August 2008 Archives

A baker's fortnight

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I am back from Volterra, and I miss it so much I could cry. I am thoroughly convinced that I must either move to Italy or make traveling there a regular occurrence.

I got home yesterday afternoon and happily reunited with Eric and the kitties. After weeks of Italian food, you'd think I might have wanted something else for dinner, but nope, I went straight for Sicilian pizza.

I finished reviewing for my French exam this morning and I asked Eric why the French use "huit jours" (eight days) for a week and "quinze jours" (15 days) for two weeks. He said it's just a French thing, like a baker's dozen... but a baker's fortnight. I was stunned, walking to school, to realize that I only had a baker's fortnight in Volterra, yet each day was among the most productive, exciting, and meaningful of my life.

I have so many more things to say and photos to share, but we must embark on the ever-loathsome task of packing and moving to a new home. Our new place is going to be pretty freaking sweet, but I am dreading the process of getting there. Ah well, c'est la vie.

(p.s. I think I actually did alright on my exam, in that I understood what the text said and what I translated made sense, but it's a question of how picky they are with tenses and stuff. I'll find out soon.)

Saluti da Volterra!

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To begin, I have to tell you that I am writing in a medieval monastery, from this balcony:

It is the evening now, but during the day the view from here into the Tuscan valley is like this:

It's more than a little beautiful.

I've settled into Volterra very nicely, having successfully met with my lab mates in Pisa and endured a long car ride through winding roads up the hills. It's really nice getting to know the other girls as friends, and I'm having a wonderful time.

Having spent two weeks prior in Italy, I've become wholly accustomed to the Italian lifestyle, and I find Volterra to be charming in every conceivable way. The town reminds me a lot of Assisi, in that it is all hills and winding cobblestone streets, with beautiful remains of history at every turn. Our workspace is across the street from a medieval wall which overlooks the ruins of a Roman amphitheater, a short walk from an Etruscan arch. On the other side of town, there are cliffs where objects of antiquity are regularly unearthed from the yellow dust.

Our research is going very well, and I'm thrilled to find connections with some of the churches I visited earlier this month in Padua and Assisi. For the rest of this week, my lab mates are traveling to Pompeii by way of Florence and Rome, but I am staying here to concentrate on research. The project I'm doing is really fascinating, and I wish I could write more about it, but it may turn into something big and exciting in the coming months.

I carry my camera wherever I go, as the light here is enchanting beyond words. The air is fresh and clear, the colors vibrant and luminous, and often the stillness is penetrated only by dogs barking, church bells, or roosters.

I am focusing intensely on research and gaining great perspective on art and my career. Around every corner I find new inspiration, and I am additionally enjoying a spiritual dimension of calm and contentment that I haven't known in a long while. Perhaps it is from spending so much time in churches, though more likely it's just having the time and inclination to reflect on life.

I've started a Flickr set of Volterra photos, which I expect will only continue to grow the longer I'm here. I didn't think I could love another city the way I love Venice, but this one has quickly found a place in my heart.

Halfway point

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I just put my mom on a plane home to New York, and I am now in the Pisa airport waiting to meet my professor and lab mates for the next two weeks of my trip. I'm struggling to resist crying from sentimentality (my mama's leaving) and nervousness at what is yet to come.

Also, I really miss my sweetie and kitties.

Something about being this far from home and moving around among nine different cities has really driven home that when I return, my apartment will no longer be home. The things I most look forward to experiencing won't be that way anymore, and instead it will be a rush to pass my French exam and immediately move. I feel sort of unspeakably sad about that, but at least I'll be moving with the most important parts of living there (aforementioned sweetie and kitties) - wherever they are, is home.

The next two weeks should be interesting, with a lot of unknowns up in the air. I'm looking forward to being in the same place with everyone and being able to speak face to face. We've been communicating by emails flying back and forth, and I have not had internet the last four or five days, so it was a massive relief to find wi-fi (albeit paid) at the airport and learn that no more plans had been changed.

I don't know if there will be internet at the monastery we're staying in, so updates may continue to be scarce (sorry about that), but eventually there should be a glut of stories and photos. I realize I never made good on that same promise from last summer, but well, you'll have to trust me some more. Heh.

So please send wishes for courage and wisdom, in hopes that I don't spend the next two weeks lost and sleeping in the streets of Pisa. Ciao!

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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