Miscellaneous banter.

First of all! Pictures from Firenze! Finally!!! Just click here.

This week has flown by already… Sunday was a great day. I woke up and the sky was that most beautiful Italian blue that only skies here can have. I literally almost leapt out of bed to throw open the shutters; I even opened the windows! However, I was fooled… for some reason, the air didn’t feel too chilly. I was so grateful for an almost warm day that I didn’t put on an extremely warm sweater. The first Sunday of every month here is the organic foods market in one of the piazzas behind the duomo. As soon as I left my building though, I realized the blue skies and lack of chill up here on the whatever-floor-we-are-on were lies… it was cold and windy, as per usual… the air here is very damp and just in general usually feels like a cold headache, after you eat ice cream too fast. In addition, Perugia is very compact here in the city center. I guess that’s part of its charm; it’s just a very well-preserved medieval town, and we are fortunate to have apartments in the center (as I learned yesterday… but that’s another story). Anyway, its compactness, in addition to its chilly, stone composition contribute to a general chill that right now is a bit oppressive; spring needs to come soon. I’m off track though– the organic foods market. I’ve been so excited about it ever since we got here… it was wonderful! Booth after booth of homemade marmalades, spreads, pastes (black truffles are an incredible delicacy in the world that happen to be grown in Umbria… they cost over 1000 euro per kilo, and you can buy them in paste form), cheeses, produce, handmade items… it was wonderful. So I bought some bread and produce (I bought 2 kilos of oranges and have already eaten ALL of them) and some little things for my family. It was just fun to walk around… I can’t wait til it gets warm out for this market. So it was wonderful. Because Perugia has several thousand students and in general is a fairly liberal and leftist town, there are a lot of hippies and health gurus that really go for the organics and what not… Perugia is such an odd mix of people.

What else is going on this week… well, Monday was cool, we got in the dark room in photography class and learned printing… so now we pretty much have free reign of it. I really enjoy it… it’s such a nice mix of art and science… it can be frustrating but really cool. It’s just something I’ve always wanted to learn. My pictures are turning out really great so far so I’m excited to get better.

Yesterday was a crazy busy day… in addition to my normal classes, I also had my first voice lesson and we had an extra practicum class to learn about politics in Italy (which, by the way, are extraordinarily confusing– since their liberation, they’ve had over 50 governments since the mid 1900s… eeeek). So we were supposed to go to this restaurant that is genuine Umbrian food but we didn’t, so we went to free pizza night instead.

But my voice lesson is the important part. Carmen Gonzalez, my voice teacher by reference while in Italy, has sung at the Met, La Scala, etc… she is incredible. She is your classic ex-diva. Anna and I found the bus that went to San Marco, a district of Perugia, not at all close to here, actually out in the country a bit. Carmen does not speak a lot of English so finding her house was hard, and we felt like we had been dropped off in the middle of nowhere (which has sort of become the story of my life here)… finally from her broken English and our broken Italian over the phone we found her house, way up a hill on Strada dei Cappocini. Her house was gorgeous, complete with balconies, spiral staircases, tile floors, plaster walls, and a view to die for. Above her piano are many, many pictures of her in various operas when she was younger and goodness gracious, she was incredibly beautiful… black and white photographs of her in these amazing costumes with feathers and beads and headdresses… Anyway, the lesson was great… she is a wonderful teacher, just very different. I had been warned about this before I came here. Italian teachers are not careful with their words, they do not sugar coat things, they don’t blow smoke for no reason. At first I was a bit caught off guard by this; it’s a bit intimidating and you wonder if any moment she will just tell you to give up, until her eyes light up, she touches your cheek, and says “bravissima” quietly. (On a side note, my cheeks have been pinched by more Italians since I’ve been here… every day, they get pinched by Italian friends, strangers, baristas, butchers…– I guess Italian girls don’t have fat cheeks like me???) She also wouldn’t let me speak any English, so that was wonderful. I love her, and I really think she’ll teach me so much in the few months I’ll be here. When she gave compliments, I would say “Grazie” and she’d say, “Non, non grazie…” as in, “I’m not complimenting you, I’m telling you the truth” which is so interesting. She said it’s very interesting for her, as well, to hear our voices and listen to us tell her the way we learn in America. There are definitely some differences, but it’s great to get so many opinions… confusing, but good. Of course, singers here are trained for classical only, no music theatre… so somehow I’m going to need to figure out how to retain a music theatre sound while learning her way, and return to an improved old way when I get home… eesh!

Today there’s not a lot to tell… I finally found a Frutta e Vedura place that has spinach and I bought a kilo… which is a grocery bag stuffed with fresh spinach. I’m so excited!!! I will absolutely eat all of it… the place is owned by the cutest little old people. And then I finally also found ground beef (this is sort of rare here) in another frutta e vedura place near my apartment, so I’ll have my first red meat meal for lunch or dinner. Tonight we are going to a bar called La Tana because at midnight, I’m mourning the end of my 21st year… I’m turning 22 tomorrow which to me seems kind of gross! What else is there to look forward to, other than renting a car… and here, I can rent a car at any age, so it’s not that great (not that I want to, or know how to drive a stick shift, or care to drive alongside the ridiculous Italians). So tomorrow, we’re not sure what our plans are yet but I’m sure I will recount them in here at some point.

I’m also going to do laundry today which is a terrifying affair; sketchy Senegalese and Albanian and Italian people leering at you and asking for change and asking what language you speak. The little Italian lady that owns the place is hilarious though.

By the way (actually, totally random), grapes here are amazing, and huge! I can’t stop eating them!!! I guess better grapes than gelato, though, right?

If you want to talk to me for free, download Skype (www.skype.com) but you have to have a microphone. Okay? Bene bene bene… Voi amo! (And happy early birthday, sissy)


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