La luce

Okay, sorry it took me so long to update… it’s been kind of a crappy week… not feeling well again and still really dizzy and will be having a CT scan tomorrow… send happy thoughts and prayers! But I thought I’d go ahead and update a little.

Saturday night, Anna and I came home from Carnivale in Venice… it was a long train ride there, but really beautiful. Northern Italy is gorgeous, and so flat… it was really nice to be out of the mountains for awhile. Pulling into Venice was wonderful, just seeing water! Perugia is so landlocked, except for the incredibly huge Lago Trasimeno, that it can be a bit oppressive at times. As soon as we stepped off the train, went through the station and onto the steps, we found ourselves beside the Grand Canal, which was gorgeous! The piazza was filled with make-up artists, people in crazy costumes, street musicians, vendors… it was insanity. We crossed the canal on one of the big bridges and took a gander at all the gondolas and boats and tourists… immediately we were overwhelmed! Finding the bus station to our hostel was not exactly easy but we did it, and took a couple of buses several miles outside of Venice to our hostel.

Now, the hostel gets its own paragraph because it was humorous. It was called Camp Alba D’Oro, and it was in the Ca’ Noghera district, which essentially means it was the only place we could afford and it was about 30 minutes away from Venice. Haha! Everything else was really expensive, but this was fine! So we arrive and check in, only to see, yes, a campground! But we were given tiny little “Pins,” they were called– trailer/cabin things that were remarkably clean and sunfilled, and we had a large bathroom and a shower with doors (which never ceases to be exciting, since we don’t have that in our own HOME). We dropped our bags off and hopped right back on the bus to Venice.

Our map was absolutely ridiculous, as was all maps off Venice– they’re useless. Venetian streets are complicated, often water-filled, and basically impossible. So we walked about two hours and finally, as darkness fell, found ourselves in St. Mark’s square– an enormous, stunningly beautiful piazza. It was so packed with people that it was more than comparable to Times Square on New Years Eve. There was a huge stage set up at the far end of the square, and after we were camera happy for awhile, little characters made their way on the stage and were jesters of sorts. They talked for awhile and then other characters, contortionists, etc paraded down a runway to about 20 feet from us. Costumed children on horses also rode up, and a large lantern was held in front of a small boy’s face. Church bells chimed and then there was a countdown, and at zero, the little boy on the horse blew out the light in the lantern. When he did, all the lights in St. Mark’s square went out!!! Millions of lights! Shop windows, hotel windows… everything! For about 15 minutes, the jesters did a fireshow to Cirque du Soleil music (Allegria!) and then the lights came back on and the mayor spoke and finally we decided it was just too crowded to enjoy it anymore, so we decided to go find some dinner.

Finally Anna and I found a lovely, cozy little restaurant, and as soon as we sat down they brought us each a wonderful glass of red champagne. We ordered antipasti of Insalate Caprese with buffalo mozzarella (which, until experienced, cannot be explained) which is just buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes. It’s amazing. They brought us bread (salted! hooray for being out of central Italy) and olive oil and even salt and pepper (!!!) and then we had our primi piatti (we decided we only needed one course). I had lasagna which was homemade and had incredible meat sauce on it, and Anna had ravioli con vedura primavera (ravioli with spring vegetables). Both were fabulous.

It was getting late and the last shuttle back to our hostel was at 10:30, and we knew it would take awhile to find our way back. Actually, we didn’t get lost this time, somehow, but it still took a little over an hour of fast, fast FAST walking to get back to the buses.

We only spent the one night, so we had to check out yesterday morning, so we got up early and ran into the market to get bread and cheese for breakfast which we ate on the bus (and a little Nutella). We checked our bags at the station and heard there was a parade in Saint Mark’s, but we knew it was an hour’s walk. Also let me mention here that we had a photography project due on Monday so we had to take about 3 rolls of film on Sunday. Well, predictably, we got hopelessly lost trying to find Saint Mark’s, but somehow after about 2 hours of walking stumbled across the parade… it wasn’t huge, but it was a long line of pairs of costumed Venetians in their haunting masks and incredible clothing. We decided to allow ourselves at least an hour and a half to find our way back to the train station, but we had a few minutes to spare so Anna decided we should trek on and find Saint Mark’s again. So we found it, and also came upon the parade again! That was neat, to see everything. We got our film taken and then decided to start walking back. The streets were so crowded though that literally we were being pushed and shoved along on all sides of our bodies… it was very stressful but we made it! Amazingly, I think we took the correct route back to the station and decided to grab some pizza and get our faces painted before heading home… that was so fun! Everyone had their faces painted in Venice, so we didn’t stand out at all, but once we got to Perugia we looked a little odd.

Anyway, Sunday was spent in the dark room which gets long… this week has been mostly cold and rainy and frustrating, but today the weather finally let up and I think some warmer air has moved in, perhaps. It was sunny and we were so happy about it. We also went to Ranieri again today, which is a bit disorganized, but I think we may have made some headway.

This weekend we will be staying in Perugia to save money and to study. My roommate Ren and I might so see a production of Death of a Salesman at Teatro Morlacchi, a beautiful old theatre near us, and it will be in Italian so that should be interesting.

This week is midterms already, and then spring break!!! We have finally made our hostel reservations for Barcelona, Paris, and Nice, and actually they all look really nice and fortunately they should all be private rooms shared by Sarah and me, which will be great… somehow I’ve gotten out of dorm situations completely while here. Don’t know how!

I had another voice lesson yesterday, and that went great… I was really dizzy unfortunately but it went well. Carmen actually got home a little bit after I got there so her husband, Marcello, said I could sit and play piano as long as I pleased… it was lovely to just sit in a quiet room and play alone. I play at school a lot here but the piano is in a classroom and people are always listening and walking in to talk to me, so it was nice to just be alone and play on their beautiful piano.

Tomorrow night, Anna and I are staying in and watching Harry Potter, and we also found a place that has pancake mix!!! The prospect of a real breakfast is enthralling to us.

Anyhow, I’m off… I’m going to the tanning bed because I need sunshine in my life… and also because if I’m going to be wearing a bathing suit in France, I don’t want to be pasty. Tanning beds here are hilarious… I can’t even explain them, but they are nothing like the ones in the US. Maybe next time I’ll make the attempt to put into words the tanning bed experience.

Also, tonight we’re going to grab dinner at Tutto Testo, one of our favorite restaurants here. Torte al testo is an Umbrian specialty bread. It’s a spongy, dense, large and usually triangular bread, about three-quarters of an inch thick, and it is only found here in Umbria. It’s so good, and they make sandwiches and things with it, really fresh and wonderful. Also at Tutto testo they have fabulous hot chocolate as well as dessert crepes. Hard to turn down. However, I have weaned myself almost off of caffeine!!! It’s difficult and I’m having the headaches and what not but I know it will be worth it. I do love my espresso but I hate needing it to get through the day.

Anyway, love you all, keep me in your prayers if you don’t mind! Please!

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