Monday, February 8, 2010

The Beginning: my second semester

All right… so here it goes… Re-landing in Italy wasn't the best experience in the world. I was that idiot running through the Frankfurt airport to my connecting flight, cursing under my breath at the Airport and how horrible and unorganized they are… that is until I found out that that they were actually holding my flight for me. In the end it worked out, I was the last one on the plain, which awarded me some not so wonderful looks but then who are these people to judge? Then of course my luggage was lost so after waiting in the airport for two hours, I gave up and had to have them deliver it to me… five days late... When I finally arrived in Viterbo I didn't have the keys to my new apartment and of course it was pouring rain so my bags and I got soaked waiting for the girl who had my keys... and thennnnnnn (it was a rather long day) I got into my new house and had no clue how to turn on the heater… by the way it’s like 3 or 4 degrees Celsius in Viterbo right now and often worse in the evening. It wasn’t the best evening and the next two days I actually spent in bed because no one was in Viterbo and I didn’t have a heater… even taking a shower was hilarious because the air in the house was so cold that if any part of your skin was wet but not under the warm water, the air would shock you… needless to say, during my showers I was laughing hysterically at how cold my skin was and the shock between the hot water and the freezing air… and then on top of that I couldn’t buy anything because it was epiphany… so I had no clothes or makeup because my bags were still gone, no shoes and nothing to do!!!… so yeah It wasn’t the best first few days ever… I have to say… even thought it sounds like I had the worst time ever, it was actually ok, and I can just laugh at it now!

After that wonderful week we got to meet the new students and get to know them, it was actually wonderful. It was raining for a lot of their orientation activities and some of them got cancelled so I was able to fill in and take some stuff over when we had the time. I got to know them pretty well. It was really fun and these guys are wonderful! I’ve met a few new people who I was able to get to know pretty well and can hang out with all the time! It’s amazing and really fun! They are very different from the old crowd who were more up on the adventures and dance parties. This crowd has more of a desire to drink and sit around and talk instead of move... different! There are a few people who I specifically hang out with a lot now.

This guy is my new roommate, we live in a little apartment in the ancient district of Viterbo. Our house is actually only one small section of some old families castle. We live on Piazza Della Morte where all of the public executions were held. Our little house is really perfect, you walk in the front door and look down a long straight hallway to our actual door which then opens to another little hallway where you hang your coats up and then you can either go up stairs to our large open living room or go downstairs to the bedrooms and bathroom. The living room is really nice because it is naturally lit with two skylights and it's really comfy. The bedrooms are nice and big and we are the only two students in USAC who have full sized beds. The shower is hilarious, you step up into the tub and have to hold the shower head for yourself and before i moved in they only had a half of a shower curtain so for the first few days we had to stand in the corner hoping not to spray water everywhere.... it was kind of a funny sight. Our kitchen is even funnier, to open the oven you have to close the door, and it's a good thing that Scott is 6'4" because i can't reach a single thing. Scott is from Idaho, he lives in a little town called Moscow and goes to the University of Iowa.

This guy is my new best friend, His name is Dylan and he is kind of amazing!!! He is from Ohio and he goes to Miami University (in Ohio) He is just the nicest guy you will ever meet and I rather love him!!!! He's in the air force and has hilarious stories and the best heart ever. Dylan is a Classics Historian so being able to show him around Rome and seeing his face when he sees the monuments for the first time is one of the best feelings ever. Whenever I go anywhere Dylan is with me so you will see him all the time in my pictures and stuff!! I spend all of my time with this guy and his roommate, who you will meet next. I'm not going to lie I'm really in love with Dylan and he knows it!! I'll make him come and visit so you all can meet him...

My next huge adventure is happening this weekend!! We happen to be in the middle of the huge festival of Carnival so what are we doing??????? We are going to the epicenter... Venice!!! We will be there in the midst of thousands of masked and costumed Italians dancing in St. Marco's square and living the dream!! About 15 of us are flying out on Thursday and sharing two little apartments and going crazy!!! Don't you worry this is one experience I won't be able to hide from the world!! You will be able to see millions of pictures on facebook when i finally get back and i promise to tell the story!!! Check facebook I'm uploading pictures of everyone and everything!!! Love you all and miss you all and hey if any of you want to call me ever, feel free!!! Hugs and kisses!!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My travels with Mom and Dean!!!

Ok, this was written a long time ago, as you will for sure notice so sorry about the goofy wording and I wrote it on my iPhone so ahead of time I apologised for the numerous mistakes!!! I hope you enjoy reading about our travels as much as we enjoyed living them out!!!

Out journy began on Friday, after a long and really unhappy night, I hadn't really heard from the parents since they landed so I wasn't sure when they were coming to viterbo, if ever. I was waiting for them sitting on my computer hoping for any sign of them when I finally heard the buzz of the door and went crazy!! I was just so unbelieveably happy to be with them!! It's very different being with people who love you no matter what, instead of always being on guard and nervous the way you are with people who have no idea who you really are or even wether or not they like you. Right away we were on our way to bolsena for deans first real Italian city (dean has never been to Italy before) and for a wonderful pizza lunch!! They were amazed by the beauty, not only of the city but also of the wonderful drive to Florence after. We decided to spend the night in Florence on our way to Venice and had a great, though short, time there. While getting completely lost in the car and then walking for hours in search of a decent restruant, we finally settled ourselves in a fun little trattoria. We had fun with the waiters who enjoyed our broken Italian and our brave mistakes. One of my favorite things to do in italy is to meet people by trying to talk to them and having them teach me the actual way to speak. They like us!! After our wonderful night in Florence we were on our way to venice. The road was beautiful and the ride was fun, having mom teach us Italian from her little book while dean drove and I giggled at her helarious pronounciation (she's actually better than me at speaking Italian). When we finally got there, it only took us an hour and three passes over the huge bridge to figure out where we were supposed to park. Thinking we were done with our goofy mistakes and our bad luck we decided to not get a 60 euro private taxi ride to our hotel and that we would find it ourselves... Stuborn idiots... Anyways... I'll spare you the wonderful details but Three hours later we stumbled oved the threshhold of our hole in the wall bed and breakfast and finally made it up the four flights of stairs with our bags and sat, for the first time in hours. When we finally had the strength to venture out again we decided that alcahol was the immidiate way to go so we found a place for appertivo and sat laughing and vegging for a while. When we were done drinking we decided to get a little lost to find a restruant... That's what we thought would happen but after walking around for about an hour we ended up right back where we started and went to a restruant right on our street. We had a great time (and a lot of wine) at dinner along with q huge fish and also deans first taste of lemoncello!! After, we had to go home because we were so exausted but considering what our next door neighbors were dong we wern't going to get to sleep any timesoon!! : o ) it was helarious and mom and dean came up with many dirty ways to get back at them (none of which we actually did) so instead we watched the coolest movie ever!! The muppet's Christmas carol!!! And fell asleep.
The next morning we were wonderfully woken up by the breakfast crew outside our bedroom, merrily setting up. This whole hotel is helarious and fun all at the same time, the people or should I say woman, was extremely hard working but at the same time she was sweet and smiling!! When we finally made it our we decided to make our way to the famous st marco's square to begin our touristy day. We did all the things that we were supposed to and went to some places that I had never been before. Dean and mom had never been to Venice before so the entire day was of course magical no matter how much our feet hurt or how often dean got us lost : o ). We actually didn't get any shopping done but we basically walked the span of the island three times over! It was beautiful and we had a great time together. We had a wonderful dinner with an amazing platter of cheese (my favorite thing to order ever with a platter of meats... Yum yum yum) and of course some perfect wine!!! We walked and laughed, learned and played, ate and drank but most of all we all came together to finish the muppet's Christmas carol in the end!!! It was the perfect day!

The parents came back to viterbo today! It was So weird to see them again but it was wonderful. Sadly the first thing they had to do was bring me to school, and after getting seriously lost out side the walls finally succeeded in leaving me at porta romana and going off to check into their hotel and walk around. After class I found them at a wine bar of course and we made our way around town and eventually home to pick up my roommate for dinner. I of course only took them to the best so we went to monastero's pizza where the pizza is so big that they have to carry it out on two plates. They seriously underestimated our drinking abilities and instead of bringing us our huge liters of beer they brought one to share : o (.. Still the drinks were good, food was great, and the company was better. The next morning amidst the poring rain and diehard market people we scavenged together a homemade breakfast and got fueled up to face the weather. Unfortunately I had to write essays for some of my classes so I had to stay home while they church hopped but all the same I met them later and we decided to hit the viterbo christmas market. Dean being the goofball that he is ran circles around us while we got Christmas shopping done. To not dissapoint the parents after bringing them to monastero's, I brought them to the next best thing, the spegeteria, to try their hand at picking out of the hundreds of choices of spaghetti. The next day we were off to Rome. The first night we were there we decided to do the walking tour of all the downtown things possible and then hit the Christmas market there. It was beautiful with all of the Christmas lights up and the people all so happy. The next day we were tackling the collosium and the roman forum. It was a huge job but we handled it with efficiency and care. It was a lot of fun walking around with Dean and Mom, between the three of us we had enough information to keep us happy and entertained the whole way through. Again we ended up shopping and walking through Rome at night, on the way picking up salami and cheese for dinner at our hotel. The dinner was fun and yummy and the night was comfortable. Today... At this moment we are waiting in line for the vatacan musieum. We decided that today was dedicated to the beautiful little country and have been waiting in line ever since. For our half hour in st peters we were in line for an hour and a half... For our hour inside the vatacan museum, we've been In Line for three hours... Painful hours... All worth it I know.

Leaving the parents in Rome so that they could catch their flight was sad but knowing that I was coming home for Christmas was comforting!! It was an amazing trip with even more stories than I included here!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Diane and Christina's most awesome journey!!

Ok I’m sorry this took so long to write, I’ve been writing it since we got back like three weeks ago and for some reason it just wasn’t flowing out. This is a really badly written one so I’m sorry about that, hopefully it does our amazing trip some justice… there are a ton of pictures on facebook that are really great!!
Ok now here it goes, after not much planning or deliberation, considering she bought her tickets five days before she got on the airplane, my mom came out to visit me in Italy and to travel for the one week that I had off. We hardly planned anything, figuring we would go where the wind took us and decided that our only true destination was Munich for the 2009 Oktoberfest!!! Mom had some slight difficulties with her luggage and ended up stuck in Rome for three hours waiting for the next flight from France while I sat at home and worried about how she was going to get to Viterbo. Eventually she was bagged and ready, only to find out that there was a train accident and all trains leaving from Rome have been delayed and there was no chance of leaving from there so she followed a crazy crowd and was somehow stuffed on a bus on her way to some unknown location that would hopefully lead to a train to Viterbo. Needless to say she arrived six hours late in Viterbo… after some confusion and a swift act of knight in shining armorness from one of my friends I found her and dragged her out to meet all my friends at a party they were all having, of course I wouldn’t let her go straight home… Mom was a champ!
We had a really wonderful time the next day walking around Viterbo as I showed her the sights and we took the tours which I had not yet been on. It was really nice to be able to show her where I live and tell her all of the fun things that I have learned about this place. I think she really liked it here.
Our first day, and my first real taste of the Italian trains brought us to Verona, the beautiful setting of the one and only Romeo and Juliet. The hostel that we found was an old mansion complete with courtyard, gardens and absolutely beautiful frescoes peeking out of the walls. We roomed with many other girls including one from London and one from Australia who were traveling together. They were on a London “hokey” team together and were hilarious. We had a wonderful time in Verona, neither of us knew what to expect so the beautiful water surrounded city was a huge surprise. The river that flows around the city was beautiful and considering we had to cross it by bridge every time we wanted to go to the city, we got our fair share of beautiful views in the evenings. We spent most of our time walking around the city and going into its many churches and cathedrals. Surprisingly there weren’t a huge amount of tourists there so the city was rather calm and very comfortable. Unlike some other cities that I have experienced in Italy, I felt like I could easily find my way around there and talk to people. It was just a really friendly and fun experience.
From Verona we boarded our six hour train to Germany… I didn’t know how much I liked traveling in trains until this trip! It’s fun to meet people and hear what they are saying, I also love having the breathtaking countryside flying by. Mom and I weren’t very good company though, we were both so lost in our books, completely oblivious to the world except on occasion when we remembered to look out the window, geeks I know. We actually spent much of our train ride in a constant battle with the air conditioner, much to the amusement of two Italian guys sitting across from us. When we finally got to Germany we spent a lot of time trying to figure out where our hostel was and how to get there, so like two independent American women, we decided to walk… the only thing we knew was that we were on the street that our hostel was, and from the funny looks we got from the people we asked, we should have guessed that it was far… and it was… We walked for ever carrying our suitcases and souvenirs that we had bought from Venice, passing men in lederhosen and hoards of people on their way to the tents. We finally got there and were just so happy to finally put our bags down and get ready to join the crowd. We followed the hoards of people and were herded to the gates of Oktoberfest!!
It was nothing like I had imagined, the “tents” were huge and more like two story buildings than actual tents. At the end of the row of tents was a huge amusement park and in the middle of the isle and all around there were little shops and counters to get amazing food at!! We didn’t even know where to start so we just began going in all of the tents. The tents were crazy, I can’t even explain them. There were thousands of people in each tent and they were all singing and drinking and dancing with each other. Each tent was different but they all had live music, great food and crazy fun decorations. We looked around for tables to sit inside and did make some friends who invited us to their own tables but eventually we just decided to sit outside with the rest of the tableless losers. There we got our first amazing rotisserie chicken with potatoes… and of course beer… and yes it was amazing! At every table we sat down to drink at, we met fun people and made friends from around the world. The first group we sat with were kids from Japan, the next people we sat with were from Munich and then our favorites were stationed in Iraq and on leave for a few weeks. They were awesome and just so happy to sit down with us and drink and enjoy their break, and we were happy to distract them! The people were awesome, the food was to amazing (shown by my increasing waste line) and the atmosphere was infectious, you couldn’t help but want to laugh, dance, smile, sing and most of all there was the desire to meet people. I think my absolute favorite group we came across was in the back of one of the tents, they were all men and they were standing on their benches dancing when mom pushed me up to one of them to take a picture, after he pulled us up to dance with them! They were adorable; the man I was dancing with was probably in his early 40’s and was so nerdy looking that he was absolutely the sweetest person I’ve ever met. They ended up being a group of English engineers bringing their clients to Oktoberfest and mom was dancing with the most important client!!! This guy was hilarious he kept telling me that they were all socially retarded engineers and all I could do was laugh and say that I’ve been surrounded by engineers my whole life and I love them all!! We actually loved this group so much that we went back to dance with them again later! Everything was perfect there. Oh and I can’t forget the sweets at Oktoberfest!!! White chocolate covered strawberries, candied nuts, cookies… anything your sweet tooth could ask for!!
Now I have to say that we didn’t only play and drink in Germany we also made sure to walk around Munich and see all of the wonderful landmarks that we loved so much when we were there 10 years ago. The Glockenspiel didn’t chime while we were there but we did spend some time in the Marienplatz and had a wonderful lunch ok sausage and sauerkraut ( I ordered the sampler of all of the different famous sausage dishes in Germany… oh my god!!! Heaven). We also did a tour of many of the churches and just enjoyed ourselves walking around. I remember loving Germany as a kid and never knew if that was just because I was young, now I know that I really do just love it there. The people are nice, the buildings are beautiful, the food is wonderful and it’s just a great place to be. I actually ended up buying a traditional costume to wear at Oktoberfest and wore it on our last day. You may not believe me but I fit in perfectly : o ) Germany was awesome.
Our next stop from after Germany was a little Italian town called Ferrara. We didn’t know what to expect or really even what was there, we just wanted an adventure and hopefully a pleasant surprise. This town was not exactly the most exciting place in the world. The town was basically dead and our flat mates were not the most charming people in the world but we decided to try and make the best of it and take a walk around the town. It really wasn’t a bad place, there just wasn’t very much there and what was there was not in very good shape. We actually cut our time in Ferrara short and after spending a night there and seeing the important sights we decided to go on our was to our last but definitely not least destination, Siena.
Siena was amazing. We weren’t able to find a hostel in there so we had to book a hotel (which was actually a huge relief from the sleepless nights in the hostels) and were pleasantly surprised when we showed up and they had given us an upgrade. The room was awesome and we were both so tired that we just went out for an amazing dinner and just went to bed. The next day we did everything available in Siena, it really is a wonderful place. We walked around the whole city a million times and went in EVERY church we could find. We had amazing food in the Piazza Del Campo and saw the most beautiful scenery on the top of the church museum. I didn’t want to move an inch. I have never seen a 360 degree view that was so unbelievable from every angle. I think that was where I really actually fell in love with Siena. Mom and I had been on the road for 6 days and that still couldn’t stop us from exploring every cranny of Siena because it was just so amazing. There was also something cool going on there while we were visiting. Siena is famous for its Palio, or horse races which take place on July 2nd, and August 16th. The second night we were in Siena was actually the dinner in the Piazza Del Campo that was celebrating the winners of this years Palio. The Piazza was all decorated and the colors of the winning team were flying high and proud everywhere. It was really fun to see the people walking around and supporting their colors and being so happy and proud to be a part of that community.
Siena was amazing, Germany was amazing and Verona was amazing, but none of it would have been half as perfect if Mom hadn’t come to Italy to see me. We had an amazing time surfing the Italian train network, sleeping in crazy hostels with loud smelly boys, eating AWESOME food, meeting interesting people, reading millions of travel books, walking our feet sore, and most of all being together. Thank you Mom, it was amazing.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Things I might want to get used too...

Italians and Americans are a little different... Americans sleep in, Italians don't sleep at all. Americans wear flip flops, Italians wear stilettos on cobblestone. Americans dream of living in Italy, Italians dream of visiting America for a short period of time. Americans let their children run around naked, Italians let their children run around dressed in clothes more expensive than their own. Americans take pictures of ancient buildings, Italians live in ancient buildings.

No matter how amazingly frustrated I may be with the language, I can't allow that to dampen the fact that I am on the adventure of my life and can't let it blind me to the beautiful place in which I live!!

You can't go everywhere... choose some really great places and take advantage of them while you can.

No matter how many pictures I take, they never do this amazing country any justice.

Take advantage of the food and the wine because it really is the best in the world... no matter how "bad" the restaurant is... it's still amazing... and I'm going to be soooooo cushy by the end of this year!!

the dogs in Italy are the best in the world, not only are they cute or beautiful but they are happy and never scary... how is that?? I think Americans are too serious with their poor puppies who just want to have fun!!!!!

When you're in Italy, time is an illusion. It doesn't matter if you're American, Italian, Teacher, Student, old or young... don't be on time because if you are, you'll be disappointed!!

The Italian world doesn't sleep... How is it possible to not be in bed until four every night and then find the streets crowded and teaming with people at seven and eight in the morning... i can't do it... I'm trying and I'll tell you, it's funny.

** warning, slightly inappropriate
Everyone warned me about the Italian men and their obvious ways of "appreciating" women... no one warned me about the way they openly talk about sex and use slang when half the time they have almost no clue what they are saying. While I'm busy laughing inside my head and trying not to gape at them, they are there... almost innocent, shooting off their mouths to us Americans. It is one of the most hilarious things I have experienced here. If that's what they are saying in English I can't imagine the things they say in their own language. Oh my goodness

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My classes and the Lago Di Bolsena

So, even though it sounds like it's all play no work, it's not... well kinda... just wait until you hear about my classes!!! Most of my classes are only one day a week giving us almost no homework because we have so much time in between to do it, which is amazing by the way. anyway on Monday mornings I am in a class called Mediterranean Landscape, the point of this class is to study the changes in the Mediterranean landscape over the past 3,000 years not by reading about it, but by experiencing it. So what do we do?? We pile in our teachers old VW van and drive around Italy stopping every 20 minutes to get out, look at the trees and the shape of the valleys and learn about what was brought to Italy, what is native and what has caused the changes over the many years!! Not only is this class cool but our teacher is even cooler!!! His name is Scott Mensing and he is a biogeographer and a paleoecologist. Scott has been awarded several teaching awards making him one of the most (or the most) decorated teachers at the University of Nevada Reno, where he teaches(I googled him). He is by far the coolest teacher I have ever met, and it's so fun to be in his classes, that I don't even realize how much I'm learning!! Tomorrow we are hiking up Monti Cimini!!
On Tuesday morning i have my first art class ever!!! I'm so excited to learn about drawing and painting!! Our first assignment was to go to a cemetery and draw anything that we saw and liked. this wasn't the best for me considering my shaded angels face looked like a turtle but what can you do?? I'm not an artist yet, hopefully Italy will force it out of me!!
On Wednesday morning i have another class with the famous Scott Mensing called Geography of Europe. Just another amazing class full of information and fun conversations, Scott is really well traveled and so he has amazing stories and information on Europe and he loves to hear our stories and talk about where we have gone! I only wish we could go to some dramatic places like Egypt with him so we could pick his brain!!!! After that class I'm in a traveling class called Italian cities: History through urban form, where we go on field trips and travel to the cities around Viterbo and learn the history and culture of the people around us!! Hard life huh!!
Italian is my most taxing class, we have it three days a week and it's frustrating but still really cool. My teacher is awesome and the class is fun but not understanding the language has taken it's tole so everyone is really impatient and just wants to know it now!! I wish i spoke Italian, it would make life a lot easier!!!

sooo.... Bolsenia!!!
Yesterday (saturday) was my roommates 20th Birthday so we all woke up early and got on a bus to the lake of Bolsena!! The lake and the town were beautiful!! We had no clue where we were when we got off the bus so we just pointed down and started walking!! We ended up on a beautiful beach with a bunch of local Italians and a wedding going on in the background! It was pretty amazing!! the lake was huge and the water was beautiful!! After soaking for hours, talking and laughing we decided to go find the castle and walk around! It was unbelievable, the town was gorgeous and the streets were tiny and amazing!! Walking around in places like that, it's impossible to not think about the history and the people who have walked down that street before me. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. After we walked around and took a million pictures we headed back, not knowing when or how we were going to catch a bus back to Viterbo. low and behold a bus passes straight past us saying Viterbo and we have to run after it... great image right?? a bus driving down a tiny street with Americans trailing behind it yelling, so of course it wasn't even the right but and we ended up having to wait for an hour to catch the right, and last mind you, bus to Viterbo. adventurous end to a beautiful day!!
Life's pretty amazing here with the church bells constantly in the background and the never ending places to go and adventures to go on.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Pope!!!

So about Papa, wow, what a crazy day!! As I've said I've been sick and havn't been able to sleep so when my alarm rang at seven in the morning to go see the pope I of course turned it off. Getting out of bed would have been impossible!! That didn't quite change anything considering fifteen minutes later the pope's procession passed right under my window drums and all!!! Everyone was so excited that he was passing our window so we were up on our window cills in seconds! I think missed the Papa though because all I could see was the historic parade and the crazy marching bands that had been parading for every night of the previous festivals!! My roommates were very interested in the but the second I woke up all I could think about was going down to the grass to get a seat for the services, so I started getting dressed and was ready in seconds! My roommates wern't so quick to get ready so I started down by my self. There was a sea of people so I didn't really need to know where I was going I just had to let the tide carry me. We began to head down a beautiful little alleyway that I had never seen when people started taking out little envelopes with papers in them... I had no tickets or envelopes... I had nothing and I was a non Italian speaking American. For fear of looking like an idiot I decided to turn around before I got to the front of the line. I began walking back up the hill looking for someone to talk to. I got to a group of male Italian police men and asked them where I could get a ticket, one of them spoke English, sort of... Any way, he didn't quite understand how i didn't have a ticket, apparently and asked what I was looking for and asked what I was looking for and asked what I was looking for should have a ticket and I don't think they cost any money. USAC should. have given us tickets, but I guess if they had, none of this would have happened to me so I can't complain!! Anyway, after a little arguing he pointed down a deserted street and told me to go down there so I did. Half way down the street I met another man who thankfully spoke some English. He told me that I wasn't actually allowed to be there but I pointed to the ground and said "police dite me here!!!! " so he said ohhh and asked what I was looking for. I explained to and he asked the only othe people on the street, a group of Italian ladies. They didn't know so he was going to give up helping me untill the ladies went down a little alley and we were alone. He looked around and told me to follow him. We went over to the little alley on the side of the street whichnwas actually a really steep staircase down. When we got there we had to pretend like we wern't doing anything because a police man was driving by but when he was gone the man told me to go down the alley. This was where I got nervous... The alley came out onto the grass right behind the pope's alter, the only other people there were the chpire, the police, and the clergy!! Not Americans!!!! I was the only one not in a robe or a some kind of suit!! I figured the man only sent me down there so some one else could deal with me but I was determined to look confident like I knew what I was doing, so I marched down the path to the side of the stage and stood under the trees where the ladies from before were standing. One of the ladies came over to me and started speaking in Italian to me, the only word I sort of understood was permissione, so I just smiled and said, "si permissione" and the lady smiled back because she knew the truth. She brought me over to the other ladies and motioned to them and said group, so I stood with these great ladies and they protected me from the authorities. I was standing on the left side of the stage (if you are looking at it straight on) and I was to the left of the huge choir and behind the choir that was singing the part that the people sing. I was in a prime spot for seeing hearing and talking to some of the coolest people! Sitting right i front of me, behind the following choir was a school of men from Zambia, Africa!! How cool is that!! There were about thirty of them there all wearing grey robes. Some of them came over to me and spoke toe in Italian untill the figured out that I am American so they happily changed to English. These med were awesome! They all go to school here and most have lived here for many years. I'm not sure if they were missionaries but many of them were studying religion. Eventually they all wanted to meet me and take pictures with me. Being invited to sit there was a huge honor for them so they were all just as excited as I was to see the pope and be at the awesome ceremony! They ended up spending the entire mass with me asking questione and sharing their prayer books with me. It was great fun talking to them about their school and learning about Zambia!
Now for the Pope, after the Pope looked over the entire congrigation from the pope's palace, he came down off the cliff and through the isle of the seats in his crazy Pope mobile. I couldn't really see that because of the stands for the choir but that was ok, I had an amazing view of him at the alter!! Through mass he read and sang and people processed in front of him, it Was beautiful and crazy to ne so close, everytime the choir's sang I got chills, they were so close and so beautiful I felt I could have stayed there forever!! Eventually it was over and the Pope had his glorious hat placed back on his holy head and disapeared to the back of the stage. So I said goodbye to the wonderful Zambian men, exchanged some numbers and left thinking I had had a crazy day...
Little did I know that it wasn't quite over yet!
I decided to walk up a different path than the little alley just to try something new and ended up coming out right at the top of the street where the pope was going to drive away!! I noticed the streets being blocked off so I decided to lean on one of the fences and see what happens. Low and behold ten minutes later the Pope and his entourage came down the street and I was face to face with the Pope!! He even waved at me!!! How awesome is that!! So an amazing day and a crazy adventure!!! I miss you all!!!
P.s. The photo's are all on facebook sorry for the inconvinence!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Festival of Santa Rosa

There I stood, one of thousands of people shouting “Viva” watching the 2,330lb Macchina enter the Piazza Giuseppe Verdi, when I suddenly felt so small. The main event of the festival of Santa Rosa is the transportation of the five story Macchina through the corso, the main street in Viterbo. 110 Faccini carry the Macchina through the streets to the resting place of the body of Santa Rosa in the Cathedral. People traveled from far and wide to witness the unveiling of the new Macchina which is redesigned and built every five years. What a wonderful time to be in Italy… Not only was my first week the most important week of the year in Viterbo, but I was here for the unveiling of the new Macchina and I will be present at the Papa’s Mass on Sunday after he tours and blesses the many Viterbo churches. The pope has not been in Viterbo in many many years making this year the most blessed and most amazing year to be here!

Now to the beginning of the festivals. The first festival that I witnessed, on our first night here, was the procession of the minimacchina by the young boys of Viterbo. It was crazy only just arriving in Viterbo and having to make our way to the festival and understand what’s going on by ourselves. There were people everywhere but somehow we were able to secure a great spot on the corso to watch the entire parade and make friends with the Italians around us! They are truly wonderful and kind people. It’s as if as soon as they realize we are American everything is excused and they just want to talk to us. It is actually very nice to not have the Italian students here yet, I think that would just be too many people to try to communicate with and too overwhelming all in one week!! It will be fun when they come though so far we haven’t formally met anyone our age. Ok back to the story, the little boys were adorable, the minimacchina was definitely not as mini as I thought it would me, the boys had to switch about every hundred feet because of the crushing weight. As they passed us they were shaking and straining with the pressure. The boys age averaged less than ten so the sight of it was very impressive.

The second day we accidentally missed the historic parade because of faulty information but that was sort of alright considering we were all dragging our feet and falling asleep standing up. Instead we went home and our awesome roommate Teresa cooked us some amazing spaghetti. I also have to get used to writing in a journal every night. I have never been one to write my thoughts but I don’t want to forget a single second of this crazy life here.

Now for the Big evening!! After a very long day of touring with Stefano and sitting for orientation we all had to get ready for the actual festival for Santa Maria. I’ve been sick for the past few weeks and now have no voice and am constantly coughing and dealing with a runny nose so getting up and participating has been difficult but I was never going to pass up a once in a lifetime opportunity such as this. We knew we would never find a place to sit so we didn’t go down extremely early but walked the corso and waited on a doorstep until they told us we couldn’t stay there. The mood was amazing. The boys were cat calling to the women across the piazza and the women were likewise teasing them with flirty looks and bare shoulders. Everyone was pushing and talking and just buzzing with excitement and anticipation. The blessing of the Facchini didn’t even begin until 9 and from there the procession was very slow because of the many traditional practices and rests that they had to take. Every time the Macchina was set down the Facchini were given a 20-30 minute rest and the people at each stop were able to enjoy the massive glowing fiery statue. When they were done with the rest they would line up in their procession rows and by row they would be called in by shouting and run under the macchina and prepare to lift it once again. When it finally got to us the entire piazza erupted in a huge roar of cheers and moaning because of it’s massiveness and beauty. It was glowing with hundreds of oil lamps and adorned with lions, a symbol of Viterbo and flowers. This specific Macchina is called Fiori Del Cielo the flower of the sky. It is meant to represent the connection of the earth to the sky. It is a brilliant gold with glass flowers inlayed in it that glowed with the fire light. The base of the statue is a huge square adorned with large golden lions, farther up the twisting body was a yellow sphere that glowed from the inside, farther up are angels hanging from the body and then a bright red light from inside. The top of the statue is a blue ball which reminded me of a sky with stars shining through. Then traditionally the statue of Santa Rosa sits on top and looks down on the people. IT WAS AMAZING.

So there is the huge long and probably really boring description of our last few days… now for the Pope!! I’m excited to see him and still very overwhelmed with the amount of things to do here! If you guys have questions feel free to comment!! It really is amazing! I love you all