Friday, February 19, 2010


Our last Brown orientation trip was to Mantova, Feb. 6.

Located in the South East corner of Lombardia, Mantova is about 70 miles North of Bologna. It was founded by the Etruscans about 2000 BC. The Gonzaga family was very influential in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries and was largely responsible for a renovation of the city’s architecture, the effects of which remain to this day.

We first visited the Basilica of Sant’Andrea, considered one of Leon Battista Alberti’s best works. We then moved on to the Palazzo Ducale. For the most part, it has been decided to keep the palazzo’s original lack of central heating intact. Even in winter, tourists can experience a significant drop in temperature as they enter the Gonzaga family residence. After lunch, we took a bus a little ways out of town to see Palazzo Te, the summer home of Frederick II of Gonzaga. He was a man who, judging by the frescos, did not believe that less is more.

Charles Dickens spent some time in Mantova (Mantua, in English) in 1844. He described Mantova as “dreary… intensely dull, and flat.” Who am I to argue with genius?


The second trip, Jan. 23, was Verona. It is super pretty and has good shopping. Despite the ultra conservative politics—Verona is a huge center for La Legua Norde, or the “Friendly Fascist Fraternity that doesn’t like Southern Italy”—I would love to live in Verona.

Pictures are of letters to Juliet, Juliet's Balconey (orginally a sarcophagus), Verona's Roman Arena, and a piazza.


Our first Brown orientation trip was to Ravenna, Jan. 16.

Ravenna is a small, but important city in Emilia-Romagna. No one is really sure who founded it, probably the Thessalians, Etruscans, or Umbrians. It eventually became Roman and was later conquered by the Ostrogoths, before reverting back to the then Roman-Byzantine government. It is known for the well preserved 5th century mosaics in its cathedrals and chapels.

Fun Fact: The water table under Ravenna has changed over the past several hundred years. It is currently landlocked, but it used to be very similar to Venice. Like V

enice, the buildings are sinking and some buildings have had flooding issues.

One of my favorite mosaics, Mosaic of the Palace of Theodoric, was commissioned by Theodoric the Great, an Ostrogoth. When the Rome regained control of Ravenna, they changed the mosaics that celebrated Ostrogoths so that they would celebrate only religious or Roman figures. The figures on the mosaic (Theodoric and friends) have been removed, but for some reason the removal was not thorough. There are floating hands on the pillars of the Palace depicted. I like to think that the 5th century mosaic served as an inspiration for Thing from the Addams Family.

In addition to the mosaics, Ravenna is also the final resting of Dante Alighieri. Florence is unhappy about this and has tried to explain that they only meant to exile Dante while he was alive.


It's a rainy day in Italia so I cancelled my trip to Sienna and decided to update this blog.

The picture is of the lemon meringue pie that Jessica and I brought to a dinner last night. We couldn't find a pie tin anywhere, so we used the square tins. Still tasted good.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sta Nevicando

It is a winter wonderland here in Bologna. There was a "grande freddo" and Bologna received several inches of snow. Yesterday the sun came out and is still shining. Bologna typically doesn't get very much snow in the winter and is known for being overcast, so these last few days have been odd.

The Brown in Bologna program is winding down, sort of. Ending is probably the more correct term. We had our last history class on Monday and will have our last Italian language class tomorrow. I have oral exams in both and a final paper in Italian.

*The picture of the street was taken right outside of my apartment building.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Il Cibo

The standard lunch break in Italy is two hours long. Businesses (including some restaurants) close from around 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. Most people aren't lazy, Italian food is just that good. A traditional meal has an appetizer, a primo piatto (like pasta), a secondo piatto (typically meat), and a dolce (dessert). Sometimes they throw out fruit and cheese after the dessert, and usually serve espresso or cappucino.

Though in America I'm not much of a coffee person, I have come to rely on espresso to help me function after 2 p.m. Caffeine is the only thing that keeps me standing upright when all the blood in my body rushes to my stomach to process the insalata(/pasta/pizza/random pastry that I bought on my walk to class even though I was really full because, let's face it, at that point a dolce con crema wasn't going to make a difference.)

Pictured above:
Grilled vegetables from lunch at a restaurant in Ravenna, Saturday. Italians swap meat with grilled vegetables for the vegetarian secondo piatto.
Fresh tortellini in a fresh tomato sauce, dinner from tonight
Fresh gnocchi in a fresh tomato sauce, dinner from last night

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Io Amo...

I am in love and unashamed. The object of my affection is tall, dark, and handsome. Quiet and strong, also willing to carry me where ever I want to go.

Daddy, if you are reading this, I love you very, very much and would like to remind you that I don't own any black boots. A girl only needs one pair, and this pair is way less than 600 Euro.

P.S. Turns out a decrease in jetlag and an increase in homework leads to a less frequently updated blog. I'll add pictures tomorrow.

*Boots pictured are not "my boots."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Più delle Foto

Una Piccola Lezione di Bologna

Here are some fun facts about Bologna:

-Bologna was founded by the Etruscans around the 8th century BC.

-400 BC, Bologna was conquered by the Celts and was under their control until the Romans took over, 200 BC.

-Bologna is home to the oldest university in Europe, University of Bologna, founded 1088 AD.

-Almost 100,000 students attend the university.

-University of Bologna is the oldest continuously functioning university in the world. (Suck on that, University of Ciaro).

-There are over 40 km of porticos--arched walkways--in Bologna. This stems from a housing crunch in that happened in the 1200s. People expanded the second floors of their houses to increase the space inside. Once the government figured out how to tax it, they started requiring people to build porticos. A few "wanna be unique" nobles paid the city to be allowed to not build porticos on their houses, but for the most part, my walk to school is through porticoed walkways.

Saturday night Brown took the study abroad students on a tour of Bologna and these facts are a paraphrase of what the tour guide said.

Mi Piace!

Pictures have been uploaded! I think this is because I'm the only one awake at 5:30 a.m. so the band width is all mine. Turns out the quality of this blog depends on my having jetlag.

In an attempt to only waste time on the internet in Italian, I have been watching make up tutorials, in Italian, on youtube for the last twenty minutes. For all of my male readers who have been dying to learn how to do natural, everyday make up, here is a link.

Non Mi Piace!

Sorry there aren't any pictures. Uploading isn't working.

Ho un Balcone!

I'm all unpacked. My room is huge. I have a bed, a tiny sofa, and a sketchy desk that folds into the wall. One wall is white, two are mostly sky blue, and the last wall is made out of cabinets. Half of the cabinets face into my room while the other half face Thomas's room. The cabinets are less sound proof than either Thomas or I would like.

The most important feature of my room: the balcony!

Un Piccolo Viaggio

I had my first conversation in Italian with the cab driver that took me from the airport to my hotel:
(I've done my best to translate it)

Me: Hello. Can you please take me to the Sheraton Hotel?

Cabbie: Do you prefer sherbet or gelato?

Me: I like sherbet but I prefer gelato. Straciatella [like chocolate chip] is my favorite flavor.

Cabbie: No, sherbert or gelato in the city center.

Me: Well, I hope that there are gelaterias downtown. Right now I would like to go to the Sheraton Hotel.

Cabbie: How close is it?

Me: I think that it is very close.

Two minutes and 15 euro later I was at the Sheraton.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sono a Bologna in Italia

I'm in Bologna, Italy! Trip was exhausting. Luckily, Terminal B in Frankfurt has really flat seats so I took a little nap during my layover. It's four a.m. so I'm clearly not over jet lag.