Monday, May 10, 2010

First Volcanoes, Now Rockslides

The world might be ending.  Who would have thought that both volcanoes and rockslides would have a pretty major impact on my traveling this semester?  The volcano in Iceland is stirring up again creating chaos in the air.  I'm watching a movie in class right now because my teacher is stuck in Munich until tomorrow.  What to do when watching a movie without a teacher present? Time to blog. 

On Thursday, I went to the Accademia to see Michelangelo's David, the original this time.  It was pretty epic.  We also saw The Rape of the Sabine which was really neat.  I'd already seen replicas of these statues but nothing beats an original.  Friday was a homework day so not much to report. 

Saturday I decided to see some of Tuscany.  I got up early and headed to the train station.  I wasn't sure exactly where to go so I just waited to see what train times were and picked a destination rather at random.  I decided on Arezzo, which is famous for being the hometown of Petrarch.  The movie "Life was Beautiful" also has scenes filmed there because it was the director's hometown.  It was about an hour train ride away.  I love taking the train in Italy.  You get to see the most beautiful landscape flashing by the window.  Anyway, I got to Arezzo and decided to wander.  Since the only thing I knew I wanted to see was Petrarch's casa, I just kind walked about until I ran into it.  I did some window shopping, got some gelatto, and took in the town.  Petrarch's house was at the top of this huge hill.  So I walked on up, took an obligatory photo, and nerded out a bit.  At the top of the hill I found this beautiful park.  It was lush and green and had a massive statue of Petrarch at the center.  The remains of a medieval wall also runs along the outside of the town.  It lined the park.  I sat on the wall and read a book in front an incredible landscape of the Tuscan countryside.  Awesome.  It's moments like those that I'm going to miss about Italy.  To me, Italy is all about its little towns.  These little towns like Arezzo, Lucca, or Siena is where I've fallen in love with Italy.  Florence is nice, but if I was ever to spend more significant time in Italy, I'd settle in a mountainside village somewhere. So Saturday was pretty wonderful.

On Sunday, a friend and I decided to go to the Cinque Terre.  It's a national park of five little towns on the coast of the Mediterranean.  And it just might be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We got up super early and caught a 7:45 train (barely catching it because my friend showed up about 30 sec before it left!) It's a 2.5 hour train ride La Spezia.  From La Spezia you can take a train to the various towns or you can hike.  We decided to hike from the first town to the second.  Both were unbelievably beautiful.  I'll post pictures to facebook soon. We spent some time in each and got a good feel for the towns.  We attempted to hike to the third town but alas we could not.  There had been a rockslide which had closed down the paths to the next three towns.  So we used the trains for the rest of the day. Each town was insanely wonderful.  The colors in the Cinque Terre is what stood out to me most.  The color of Mediteranean of was almost aquamarine.  The trees were so vividly green.  Roses grew everywhere.  Brilliant reds, yellows, purples, blues, and pinks.  If the natural landscape wasn't vivid enough, all of the houses are painted in bright colors.  Bright pinks, oranges, yellows, reds everywhere. And now, as a result, I really want a bright yellow house up on a hill somewhere.  There were vineyards and olive fields up and down the mountains. We moved town to town, doing a little shopping, taking it all in.  In the fifth town, Monterosso, we grabbed a late lunch and stared out at the sea.  I had 4 formaggi gnocchi which was delicious.  There was an older American couple at the next table over from us and we got to chatting.  We called it a day and headed back to La Spezia.  We had some train delays so it took nearly four hours to get home.  Totally worth it.  The Cinque Terre is definitely near the top of my list of my favorite places that I've had the opportunity to see on this trip.  I don't even know how to describe it.  It's one of those places you just need to see to believe. 

It was an absolutely exhausting weekend.  I came home and crashed.  But the places I got to see were wonderful.  I have one more weekend left in Italy and it'll be in Venice.  It's the final countdown for classes. I'll have a lot to take care of accademically and in preparing to leave.  Mixed emotions about the whole thing.  Here's to hoping the skies clear up enough by May 22nd when I fly home! Yikes.


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