Posts Tagged 'italy florence europe'

i’m back!

After over 24 hours of travel, I’m finally back in US! Dad and my younger sister, Caylin, came over for the last couple weeks of my time in Italy. We went all OVER the place: Genova, Cinque Terre, Lucca, Florence, Rome, Venice, Verona, Bolzano, and a little village in south-east Emiglia Romagna where my great grandparents were born, called Pietravolta. We had a great time and I can’t tell you how difficult it was to leave. Many tears were shed, and many more were sniffled back to keep people in the airport from thinking I was being kidnapped or something.

I won’t bore you with the thousands of stories we could tell…
Go look at the last set of pictures

Hopefully see everyone soon! I’ll let you all know when I have my new cell number. Until then, email me to get in touch.

Grandi baci,


american boat

Well, where do I start? The election of a new pope, the fall of the Italian government, three crazy canadians, and a weekend sailing the mediterrenean…

Two weekends ago we stopped in Cinque Terre again and then went to Genova to hang out with the Livio again (recall from last week – he’s a friend of a friend I go to school with in Nashville). We stayed with his family in their GORGEOUS apartment (I can’t wait to see YOURS Giacomo!) and got an in-depth tour of the city. Most importantly we got to make Livio (and his dad – it was a first for both of them) pancakes on his birthday and then celebrate with his family over dinner.

In Cinque Terre we met three Canadian guys traveling Europe in a rental car. I hung out with them again when I got home to Florence, and again when they drove back through from Rome to Venice. They’re fantastic and it was really encouraging being around three guys who love Jesus as much as these. There’s much much more to this story, but for the sake of time and people thinking I’m absolutely off my rocker you’ll have to request more information…

Last weekend Christian (the friend I met on the plane to Germany) brought two friends and came for a visit. It was so great to see him and hang out again. I don’t have all the pictures from that time yet because I didn’t have my camera, so I’m waiting for Stephan to send them to me before I can post them. I’ll let you know.

This past weekend when we finally got the chance to go sailing with Francesca and the gang from 5Tavoli…plus 40 others!! Yep, there were 46 of us! It was amazing – we had 5 boats (ours aptly nicknamed “american boat”) and we sailed/swam during the day and tied the boats together for parties every night. The pictures don’t do it justice, sorry, but look at them anyway!

Well, considering how long it’s been, you should be proud of me for keeping this so short!! Talk to you all again soon. Oh, I added some art to the website, too, for anyone who’s interested. Ciao!!


Yet the timeless in you is aware
that that which sings and contemplates in you
is still dwelling within the bounds
of that first moment
which scattered the stars into space.

all nighter

This weekend was one of my favorites so far. Alfredo (the one in the motorcycle accident) is talking and doing much better, but sailing got moved again for bad weather. We had to find other activities for the weekend. One of my friends at Belmont is actually from Genova, Italy, so he put me in touch with some of his friends, Livio and Marco, while I’m studying here. We haven’t been able to match schedules to meet up until this weekend when Livio came to Florence.

Saturday night I went to the Spoon/Interpol concert with Lauren, Livio and two of Livio’s friends, Cesare and Davide. The concert was fantastic, especially because we got our tickets for 10Euro less than the box-office price (and the bands didn’t wink at us any less, Livio!).

When the concert ended at 11:30 the five of us drove to a “bellisima festa” (beautiful party, as Franci called it) 30 minutes away in the next valley that Francesca invited us to. It was out in the middle of nowhere in a villa belonging to a complete stranger. I knew 3 people in the room besides the ones we came with…and Lauren and I were the only two non-italians in the house, but it was fantastic. There was bread, wine, cheese, pasta, and a disco ball. What more could we need for a good time in Tuscany?

At 3:30 (yep, I officially stayed up past midnight, folks!) we came back to Florence and taught the guys american card games – BS and Spoons – and then watched the sunrise on Piazza Michelangelo. And after a couple hours of sleep we took them to Ari’s Diner – a new american pancake place near my house. It was a fully American yet fully Italian weekend. I think we did a fine job blending the two.

The rest of the week has been relatively uneventful. The rains have rolled in, which is a bit depressing on the cobblestone, but it forces me to work on projects instead of sit in a piazza in the sun, so I guess it has its advantages.

Hope all is well in the states – my time here is quickly coming to and end. I’ll be home before you know it.

Till next time,

a quick catch-up

Hello everyone!

I know it’s been almost two weeks since the last email. I really just haven’t done that much, so I thought I’d give everyone a break. Last week was spent settling back into classes after spring break. That weekend, Thomas, the friend we met in Taormina came to Florence and spent some of the weekend with us. Most important thing to mention from the weekend: The Secret Bakery. It’s not really a secret at all – most Florentines know about this bakery. It’s where a lot of the sweets (and there are OH so many sweets here in florence!!) are made and distributed to cafes and bars around the city. They’re only open from 1am till 4am, so it’s a late night adventure lead by your nose and urged by your stomach. It’s quite amazing really…very cafereria-like feel, even down to the lunch lady who hands out the hot pastries. But it’s absolutely worth every cent (especially because it’s less than a euro), every moment of lost sleep, and every late-night calorie.

This past week was more of the same – classes/etc. The weather was unbelievable, so I spent a lot of time out in piazzas listening to music and sketching. Ideas for artwork have just been pouring out of me, so that’s encouraging. I also heard from my favorite coffee shop in Nashville this week, so I think I may even have a place to display for a month or two when I get home. I’ll let everyone know.

Friday we were supposed sail for the island of Elba with some of my friends from Florence, but we postponed the trip to next weekend. One of our friends, Alfredo, owns the pub we all hang out at called “I 5 Tavoli”, or The Five Tables, (and yes it actually has 5 tables). Anyways, he was in a bad motorcycle accident on Friday morning and has spent the weekend in the hospital having some pretty intense surgery. It’s actually amazing he lived, but he is fine save the leg broken in two places and arms shattered in numerous spots. It’s a terrible thing to have happened, but it’s been incredible watching his friends rally around him the way they have. They postponed the trip and have been running the pub for him. You must note that none of them have any experience running a restaurant or bar!! It’s quite hillarious really and I’m learning much about friendship from them all.

So, yesterday my friend, Lauren and I went with my friend, Lorenzo, to Verona. It’s actually a beautiful little city. I was expecting a tourist trap from all the hoop-lah around Romeo and Juliet’s graves, houses, balconies, etc., but it was actually very interesting and people were amazingly friendly. We went to what’s presumed to be Juliet’s house and saw the balcony and then walked around town for quite awhile just looking at the beautiful architecture. We also tried polenta (the closest comparison I have for polenta is grits) which is typical to the area.

I’ve also begun reading an incredible little book called “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran. It’s tiny but amazing and I hope everyone will read it. It will seriously only take an afternoon if you have any desire to do so. This passage hit me particularly hard and I feel the need to share it:

Oftentimes I have heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stanger unto you and an intruder upon your world. But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you, So the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also.

And as a single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree, So the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all.

Like a procession you walk together towards your god-self. You are the way and the wayfarers. And when one of you falls down he falls for those behind him, a caution against the stumbling stone. Ay, and he falls for those ahead of him, who though faster and surer of foot, yet removed not the stumbling stone.

I especially love that very last line. It’s kind of a kick in the gut. I don’t want to think about how many times that has been me. I hate the secret satisfaction that comes from overcoming an obstacle and then watching the next person fall for it…as if it somehow makes me better by comparison. Unbelievable. Sometimes I make myself sick at all the self-serving whispers that are forever swirling around blackening my mind and my heart. But on the other hand, I will never be able to grasp how much love and grace was poured out on me from the cross. It’s like trying to actually understand a number followed by thirteen zeros. But I experience and know the depth of my own depravity, and I am floored by the notion that his sacrifice washes that immense cavity clean…and then it overflows. It’s absolutely fantastic. Beyond belief.

our spring break theme: “perche no?” (why not?)

I’m finally home – I can’t tell you how wonderful it felt to step foot in the Florence train station Sunday morning! We were supposed to be home from Sicily at 8:30 Saturday night, but after 4 breakdowns, a fault in the tracks, and sleeping through our stop…we arrived home at 8:30AM easter morning (total = 22 hours). Nonetheless, we are alive, safe and had loads of fun this week.

I started out the break in Rome with Becca, her mom and aunt. After the regular stops – Colosseum, Pantheon, Forum, Trevi Fountain – we dropped them off at the train station and went to our hostel for the night.

The next morning we met up with Keith and spent the day traveling south. Unfortunately, our planned stop at Pompeii was unsuccessful because the ruins had already closed for the day. Hopefully I’ll get to go back one of my weekends in April.

We spent the evening and next day bumming around on the Island of Capri and then hopped a ferry to Naples Monday evening. While waiting for our overnight ferry to Palermo, Sicily, we made a run for what was supposedly the best pizza in Naples (Naples is known for its pizza). I’m not sure whether it was the best, but it was certainly good and
very cheap. Plus, it was fun to watch them cook inside the brick ovens. Mmm…

It was great to be on the open water overnight. Our rooms were TINY, but we had beds so all was well! When we arrived in Palermo at 6am we took a train to Cefalú and then on to Milazzo where we boarded yet another ferry to the Aeolean Islands. Our hostel was on Lipari, so we spent most of our 3 days there. It was so beautiful – probably my favorite place so far. We were in the midst of volcanos and ocean…what better examples of the power and in nature??

Most of our time was spent bumming around and relaxing, but we did rent scooters one day. Well, Keith rented a scooter…we rented a nameless go-cart/dune-buggy thing (you’ll just have to see the pictures) for the entire day and drove around the entire island. Some of the views were breathtaking…and the locals in the little mountain villages didn’t know what to make of the two American girls in a dune buggy. I’m not sure the dune buggy knew what to make of the mountains, either! Buster (yes, we named our cart) needed a little help sometimes.

Thursday we spent the morning and early afternoon on another island named Vulcano where there are hot sulfur springs on the beach. From there we took a ferry back to the mainland and headed to our next stop – a town north north of yet another Volcano, Mt. Elba. The cliff-side town was called Taormina and was again beautiful. It was a little more
touristy than the islands, so it took a little getting used to, but we made a friend in the hostel and hung out on the beach with him most of the next day. We also got to see the Good Friday processional that took place in Taormina. All the lights in town were turned off and they lit the main street with candles. A couple hundred women dressed black with black lace scarves over their walked silently down the street with red-tissue candleabras. Then eighty or so sweet little girls dressed in white carried the torture weapons (nails, whip, hammer, crown of thorns…) on cloth-draped platters. It was one of the most powerful Good Fridays I’ve ever experienced.

The next morning Becca and I got up and headed towards home. Keith stayed a couple extra days, so we were on what turned out to be a 22 hour trek by ourselves. But like I said, the week was amazing and I couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing break!

Sorry this email got a little lengthy. I tried to generalize…there are SO many stories! Remember to look at pictures if you have a chance – there are two pages this time. Have a wonderful week and happy Easter everyone!


mid terms are over, spring break begins

Well, the weather is warming and Florence is waking up (not to mention FILLING with tourists!). It’s been wonderful this last week – at least 65 or 70 every day. Of course, it warmed up right as Garrett left, but we had so much fun nonetheless. We cancelled our travel plans to Switzerland (it was just too much for one week) and stuck around Florence hanging out with some of my friends. A friend of mine also had a guest in town, so when we were in class Garrett had someone to hang out with. It worked out quite well and we had a LOT of fun until he left on Saturday night.

This past week we had mid-terms at Lorenzo d’Medici. The sun and warm weather didn’t encourage much studying, but no worries – I don’t think I failed anything. All of my studio finals went wonderfully. In fact, I actually enjoyed painting for the first time in my life! It was a huge breakthrough for me. My professor was thoroughly excited that I left the room at the end of the exam with a smile on my face. My Italian exam was more like a quiz and my Art History exam….well…moving on…

Last night three friends and I rented a car (yet again) and drove to Milan to see Rufus Wainright and Keane in concert there. It was amazing. Rufus is a funny funny man with a voice that could melt butter. And Keane may have one cheesy lead singer, but they’re amazing as well.

I’m glad the week is coming to an end because that means one thing: Spring Break!! My friend, Becca, and I are leaving tomorrow morning for Rome with her mom and her aunt who are over from Kansas. We’ll spend the day in Rome and then leave the next morning for Naples/Pompeii/Capri area where we’ll spend a couple of days. From there we plan on taking a ferry south to Sicily for at least 3 days without tourist activities…just lounging on the beach. We’re staying on a group of volcanic islands north of Sicily and then in another just below Mt. Etna, so we’re certainly going to see our share of volcanoes on the break!! I’ve never seen a volcano, so I’m extremely excited.

There are pictures of the concert online, but they’re some of the few I took this week. Sorry for the lack, but I’m sure you will be more than overwhelmed with all the ones I’ll bring home with me from spring vacation!! Have a wonderful week…it will probably a little longer than usual until you hear from me again. I’m sure everyone will survive. Haha. Enjoy the break!

In questi giorni,

when in rome

Ciao tutti!

This email comes with LOTS of pictures because we’ve seen LOTS since I last wrote! My friend Garrett is here this week visiting. It’s great to see a face from back home! We met at the train station in Rome and spent the weekend there (I decided to leave story-telling to the pictures… Rome is fantastic, but a day and a half is most defenetly NOT enough. After finally finding one another in the Rome train station we saw wandered around for a few hours and saw the Roman Forum and the Pantheon. We ate roasted chestnuts at Piazza Navona and walked in the rain to see the Colosseum at night. We managed to find shelter before it began hailing and then found a break in the storm to walk back to our hostel.

Sunday morning we woke early (partly because that’s what jet-lag does to you!) and made our way to Vatican City after stopping at the Trevi Fountain. Fortunately we were up early enough to be the first ones there because within 15 minutes you could barely see the fountain through the throngs of tourists. We spent most of our day in Saint Peters (the Vatican) and then the next few hours again at the colosseum. We stopped for coffee on our way to the train station and were given caffé and a show as our barista lip-synced and danced to the Italian translation “A Spoonful of Sugar”. It was absolutely hillarious! He actually waltzed with the milk before pouring it into our cups!!

Interestingly enough, my favorite part of our time in Rome was a pause in all the hustle when we stopped to watch a flock of birds swirling around in the sky. They were really more like black clouds playing a game of charades (very similar to the school of silver fish in Finding Nemo!). It was absolutely beautiful. I made the mistake of trying to take a picture. As you’ve probably predicted, it does the experience no justice and wasted precious moments just enjoying such a gift. It’s almost greedy, isn’t it? We see something and want to capture it and take it home. I’m slowly learning that, rather than the ease of a photograph, it’s often better when an experience requires a story told with the same love in which it was viewed.

Like I said, Rome was beautiful but too fast. I started to feel like a consumer at a shopping mall trying to accumulate the longest list of things I was able to see. When you’re running around trying to do everything you’re supposed to do while in such a place you often forget to experience any of it. It’s a shame and something I’m really working on avoiding. So today we rented a car with some friends and, after stopping in Pisa, drove to a small town (very near Cinque Terre) on a peninsula called Portovenere. We had a picnic lunch outside of a small church perched on the cliffs overlooking the sea and then bought gelato down near the docks. The warm day was a nice break from the bitter cold we’ve been getting!

Well, I pray all is well in all your respective towns and cities. Please keep writing – I love to hear from you even if it’s simply hello. I mean, I need a reason to leave this wonderful place, right?! Haha. I’m really excited to see how many different ways this experience will impact my life and the lives of those around me. I’ve already changed me in so many ways. Have a beautiful week!




Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.
-Kahlil Gibran

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