Health updates, and school work

Well… guess who went to the hospital again this morning… my Perugian doctor came to the school to do a final overview on me before I head to Florence tomorrow, and I told her that I was really worried about some symptoms I was having. She was about to leave and was questioning me (in Italian) about some things and once again, I almost fainted and started crying because, well, it’s scary (not to mention frustrating)… so she sent me down to the hospital to get a lot (lotttt) of blood panels done as well as a chest x-ray, so tomorrow when I go to Florence to see the doctor there, we should already have at least some test results to go from. So, I have three doctors on two continents with their eyes on me so I feel relatively watched-over, not to mention the entire Umbra Institute staff and faculty (who, incidentally, are all about the most caring, loving people in the world) and of course my family at home. That’s the thing that sucks the most about all this for me… having an ocean between me and my family. Fortunately, I brought Baby here with me, and she’s just as much family as any of them (Baby is the oh-so-tattered doll I’ve had since the day I was born, given to me by my Grandmother). And she gives good hugs. So tomorrow it’s off to Florence with Anna for a doctor’s visit and sight-seeing and picture-taking.

Good news though, I made an A on my first Italian exam.

Also I wanted to include a little paper I wrote about San Costanzo for school. Some things I left out, that I was unaware of until after writing it, is the torcolo tradition– torcolo is a ring cake that is only made in Perugia during January and February specifically for this day. The tent set up by Fontana Maggiore is for a torcolo baking contest. Torcolo has dried candied fruit in it, sort of like an American fruit cake. Anyway, traditionally, the single women take the ring cake down to San Costanzo and present it to him in order to get a wink. Cute, huh? So here’s the mini-paper… it was only supposed to be 250 words but I think I did about twice that, oops. (I get that habit from my mom, ask her about her studying.)

Festa di San Costanza: Perugia’s Big Day
By Natalie Stephens

Don’t let Perugia fool you. With its perpetual parade of stiletto-wearing, Prada-bearing fashionistas who create their runway from cobblestone streets lined with mod pubs, hip store windows, and brightly-lit high-tech internet cafes, Perugia could be easily overlooked by an unknowing tourist as a city not necessarily steeped in tradition. On any given day, Perugians (and their co-inhabitants of over 7000 foreigners) carry on in a modern way, with no blatant daily traditions other than the midday pausa to demonstrate anything other than modernity. But if you happen to be around on the 29th of January, this year, next year, or anytime in the past or next thousand years, you’ll find yourself in a swarm of Perugini families stuffing their faces, clutching their puppies, and shamelessly (and almost urgently) pushing each other, stumbling over pigeons and through the market to San Domenico.

The 29th of January is Perugia’s big day—the Festa di San Constanza. Also known as Constantius, the Perugian patron saint was the first bishop of Perugia at the age of 30. He evangelized his people, cared for the poor, and lived a “simple life” that was looked down upon by many religious and political heads. He was imprisoned, tortured, and later martyred after his beheading in the year 170 AD. On this day each year, businesses and schools close their doors as the citizens gleefully roam about the city to the sounds of the ever-present street musicians.

Heading away from Piazza IV Novembre down Corso Cavour, an unsuspecting newbie to Perugia, like myself, will find themselves overcome with excitement at the market outside of San Domenico. Because Perugia doesn’t have a daily open-air market, as many Italian cities do, there is a buzz of ecstasy in getting lost in the crowd, tangled in hanging scarves, and growing a bit hungry at the sight (and smell) of roasting nuts, beautiful pastries, and childhood favorites like licorice bootlaces and hunks of fudge.

After about an hour of wandering through the market, looking at every table, and trying to barter with the salesman, San Domenico in all its dauntingly simple glory looms ahead. Crossing under the arch, you will find yourself in a stone courtyard surrounded by doors and arches. Go ahead and look around– if you get there at the right time (and can find the right door), you might be lucky enough to head inside and pay homage to the statue of the star of the day—San Costanza. And single Perugina women, make sure to give him a good, long stare—if he winks at you, it is said you’ll be married within the year. My advice? Purchase a Perugina Baci or two on your way in and offer it to him in hopes of getting a wink of your own!

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