Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mamma Mia

Well, howdy, y'all! I'm writing from a slightly smelly airport hotel in Rome, and mentally preparing myself for a long flight back home tomorrow. It's totally surreal to think that in 24 hours, I'll be in Texas.

But before I had any amount of time to begin to feel sorry for myself, my mom and aunt came to Italy! More Ledlow's in Europe.

it was so fun looking down into the Santa Chiara courtyard and seeing themmm

2 gypsies at the bus stop in Assisi, holding Squishy Laura

Then, we conquered Aunt Neannie's fear of heights and climbed the Duomo in Florence!

beautiful Siena, where all the buildings are...burnt sienna!

And now we end our adventures in Rome, where we...
...reenact Caesar's death, Roman Santa take a smoke break in Piazza Navona,

...took a day trip to Orvieto,

...and celebrated the third Sunday of Advent with Mass at St. Peter's with our sweet friend Enrique from Mexico, and a blessing from the Pope!

I'm so so glad these two cuties were able to "pick me up from school." Their sense of wonder and awe with this beautiful little home I've had for the past 3 months helped me to appreciate it even more. And their sense of adventure left me too exhausted to mourn my leaving Italy!

I could go into a big reflection, but I'll save that for catching up with all my beautiful family and friends when I return! Plus I might cry if I get all pensive. Thank you for reading about my many adventures, and God bless!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Finals week

"Finals" week at Santa Chiara! For me, my finals are 3 B&W prints, 1 watercolor, 1 compositional work, 15 pages of poetry, and a paper on the Renaissance.

I'm not complaining.

working on my compositional piece; you see how my Gpa inspires so much of my art? That's him at 19, me at 21.

art show at Santa Chiara:

The U.T. girl's set of rings she made in jewelry...hmm, one looks like it doesn't belong...

The beginning to goodbyes, both to friends from other schools and to this dreamworld that we live in. What a fantastic 3 months it has been.

Also this week was a tour of a Tuscan vineyard, or as Ricardo calls it, a "wine-yard." And what better way to finish a tour than a tasting? YUM.

probably my favorite picture I've taken, ever.

the architecture kids' final project is a little more intense than mine...

"In Italy we say, one day for bread. One year for wine." -Ricardo

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A presto, sorella!

Lisa Pisa had her Roman holiday, and oh what fun! I took her to almost all the places I was blessed to visit on my first trip to Rome.

Such good food. Seriously. And vegetables! Our digestive systems are especially thankful for our salad/mixed greens feast.

Finally, a cannoli in Italy! In honor of the blog, of course.

So I sent her off, and spent most of the Sabbath near St. Peter's...Latin Mass, and then a blessing from the Pope! What a beautiful weekend. See you soon again, sis.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Italian Thanksgiving. Wait a minute...

An American holiday, but one that we celebrated in Tuscany nonetheless. Our sweet Santa Chiara family really took care to make us feel at home. Mom, please don't be offended. This was the best stuffing I've ever had.

so excited for food! I had about 5 servings of mashed potatoes and peas, and 3 servings of turkey. Hey, tight pants, nice to meet you again!

Photoshooot. So wonderful having my sister(s) to celebrate Thanksgiving with!

I am beyond thankful to God for the many blessings he has seen fit to grant me. For my family, for my friends, for this incredible experience abroad. What more can I ever ask for, other than the grace to continue to live life to its fullest? (more cheese, I know. I tend to lay that on pretty thick).

Stayed up all night to watch the A&M v. t.u. ball game, but let's not talk about that.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fightin' Texas Aggie (Italian) Yell Practice

class of 12, whoop
Travis, our fearless yell leader

baby bonfireeee

B.T.H.O. t.u. Thanks and gig 'em.

Lisa Pisa

(One of) my sister(s) is in Italy!

So far, we've frolicked about Florence, Castiglion, Assisi and Cortona.

If you know my family, you know that if anyone can stir up the Italian countryside, it's Lisa. And boy, has she. That girl keeps me laughing like no one else.

We've also shared many an experience with our absent sister's substitute, Squishy Laura.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Two saints and an angel

Even with so much time spent together over fall break, sweet Kristen was down for yet another adventure! We made grand plans to have a real pilgrimage/retreat weekend to the region of Puglia.

We went to a remote little town on the mountain of Gargano called San Giovanni Rotondo, made famous by a contemporary Catholic Saint: Padre Pio. He's basically a modern-day St. Francis, stigmata and all.

He only died in '68, so we know so much about his personal life than we do of older Saints. He had such a close relationship with his God, and loved others so intensely, it's almost enviable. And it was so beautiful getting to know him, and to feel the support of his prayers as we retreated near his tomb and old friary.

I guess it might seem weird that we're so interested in the Saints, but here's the premise. A wise friend once said, "If you want to find out whether a stick is crooked, measure it against a straight one."

Padre Pio

the church

We also took a day trip to Monte Sant'Angelo, where according to legend, St. Michael the Archangel appeared in the grotto, and it's now a basilica...that's right, a cave-church and the oldest shrine in Western Europe, AKA awesome. I can't even explain the graces we received here, like resting in God's very Heart.

ascending the mountain

Then, we met the most precious living saint, Biagio, who owns a bread shop in San Gio. He locked up shop, bought us cafe, kissed us Italian-style on our cheeks, and packed us enough food for the train ride home to feed an army.

our precious Biagio!

These encounters with people who live so selflessly are tangible reminders that we are not made to live for ourselves, but for others. Cheesy reading-rainbow message, I know, but y'all should be used to that by now.