So! We have a lot of catching up to do...I've been in Italy for two weeks now, and no blog posts! (It's all a ploy, really, just to keep you interested. Especially now that it's kind of hard to top my experiences up to Italia...)
After treating me to a traditional German dinner in Mehring (a precious wine town), I said "arrivederci" to my adopted family, the Braden's. I figure it's always good to have another set of parents living in Europe.
I arrived in Rome and asked 4 different Italians who pointed me in 4 totally different directions for the hotel bus pickup Mind you, these are official airport workers...I'm already getting a feel for the culture. "Dove ____?"..."Oh, somewhere over there, about 5 minutes, si?". No. It is never as many minutes or meters or kilometers aways as the Italians say it is. Thankfully, I found it on my own after some divine inspiration prompted me to look 200 meters to my left where all the buses are. For the sake of my reputation, I'll chalk that stupidity up to a lot of traveling and an espresso-caused tummy ache.
After settling into the hotel, ran off to meet my seminarian friend Dave, who will be studying for the next 2 years a few blocks from the Vatican! Had quite the adventure in another taxi shuttle and prepared myself for death as the driver honked, changed lanes, and sped into the Termini region of Roma. I'm pretty sure it would have been classified as fairly timid driving.
Dave bought me the best slice of pizza I have ever had, we chatted on the steps of Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica, of course went inside the beautiful church, and had a running goodbye as I dashed off to catch the train back to the hotel.
The next day, I met up with the Longhorns who are a part of the Santa Chiara study program, and then my fellow Aggies (whoop). We travelled 3 hours from Roma by bus to what is our home until December: the remote Tuscan town of Castiglion Fiorentino. It is stunning in its quiet, medieval charm and dynamic in layout–it makes you want to walk everywhere, which despite the small size is not an easy task with its many steep slopes! The oldest building dates back to the 1100s, and the Santa Chiara center where 92 students are living and studying is an old convent from the 1500s. For lack of a better vocabulary, it's completely and utterly surreal.
Admittedly I have very few pictures of Castiglion. It's like I can't tear my eyes away from its beauty long enough to take a picture...I'll try to be better in that respect for y'all to enjoy the view!
the little narrow street with the entrance to Santa Chiara...watch out for those Italian drivers!
my roomies at the loggia which getting to requires an epic uphill climb...our reward? coffee and this view, of course!
A view of the valley below our town
My very favorite thing to do in this town, besides eat gelato (heaven on a spoon, seriously) and meet the locals, is walk. Vado a piedi. I've walked and walked and walked so much that I hope it counteracts my high caloric/carbohydrate intake! (As long as I can fit into my pants, I'm a happy girl.)
Tuscan corn! had the nicest conversation with the cutest farmer everrr
my very favorite route: villa della madonna...it has artwork commemorating the mysteries of the rosary that are perfectly stationed so you can walk and meditate simultaneously. also, wild grapes and figs, and an incredible view of the town
I can always count on my homegirl Kristen to walk and explore with me