Jam Sessions and Chocolate Salami–Erin, July 2, 2013

There is something about staying up until the wee hours of the morning that creates friendships. This last weekend, we have all been slaving away in the studio until 4 in morning. Thank goodness for the wine, jam sessions, and Pierpaolo bringing us chocolate salami. By about 2, we all got a little delirious from exhaustion and that’s when the best quotes and silliest conversations cane out. By 3, we started to feel like we were the only humans possibly awake at that hour. That makes for some serious bonding. I don’t think I would have made it through my final project without you guys. I love you all and I had such a great time this summer :)

The studio before sunset.

Final Blog Post!–Stephanie, July 2, 2013

What a week! Our group had its final presentation on the Church of Saint Stephen, we had our final art show and now it’s time to pack. Yesterday I got to watch the sunrise at Santa Chiara after working through the night in the art studio with Pricilla, Thomas and Phillip. I was sleepy and needed a shower, but seeing the orangey pink above the mountains in the chilly courtyard was a very sweet moment to come right at the end of our trip.

The sunrise from the Santa Chiara courtyard

For our final studio project, we were asked to produce a 2’x3’ piece of art. I decided to make a small paper card for each of the 42 days we spent in Learning Tuscany and paint a memory from each day on the cards. Thinking back to the events of each day was a lot of fun. I painted little scenes of my new friends and I having dinner, views of cities and countrysides, and moments like a bug falling from the ceiling onto my computer during another late studio night. For the final show, my 2’x3’ was all of the cards in chronological order in a calendar formation on the wall. It was awesome to hear people say they remembered seeing something that I had drawn and to compare when different events had happened by seeing them all at once. Learning, painting and drawing in Tuscany gave me something I couldn’t have found any other way. I can see how my own art has changed thanks to experiencing new perspectives and influences in Italy and I’m looking forward to taking it all home with me.

Stephanie in front of her final piece.

Sunday Funday–Marianna, June 30, 2013

The weather could not have been better. It was the making of a beautiful day.

It was a Sunday so naturally we slept as late as possible, which ended up being eleven thirty. I don’t know what it is about Italy, maybe the chirping birds, how early the sunrises, or that stupid cat that likes to meow nonstop at the wee hours in the morning, but it is almost impossible for me to sleep past nine. Where as at home in Texas I can easily sleep past noon on any given day. We then walked up to the arches to grab un bombolone and a few fragola for brunch. The weather was too nice to not spend the day outside, so we headed to The Garden (one of the main hangouts both day and night) to draw for a little while.

At the Garden

That afternoon Meredith and I had to do laundry and decided to go to the Laundry mat closer to the train station across town. It was a little difficult to find, so we had to ask some locals who did not speak any English and surprisingly we understood a little bit and found it located next to a Gelato place and a park. Laundry on this trip is not as big of a hassle as I expected it to be, possibly because the washers already have the detergent in them. Budding up and sharing the washer and dryer also helps a lot. Once the cycle was started we went across the street to grab some gelato and play on the playground. One thing I love about Italy is there are playgrounds everywhere; the gelato place had a playground, a restaurant we went to had a playground and the garden has a one including a trampoline (which cost two euro but is so worth it). I think it is great that all of these places are family oriented in that they serve alcohol and food with a nice place to sit and a tv playing and the playground in the same area.

Meredith playing on the spider web in the park in CFno

The park across from the laundry mat has hands down been the best to play on since it is equipped with a zip line and human sized spider web to climb all over. In the park there was a water fountain that was quite refreshing and being used by many locals to fill up dozens of liter water bottles they had brought. After we wore ourselves out playing and the laundry was done we made it back in time for dinner at Santa Chiara and had a nice movie night while we continued to work on our paintings. All in all it was a great day to hang out in our lovely little town.


The Potastic Saint of Santa Chiara–Pricilla, June 2013

As the mob chosen patron Saint of Potatoes, I would like to give an overview of Italy’s potastic traditions in potato cooking. Yes, I just made that word up. Deserves to be in a dictionary now.

I have to start off with applauding the Italians for their diverse use of vegetables and dishes in general. America doesn’t do well with veggies– salads not included. Italians do have to work on their pork dishes. Slices of pork with different sauces is not considered a dish in my eyes! Get to it Italians!

Anyways, back to the wonders of potatoes. Santa Chiara has made a few potato dishes so far, and no I do not include the french fries. My favorite is the potato lasagna. I never would of thought of making something like that (an embarrassment I’m sure as the Patron of Potatoes).  It is egg and slices of potato stacked on top of each other. I don’t think it necessarily has to be egg though. Zucchini and potato lasagna? I wouldn’t mind trying it. Also fried potatoes, which unlike in the States is actually just cooked potato squares. I learned that the first day I was in Italy. Surprise surprise. Italians add herbs on top of them so they taste delicious! Baked sweet potato with a mix of herbs is really good too, but I don’t think Italians use sweet potato. I haven’t seen it used.

Another potato dish is gnocchi. Gnocchi is sort of like a mini dumpling filled with potato. I believe it would’ve been one of my favorite dishes IF I didn’t eat it the first time as a microwaveable dish at a restaurant. Be warned! Some cafes, after the lunch hour, do not serve fresh food! :(  Lesson learned.

Potato gnocchi

The other Italian potato delicacy that will forever be cradled in my small heart is potato pizza!!! So simple, why hadn’t I thought of it before? Probably because I don’t know how to make pizza. It is only slices of potato semi overlapping one another and some herbs on top. Very yummy but beware! Always eat with a drink! You can get quite parched eating it.

Potato pizza

Florence and the David–Michelle, June 2013

Marianna and Michelle in Florence

On a free Saturday, Marianna and I decided to take a day trip to Florence to see Michelangelo’s David and do some shopping for leather goods. We woke up and hopped on the train for the short hour and a half train to Florence. When we arrived we leisurely found our way to the Academia. When we walked up the entrance, we soon realized that there was a substantially long line of people waiting to enter. As we took our place in the back of the line we were warned by another person that the wait would be about two hours. In disbelief, we decided to wait it out, after all, we visited Florence primarily to see the David.  As the wait drew on, we met another student in line who was from Australia, named Leo.  The time passed quickly as we chatted with Leo about the differences between life in the United States and Australia as well as numerous stories from our travels in Italy.  The wait, in fact, actually did take two hours and finally we reached the entrance to the Academia. After browsing the various rooms of artwork. We came to the David statue. Needless to say, the experience was well worth the wait.  Michelangelo’s masterpiece was stunning. Marianna, Leo and I stood in awe of the sheer size and excellent sculpting of the David. Leo even attempted to slyly take a picture of the David but before he knew it, an angry guard was screeching “NO FOTO.” We circled the statue several times in order to view the statue from every angle. We remarked on the impressive modeling of the veins on the arms and hands of the figure.  Once we finished admiring the David, we decided to go for lunch to “ZaZa” near the Mercado Centrale. Our lunch was lovely and afterwards we picked up some leather purses and wallets in the market before catching the train back to Castiglion Fiorentino. On the whole, our Saturday trip to Florence was a successful and memorable adventure.