Saturday, April 5, 2003

my first full day in rome. i really like this city, and there's so much history to it, which is great. although there are also a lot of people on the streets trying to sell you the same old crap everyday all the time. some of the most common are - ball on a string, sunglasses, watches, knockoff designer handbags, and a bubble gun. although today i was approached by a man who was holding some string in his hand... i'm not sure i understand what he was trying to sell, and actually speaking to these people just encourages them, so i didn't find out.

i went to the vatican museums this morning (well, morning is a relative term, i was *forced* to go out to the pub last night with some people from the hostel....) which were kind of cool. it was rather amusing actually, because it's all very orchestrated, sort of like herding cattle, you just sort of follow the roped off path. and from the very beginning the signs say (top to bottom) this museum, that museum and always at the bottom is sistine chapel. so there are of course people who are just racing through to get to the chapel and not even looking at anything. but for what a ticket costs, i was going to check out the museum as well. what i found the most interesting was the "modern" religious art. i've been seeing so much classical, medieval, and renaissance religious art it was cool to see some really modern stuff, there was some stuff by salvador dali, picasso, and a lot of traditional subjects (the crusifiction, crowning of the virgin, etc.) in completely crazy and modern styles.

by the time i finally got to the sistine chapel (and that was really spectacular, it is just so intricate and beautiful) and moved along the path to the exit it was 1:30 so i took off to find the place i was planning on taking myself out to lunch at, which happened to be on the other side of the river, so i left st. peter's for later. had one of my all time favorite dishes for lunch, spaghetti alla carbonara... yum.

i checked out piazza navona, which is a place where in ancient times they would have horse races around it, or fill it with water and have mock naval battles, but now it just has three really cool fountains. and near there is the pantheon, which was a lot bigger than i had imagined, and has (i think) the largest half-dome on a building that isn't supported by any beams or arches. very cool. st. peter's is just humoungous - i think it's the biggest, or second biggest church in the world and wow, it is indeed big.

so tomorrow i'm planning on spending the day exploring the ancient city, which is luckily open on sunday(!) unlike just about everything else.

Friday, April 4, 2003

yesterday was supposed to be my day in a charming tuscan, hilltop village - montalcino. and indeed, that's what i did yesterday, only it was raining. all day. so i got no photos of a place that is supposedly terribly picturesque. i actually i did take one photo, of myself, in the fog holding my umbrella. just to say i was there.

and i was there, and i had a really great lunch - gnocchi in truffle cream - which was oh-so-divine, i have never had anything with truffle before, and now i think i'm hooked. :) and my main course was tuscan sheeps cheese, baked in honey, which was terribly good and i slathered it all over some bread. though i think later i came to the conlusion that cheese as a main course was a mistake.... and of course i had a glass of brunello. it's the famous wine of the town, supposedly the best italian red wine. and it was good. and i had more! after my lunch i wen to an enoteche (wine bar) and did a little tasting with an amusing american couple from the northeast. i got to try three different brunellos, and one "super tuscan". all very good, and all VERY expensive, especially for me!!! but worth it. :)

today i had to get up very early in order to get to my hostel in rome by the check-in deadline. ugh. but obviously, i'm on vacation, i'm getting plenty of sleep. ;P so after a change in chiusi, where it was freezing, i arrived in the humoungous termini (this train station is more like an airport!!! it's huge!) and at my hotel where it is warm and lovely. so now i'm off to go sandal shopping!!! ciao!

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

so yesterday was a travel day. leisurely morning at the hostel in florence, eating my breakfast and watching italian soaps. long-ish train ride and then the confusion of figuring out buses and such in siena. i had to first take a bus to the center of town (the train station is 2km outside the city center, which i normally would've walked, but my map didn't show the actual roads to the station) and then i had to take a bus to the hostel (after sitting around in the sun for a while, another nice day yesterday).

i have to say, with absolute certainty - having to take a bus to get to/from the center/hostel sucks. so i got there, settled in a little bit. now my guidebook said there was dinner available at the hostel, so i asked and was told they only had pasta. so i read outside for a while until my butt hurt from the bench and then went in.

the "pasta" that they had was like a frozen type thing, which they heat up in the microwave. :) whatever, so had that and a beer and watched italian television in the common room for the evening.

today i'm exploring siena (did i mention that's where i am? anyway). it's a little bit chilly today, the sun hasn't been out much. so i sat around a little this morning, taking in tuscany in what sun i could find. made myself a lovely tomato-mozzerella-pesto sandwich for lunch and then hit the pinoteca nazionale (something like that, it's the local art musuem) which was kind of cool.

i'm a little distracted, they're playing a song i really like in this cafe.... and i keep singing which might make my sentences not make as much sense... just a sidenote...

this afternoon i'll check out the duomo and wander about on the streets a little. tomorrow i'm planning on a little field trip, to monalcino, if i can figure out which bus it is and where it leaves from...

Monday, March 31, 2003

today i went to pisa. and there is was. a tower. that leans. actually, i was really surprised with just *how* much it really leans. pictures always feel a little decieving because the camera can be angled a little this way or that way, but when you're standing right there next to it... whoa. and it sinks more every year. that's a little scary. some day it'll just fall down. in fact my guide book tells me that all of the buildings in the "feild of miracles" are a little uneven, guess it just wasn't the best place to build.

so seeing the tower didn't take very long. i sat in the sun for a while (in tank top! yeah!) to continue "priming" for my last week in italy, which will be a beach week on the amalfi coast. and i did a little shopping.

today was a sad day for my coat. actually, i brought it with me this morning when i left for pisa, because it felt a little cool. but by the time i reached the station i was ready to take it off. so after carrying it around all day, i decided something very important. today is the day. so tomorrow i will leave the santa monaca hostel and my coat will stay in the santa monaca church, where i hope it will be very happy. actually, it got a little birdie doo on it today, so it's not in as nice of condition as i had imagined. but anyway.

yesterday was quite lovely as well, went to the boboli gardens for most of the afternoon. it is humoungous. i thought i had walked around most of it, but the map i found on my way out showed that i had only been in this one small corner for the whole afternoon. those crazy medici's, always have to make things as big as possible. of to siena tomorrow for a few days and some sandal shopping. i think it's time. :)