Sunday, May 27, 2012

P.S. Today Should Be Okay

view from hostel window 

 The hostel in Perugia was very reassuring. Though the staff spoke quickly in Italian, undeterred by my l blank stares and bad accent. The wind was cold but the view was incredible. I walked in the rain, made tiny books out of train tickets, ate pasta and drank wine. Just as you'd expect.


I still make things!

                                      Bologna. Maybe it should read: Give me, Hope, candy.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lazy Days

the baptistry at Pisa 

Here's a secret: I am an unambitious traveller right now. Ok, my ankle has been freaking out a little and I overpacked and that combination makes long walks unfun. So , I got to Pisa, sat in front of the tower and thought, yup, it leans. It is actually neat to see, so I sat in the grass in front of it, listening to Amps for Christ and not worrying about anything. Then came the grey cold weather that is not a part of summer in my head. My favorite place in in Pisa: the post office in Piazza Victor Emmanuel. Beautiful and helpful. And not very far from this Keith Haring mural that is in this city for reasons unknown to me.
Keith Haring was here

 My second day in Pisa I thought I would try out Lucca, the prettier sister to the north. Really I wanted to go back to the beach but since I was in Pisa...the rain has been following me like a gloomy omen. I try and not let it spoil my day which is how I walked in circles around Lucca, half limping, half in the rain. I know better than to complain. Because it is still beautiful. I sat in a cafe, ordered coffee and a cookie and drew. The waiter told me that they say "cappucio" in Lucca too (as opposed to cappucino) that it isn't a Milanese thing. Still, I might stick to espresso in Rome till I figure it out.
lonely bench in Lucca

view from the wall surrounding Lucca

Sunday, May 20, 2012

First Swim of the Year

the liguarian sea 

Someone recently told me they were underimpressed by the Cinque Terre, that they had been to beautiful tropical places that were just as pretty. Others, with more sense, stay for as long as they can. I limited myself to three nights which now, sitting in a clean, sterile hostel after a gloomy day inland, I wish I hadn't left. Yeah, sometimes it is romantic to leave while the going is good, to not spoil first magical impressions. And maybe I'll never go back. It was a little busy while I was there and I can imagine how overrun it gets later in the season. But it was still early enough to get a spot on the beach, even if I was cold for hours after I swam in water which was the most perfect color in the world.
hiking among grapes and lemons

this is still italy,afterall

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Oh The Places You'll Go!

the streets I wandered
My last day in Milan, I had written in capitol letters on my to-do list: ENJOY. Because sometimes I felt like I let days slip away in our apartment. I borrowed a bike, got lost, did some New Orleans-style wrong-way-down-a-one-way tricks and, obviously, had a great time. I dropped off the bike at the rack and looked at the map. I could get on the subway for the last 4 stops. But I had never seen the transition from the Milan where I walked and the Milan where I lived. So I walked home. The walk itself was fine, sunny, urban, but when I reached the streets I recognized, it made a little more sense out of a city that continuously reveals that it has more secrets. I have been marking a map of my walks since my arrival and this is the result. You can almost see my neighborhood way at the top.
Before I left Milan, I tried to visit a few close by places. Like Switzerland. You can take a train to a lake, a boat across the lake and there you are. I didn’t stay long in Lorcarno, which was grey and a little touristy. The boat ride was fantastic, three hours of slowly pulling towards shore, towards another tiny old resort town, the yellow plaster and art nouveau Italian towns morphing into cleaner, more minimal Swiss towns.
On the train through the Alps back to Stresa, Italy, I met a Swiss man who loved photography. We had a long conversation about art and passion. At Domolodosso, he switched trains to Bern and I headed for Milan, making it home in time for a late dinner. What a weird weird 3 ½ months its been.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

On Top of the World

Last week I attended my final classes, wrote papers, took the tests, all with a bit of detachment. I knew it was almost over. I attended my final presentation, got mysepf a bike and climbed the 250 stairs to the top of the duomo. Italian students seem to have numerous superstitions about graduating and one prevents your from ascending anything where the view might be lovely. My diploma isn't coming for months, but I felt like I could at least visit the weirdest view in Milan. I brought some wine and sunglasses and enjoyed every moment. I hope it is this nice in July because I am going again, These photos do not begin to describe the awesome.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Weird Shapes of Torino

While walking around Torino, I spotted some odd buildings and interesting geometry. A lot of Italy is pretty in a classical or romantic way so it was interesting to see these angular shapes. The Mole Antonelliana is a landmark in the city. Started as a huge Synagogue at the end of the 1800's, it now houses the National Museum of Cinema. One floor is dedicated to the science of optics, demonstrating the progression of inventions leading up to motion pictures. The main hall is dedicated to movies but the most amazing part of that, for me, was watching the glass elevator rise up from the basement, into the huge main hall and through a tiny hole in the ceiling. Of course I went. I was too stunned to photograph what it looks like to be so close to the giant walls at the top of the dome. You'll have to go and see for yourself. And then you get to see the city from the viewing deck. Totally worth 4 dollars and waiting in line with middle school kids.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

What's Not To Love About Torino?

Torino. Underloved. Industrial northern city of Fiat and chocolate. With cafes as pretty as Vienna's. Cakes and handmade pasta. Parks. A river. I stopped at the castle for a minute, former home of the Savoy family, because historically, some of the French got along with some Italians.
Torino also has arcades. Under some of them, revolutions were plotted, or Mark Twain wrote, or, hidden in the back of this galleria is a beautiful art nouveau theatre.
In the main piazza there are an assortment of monuments--black egyptian statues, a larger-than life soldier commemorating past battles. And if you look over the edge of the medieval castle walls--a secret moat garden.
Lastly, as a postscript to yesterday's post about weather, this is a photo of the gorgeous evening we are having here a few hours after it HAILED not golf balls, but heavy sheets of icy marbles. Happy spring.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Temporal Amnesia

 at the park in Torino

In Italian, tempo means time or weather. Not in english. I'm using it this way here because "meteorological amnesia" doesn't sound right. I mean time and weather. I was trying to explain this to a friend to describe my feelings about spring in Milan. Some days, I wake up, walk to the grocery store and the sky is so clear and thick with color. The trees are breathing and everything seems possible. It is hard not to smile. This morning was like this. But as I left the grocery, I could see the clouds.

sitting on the Po River, Torino

The rain here isn't like in Louisiana, where it is so humid the rain has to be aggresive to get noticed. It rains hard here but not for long. But the grey sticks. And wipes out any memory of a sunny morning. It is dark. We abandon all plans to go out. I've tried but everyone seems inside, snuggled in until it is over. I stay home for days studying (or procrastinating). Sometimes the sun will return and we forget the rain. The air warms right up to a perfect comfortable temperature and we go out for coffee again, or I walk around.

good night

At night they grey will slowly fade but when it is clear, the sun is up late. And when it finally sets I have this nearly full moon out my window.