A Travellerspoint blog

A Quick Note on the Title Change…

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As a general rule I try to strike out from the mundane and overdone. Allora (and so), my previous blog title “La Bella Vita”, or “the beautiful life”, just wasn’t cutting it. In the course of our studies of the Italian language we learn grammar and syntax, vocabulary, the works. An absolutely essential aspect of learning any language, though, is learning idiomatic expressions. After all, it’s difficult to really understand a native speaker if phrases like “the early bird gets the worm” and “you’re the apple of my eye” fly over your head. With a bit of exploration I landed on an idiomatic Italian phrase to use as the title of my blog. I found it a fitting descriptor of this adventure as a whole, as well as of various aspects of my journey. Literally translated Capita a fagiolo means “occurs at the bean.” This phrase refers to time when beans were an essential staple of the Italian diet. Then, showing up for the bean would have meant you arrived with impeccable timing; which is why this phrase now connotes the meaning, “You came at just the right time!”

I’ll just cut to the chase, and no cock and bull stories here, it was the right time to go out on a limb - go for broke - and see how small the world is after all (and how little I’d like to paint it!)

Posted by ColoradoCandace 05:24 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

On Americans Abroad...

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Recall the phrase, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Though now a painfully overused apology employed in situations where “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” and “Sleep when you die” also work, it carries relevance to my current exploration. Without putting too fine a point on it, it’s clear that I’m enacting the phrase literally. However, I’m more interesting in illustrating how it is that Americans (and particularly American students – considering my vantage point) exercise the phrase’s ideals.

In fact the most fitting form of the saying in this case is, “When in Rome, do as the Romans did.” The Roman Empire perfected the practice of entering foreign lands and supplanting its cultural beliefs and practices on its conquests with egocentric flair. Americans, generally fancying themselves members of the contemporary global colossus, are prone to the same behavior. Even when transplanted into the majestic foreign setting of Italy, it is difficult for Americans (myself included) to let go of our over-fed desire for instant gratification. Public transportation is not easily accessible and efficiently run, shops and businesses do not keep regular hours, the internet is only ever spotty at best (gasp!); “how do people live so barbarically?!” the Americans are asking each other.

What we tend to fail to recognize is that we hail from one of the most technologically advanced societies on the planet. Even more so, we are culturally adapted to a way of life that by global standards is rather fast and furious. And, while here in Italy, we remain in an environment that is relatively quite advanced – it is a European nation, after all. Yet we have difficulty coming down from the high of unlimited options and constant entertainment, even if the step is a small one. We might well be better off if we took more time for life’s truly important aspects - family, relationships, living reasonably - as the Italians do. Perhaps it sometimes takes being cajoled into changing our habits in order to see the error of our ways.

I have observed that some my peers on this trip seem unable or unwilling to shift their perspective to fit this environment. During counseling for our travels abroad, American students hear repeatedly how we must now consider ourselves guests in our foreign homes, rather than try to impose our way of life onto our circumstances. Though such a switch in mindset is difficult for any person to adopt fully, it is essential to the process of appreciating differing cultural values and exploring alternate ways of life. Through this process we are afforded a genuine possibility for examination of our own practices and values, an exercise that in turn grows regeneration and progress. Both are key ingredients for adult maturation and societal advancement. (After all the Romans, even so great an Empire as they were, did fall.)

I buy into the philosophy that the world is shrinking. We are becoming ever more so connected to even the most remote corners of the world through various means, both physical and digital. Each and every individual is constantly accruing more responsibility as a global citizen. My ambitions for my generation encompass a deepened sense of both local and global civic responsibility, as well as a fuller respect for the precious diversity that our world sustains. I would that we might foster growth and renewal in our world without forsaking the value of tradition.

Posted by ColoradoCandace 04:10 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Welcome to Tuscania...

Get to know the first stop of my three-city tour of Italy

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After a few days in Rome visiting such Greats as the Trevi Fountain, Campo di Fiore, the Monument to Vittoria Emmanuele (who’s up on their Italian Contemporary History?!), the Tiber River, Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Roman Forum including the Palatine Hill, and the Colosseum, we made our way to Tuscania. Though the other three American students in our group had not yet arrived due to massive flight delays in Hurricane Irene’s wake, we loaded the bus and drove about an hour and a half to northern Lazio to our new home. (Small note here – though the name may be deceiving, Tuscania is actually not in the region of Tuscany, but rather in Lazio, of which Rome is the principle city.) Describing this medieval town is difficult considering the egregious lack of similarly aged reference points in the United States. But, let’s give it a go.

This area has been occupied for thousands of years, and in fact the Etruscans (who pre-date the Hay Day of the Roman Empire) used it as a choice burial site for their rich and famous. Necropolises (literally translated as “cities of the dead”) are many in this area, and in fact restaurants, businesses, and residences are supported by ancient foundations constructed of mausoleums and aqueduct systems. The part of the town that is above ground, though, is similarly spectacular. The Historical Center consists of a fortified medieval stronghold. Think twenty-foot walls of miraculously hand-laid bricks hailing from hundreds of miles away and cobble-stoned streets. Our school Lorenzo de’ Medici, in fact, is located in one of the many medieval houses that has been renovated and modernized while maintaining the integrity of the building. Walking through the streets heavenly smelling family trattorias and gurgling fountains abound. Every little winding alley way is the snapshot of a travel agent brochure. After less than a five-minute walk from one end to the next you are constrained by the eastern facing side of the wall that contrains Tuscania from a thirty-foot drop to the valley below. Standing at this point the whole of the countryside is visible. San Pietro’s Basilica (a medieval Roman Catholic church ostentatiously situated atop the nearest hill) dominates the eye. Olive trees are neatly spaced in rows throughout the valley and in the distance the city of Viterbo can be seen nestled within the creases of Volcanic mountains.

Insomma (“to sum up”), this small town is picturesquely quaint.

Though my apartment is not within the walls of the Old City, it is its own shade of beautiful. A ten-minute stroll from school brings me to a second floor apartment more spacious, beautifully adorned, and modern than any of the housing I’ve occupied in Fort Collins. A palm tree, which gives way to a near-tropical garden belonging to the landlady and landlord who live on the first floor, marks the front gate. Up a flight of marble stairs sits a three bedroom, two bathroom flat. The kitchen is cheerfully painted in exclusively orange and yellow and stainless steel appliances give it a modern feel. The bed and bathrooms are simply adorned with pinky shades and floral print. As warm and comforting as the place feels even to me, if I were a girl who dreamed of being a princess, I would surely never leave.

Here geckos commonly scale indoor walls, pasticcherias (pastry shops) are one per block, and groups of old men congregate outside homes and businesses to lord over their little corner of the earth. It is clear that life moves at a different pace here. Truly this phenomenon is never more evident than during the daily afternoon siesta in which all shops (and even restaurants) close midday for a few hours to allow everyone a necessary break from their relatively relaxed existence. It seems Italians deeply value savoring even the most usual moments.

So the obvious question is, might I stay here and never return home? As truly wonderful as this nook of the world is, Dorothy’s words still ring true, “There’s no place like home.”

Posted by ColoradoCandace 13:29 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

In Tuscania

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Hello friends and family!

I have been so busy experiencing this new place and getting to know Tuscania that I have had little time to blog. As I noted to Mom yesterday, between taking pictures, uploading them and posting them online, checking email and facebook, journaling by hand, and trying to uppdate a blog: how much time do I want to spend documenting my trip as opposed to living it?! (Especially considering stable internet is hard to come by here.)

However, I do hope to update you all soon with some thoughtful insight as to my adventures and discoveries.

Much love until then,

Posted by ColoradoCandace 06:10 Archived in Italy Comments (2)


Portal to the USA

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I had a great trip with my Mom, Grammy, and younger sister Madison to NYC this summer. Mom and I had gone once previously in celebration of my sixteenth birthday. In anticipation of Madison's sixteenth year this September, we decided to carry the tradition onward with a three-generational adventure. We covered a lot of ground via subway and on foot (whew, we were worn out by the end of each day!) Truly it was the best way to really experience the city and get a feel for "real life" - if there is such a thing - in the Big Apple. I did most of the navigating with a great, sturdy map we had purchased at the Staten Island Ferry the first morning of our sojourn. While in the city, we were able to see and do the following:

wait out the astounding and absolutely unparalleled traffic of NYC and its surrounding Burroughs; experience firsthand the craziness of the taxi drivers - who will literally transfer you to another cab on THE MIDDLE of the highway in order to save them self a bit of time, and thus cash); ferry to Liberty Island and hike to the pedestal of Lady Liberty; tour Ellis Island; awe at Ground Zero; ingest some great (but oh so pricy) Greek food near our temporary apartment; see "How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" starring Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter Saga Star) which we would highly recommend to anyone as hilarious and entertaining musical; wait outside the stage door of "How to Succeed" for the chance to get D. Radcliffe's autograph along with a mob of other people and NYC's Finest per Madison's bequest (Mission: Unaccomplished); tour around Downtown on the NY Sightseeing Grayline Bus while Mom met old pal Meredith and her son for a VIP trip to the top of the Empire State Building; see Madison Avenue; eat an authentic slice; walk over halfway across the Brooklyn Bridge and back; dine (as we had during our last trip - also with Meredith) at John's Italian restaurant in (approx.) Little Italy - delizioso! - and Veniro's Italian Pasticceria for a mind-boggling array of desserts; try again to acquire Sir Daniel's autograph (Madison and Mom did, at least); take the Uptown tour of the sightseeing bus; canter through the Metropolitan Museum of Art in order to view Central Park form the rooftop garden (a little tip - the $30 admission to the Met is only suggested); stroll through Central Park; lament at Strawberry Fields; enjoy table-side-created guacamole at Rosa Mexicano's; meander around the Lincoln Center for the Arts (while picturing ourselves as the Prima Donna of the Opera, and Lead Ballerina in Swan Lake); delight in the wonderful revival of Anything Goes (which I myself performed in as a Junior in high school); savor delectable Buttercream cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery; bask in the day-time glow of Times Square at midnight; geek out at the Harry Potter Exhibition (anyone sensing a theme?); wonder at the marvels of Pompeii (post Vesuvius, of course); take in the magnificent view of the city from The Top of the Rock; have an authentic Northern Italian Meal at the corner restaurant (another theme?); venture upon the New Jersey train for a much cheaper commute to the Newark Airport.

Was that enough information? In truth, keeping this blog is just as much about documenting my adventures for myself and my progeny as it is to keep you all informed as well :) Please feel more than free to wade through the interesting sections and fast-foward through the boring bits. My trip to Italy is close at hand now - I depart in just under 36 hours! Can't wait to see what this novel excursion will have in store!

Posted by ColoradoCandace 22:56 Archived in USA Tagged city new york Comments (6)

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