Thursday, May 15, 2008

Buon Giorno!

Buon Giorno! Yesterday was my first day in Italy – I arrived in Milan at 6:30am hardly having slept at all on the plane, but I was ready to go. Of course, the train from the airport to the city’s central station was not working, so I had to take a bus. But I met a guy who had just finished a semester studying architecture in Florence and had a lot of suggestions of what to see and do, and some helpful tips on dealing with Italian life, food, travel, and people.

At Milan Stazione Centrale, I had an immediate flashback to fall break last semester, when Katie, Caitlin and I were delayed there one night for a few hours and we had decided to pass time with a bottle of wine and Italian cookies. Although tempting this time, I decided to lock up my suitcase and walk around Milan for the day.

I went to the Duomo, which was absolutely breathtaking. Coming out of the subway and turning around to see the largest Gothic cathedral in the world is almost inexpressible. The interior was very dark and overwhelming. I had a conversation *in Italian* (how this worked, I don’t know) with a nice Italian lady who told me about the sundial inside the church and pointed out each zodiac sign. I found mine, which was very exciting! The cathedral had a beautiful crypt dedicated to San Carlo.

I got really lucky and was able to buy the only ticket left that day to see da Vinci’s Last Supper at Santa Maria della Grazie. This is by far the most famous painting of the moment where Christ reveals to his disciples that one of them will betray him. Dan Brown’s 2001 novel The Da Vinci Code stirred up a lot of debate on who is actually represented within the painting, but that is for the viewer to decide for himself. You have to go through a series of air-filtering rooms before you get inside the room. I never realized how big the painting is – it stretches across the entire wall! Apparently, the Allied bombings during the war destroyed the entire building except for this wall. It is currently undergoing a twenty-year restoration process. Unfortunately, the very large Italian guard woman made sure no one took out their cameras inside the room so I didn’t get to take a picture.

Later that afternoon to Firenze. Once again, I realized what a scam the Eurorail pass is – I still had to purchase a “discounted” ticket. I sat across from a really cool Italian man – he was a young professor at the University of Bologna, and he told me about his hometown of Assisi, convincing me that I have to make a day trip there while I’m in Perugia next week. We talked a little in French – I’m glad I still remember it!

I arrived at the Santa Maria Novella train stop in Florence, where Alexandra met me! Al lives with four other American kids, and their apartment is the epitome of a cute Italian pad with wooden roof beams and beautiful balconies with a view of the Duomo. Her roommate cooked us all a delicious Italian dinner of chicken and grilled vegetables, and I pretty much crashed after traveling for 36 hours without sleep.

I opened my eyes this morning to a charming view of the hills of Tuscany and the red Italian rooftops through green shutters. I still cannot believe that I am in Italy! Everything about it is so beautiful – the people, the lifestyle, the art, and the food. Right now, I am sitting across from a cute old man and his tiny dog, reading a newspaper (probably one on Berlusconi’s monopolies) at an Italian café sipping a cappuccino – Al and her roommates had a final this morning, so I’m waiting for Santa Croce to open – I’ll be back to write about it later! Arrivederci!


Maggie:) said...

hey colleen WE MISS YOU AND LOVE YOU!!!!!

Ashley said...

Looks like you are having a fabulous time.

Don't miss Pisa :)

I just did a piece on Vietnam you might find interesting :)

Anonymous said...

Colleen!! it was soo good to chat with you! glad you're enjoying italy! can't wait to hear more!
love, Jess

The Lees said...

Buon Giorno our dear Colleen!!! We are so excited to travel with you on this life changing trip!! Travel safe and love you! See you in the Rockies for another adventure! YEEHA! Barb John & Kathrynzo