And Now Introducing....

You are what you eat, right? Here in Italy, I’ve figured out that maybe it’s more you are how you eat. We’ve had discussions centered around personality tests. For example, the colors of personalities.

So here’s an introduction to some of the members of our illustrious group based on… how they eat.

This is Courtney. Courtney was my art history professor last fall and I was SO excited when I found out she’d be on the trip as well. She’s a stylish, classy sort of person (and I secretly hope to become a “Courtney” one day when I grow up). Courtney gets a lot of grief from us because she takes incredibly small bites, taking each taste with a dainty lift to her mouth and wipes her lips with sweet little pats of the napkin. She also can’t seem to help but keep her hands folded aristocratically in her lap. The other night we made her put her forearms on the edge of the table, lean in and take bigger bites!

Analysis: Courtney is always in control and conscience of her every move. Because of this, you will never find Courtney without a smile and an intelligent answer to any question you may have.

Carissa—my spunky roomie who misses her puppy and sleeping in the nude—is obsessed with éclairs. She wipes out the store on the corner to get some. The picture above is Carissa before she gets her morning éclair.

Analysis: Carissa has this normal exterior but, like her beloved éclairs, often has a burst of something extra special inside that she shares with us all. She’s able to make people laugh with a fun expression or one of her many silly voices.

Becky gets ridiculously excited when we have lots of fruits and vegetables in our meals and makes us all excited with her.

Analysis: We’re pretty sure she’s an extraterrestrial rabbit in disguise.

Ashley, Ashley… what can we say about Ashley? Ashley sits in the midst of everyone, but manages to keep from being poked fun at during meals, even though she has a hard time staying in her chair. When she has a gelato, she always always gets it in a cup, not cone. At the same time, she is willing to try new flavors every time.

Analysis: Ashley has her own boundaries and rules which she lives by, but everything within those bounds is done with a great amount of energy! She’s willing to take part in everything with excitement, but without complaint. We love Ashley and the quiet, powerful sense of adventure she brings with her.

Lina has been reprimanded by Steve on numerous occasions for having the gall to cut her spaghetti into bite-sized pieces. She simply smiles and continues doing so, a sly gleam in her eyes.

Analysis: There is a certain amount of subtle sassiness to Lina’s actions. She likes to appear studious and astute, but through her own methods, she goes the way of the rebel. Being wise beyond her years, there’s a sense that she knows exactly what she’s doing by irking Steve, keeping her on the edges of angelic group member and impish destroyer of spaghetti.

Me? I just love Italian food.

Analysis: I think this means I need to stay here forever!

Ciao! Rie


Ravenna and more

Although the rain has finally gone, our group is dropping like flies with coughs and congestion. Even Steve caught the bug--a first on any study abroad he's done, so he says. Luckily, though, I've managed to stay good and strong (if tired on occasion) and am determined to stay that way! We have plenty of Airborne that everyone is sharing as well.

We have been able to see some many great things here in Florence and even took a trip to Ravenna to see some beautiful Mosaics. Unfortunately, there have also been a lot of places we've been where no pictures are allowed. I have managed to get quite a few still!

This is Santa Maria Novella. It was an interesting church, with lots of private chapels inside. It's one of thsoe places we couldn't take pictures. Love the facade!

Brunelleschi's Dome. I could talk about this facinating piece of architecture all day! (Which kind of worked out, because this was the topic of my second report.) Besides being beautiful, the innovations he had to create was astounding! We still use some of it today.

The other day I just went walking before dinner. This is a picture of the Arno river in the evening. LOVE the clouds.

This is a fun story. So this was taken on the same walk as the river shot. As I was finding my way to the restaurant we go to dinner at (I always manage to get hopelessly lost) this man was doing a semi-street performance. This is one thing I love about Florence: while Rome had people doing flasy, weird art and performance to get money on the street, there are entertainers here in the true sense of the word. So this guy had the weird wig and tie that's all skewed. He would do a slow motion into a position until he froze like he was running. I really was laughing and took several pictures. Totally put in two euros because he was so fun
(plus I used it to take a bunch of pictures). At the very end, he started following right behind (like RIGHT behind) this guy and followed him doing the street, mimic him as he talked to the phone and he didn't even notice. SO FUNNY!

These are taken in Ravenna. I never knew I would love Mosaics so much! Really, I could have gone and starred at these all day. (Sorry... the one of the right isn't orienting correctly for some reason. Tilt your head to the left and you'll get the idea!)

Another fun thing: on Sunday when we went to church, I noticed on the front left side a woman signing. Yes! Signing! I leaned over and asked Maddi if she would switch me seats to see better. It was interesting to see how they sign and afterwards, I was able to talk to a couple of the interpreters. I learned the signs for "beautiful", "name" and "life" as well as how you ask someone "you got it"?

Until later! Ciao!


A Little Slice of Tuscany

You know how Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco? I almost left my shoe at the Teremini train station! Seriously. As we were boarding the train in Rome, my shoe fell down and under the train. Luckily, one of the Italian guys working there helped me get it, but it was the beginning omen for a very LONG day!

Once we arrived in Florence, we got off the train and made our way to a bus that took us to the hotel. Luckily we were given about an hour because I needed a shower and a few moments to get myself together before we were given a couple sheets of instruction and were split up for a pseudo scavenger hunt!

Each set of instructions either went clockwise or counter clockwise around the city, and made us hit different major piazzas or areas of town so we'd have some sense of where we're going. Mostly, we think Steve just needed a break from us. For a while there we figured he was hoping we'd get lost at some point and that perhaps he'd come looking for us in a week or so, once he'd had a good break! But the instructions took us safely back to the hotel, excited and ready to see more of Florence in the coming weeks.

The next day we also got to have a fun view of the city as we started hitting the major points!

First we took a bus to the top of the hill. Coolest view of Florence!!! That big dome is Brunelleschi's dome and is part of the Florence Cathedral. (I did my report on the dome and loved doing the reading on it!) One interesting thing is that there have long since been building laws that restrict building above a certain height, allowing the Cathedral to still be seen above all other buildings to this day. LOVE IT!!!

There are many pieces of art that happen to be copies in the place where the originals were. This is to preserve the originals and keep them from becoming damaged. While we got to see the "Gates of Paradise" (Gilded bronze doors on the east side of the baptistry) via a copy, the only original on display was the story of Joshua's battle against Jericho. Really wonderful. The others are in for cleaning unfortunately for us.

This is Michelangelo's second Pieta, which was intended for his own tomb. (Could you imagine building your own tomb? Creepy!) It never was finished. The angel pictured on the right would have been added much later and the technique and style makes it obvious someone else did that portion.

One of the girls in our group pointed to this one in the room of statues that used to adorn the Cathedral and said "that one looks like Voldemort." It's informally known as "Pumpkin-head" actually, because the detail was lost from a distance and his head is so strange. This is one by Donatello.

And last, but not least... how would you like to wake up to that lovely face each morning! This is Mary Magdelene, again by Donatello. Really fascinating work of art! Love how they light it up in the Duomo museum!


"Better Rain in Rome than Dry at Home"

That is a quote from some man on the streets of Rome one day as we were trying to find a restaurant. It has been my mantra as the rain comes down and the umbrellas go up. (Not mine, of course. One, I don't have an umbrella and two, Florida made me tougher than that!)

We've had some amazing times in Rome and last night was our last night here! That means we'll be hitting the countryside and enjoying the beautiful Florence. There have been some places we haven't been able to take pictures, which is one reason I haven't updated recently. The other is the internet here. Florence is supposed to have better connection, so cross your fingers because hopefully (if that's true) you'll be getting more posts!

For now, here's been the last few days through the pictures!

Amber and her husband Russell won a week paid on any UVU study abroad. Amber works for the career counciling department at UVU and won this week through an essay contest. They've been a fun addition! On their first night, they were christened into the group with--you guessed it-- gelato!


Night shots at the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. At this fountain, you're supposed to throw in two coins: the first to find love and the second so you will someday return to Rome. (By the way, the fountain in the movie "When in Rome" apparently doesn't exist. So don't come this way looking for it!)

A white chocolate egg I got at a little shop in the heart of Rome. Definitely picture worthy!

We took a Sunday trip to Tivoli,  which was AMAZING!!! This is Villa D'Este which became the prototype for all European gardens. It was jaw droppingly amazing! So many pictures to take, so little time!!!

Since the puppy picture was so popular, I thought we'd see how cats faired. This was the sweetest cat roaming around the villa. It was hard to take a picture of her because every time I'd get down on her level, she'd come right up to be pet. So I picked her up for a little bit at first. What can I say? I'm a cat person. (She was also VERY clean)

Left: One more from Tivoli Right: from a church we went to yesterday

Our last stop of the day was St. Peter's Basilica, which was absolutely massive! And beautiful to boot. For five euro, you're also able to take stairs all the way to the top of the dome and see a great view of the city. At first, six people said they were going to. In the end, most of them chickend out and Becky and I made the trip! We were the brave ones! The area was narrow and kinda skewed at times (see picture below) but there were little nitches to rest for a second and take some shots through little slots in the wall.

And as you can see, the view was definitely worth the while. Besides which, I can now proudly declare that I was on the top of St. Peter's!

One last funny story that really has nothing to do with anything. Somehow I've been dubbed the person that has anything anyone needs. Everyone generally asks me first if I have whatever random object they might need. I think it's funny, because most of the time I don't have it anyway.

Yesterday morning as we waited for a bus, Anna was holding a clip she'd had in her hair and asks "Does anyone have a bobby pin... or a pair of pliers?"-- the second being more jokingly.

The thing was, I had been finishing a bracelet the other morning downstairs and had to stick my round nose pliers and wire cutters into my backpack for the day. I never did remember to take them out. So when she said that, it clicked and I opened my bag. I almost didn't want to admit that I had them, but I did and everyone started laughing-- especially Anna. "That's the best thing that's ever happened to me!" she said.

So if you ever need something... you  know where to come!




Man vs. Rome

We were talking as a group the other day about how crazy it is to be in Rome and how crazy Rome is just in general. It's practically a skill to survive here with all the walking up hills, running to catch trains, and just avoiding the germs on the metros (seriously... you could pick up three viruses just by looking at the poles on the mettro the wrong way). So really it's like an episode of Man vs. Wild... city style!
There have been a lot of churches we've gone to over the last couple of days. The mosoleum of Santa Costanza, which is next to the church for St. Agnese. Then there was the Church of the four fountains (today), the Church of St. Charles (where Michelangelo's Moses marks the tomb of Julius II; also today), and yesterday we spent the entire day in the Vatican museum, ending up in the Sistine chapel!

It was amazing! We weren't allowed to take pictures in there, but to be honest, it wouldn't have done it justice. It looked like the figures could have been statues in there. It really did! And Michelangelo's "Last Judgement" (which is totally not talked about enough) was truely dynamic!

Pictures, of course, are still the best way to show you what we've been up to!

Inside where the tomb of Santa Costanza (daughter of Constantine) was built. I'm not the only one trying to get super rad pictures!!!

(Right: Santa Costanza's still; Left: Cathedral of St. Agnese)

Group photo op! In front of St. John Lateran--first Christian church in Rome and still the most important.

From the Vatican Museum. On the left is part of the Egyptian art collection. Most people just zipped through those rooms, which is really a pity! On the right is Laocoon, which was found by a farmer in 1506. He was plowing his field and just happened upon a masterpiece!

More at the Vatican. The one of me is in front of Raphael's masterpieces "School of Athens" or "Philosophy"

Bernini's "Ecstacy of St. Teresa" and a decorative piece from the same chapel

The tomb of Pope Julius II-- AND Michelangelo's Moses

The chains are one of many relics in the city--which are usually housed at the alter of a cathedral. They are believed to be the chains which held Peter when he was prisoner in Rome before his death. The candles are just pretty and are in most of the churches. (Sometimes they're electric instead)

And last of all, while it holds no major artistic value, but because it is so darned cute!:

And that's all for now! Ciao!

PS Sorry mom! I have gotten lost in Rome a few times, but it's the sketchy internet that makes it hard to upload pics sometimes, so I wait for a time when it's possible! Doing the best I can!!!