is known for lace called Burano, one is known for glass called Murano and one is known for its church called Torcello.

I used my map and some advice from Jeffrey to head on out to the islands. Unfortunately, we took the long way, and we ended up going from stop to stop transferring boats, and it took us about two and a half hours to get there. At that time, it was too late to be able to go to Torcello and have a lot of time to go to the museum, so we went to Burano, and it ended up being the best decision.

I do have to say that Burano was one of my favorite places on Earth (even close to Bruge and Paros). All of the houses are colored and the method of transportation is still boats because it is built on canals outside of Venice.

There were almost no tourists there, so we had the place to ourselves. We walked around the entire island, and it was really wonderful. I have a lot of photos of the colorful houses.

Christy took some photos of me, so it is even documented that I did go there.

We decided to head over to Murano because Burano was so cool, but by the time we got there, we were so tired that we ended up just heading back to Venice to be with the group.

When we got back to the hotel, we ran into a group that was going out to eat, so we decided to tag along. We found a nice but expensive restaurant in a quiet area. The food was not very good, but it was nice to sit out in Venice and have some good time with friends. I had pasta with tomato sauce and some bread.

After dinner, I was headed off to bed to avoid any more drama like that of the night before.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sunday, September 10, 2006

It was time to go to Venice. It is very often one of the major important parts of the Italy Semester for the Aegean Center, so we were all very excited. I had always heard very bad things about Venice about how dirty it was and how the canals were all smelly. Having my expectations very low had me very surprised when I got there because it was very amazing.

We got up early and then took the coach bus from the front door of the villa to the Florence train station. I had been trying to stop taking medication for my morning sickness, so I hadn’t taken it the night before. The trip on the bus was very hard. I was sitting up front, but despite my best efforts, I was feeling very ill and unhappy. As the bus wound through the back streets of Florence, I felt very sick, and was dizzy.

We finally arrived at the train station in Florence, but I was feeling very ill. We had quite a bit of time before the train was to leave, so all of the students were allowed to leave their bags with Jane, who was at the station as a guard, and they were given free reign to go and do something exciting. I was not feeling good, so I just sat in the train station with the bags and felt awful. Eventually, I did manage to get up and take a walk, but on my walk out of the train station, some man ended up spitting on me, so I had to walk to the park across the street and get that figured out. Needless to say, it was not really exciting having someone spit on me in the middle of the train station when I was not feeling well.

Eventually, all of the students returned, and we ended up on the three-hour train to Venice. I was sitting with a very lively crowd, and I was playing games with them in between heading to the bathroom to throw up any attempts to eat food that day. We played a game that was a lot of fun and had a hilarious result. I will keep it in mind for future reference, but we had quite a lot of fun.

I was so surprised when I stepped out of the train station in Venice and saw that canals. People were really being carted around in gondolas and there was so much that was going on that was exciting.

Of course, we had little time to get to our hotels and check in before we had to head off to meet Jeffrey and the group for a tour of the church.

Our hotel was in a very lovely location right off the Rialto Bridge. Venice is so amazing. I hope now looking back that I have taken enough photos for myself to be able to remember exactly how lovely the city is. It is full of canals and amazing buildings. The city had been built in such a lovely style because the Venetians at one point in history were amazingly smart and unconquerable. They had conquered quite a bit of Europe, and in every area that they conquered they brought back treasures for themselves. The city is built on a sand bar and is almost impossible to attack, so it has a very lovely appearance because it could afford it and because there was no danger of it’s treasures being stolen.

The hotel was very lovely. It was a three star hotel, so it was decorated in a very nice way. I made a comment to some of the other students that John did a very good job booking the hotel because I definitely wouldn’t have chosen such a nice place for myself if I were traveling to Venice alone. It was nice to stay somewhere nice when we were on the road.

The students all headed to meet Jeffery for the afternoon lecture. We were going to go to St. Marks Square. The square was beautiful. It is definitely one of the most famous areas in the world, and it was loaded with pigeons, tourists and pigeons on tourists. The buildings around the big church of St. Mark were all very nicely built. Of course, a city with so much money would hire an architect that could do such a rich city justice.

We looked at the façade and the campanile of the church. The façade is amazing and is covered in expensive mosaic with a lot of gold. It is very impressive.

The church is so popular that it was very strict about its entrance and the route you were supposed to take when in the church. There was a mass going on, so we were filtered quickly through the church quietly with a large crowd. Even though we were battling the crowd, it was amazing. The church had a feel very different than the feelings I had gotten in other churches. It was much more like the Hundred Doors Church on Paros.

After walking around the church, we went to the top of the church to a museum that was filled with all kinds of original works from the church. Also, it gave access to the balcony that ran around the top of the church, so we were able to go out on the balcony and get a better view of Venice. I took quite a few photos from up there even though I was feeling quite tired.

When we came down from the church, we spent time looking around the square. Jeffrey spent time explaining the architecture of the Duke’s Palace that was right next to St. Mark’s Church. Jeffrey also pointed out the architecture of the building right across from the Duke’s Palace because it was built as a fantastic library. We ended the tour next to the water where there were a lot of picturesque gondolas.

I was just simply impressed by the afternoon tour. It gave me more information about Venice, and got me in the mood to spend three days there.

After the tour, Jessica, Christy, Matt, Danielle and I headed off to get some food. I shared a pizza with Christy, and it was pretty good. We had an enjoyable evening.

After dinner, everyone wanted to go out to the bars, so I followed along with them to see if someone would want to walk me home a little later. We found a bar that was able to charm them all into staying, so a while into the night, I left and went back to the hotel alone.

Christy stayed behind, and I ended up letting her into the room later that night. Apparently, she had more to drink than she wanted, and we spent part of the night handling her being sick in between her telling me about some of the drama that had occurred with the other students while she was out with them.

The drama of that night was enough to last for quite a while.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Saturday, September 9, 2006

We had the chance to sleep in on Saturday morning, but of course, there was an exciting alternative, which I decided not to pass up. Christy and I got up early and decided that we were going to go into the central square in Pistoia to see what the market was like.

We were told that the market had been going on continuously for hundreds of years on Saturday mornings. It is a good place to go and hang out with friends, but it is also a good place to find wares and clothes for a much cheaper price than may otherwise be available.

Christy and I decided to go and hang out down there and see if we could get some good photos, but we also decided to do some shopping.

We got there early enough that they were actually still setting up, and we spent about an hour and a half walking through all the booths looking at clothes and jewelry and kitchen wares, etc. It was a lot of fun. I ended up buying a sweater that has long sleeves and that has a very flattering shape that I will be able to continue to take advantage of when I have a much bigger belly.

At 10:00, we all met at the office of the commune to go and meet with the mayor. We were taken up into the 700-year-old building for a nice meeting. He gave us a talk in Italian about how important it is to continue quality inter-cultural communication to avoid things like 9-11 in the future.

When we were done with the mayor, he gave us gifts of hats, pens and miniature cutouts of Pistoia. Then we went and had some good food.

The afternoon was time to be off and get some things caught up. I spent some time working on my journal, but when I got tired of writing, I ended up spending the rest of my time out on a blanket next to the fountain in the back reading my book about having healthy children.

It was nice to lie in the sun and talk with my friends.

When the sun got lower in the sky, the wind was blowing, so Christy and I decided to take a walk around and see if we could make ourselves photographically useful. We took a walk around the outside walls of the villa where we found another farmhouse with a garden. I spent some time photographing the beautiful grapes that were in that garden. We walked around, and I took photos of the olives and the olive trees.
We got trapped in the outer walls of the villa, and the only solution was to climb the fence at one point. We decided to climb the gate because it was the most sturdy and had the most places to grip and stand, but the top was very pointy. I made jokes with Christy about her allowing the pregnant woman to climb the fence, etc. It was kind of funny.

When we got back to the villa, I ran into Morgan. I asked her if she wanted to model for me, and she said yes. I ended up taking her into the fields of olives in front of the villa and photographing here in the late afternoon sun. I think that I got the effect that I was looking for. Just when I told her that we were done, the sun went down. I was satisfied.

Dinner that night was spaghetti, mashed potatoes, green beans, chicken, fish, salad, cheese, fruit and cake.

After dinner we skipped Dante and ended up talking about the Venice trip we were about to undertake. We got a general itinerary and then we studied our maps so that we wouldn’t get lost.

I was very tired when we were done talking, so I went directly to bed.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Friday, September 8, 2006

We went to Florence for another adventure into the wonders of art that it has to hold. Jeffrey set it up so that we had a spare morning to do whatever we wanted before we were to meet at 12:00 for our reservation in the Uffizi.

A group of us decided to get up early and head to the Academia to see the David and all the other treasures there. We took the long trip in to Florence and headed in that direction. Since we got there pretty early, the line wasn’t that long, but it was definitely a slow-moving line. We stood there for quite a while waiting to get in, and we were finally able to manage it.

I was told that there was a lot of things to see in the museum, but it was smaller than I thought. We were immediately filtered into a room with about 8 unfinished sculptures by Michelangelo. At the end of the room, was a dome with the David sitting in it. The image of that sculpture stole my attention even though I was trying to look at the other works. I finally decided to pay attention to the demanding sculpture before looking at and evaluating the others. I was quite thrilled to see the David. I had just finished reading Michelangelo’s autobiography by Irving Stone, and it seemed that the creation of the David was so important to him as an artist. I think that it really deserved the place that it got. There were a lot of people there looking at it, but it was worth the crowd. I was so moved by the experience of being there that I was almost in tears. I was in the room with a living, breathing piece of art from 500 years ago. In fact, we went to see it on the 502 anniversary of it’s unveiling by the artist himself. When I return to Florence after this trip, I will be visiting the David again.

When my attention had been sucked dry by the masterpiece that is the David, I was able to look at and evaluate the unfinished works by Michelangelo from different projects. I got to see a lot of the unfinished figures that were to go on to Pope Julius’ tomb. I also got to see the first unfinished sculpture that he was commissioned by Florence to do of the 12 apostles. He got called to Rome before he was able to finish even one, but I got to see that one.

After the Academia, we headed over the Uffizi. We were going to be in there for 2 hours looking intensively at paintings that were the important turning points in the history of Art. Jeffrey took us to the first room, which showed the first paintings before the Renaissance, and then led us through all the way up to the Baroque. I saw paintings by, Giotto, Ucello, Leonardo Da Vinici, Fra Angelico, Filpo Lippi, Boticelli, Carravaggio, Titian, etc.

The work that I saw in the Uffizi really moved me. One of the most important things for me was the fact that I was able to stand in front of many Boticelli paintings that I had admired and studied for years and years. One of his major paintings was missing, but I was able to see Venus and Primavera. The intense emotion at seeing those paintings in person really overcame me, and I was unable to choke back the tears of joy. I got to spend a good deal of time in front of them, and I felt like the connection I had made with Boticelli earlier on in life strengthens.

We spent some really intense time in the museum, and it was relaxing to finally be filtered out through the gift shop. I did take the chance to actually stop and buy some post cards of the art that I had seen that had inspired me.

We walked back to the train station slowly ensuring a stop at the best gelato shop in Florence.

I used the Internet in Pistoia to my great frustration. That experience made me decide that I would not attempt to use the Internet until we get to Paros. When I got back to the villa, I talked to Jared on the phone, which was very nice.

Dinner was corn grits, rice with zucchini and celery, fried grits, calamari and shrimp, fish, salad, cheese, fruit and coffee cake.
Of course, Dante followed Dinner.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Thursday, September 7, 2006

I had talked to Liz about getting up early at some point and going down to look at the beautiful light of Pistoia. I was excited when she announced that this was going to be the day.

We met earlier than all the other students and headed off on the bus together. It was nice to see the photo group together, but I must say that it is a lot bigger than it has been in other semesters, so it may be interesting trying to vie for time with Liz. I’m sure that I will be able to manage though.

The photo class walked around Pistoia for a while looking at the way that the light hit different buildings in different light. We then spent quite a bit of time evaluating and photographing two particular subjects.

I eventually convinced Liz to take us to the food market. Even though the lighting wasn’t the best, it was fun to take some candid shots of people as they buy and sell food. I enjoyed my time there. The class then headed off to the photo store called Foto Lux in Pistoia.

We met Jeffrey later on in the morning in front of one of the churches. He took us in. It was a very simple church. I liked the feel of it though. It wasn’t big and full of ornate things, but it gave the feel of a holy place and the art in it was fabulous. One thing of note was the masterpiece of Della Robia . Della Robia carves things out of terra cotta and then glazes it to look like marble. The sculpture that we saw by him was really nice.

When we left the church, we went to another building that has been turned into a museum. It used to be a church, and in a recent restoration, it was discovered that there were some really amazing frescoes. They were well preserved. We spent quite a bit of time looking at them and trying to make out the scenes that they depicted.

We headed up to the villa at about 13:00. Lunch looked really good, but of course I was not feeling well, so apples became the lunch for me.

After lunch, we had more basic lectures in writing, drawing, photography and art history.

Dinner was corn grits and mushrooms, fish, chicken, carrots, potatoes, salad, cheese and fruit.

We read more Dante after dinner.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

We spent the day in Pisa. We had studied so much about other art in the area that I had completely forgotten that I was going to see the leaning tower of Pisa as well. I got really excited about that on the way there.

It was of course a very early start as usual on the days that we go out away from Pistoia. We have to catch two different buses to get to the train station and then take the train for an hour or so to get to our destination. Of course, because we want to see as much as possible, we start out early and stay as late as possible.

When we got to Pisa, we got out of the train station and got a chance to look around. Since we walk around the cities we visit and don’t use public transportation (because all the things we want to see are near the center anyway), we took a long walk through the city on the way to the Duomo.

Of course, along our long walk, we all stopped to get some coffee, use a bathroom, eat pastries and stock up for lunch. We stopped at a café that Jane swears has the best pastries in the world. She doesn’t eat wheat, but once a year she makes an exception when the school stops at that café, and she has something to eat. I decided that I should be trying it out as well, so I had a pastry. It was pretty good, but being pregnant doesn’t help with my tastes, so I have to reserve judgment on things I’m not craving until I’m no longer pregnant.

On our walk, I got a chance to take some photos. We walked over the river, and that was a beautiful view. Mostly, I was using my Woca, but I do still have some digital shots to work with.

Eventually, we ended up at the Duomo. The Leaning “Tower” of Pisa is in fact just the campanile (bell tower) for the church. We walked around the church and got to take a good look at the tower, the church and the baptistery. They are all very beautiful in style, and it was in fact the building that paved the way for a new style of architecture called Pisa Romanesque. The main features are rounded arches with green and white candy stripes. It sounds really dumb on paper, but when you see it as the façade of many of these beautiful buildings, it looks glorious.

We looked at the facades of all of the buildings and talked about the campanile. When we were done with that, we headed into the Duomo to have a look.

It was a very crowded building, but it was worth having a look. We got to spent time looking around with Jeffery asking the usual questions. How does the space feel? What does it look like? Is the style Gothic, Romanesque or other? What year was it built? Does it have columns or pillars? What was the space designed for? What do the capitals of the columns look like? This style of teaching really gets you to understand what you are looking at so that eventually you ask yourself the questions before he even starts talking.

We then spent some time looking at another one of the famous Pisano pulpits.

The Duomo was really fantastic because it had so much going on in it, and you could just tell that when the city was flourishing as a port for Italy that it was able to invest its wealth into great works for the city. The church is just crammed full of incredible things. I wasn’t feeling very well, but I did my best to stay with the group and get as much as I can, but I do tell you that it is possible to get a lot out of just sitting quietly in a church and observing the space and the art.

We then headed to the baptistery. It was built in a similar way to the Duomo, so it was easy to understand. We went into the space, and it was just wonderful. There wasn’t really a whole lot of art and other things compared to what we had just seen in the Duomo, but it was still nice. There was a very good sculpture of Saint John that I liked. We spent a lot of time looking at another Pisano pulpit.

When Jeffrey was done, he sent us upstairs to look around. I just went up there and sat down because it was so nice. I took a lot of photos of the architecture and other things, but it was really nice to sit up there and be able to look at the building from another angle.

We took a short break for lunch, and I ate what I had stored up from the coffee shop as well as some yogurt I had brought along. A group of us then decided to go and take photos holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. They were kind of touristy, but also a lot of fun.

After lunch, Jeffrey took us to an old cemetery to look around and see where the Pisano father and son had gotten the inspiration to make such beautiful pulpits (from Roman Sarcophagi). We looked around, and it was just a great place to take photos. We stopped and looked at one of the frescos that were really important to Pisa. It was huge and beautiful. The cemetery had been bombed in one of the World Wars, and the cemetery and the frescos on the wall were put back together piece by piece. It was really admirable and showed the quality of human resilience. I was impressed, but also very glad that it was done. We then looked at a lot of graves and sculptures. They were even restoring some of the other frescos, and I got a chance to watch. It was really fun.

We decided to head home. It was pretty late in the afternoon. Of course we went by a very good gelato shop on the way, and it helped purk everyone up.

Dinner was Spinach tortellini, Rabbit, Peas, mashed potatoes, salad, cheese and fruit.

We read Dante after dinner with Jeffrey, and then I headed off to bed.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

It was another day in Pistoia. The program alternates one day in Pistoia and one day out in the world touring. We headed off in the morning to town with Jeffrey. When we were in Pistoia the first day, we were not able to see the altar for the Duomo, and we did not see one of the other churches. That was the mission to be accomplished for the day.

We spent a lot of time in front of the altar, and it was beautiful. The altar contains a relic of the finger bone of one of the important saints. It put Pistoia on the pilgrimage map to have such a relic, so Pistoia made the appropriate response of building a very expensive altar for it.

The altar is made of pure silver, and is about six feet wide and nine feet tall. I wish that I had a photo of it, because it is fantastic. It contains stories from the life of Christ as well as from the life of the saint whose relics it contains. We spent a lot of time in the room with Jeffrey going over the stories and the quality of the workmanship. I’m glad that Pistoia made the decision to commission the work because it is very beautiful.

After that, we headed over to another church. It was a small and minor church, but it is nice to experience churches of different caliber when you are walking around learning about the history of a culture. Even though the church was small and private feeling, it had a lot of great works of art. We spent a lot of time looking at and evaluating the pulpit that has been made by Giovanni Pisano. It was beautiful. We got some other time to look around the church, and I must say that I would have been happy to worship in it if I were a Catholic Pistoian.

After our trip with Jeffrey, everyone headed home. I started to conceive the idea that I am going to use for my journal, and I got to work on it.

In the afternoon, we had classes. Liz taught the basics of photography and then Jane taught us all how to draw circles and straight lines. Of course I need more practice. Drawing is like torture to me, but I must overcome that feeling and be able to do it with some skill before I leave.

After dinner, we read Dante with Jeffrey. It is very fun to be able to read one of the works of a man with such a legacy in history.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Monday, September 4, 2006

The program definitely starts out with a bang. We had only been at the villa for a day and a half, and we were already off on our first adventure in Florence. What a day it was. As usual on these adventures, we had to get up early to catch the bus that connects with the next bus that then connects to the train that goes to Florence. I was tired, but I figured I would be able to manage. I had been not taking my Unisom, and I was definitely suffering the consequences.

When we got to Florence, Jeffrey of course stopped off at the local coffee shop. I ended up buying a sandwich that I was sure was going to be my lunch, but that really ended up being my after breakfast snack. I got a chance to visit with Darla while we ate.

When we were done with the coffee, it was time to get down to business. We got a chance to stand outside the Duomo and Baptistery in Florence. The whole group got to stand up very close and touch the bronze doors on three sides of the Baptistery. We got to see copies of what Michelangelo named the “doors to Paradise,” and which I would absolutely agree. After looking at the outside, we went to see the things in the Museum of the Works of the Duomo.

The museum stands where the work yard for the Duomo used to stand. It is the place that the block stood for so many years before Michelangelo was asked to turn it into the David. It was also the place that he then stood and carved the years while he was making the David. It seemed to be a sacred workshop to me because it was the area where such a wonderful work of art was stored. The museum had a million things in it that were complete masterpieces. You would have to look a complete listing of the things up online. I was able to see the Deposition that Michelangelo was carving for his own tomb, which was very memorable. I also got to see a pulpit by Donatello and one by Nicolo Pisano. Donatello had some other sculptures in the museum, which were nice. The museum also had many drawings and other tools that had been used to make the dome. Brunelleshi himself had used many of the tools. That was very fascinating.

I got to see the last sculpture by Michelangelo that was meant for his tomb. It is a beautiful thing to stand in front of, and I was surprised at how amazingly it had been worked. It was the first sculpture by him that I had ever seen.

The original bronze “doors to Paradise” were in the museum, and the group got a chance to walk around and look at them up close. We got to look at the stories that they told as well as learn more about the Catholic religion (which most of the group [myself included] is very ignorant in). The doors were absolutely fantastic.

There was a lot of other good work in the museum, but it is too much to talk about here.

We then split off for lunch. I went with most of the group to get sandwiches. When we were done, we had gelato as the best gelato store in the world. It was really amazing, and all I have to say is that I learned how to navigate myself there for the future.

After lunch, we met and went into the Duomo. It is such a big church. One thing that really amazed me was the fact that there were no pews or places to sit. The marble inlaid floor is the original floor. I couldn’t help but think that it was the floor that Michelangelo stood while listening to the lectures by the famous, but evil Savonrola. The dome was very high, and is covered by beautiful paintings. There are too many things in the church to go over here, but all I have to say is that it is a must-see church. It is one of the most beautiful in the world, and the dome is just excellent. I think that if I lived in Florence that I wouldn’t want to worship anywhere else.

When we were done in the church, we went to the Baptistery across the street. The building for the Baptistery is very old, in fact, no one knows how old. It is for sure the oldest building in Florence. It has been ornately covered from head to toe in marble, so it is just beautiful. The entire ceiling on the inside is covered in mosaic. The dominant color in the mosaics is gold—real gold. It must have taken a long time to put the mosaics up, but it was really great to see them. They have been well taken care of. Jeffrey pointed out the Bible scenes to us, and it was a really big help. I just sat there admiring the ceiling as well as the environment it was in. The font was very incredible, and was of course where all the Florentines have been baptized. It is just an amazing building.

After that, it was late in the day, and we were all tired. We just made our way home. The day was very hot, and on the train, I ended up sitting in the sun for quite a while, and it made me very sick. I was not happy by the time I got back to the villa

Before dinner, we had an hour lecture from Peter Abbs. He talked about creativity. I realized when listening to him that a lot of what he said rang true, but I had a different understanding than I think he wanted me to have. I think that things can sometimes be looked at too complexly, and I came out of the lecture very confident of myself and where I was going with my art career. The whole thing only made me much more sure of what I was doing and why I was doing it.

Dinner was great, but I was only able to eat apples because I wasn’t feeling good. Judy noticed, and she ended up bringing me some Ricotta, which worked well with the tomatoes I could get my hands on. I was much happier.

After dinner, Jeffrey talked a lot about Dante, and we started to read one of his short works. It is translated into English that is old fashioned and a little more proper than I am used to, but I was glad to be back to reading and learning from Jeffrey.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sunday, September 3, 2006

We got up in the morning and took the bus to Pistoia. The idea was to show us all around and tell us where the main and important things were. We found the Internet café, the coffee shop, the bus stops, the chocolate shop, the main churches and places of interest, and the piazza where the market is held. We went on a tour of the main church, the Duomo as well as the baptistery for the Duomo. I learned a lot about the history of Pistoia. It is such a nice, quiet town, and I was so surprised to see no tourists. It was very easy to navigate, and I am so glad that the Aegean Center uses it as its home in Italy.

We came back in time to have some really good lunch at the villa.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in classes doing orientation and going over the general syllabi of the classes.

Dinner was, of course, very wonderful, and I was honored to be at the table eating such a delicious Tuscan meal with such good company.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Saturday, September 2, 2006

Neither Christy or I were able to sleep, so we were up early and ready to head to the train station to take the train. When we got our tickets the night before, I learned that I was going to have to pay a very stiff fee unless I wanted to take the slow train. Christy agreed to come with me, and was able to take the train for less than half the price of the fast one. John strongly recommended not taking the slow train, but I learned quickly that it wasn’t such a bad idea. I was able to take a look at the scenery around me, and it only took twice as long as the fast train. It wasn’t bad for a free trip for me and a price-reduced trip for Christy. We were both tired from the night before, but we were able to make good conversation along the way.

When we finally got to Florence, we hopped the next train to Pistoia. I was positive that there were going to be other students on the train with us, but I didn’t see anyone there with us. We took the short train journey and were able to quickly get off in Pistoia.

At the train station, I didn’t see any taxis right away, and there was another student sitting there waiting for one. I asked if both her (Darla) and Christy were interested in trying to take the bus. I went over to the bus station and was able to get information. There was a bus going to the villa shortly, so we went and got on it with no problem.

We were dropped at the villa door, and it was really amazing. I recognized the villa from photos at the school, but it was truly a Tuscan Italian villa. I was happy. As we started to walk up the drive, Morgan and Gabriel came running down to help with the luggage. It was good to finally be at the villa.

I was able to say hi to both Liz and John, and there was a full spread of food available to partake of. I sat and talked for a long while with Liz. I told her the secret I had been keeping from her about being pregnant, and she was very happy. She told me that she had noticed in my last interactions with Jared that we had a very good relationship and that I was a very loyal wife. I liked the compliment.

I spent the rest of the day just hanging out, learning new names and spending time with old faces.

Dinner was at 8:00, and I was really glad that I was there. The meals at the villa are 3-5 course meals with salad, cheese and fruit after. The pasta that comes as the first course is just amazing, and as long as I’m feeling well enough to eat varied and random foods, the food is really great. There is wine with the meals. I haven’t had any, but I was able to have just a small taste of it, to know what traditional Chianti tastes like. It was quite nice. I wasn’t feeling really great though, so I went and found some coke to be able to spike my blood sugar and continue on with dinner.

Dinner: Flat Pasta with cheese and tomato sauce, baked potatoes, pork, salad, cheese and fruit.

It just so happened that first day that the villa had been rented out to host a wedding. The students were arriving in the middle of the bride and groom and all of their friends. The back of the villa was set up very nicely. The reception for the wedding was around the fountain. There was lots of food and music.

After dinner, we were all invited out to dance and party with the wedding. They were very happy to have us. All but one of the students went out on the floor to dance, and all of the professors were out there. We had a blast, and it was an amazing kick off to the start of the fall session.

The music and dancing lasted late into the night—long after I was able to stand it, so I went to bed.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Friday, September 1, 2006

I woke up in the morning with a smile on my face chanting, “I will be in Rome today, I leave for Rome today.” I was very excited. It was finally the end of my personal vacation that was also acting in many ways as a tragedy. I vowed at the end that it was always better to travel with a companion. It makes it much easier to get out of sticky or frustrating problems, and you have someone to laugh things off with and bounce ideas off. It is also nice to be able to talk about a work of art that you are interested in or even to talk in general. The future travels with have Jared and our child if not friends to guide us on our way as well.

I got on the train and made it to Rome late. When I left the station, I decided to walk toward the hostel. Halfway there, I had decided I was going the wrong way, so I turned around. I then started to look for Kathy’s hotel, which I was very surprised to find in a very easy location. She had gone out to pick up Morgan, so I had to find my own hostel.
Many hours later, I ended up just following the directions of the paper I had from the place with directions. After many kilometers of walking, I was there finally.

I dropped my stuff off and made it back to Kathy’s. She still wasn’t home from being out, so I waited. She came eventually with Morgan, and it was really nice to finally see her.

We ended up having coffee over good conversation and then did a little shopping.

After that, I walked back to my hostel and sat and waited for Christy. I met some nice other people that were also traveling, but I was just waiting for Christy.

When she finally did some, we ended up going out for coffee, walking to the station to get tickets and then heading back to the hostel for a night of no sleep and lots of excitement for the trip to Pistoia the next day.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The last day in Naples. I decided that it was time for me to actually make it into the city center and look at some of the historical buildings. There are two castles in the old town area that I understood were really nice to look at. I followed all of the directions I had to make it to down town Naples, but as soon as I got off the metro and walked into the city, I immediately got an idea of the city. It was very dirty and scary. The street vendors were not giving clean deals, and I did not feel safe. I went as far as I could before realizing that I may end up having troubles it I wasn’t careful. Because I was not really well versed in the things to see in Naples, I decided that it wasn’t safe for me to continue trying to stay in the area. After walking a little away from the train station, I decided to turn around and head back for the hostel. If I decided at a later point in my life that seeing Naples is important, I will go back, but I don’t feel that I really missed out on a lot of good art that would be devastating to my education to miss.

I spent a long time getting the train back. When I got there, I spent the rest of the day just realizing, looking at the people walking around me in the piazza, getting gelato, using the Internet, watching TV, reading my book and going tgo bed. It was a realizing end to my vacation knowing that I was going to be in Rome with Christy and Kathy the next day.

Chris in Italy


I just wanted to send off a quick hello to everyone to let you know that I have arrived in Italy and I am well. I have been here for 10 days so far, and it's been fun. I spent 1 day in Longon, England, 4 days in Milano, Italy and now I am completing my 5th day here in Naples.

Italy has a different character than I origionally thought. I am having to pick up important Italain phrases very quickly, and I think that after having been in Naples that I will be able to successfully navigate any public transportation system in the world, either in English or not.

The sun is shining, which inevitially means that my tan is coming out again, and I was sure that it was over for the summer. The weather in my final location for study, Pistoia (20 miles outside of Florence) is supposed to be much cooler.

I have done and seen some amazing things. I got to see a castle and very amazing church in Milan. I got to see some famous works of art when I was in London. Here in Naples, I have seen Pompeii and been very close to the volcano that destroyed it.

When I leave Naples tomorrow, I head to Rome for one day to meet with a group of fellow students and then head to Florence\Pistoia the next morning. I am very excited.

The connection to the Internet here in Italy is a lot more difficult than in Greece. I am documenting everything well, and when I get to Greece, I will make sure that it all gets posted on my blog. I'm sorry that I may not be able to update my blog until October 1st, but there will be a lot to read then, I promise. Otherwise, I will try to keep you updated with letters and photos.

Hope all is well in your part of the world.

Until Next Time,



Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I finally decided that it was time to make it to Pompeii. I went to the tracks and got on the train. However, I realized at some point that I was on the train that was going to another location and that I would need to get off and switch trains. It was cloudy outside, and it had rained in the morning, but I decided to get off at a stop that actually was very attractive and drawing to me. It turns out that I chose the wrong stop because I was sitting there on the step watching the correct train that I was supposed to get on go by without stopping. Quite a while later, I was still sitting there, and I ended back on the train that I had gotten off of long before. I was able to switch several stops later.

I eventually ended up back and Pompeii, and with a very short walk, I was at the site. I went on up the hill with the crowd, and then I went off on my own. One of the wonderful things was that I was actually able to pull out my camera and take amazing photos. I spent the rest of the afternoon shooting photos, walking around and sitting to rest and feed the baby and myself.

Pompeii was a really fascinating place though. I was able to get a real idea of the way that the people lived during that time, and the houses were really amazingly built. I could really see the people come to life in front of me. It was interesting to think of such a tragedy happening in the lives of the people. The houses and columns and ruins were amazing. The amphitheatre was really fascinating because it was fully in tact. I got to see the mechanics of acoustics as well as functions in a perfectly preserved theatre. I was very fascinated. Pompeii really gave me an understanding of the surroundings of the people that I was in.

When I had walked my heart out and taken all of the photos that I could handle, I jumped back on the train home and had dinner, watched TV, checked my email and eventually fell asleep.