Monday, June 27, 2011

Cinque Terr(e)ific- 5 fabulous cities along the coast of Italia

Some of you may have heard of Cinque Terre, which is five cities along the North Western coast of Italy.  It's known for pesto and having an amazing hike right along the edge of the coast to see each of the cities.  The hike is supposed to take a total of 5 hours increasing in difficulty from the first town being Riomaggiore to the last being Monterosso. The roommates and I decided to split the hike up into two days so we could take our time in each of the towns and spend the last day at the beach in Monterosso.

Hiking in necklaces of course! ;)

The trail beginning in Riomaggiore is known as the Via dell' Amore or the Road of Love in English.  This part of the hike was the easiest part.  All along the trail there were locks on the fences.  Putting a lock somewhere near a body of water is an old Italian tradition.  The tradition means that if you and your lover lock a lock near the water and throw the key in the water, your love will be everlasting.  I love this tradition because I'm a cheesy hopeless romantic like many girls I suppose.  Once we got to the second city, we had to take a train to the third because there was a landslide in the second town.  After arriving in Corniglia, the third town, we walked around the town for a little while checking things out before continuing on. 

Thanks to my roommate, Kim, and her trusty travel guide books, we had a room booked for us in the fourth city called Vernazza.  This town was the favorite of all of us.  The hike from Corniglia to Vernazza was probably the hardest part of the hike but getting there was totally worth it! There was a little beach in Vernazza that was packed with Italians enjoying the sunshine.  Something that all of us noticed was that when Italians are at the beach, they could care less about anyone else that is around them.  Unlike in the US, people are so consumed in their own fun that they dont take notice to anyone elses bodies or play time.  I would have thought that being practically nude would be trouble with Italian men but I think they ignored us more so than when we are fully clothed.  It was such a relaxing way to end our first day.  I took a little nap on the beach before dinner and it was perfect! At dinner, three of us tried a traditional pasta dish made with pesto and sipped on some vino.  After din we decided to get some gelato by the water and watch the sunset.  It was a great way to end the first day of hiking!

View of Corniglia from the hike to Vernazza

My sisters nickname is "Fanny" so I had to take a pic with the ONLY Fanny sign I have ever seen :)

Yummyyyy Pesto pasta!

The next morning once we were all bright eyed and bushy tailed we decided to make our way on the trail to the final city, Monterosso.  Supposedly this is the hardest part of the hike but Kim, Jennifer and I decided that the hike from Corniglia to Vernazza was more difficult.  The hike from Vernazza to Monterosso had the most beautiful that emulated all of the photos of Cinque Terre that you can see online showing the cute colorful city right along the water.  This part of the hike was a lot more narrow and rural which made it more fun.  The beginning had a lot of stairs going upward that made us feel like we were going to die 15 minutes in but shortly after, it leveled out and was a breeze.  I really enjoyed being out in the sunshine and getting more exercise and raising my heart rate higher than just walking around Florence. When we got the Monterosso, the four of us raced for the beach and laid out in the sun for about 4 hours.  We all got a little more toasty than expected and are now nursing our burns back to recovery. 

View of Vernazza from the trail

Beautiful water!

Before leaving Cinque Terre,  we went back to Vernazza to grab our bags and pick up some souvenirs.  I bought a necklace from a little shop called Storie in Italy.  The shop is owned by a local artist in Cinque Terre who creates artistic prints and different charms of cities in Italy.  I had my necklace made with a charm of Florence, Venice, Rome and Cinque Terre, my favorite cities so far besides Verona.  But I guess those are the only places I have really been so I love it all! :) 

"I dig my toes into the sand"

Prints and necklaces in the shop

More prints in the Storie in Italy shop

American native making my necklace. She was from Monterey, California and moved to Italy 7 years ago to teach English.  She's my new inspiration! :)

Cinque Terre was beautiful!!  

xoxox Ash

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Student at home, friend abroad :)

This past Thursday night after I was done with class, I raced over to the Marriott Excelsior about 15 minutes away to meet with one of my favorite professors from WSU.  Back home at Washington State, she was the professor for my upper level merchandising math classes. Even though her class was at 8am (not so much my favorite part), I loved her upbeat attitude and quick pace to get my brain movin on monday and wednesday mornings.  Math is a subject that always came easy to me for the most part so I did well in her class and formed a great relationship with her this past year.  In the spring when I told her that I was studying abroad in Italy this summer, she told me that she was going to be vacationing there with her husband in the end of June.  I of course suggested that we get together if at all possible for some vino, dinner or whatever.  Once I graduated I again reminded her of this and we decided to make it happen.
I loved getting to meet with her outside of the classroom and share stories of our travels.  She was traveling with her husband and his parents through England and then the two of them were traveling alone within Italy.  They were only in Florence for two days and were traveling with a group so I felt really lucky to be squeezed into their itinerary. It was so fun to meet her husband, and chat over a glass of red wine.  Poor Darren, her husband, was a little quiet and could hardly get a word in over chatty Dr. Ellis and I. Although we only had an hour to meet, we took full advantage of the time! I apologized to him at one point, letting him know that I was a very chatty girl and he was like "You dont need to tell me, I can see you and Joan are one in the same!" Her and I could have talked fashion, traveling and anything in between for hours! We talked about my future as a professional, possibly abroad in Italy :) and the future of the apparel merchandising program at WSU with going abroad.
Meeting with someone from home was such a treat! :) Although she was only my teacher from school, she felt like a great friend and almost like a family member.

Thanks again Dr. Ellis and Darren! I truly loved our time together!! 

xoxox Ash

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Miro, Picasso and Dali, Oh My!

Today before class I decided to head over to Piazza della Repubblica to meet a friend to go see the Picasso and Dali exhibit. I was excited to go see the work because as being a fine arts minor, I had learned a lot about these two artists while I was studying back home. I got up around 9 and headed down to meet my friend after slowly getting ready and winding my way past the Duomo.  She had got there sometime before me so the two of us just experienced the gallery on our own.  I was expecting the exhibit to be full of the work that Dali and Picasso are most known for, Picasso with his cubism and Dali with his surrealism.  However, the exhibit was all about the building up of the artists lives to the peak of their career.  Between the two of these artists, I had always loved Dali because his art appears to be a dream, which was a lot of his intent with his extensive research and love for Freudian concepts.
 I had never heard of or learned about Miro before and after viewing his art, I can say that I think he was my favorite.  The colors he used were so vibrant and gave so much life to his art.  I learned so much about these different artists that I didn't know before.  The three artists had studied at the same school in Madrid and had similar experiences.  All three of the artists were born in Spain but non of which considered Spain to be their home.  Randomly through the exhibit, they would have information boards that would pose questions.  I really enjoyed this because it made you think about the artwork but then relate it to your own life through reflections. One of the questions was "Where do you consider home?" This question for me evoked a lot of emotion since I am so far away from home right now.  And although I am not homesick, it made me wonder what I do consider home.  For me I think there could be many.  Pullman and where I spent the last four years of my life.  Bothell, where I grew up and my family is.  And then I thought about Florence and being here in Italy.  Its strange how I can feel so comfortable in an unknown place with a culture that vastly contrasts mine. But I think Italian people and culture is one that I better connect myself with based on its characteristics that I know of so far.
In another part of the exhibit, it talked about Picasso and his family.  Picasso had one of the longest names ever. His full name was Pablo Diego José Fransisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruiz y Picasso. Ruiz was his fathers last name and Picasso was his mothers.  It was when he was studying in school that he decided to sign his work with only "Picasso" because his friends told him that it was more unusual and he didn't respect his father. The exhibit continued to talk about how the artists viewed family.  Dali was kicked out of his house at a young age because he would spit on the portraits he painted of his mother when he was upset with her.  Then on a board was the question "No matter how mad you were at your family, would you abandon them?  Or would they abandon you?"  This thought had never crossed my mind. Lucky for me, I come from a family that has way too much love to give.  Abandonment is not an option. ;)

Viewing all of the art and reflecting on all of these things left me with a lump in my throat and on the verge of tears.  It was an amazing experience for me! I had no idea that this art exhibit would call up so much emotion in me.  Its interesting because when we were in Rome, one of my roommates experienced the same feeling when she was in St. Peters Basilica.  She said that she had never felt more alive when she was in the Cathedral, and for me, I had never felt more alive than when I was viewing the works of these world famous artists, and reflecting on myself.  I guess its the artsy-fartsy part of me that I just cant deny. My ticket cost me 4 Euro and I can assure you that it has been the best purchase I have made so far on my trip! :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sono uno studente di fotografia- I am one student of photography :)

So since I am here to be a student and not just a tourist, I thought I would update you all about my class that I have been taking the past few weeks. I know in one of my previous postings I somewhat mentioned it but I thought I would dig a little deeper to kill your curiosity.

The last two and a half weeks has been my experience in a travel photography class.  We have learned all of the basics including aperture, shutter speed and iso in addition so some other key "grammar" (in the photography language as my professor calls it) including composition, clarity, contrast etc.  I have really enjoyed taking this class because I have always had an interest in taking a photo class but it is usually one of the hardest to get into back home.  My professors name is Matteo Brogi and he is a self taught travel photographer.  He's 42 and married and was born and raised in Italy.  This last class he showed us some of his work and it was so impressive! Its amazing what you can capture through photos.  I cant say mine are quite up to speed with his but hopefully someday! :)  I have class everyday from 3-5:30pm.  Normally I would think that a two and a half hour class would creep by but this one goes quite fast and is fun to learn in.  A typical class is comprised of viewing each students photos for the assignment given and hearing critiques from our professor.  Its fun to see how different people view the landscape and tourism thats around us everyday in Florence. Some of the girls (its all girls) in my class are really talented!

Me and my professor, Matteo! :)

Reviewing our midterm photos

Today we were given an assignment to photograph people so after class got out I wandered the city over by the Arno river to do so.  After getting some gelato, I tried to apply the skills that I have learned thus far in class.  I was practicing "panning"for a long while before I got a few good shots that I was satisfied with.  Panning is when you follow a moving object with your camera using a long shutter speed to blur everything in the background and catch the object that is moving in perfect still form.  I was practicing this when a old Italian man came up to me and started speaking to me in Italian.  I at first was nervous and thought I wasnt going to be able to comprehend anything but once I really tried, I actually understood a lot! It was exciting! What wasn't the most exciting was that I realized he was asking me to meet him for gelato after my class tomorrow. Haha this Italian man was actually asking me on a date?! Not only was there a language barrier but a serious age barrier.  I told him that it was nice to meet him and that I had to go (of course taking his photo before I left).  Silly old man...

One of my favorite panning shots!

"The" little old man

I wandered around a bit more taking some other photos of people, trying not to look like a creep while doing so, when I heard some drums and trumpets playing on a street ahead of me.  I ran up to see what was going on and saw that it was a parade.  All of the men were wearing medieval costumes and tossing Florentine flags into the air! It was so awesome, and perfect for photos of people for travel photography. I watched the parade and snapped some pictures while realizing that the parade was also full of hot men! There is a world water polo competition going on this week in Florence along with some other sporting events and so there were teams from the US, Italy, Australia, China and more.

I followed the parade into Piazza Uffizi where it ended and the ceremony took place.  There they played each of the countries National Anthems.  I sang along to our National Anthem with some other American girls from Florida that I met and made friends with.  The girls and I could not stop talking about how amazing the men looked in tights haha which I never thought I would say, let alone think.  One of them we could not take our eyes off of! He had some serious Pauly D hair that he needed to wack off but those legs... let me tell you!! They looked like a Michael Angelo statue haha. While we were standing there we met some Italian boys that were volunteering and maintaining the crowd.  We chatted as much as we could and asked them if we could have "special" shirts just like theirs.  They were such typical cute Italians named Luca, Giovanni and Claudio.  Giovanni was my favorite but the most shy.  It was fun to meet Italian boys that were our age.

Afterwards, my friend from class Anna and I headed back towards my street where we meet my roommates for Chinese food.  After the bad experience my family had a few years ago with Chinese in Mexico I was skeptical, but this Chinese was amazing! We wiped our plates clean and are now back home with food comas living La Bella Vita! :D

Ciao! xoxox

Friday, June 17, 2011

Verona, Italy- La Bella Vita!

This past weekend once I was home from Venice at about 6am, my program took off for Verona at 9am.  If there is one thing that I have realized about traveling, its that I'm not crazy about the "traveling" part but loveee the being there part! But Im sure most people would agree with that statement. :) Once we met at the train station, all of us hopped on the charter buses and headed North East to Verona.  It was about a 4 hour bus ride but once we got there I could say that it was worth every minute of it! Something that is so interesting to me about Italy is that all of the cities that I have traveled to are unique in their own way.  It almost feels like you're traveling to another country.  Verona was completely different from the other cities that I have seen so far.

Once we got to the hotel, we settled in before taking off on our guided walking tour of the city.  From the hotel, the city didn't appear to be anything special.  In the bus we climbed the hills of Verona to a looking point.  Up at the top you could see all of Verona which was breathtaking.  We snapped many pictures up there before heading down to see the history of the town.  Verona, like many other cities in Italy has centuries of history still standing and present in the town. Something that Verona is most popular for is Romeo and Juliet.  Whether the story is true or not is unknown but many people believe so.  What is true, is that the Mantegues and Capulets lived there and their homes are still standing.  We got to see Juliet's balcony where people write their and their lovers names on the walls so she will protect their love.  We took the tourist shot of us touching her chest which is supposed to bring luck to your love life and relationship.  One thing that is definitely real in Verona is the love.  Couples young and old were holding hands everywhere.  It was one of the most passionate places I have ever been.  All of us girls were just wallowing wishing we had Italian lovers to be canoodling with haha. That night we had dinner at a restaurant suggested to us by our tour guide.  Im not a big pasta lover but let me tell you that I had the BEST pasta I have ever tasted that night.  It was gorgonzola ravioli with a white cream sauce and walnuts... it was so yummy, I still dream about it now!

 My wonderful roommates- Amy, Jennifer, Kim and Me! 

It was seriously a dream land.  Although it is somewhat of a tourist town, it was mainly Italians that were roaming the streets there. And let me tell you that they were the most beauuuutiful people that I have ever seen.  The city wasn't sprinkled with a few beautiful people, pretty much everyone was! The men looked like walking GQ advertisements and the woman were so classy and put together.  People dress lavishly for everyday life and for one time in my life, I felt like I was underdressed! The men wore suits just to go eat dinner and sip cappuccinos.  At night we sat in one of the piazzas simply "people watching".  The culture there was so rich and not just in terms of money.  Kids were out past 11pm which you never see in the states and they were all just spending time together as a family.  The sense of love, family, friends and being together with the people that mean most to you was overflowing.  I never wanted to leave!

The next morning we woke up and took a 30 minute bus ride to Sirmeone which is where Lake Garda is. Just like everywhere in Italy, there was a lot of history that surrounded the lake.  On one side there was a castle that was built in the end of the 14th century as a defense structure, and on the other was a multi-million villa owned by a family that supplies more than 50% of Verona's wine... No big deal.  The water on the lake was so blue and clear. It was beautiful.  Italians were cruising around in their boats and yachts and just enjoying the sunshine.  We got a few hours to lay out in the sun.  I wore my new suit I bought in Florence and it was so nice to get a tan.  We had lunch at a little cafe right next to the water.  Kim and I split the amazing pizza photographed below sprinkled with parmesan cheese and "rocket", Italians crazy term for arugula. Another perfect weekend in Italia.

This weekend, Im heading back to Venice with my roommates this time to see more of the city. One day there wasn't enough for me!  I've had a very busy week with school since its midterms and finals are next week.  Haha having a class for only 3 weeks is a really bizarre thing! Hope you all are doing well back at home! Missing each and every one of you!!

Ciao Ciao! xoxoxo

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A little piece of me...

So if there is one thing that Venice made me realize, it was my love for being near the water.  It made me appreciate all that Seattle and the Pacific Northwest has to offer with its beautiful landscape.  Since I have been in Italy, I really haven't been near any water at all.  Venice was seriously Seattle or any city surrounded by water on crack! Most of you know that Venice is a city with roads made of water and it is one of the most amazing things that I have ever experienced! Being by the water made me realize that I may never want to live away from the water again.  It was simply soothing, calming and a lot cooler temperature wise, which I was thankful for since I've felt like I am melting just about everywhere else in Italy.

A girl from my program named Andrea and I took off for Venice Thursday afternoon in order to get there Thursday night by 8pm to see Coldplay in Mestre.  Mestre is a city just 10 mins bus ride outside of Venice on the main land.  We didn't have much planned for our trip besides making it to the concert and where we were staying for the night.  I like flying through life by the seat of my pants so to speak so winging it was perfect.  I feel like I have learned a lot since I have been here traveling because so much of it has been unplanned.  We got to the train station at about 2:45pm and looked to the board to see when the next train to Venice would be leaving.  Thats when we saw that there was no time posted. Crap.  So I walked through the train station to find two guys wearing some sort of uniform that looked like they could have some answers for us. One of the guys, Nicola, told us to catch a train to Bologna where we would then transfer to Venice. He thankfully was also heading that way so he helped us make it there. Once we got to Mestre, we checked into our hotel and grabbed a bite to eat at a little pizzeria in town.  Everything from the time we got to Venice until we left was go, go, go! Finishing din and jumping in a cab, we made it to the concert venue just in time for Coldplay to come out onto stage.  I'd seen them a few summers ago with one of my best friends, Lindey, but seeing them in Italy was something seriously magical.  I cant explain the feeling I get when I'm at a concert screaming along with the artist that I'm watching with thousands of people doing the same- its a weird high for me.  Here I have attached the setlist for the show. I think "In My Place" was my favorite of the songs that they played.  What was really silly was that all of the Italians surrounding me knew the lyrics to all of the songs but sang them in their cute little Italian accents, I loved it.  Andrea and I met two guys our age from Naples who spent the concert with us.  One of the guys named Mario was so sweet and kept boosting me up on his shoulders so I could see above the crowd and take some pictures.  He kept telling me "Come with me to Napoli, Come with me to Napoli!" Fat chance my friend.  After the show I bought a souvenir shirt (which I normally NEVER do) because it was in Italian and said the name of the festival and Coldplay on it.

The next day was when Andrea and I ventured into Venice for the day.  We started the trip off right with  a delicious pastry and cappuccino just as the Italians do.  Mine was probably one of the most expensive meals I have bought yet, but was worth EVERY penny. It was some sort of fig yummy-ness but cost me $6 euro, expensive for a pastry.  We then wandered around Venice snapping photos since both of us are taking photography classes while we are here.  Both of us were eager to go off the beaten tourist path which lead us to the sea.  There we met a very nice Italian man named Dino.  He told us to catch a water taxi to Burano which is a small island off of Venice.  Burano is a very colorful town known for lace making.  I fell in love! I bought a souvenir there of course...  I got a scarf, handmade of linen and embroidered with silk and organic cotton. It is simply beauuutiful! After walking around and having lunch on the water, we took a watertaxi back to Venice.

Once back I bought a few more souvenirs and took some more photos.  I was so disappointed because both of my camera batteries had died at this point but thank god I had my iPhone and it takes quite good pics.  I bought a mask that would match my room, since Venice is known for these.  Andrea and I raced back to the hotel after this to get our luggage and catch a train back home to Florence.  Thats when we realized we had missed all of the trains back that night and the soonest out was 3 am! So we booked it and stayed at the hotel for free that night since we made friends with the owner, Gocce, while we were there. He loved us! :) So very tired and low on sleep we made it back to Florence at about 6am.  Just hours before our program took off for Verona and Lake Garda. That update is soon to come! (sorry for the novel, Venice was just too amazing to cut anything out!) I think its safe to say that I left a little piece of me in Venice, Italy.  I HAVE to go back. Xoxoxox

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Independent Woman

Photography is a lot more time consuming than I thought.  I am totally loving all of the new things that I am learning and taking photos is such a fun thing for me but it does require a lot of time.   You just cant rush taking photos from an artistic perspective.  Each scene thats being photographed needs to be shot with many different angles because you never know if you'll like the 10th shot more than the 1st.  With all that being said, I have spent a lot of time roaming the city alone before I have class. Doing so has been really fun, I get in the "zone" and can do it for hours.  But sometimes I just cant wait to get to class so I can speak with people.  I'd say that I'm a very chatty person. I love to talk and thats one thing that frustrates me at times, is the language barrier.  I want to get to know the Italians around me.  So yesterday while I was roaming I found a really nice, big book store and bought myself an Italian/English translation book and started reading over lunch.  I really want to teach myself as much Italian as possible while I'm here! Most Italians that I come across that do speak English are so polite and love to teach little phrases.  I was wondering aimlessly before class yesterday and got directions from a little Italian man who was so sweet and asked me what I was doing in Italy.  Thats when I said "Sono uno studente di fotografia" meaning "I'm a photography student". I was very proud of myself and he was impressed. I then asked if I could take his picture as a memo, he gladly accepted and wanted to take one of me as well (I just wish it had a much better background than a mini).

Kappa Love :)

I forgot to mention that it has been pouring rain here for the last week! There have been thunder and lightning storms and lots of rain but its really humid! Its really strange. I feel like the rain in Seattle usually bothers me but in Italy, its alright. ;)

After class last night, my roommates and I went to a place across the Arno river for dinner called Dante's.  The food of course was so amazing and they had a screaming deal of unlimited wine for students... trouble! It was one of my favorite dinners here so far.  We met up with four other girls that know one of my roommates and chatted over dinner for 3 hours.  We were finally one of the last to leave the restaurant (the Italians looked impressed)! Im really loving my roommates, I feel like I have known them for so much longer than one week... Its so bizarre to think that I havent! After dinner we went out on the town and stopped at a pub called the Lions Fountain, where you can sign your colleges shirt on the ceiling. Of course I found one from WSU full of names that I know.  After being out for a few hours, the girls and I along with some random friends we made went off to find the "Secret Bakery" which is a bakery that sells pastries at night when people are coming home from the bars. Its an unmarked building and has to be "secret" because after a certain time in Italy, no store can be open. The door has a sign that reads "Please be quiet". I loved this! Every pastry was only 1 Euro and soo amazing! Warm, gooey and fresh, I decided to get a nutella filled croissant! O.M.G. Heaven!! Then we wandered back home and tucked ourselves into bed. 

Today Im taking off for Venice to see Coldplay for the night and then will spend my weekend in Verona  where Romeo and Juliet toke place along with Lake Garda! I'll have updates sometime early next week! Ciao!! Xoxoxo

PS. for any and all of you who have been wondering, I HAVE seen the Jersey Shore here. The other night I was five feet away from Vinnie, Pauly D and the Situation while they were filming.  It was so bizarre to be watching them in person.  Pauly is actually pretty attractive... with a hat on.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I am thankful for wine, leather and italian boys...

So for all of you that don't already know, I am absolutely head over heels in love with Florence and Italy in general. I got to Florence on saturday and its been non-stop action since I stepped foot off the bus. I personally like Florence more than Rome because its a little smaller and easy to navigate. Everything is within walking distance and the feeling of the city is a lot safer than Rome. Since I've been here I've started my travel photography class and ventured around the city on my own which has taught me two things.  God gave me two left feet because I trip about every five feet (also has to do with the fact that I cant take my eyes off my surroundings for two seconds to watch where Im going) and I have NO sense of direction.  Which I really thought I did in the United States but maybe that has something to do with the fact that I'm "familiar" with everything there.
Yesterday I woke up around 7am and couldn't fall back asleep so I decided to make the most of my day and go to the fresh market for some groceries.  I started close to home in Piazza San Marco for some breakfast at a little cafe with yummy breakfast sandwiches and cappuccinos.  The man there told me I looked like an Italian Movie star haha I was so flattered! I actually have heard that I look Italian from a lot of Italians here. I definitely wouldn't mind being an Italian. On my way I passed a store that sold dance clothing and some pointe shoes. I had to walk in to look around since ballet has a near and dear place in my heart :).  I could speak a little broken english/italian with the shop owner and told her I used to dance.  I think its one of my goals to go see a ballet while Im here.  After I left there I walked further down the street and passed a pet store where the owner spoke ABSOLUTELY no english but told me I could come in.  I of course wanted to see if he had a peach faced love bird since my family used to have one.  My visit was quite short because I stepped in the pile where he was sweeping and then yelled at me in Italian. haha all I could do was shrug and run out of the store... of course this had both of us laughing afterwards.
My delicious breakfast :)

Pointe shoes in the little dance shop

A line of Vespa's on my way to the market

Once I got to the market, it was like nothing in the states, with bin after bin of fresh fruit and veggies.  Since I have been in Italy I have craved fresh fruit and water more than anything in my life! Something that I am learning to love about Italy is the prevalence of Marzipan. I of course had to buy some marzipan too! :) Every little stand within the market is specialized with either fruits and veggies or bread or meat and cheese and it is all fresh- simply amazing! I made friends with Paula a friendly Italian who sold me some gruyere cheese and prosciutto which is Italian ham.  She also taught me how to say I don't speak good Italian which will really come in handy.  After that I saw the leather market and other things that can be found from the vendors on the street.  I loved it. I could walk around and look at things here for foreverrrrr.
Yummy!! Fresh fruit, Marzipan and my new favorite- Blood Orange juice!

Cheese at the market sold by my new friend Paula

Bread at the market

Me in front of the Ponte Vecchio

I had my first Travel Photography class yesterday from 3-5:30 which actually went by a lot faster than I anticipated.  My professor is a really cute Italian man named Matteo, I kind of have a crush :).  I learned a lot about the aperture, iso and shutter speed when taking photos and how to catch the essence of your surroundings while traveling. I cant wait to see how my photos change from how I take them now! I was originally taking Fashion Design studio but I think switching to this class was a smart move for my travels in Italy as well as Bali when I go in the end of August. 
One of my favorite photos I've taken so far

The beautiful Duomo

For dinner we went to a place by the Duomo that had a dinner made with roast beef and baked potato.  The girls have been craving anything that isn't pasta or pizza so it was a good choice.  Just so happens that the waiter there, Daniele, was absolutely beautiful and he liked making little conversation with us and kept making playful eye contact and comments at me :).  The guys here are so complimenting and arent shy when it comes to telling you how they feel- soo different from the United States. After dinner we came home and drank a little wine which has been a regular thing for the roomies and I here.  Wine is cheaper than water and I have started to love it more than I ever have before... after all we are in the heart of Tuscany! Its perfect! Love, love, love everything about it here!! :)
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