Monday, May 11, 2009

Magical Maggiore and Clooney Cuomo: The Lakes

Traci and I pack up for what should be an interesting weekend, heading to the famous lakes of Italy, so famous that famous people actually own several homes there, one of the most well known would be the handsome George Clooney, of which I know where he lives now… hmmmmm. Anyways, so after one of those lovely bus rides, we arrive to what I would consider a nice hotel, so you know it’s nice. After check-in we tossed on our swimwear and headed down to the indoor pool and Jacuzzi.not.even.bad. Then we went up to the room, jammed out to some quality Kelly Clarkson, and headed down to meet for dinner. We clean up nice. After dinner, the gang headed to this bar, it was pretty chic, and totally Africanesque. After one of the worst drinks I’ve ever had in my life… yes I’m referring to a mai tai that tasted like warm celery juice, so not good. We called it an early one, due to the intense day ahead of us. Then we hit up Lake Maggiore, where royalty lived, as opposed to the rich and famous… what a drag, ha I'm kidding. We toured some palaces, which I considered looking into purchasing, but they just weren’t for me, Haha. But yea, we went island hopping, enjoying the scenery, lovely weather, and amazing seafood. Interestingly enough my favorite part was visiting the botanical gardens of the royal summer homes. I spent hours chasing around exotic birds and photographing them at their best, I was nothing short of intrigued, though at times the noises they made might have intimidated me slightly. After spending all day on private boat after boat, palace after palace, garden after garden, it was time for a swim, and this time, complete w/ champagne, compliments of Miles, our new friend from Alaska. Another night of getting all pretty, dining fine, and back to the African bar for some better choices of beverage and some dirty dancing… ahem Traci. Then got back, put down another bottle of champagne, and dialed my honey for a good while… pushing about 5 a.m.. woopsies, I slept through all alarms, including a wake up call and was a smidge late for the bus, sorry gang, too much champagne for this one… After packing and getting ready in less than 8 minutes, I was on the bus and ready to go, hit up a boat tour of lake Cuomo and headed to Milan in which I indulged in some Gucci sandals… another woopsies. Its ok, they were worth it. Headed back to Florence and slept like an angel. I’m not quite sure if I swam more in the indoor pools, the lakes, or the champagne, but either way I know the location of George Clooney, David Beckham, and Bobby Denairo at certain times of the year… hehe.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Under the Tuscan Sun: Easter Getaway

When the question of what to do for the first Easter without my family, not much came to mind. I’m used to working at the local bakery from the early morning to having a loud and loving gathering with my extended family, the traditional Italian way. I came as close as I could try, my friends and I decided to rent a villa outside of Tuscany and have a long weekend getaway. I found a little place not only outside of Florence, but outside of Luca, and this adorable apartment was actually located on a mountain, with a river directly across the street, and complete with an in ground pool. After arriving at our stop in Castlenuova. Our weekend long landlord, drove us up the long windy road, leading to the almost top of the mountain. The accommodations were adorable, the scenery breathtaking, and the feeling indescribable. The rooms were cozy, the floors were freezing, the kitchen was tiny, but fully stocked with appliances I’ve almost lost memory of. When we arrived the weather was fair, however, that was short-lived. The only grocery store in miles was closed for lunch, and regrettable when they reopen, an extreme thunderstorm came upon us. All cozy on our little red sofa, watching our plasma with a DVD player… you can imagine the excitement, and our emergency stash of macaroni and cheese, it couldn’t have been a better start. Movies, friends, and a thunderstorm, it was the perfect sleepover atmosphere. The next morning I was all business. And by business I’m sure you know what I’m talking about… getting my tan on. I quickly tied on my bathing suit and enthusiastically went outside scantily clad and determined to get sun kissed. Though the weather was not optimal, I got a lil sumthin sumthin. We hit the grocery store, made girly feasts, including chocolate, cookies, wine, and all that good stuff. We cooked meals, shared secrets and snuggled periodically in front of the TV. I even got to take a bubble bath. Easter morning we made a brunch (complete with Mimosas), that evening we partook in some interesting activities. Let’s just say we made some “American Traditions” in the Castlenuova area. After cooking like crazy, eating our hearts out, and laughing to tears, I may have stayed on top of a mountain, but I felt like I was on top of the world.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sometimes the grass is actually greener on the other side: The Lucky Irish!

Gotta love those all nighters, sleep for 2 hours, take a cab, take a bus at 3:30 a.m., get to the airport, take an early flight, and arrive in Dublin, Ireland. We left the airport and went to find our other 4 friends that went the night before. We met them at their hostile, got breakfast, went by the guiness factory, went to a pub, then grabbed a train to Kilkenny, a town in the countryside. After arriving, through the rain, we made our way to our fantastic bed and breakfast. Our hosts, Val and Tom are the definition of hospitality. We were welcomed with tea and cookies, and a whole load of information on what to do, where to go, and where nice girls like us should never be. Hehe. It was somehow the greenest place I have ever seen, the grass was amazing, every lawn looked fake, and even the land that seemed it would lake maintenance was absolutely stunning, not a bad sight if I may say so myself. That night we got all cleaned up nice, and went out to get some famous fish and chips and hit some of the 78 pubs at our discretion. The food was amazing, I had a guiness with my meal, trying to get the whole authentic experience, not for me, its ok though, I tried. So we made our way from pub to pub, lots of live music, fun drinks, and we were in great company. The locals were so friendly. After a few jaegger bombs, and laughing so hard I could cry, we made it back to the hotel and slept for the first time in 2 days… so amazing. The next day we went to see a castle belonging to the Butler Family and then went horseback riding through the countryside. Sammy was my horse… boy did he do a number on me. After an intense day of riding, we went on an intense shopping spree, and another night of pub-crawling, still such a good time. The next morning we spent the day in a huge mall, no I was not upset about it, and made our way to a Hurling match, which I would consider a cross between hockey and lacrosse. Our team, the Kilkenny Cats had themselves a victory. It was quite exciting. We went back to Tom and Val’s and then made our way back to Dublin. It’s funny how you think you are so tired that all you want to do is lay in your bed and not even move, and you end up dressing to the nines going from pub to pub to club and staying out until all hours of the night, dancing, laughing, getting tossed around by the Dublin Futbol team and going to a 24 hour store to fulfill the drunk munchies you just acquired and then drunk dialing your honey for 45 minutes when it probably costs $4 a min. I know nothing of the sort of course… The next day… aka the morning after, there was a bit of struggle in the group, and it was raining all day, but we made our way through the city, touring around and then found ourselves heading back to the airport, and back to home sweet home in Florence. So it seems that even though things may not be perfect and that sometimes its gonna rain, but all that does is make a rainbow… and according to the Irish, there should be a pot of gold waiting at the end, and who would argue with that theory?

Visitors, Venice, and Verona

Weekend before midterms… what else to do then have 3 of your favorite ladies visit you for a weekend. The Webb twins and Leah came to see me for the middle part of their Italian getaway. After showing them around Florence for a bit on the first day, taking them to the markets, in which they got more of a hands on education than they ever could from just being told how it was. Within an hour or so, a man asked me if I was from New York because I seemed like a snob, and another man questioned the naturalness of my chest. Typical Italians. The next morning we ventured to Venice, which was round 2 for me. After some incidents hopping on the wrong bus and getting off at the wrong train stop, “Wait, why are there roads here… guysss, this is not right.” Haa, it was funny. Get it? Cuz there are no streets in Venice, its just water… ok anyways. So we walked around, obviously, got a lunch, not that great, went on a gondola ride… huge upgrade from Giorgio (my last gondolier). Ha this one looooooved Leah, it was great. So after that long day, we headed to Verona, my goodness were the people at the hotel legit miserable. So rude, not to mention the shower was in the middle of our hotel room, as in, not in the bathroom, 10 euros a show. We got a quick pizza at the restaurant around the block, considering the hotel had a “curfew”, which was fine because we were exhausted but really, calmati people, we’re 4 American girls, not terrorists. The next morning we had an amazing breakfast in one of the squares, complete with mimosas. Then we went on a horse and buggy tour around the city, which was dangerous… yet fun and amusing, plus we got to see everything. We ventured onto Juliette’s house, yes, the Juliette, as in Romeo and Juliette, it was cute, but we just spent most of our time in an embroidery shop, buying a bunch of stuff for our families at home, and getting a sneak peak at the suites upstairs. Leah and Janel probably wanted one of them, considering how romantic they’ve been the whole trip. Later that night we took this really inexpensive train back to Florence. Hmmm really inexpensive, I wonder why? Well, it could be due to the 2843809428403 stops we made, the fact that the other people on it were obnoxious high school girls, and the dudes that sell fake bags on the street, if you can imagine we did not end up sleeping much. We got back to Florence, got some dinner by the Duomo and went to a bar to reminisce on the weekend’s events. If you are wondering where the girls and I went, ALL of us back to my apartment. Mhmm yup these 3, all their luggage, Janel is drunk and arguing with me about fire safety, and thankfully Traci donated her bed to our cause so me and Jacqui spooned all night and god only knows with Leah and Janel did in my bed… The next day we climbed the Duomo… about 493 steps, totally worth the view, some British bitch called us rude Americans, when she should have really just minded her own business, and we waited 40 minutes for the best paninis in town, and we went to Santa Croce, which I walk by everyday and had yet to go in. Then we said our goodbyes, which thankfully meant I’ll see you next week in Boston.

When in Rome: My Home Away from Home

After a couple of months living the high life, traveling every weekend, living on my own, there comes a point when I just want to feel taken care of again. When the opportunity arose, you know I had to take it. Luckily for me, my parents have good friends that live in Rome, Eva and Angelo are like a second set of parents to me, not to mention they just got a new puppy, Angelina. Needless to say that puppy took quite a bit out of me, but she’s cute, fun, and little crazy… nothing wrong with that =). Unfortunately, and fortunately, it was an all girls weekend. All the boys hit the states so it was just us 3. However, I did have the pleasure of spending some time with Mimmo, a family friend and incredible hairdresser, could there be a better combination. Ha. After my arrival at the train station, Eva and I took a cab to a restaurant, met with Mimmo and his friend Andrea. After a fantastic dinner, we went back to the apartment and slept like a baby. The next morning, I woke up, and Eva and I went into town to meet up with some of the girls that work at their office. We went to a gallery opening, the guy was legit amazing, however some of the lights weren’t working soooo, we had to cut it short. Eva and I did a little shopping, it figures the one trip I don’t bring heels to, and I have to buy some, although you can imagine that I wasn’t too upset about it. That night, I went to get dinner with Mimmo and his friends outside the city, in a castle turned restaurant, it was fun and loud, though there was a small language barrier, we made it through ok. The next day, Eva and I enjoyed the day walking around, visiting the Vatican so I could get some rosary beads, and spent hours at this cute restaurant in front of the Pantheon just laying in the sun, talking girl talk and enjoying our final hours before I head back to the Florence. It’s funny how a weekend away from my apartment in Italy, was where I felt most at home since I moved here in the first place. I guess that proves the point of “Home is where the Heart is.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Milanese Don't Say Please

After an almost hectic start… like usual right? We made it to the station ready to go, only to find out that the person in charge of taking us wasn’t coming. This poor lady, Angela, was left with the burden of a lifetime… a bunch of American students heading to Milan, meanwhile, the only reason she was on this trip was as a guest, to relax, and enjoy… didn’t quite go down that way. After an interesting train ride we arrive in the anticipated Milano. Yes everyone, Stella was in the fashion capital of the world… dun dun dun. Ha, it’s fine, I only did some minor damage. As much as I hate to say it, mmmminor disappointment. Not that there was anything wrong with it, I just feel like many of the other places I have been were exceptionally more pleasing to the eye. Witnessing my friends get mauled by pigeons, that was nice. It was just a city, nonetheless my spirits heightened when I saw the stunning cathedral. And to make things even better, 2 of my roommates were initially denied admittance due to their dress… and I would like to acknowledge the fact that I wasn’t. After maneuvering a scarf or 2, the ladies made it in for an amazing site. It was indeed beautiful. After our godly hour, no pun intended, we decided to do what we do best. Eat. Let’s just say that the Milanese don’t often say please, wait in line for their turn or shed a friendly smile, never mind an excuse me. These people were all business, and unfortunately, they didn’t know I was the same. Three old people cut me in line when I was trying to get my daily caffeine fix… cappuccino today. When the 4th tried I gave a stern “scusa”, made some serious eye contact, smiled, and got my damn coffee finally. Ugh the nerve. I soon found my way to what might be one of the most impressive displays of bodily movement. We went to a ballet in one of the most famous opera houses in Western Europe. Not to mention the dancers were amazing, as was the music, and the story line was entertaining. Nonetheless, it had to be too good to be true. Our 7-euro seats didn’t quite give us the best view in the house, so we did what any resourceful Americans would do, steal some better seats. Haha, oh karma. These 2 ladies kept standing in front of us, who we tapped every few minutes smiling politely, “Scusa Signora, ma non possiamo vedere”… “Grazie”… a few more dirty glances and finally, we got to relax… and enjoy. Needless to say, thankfully the fashion isn’t based on sparkling personalities because I’d have to say “no thank you” to the stunning apparel, chances are though, and they wouldn’t understand such a phrase because I sincerely doubt many of them have ever used it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Masked Menace in Venice

After purchasing our 5:47 a.m. train ticket to Venice the evening prior, I decided to lay low in hopes that i would be awake and ready to take on the next day's festivities. I thought I was so great for picking out my outfit the night before, have everything laying on my bed waiting for me the next morning. I got up at 4:30 primped my hair, put on some crazy makeup, my cute attempt at a functional yet fashionable clothing choice, because if it wasn't obvious, one of the best parts of going to carnevale is being able to embrace the masquerade tradition, unfortunately, I never took my coat off to show my cute ensemble. After leaving the apartment abrupty I had a feeling I didn't have my ticket. It's a long story regarding the night before, but it wasn't really my fault for not having it where it was supposed to be the next morning, before you all roll your eyes at reading this. So I opted to run back to VDP (Via dei Pepi 73) and told the girls I'd meet them at the train station by taking a taxi. So I immediately called the service, politely asking for some transportational assistance (after the Amsterdam incident, I've learned my lesson) Since it was me that was late, obviously after the taxi took longer than they had told me, my driver picked me up, a pretty cool guy, and I express to him with the most urgency that my train is leaving in 6 minutes. He gives me a look, and I'm like either he's saying well, sucks to be you or, its on.Oh it was on alright, until we got stuck DRIVING BEHIND THE FLORENCE POLICE. You might laugh at me and be like she's so dramatic, but legit tell me who this would happen to. ANYWAYS, after we got away from the cops I had a near death experience or two, nothing 11 euro wouldn't pay for. Yup 11 euro, my train ticket to Venice was 14.50 euro, not a waste of money at all. One of two things that make this perfect: The train was about 40 minutes late. The second: They never checked the flippin tickets, I would get into the whole guess what I could've done, could've saved sprinting back to my appartment at 5:15 in the morning while all the creepers were out, could've saved myself from a few near death vehicular situations, or saved 11 euro... just saying. Our train ride was just as laid back as my attempt to make it to the train station. Thankfully, a Mexican family adopted us, and helped us when switching trains after the stations kept switching which trains were arriving at which number, ughh what a mess, but guess what, we made it, in one piece (physically) and there was a beautiful day waiting for us. We starting things off with a quick lunch, stopping at shops from time to time, getting gifts, and trying to make our way to San Marco's square to take part in the festivities we've been waiting for. People everywhere were wearing masks, and some full on outfits. Not gonna lie, some scared me cuz I couldn't see any of their expression. We had a few paparazzi moments, this Asian group even asked to take pictures with us, and obviously we laughed... then eagerly accepted. Then it was time... who goes to Venice without floating around on a gondola... I wasn't about to. Giorgio probably didn't win best personality for his senior superlatives, or most friendly, but we find a way to laugh at every situation, plus he let me wear that ballin hat. haa. He showed us the sites, and shared with us his uplifting feelings about Venice, and who's ruining it and how it's going to sink... for an unforgettable experience. FINALLY, yes after hours of wandering, shopping, admiring, and being silly, we made our way to some of the most amazing sights I have ever experienced. The floats. The woman spinning in some thing attatched to a hot air balloon. The masquerade couples dressed to the extreme. The stage performers. All were a sight for all to see. Everyone should go here once in his or her lifetime. Then we hit up the Murano Glass factory. If you know me, you have been likely to encounter my compulsive shopping problem. This was the case here as well. I got Sal a lil present... shhhh. (: As we left this city of carnevale amazement, it occurred to me, Venice was able to simultaneously make my heart sink and float down the canals at the same time.