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itsolivia
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A little film interlude for your day:


Father and Daughter
by Michael Dudok de Wit
itsolivia
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remember when i took off to Italy for a month?

well, i finally posted the digital pictures.

also, there is a high quantity of "old men" or "walking women" photos. i took them for source material for future paintings, so don't think I am a weirdo.

click this link.

itsolivia
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so i thought i wasnt gonna post again, but i had to really, especially after the cuteness i just saw. so to update:

+ the cuteness i saw were a few kids dressed up for halloween here. the kids carry little tiny lit candles in their hands and their candy holders were all boxes with shoestring as handles. they went for the old skool witch/ghost/goblin/dracula theme in costume selection. it was so adorable

+ lucky for them i just spent my last wad of euro on candy and chocolate baci for friends. so i opened up a bag and gave them some. the sad part of all this is that my camera is all the way across Rome in my hotel room, as i decided to come back to Trastevere for my big old last meal. so no pictures which is a total bummer because they looked so cute and dare-i-say vintage. wouldve made a good black and white photo. damn it all!

+ my big ol last Italian meal: there is this great little trattoria no one knows about in Trastevere that my Rome landlords told me to go to for good cheap food. so i went all out italian-style. i had the roman style marinated artichokes (carciofi alla romana), lasagna, a plate of cheese (formaggi misti), marinated chicken kebabs (roman jewish style), tiramisu, an espresso and a big old jug of house prosecco (we like to call that champagne). all for 22 euro. thats right. 22 euro. and im stuffed.

+ the big sadness of my trip: so i decided that my big gift for someone would be for my mother. shes had a really really rough year and has put on the Brave Mom Face (Skip's mom does the same). my dad is impossible to shop for, unless Italy had a big RV supply warehouse. my mom, however, squealed with the thought of me in Italy, the land of Majolica and Murano. so i went hoofing around Venice everywhere yesterday and found her an antique circa 1950 murano vase, with a very thin fluted neck. rose colored. gorgeous. and a huge ridiculous splurge on my part. i didnt buy anyone else anything, save for Skip (he scored a very fine leather journal that i watched being made). so i carefully pack the vase in bubble wrap and a ton of paper, gently storing it in my bag. not gently enough apparently. somewhere between Venice and Rome, it broke in many many pieces. i cried in my hotel room here for almost a good solid hour. then i emailed my mother. of course, my mother said "oh no, you lost a ton of money and you didnt buy yourself shoes!". ugh! atleast i got her some candies and a bottle of chocolate liquor. still sad. cute vintage vase!

+ tomorrow at this time i will be landing in SFO. it will be wonderful. ciao!
itsolivia
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ciao ragazzi-

first off:
New Italian Cinema begins in San Francisco November 14th until the 21st. I am going. You should go with me.

thought i would post a real update again. this may be my last update unless i find my way back to my old internet stopoff in Rome on Sunday.

I am bleeding money in Venice. and its money i don't have. i should've shopped for friends, boyfriend and relatives in Rome. my fear of dragging shit around with me stopped me stupidly from buying early. ugh. so now everyone gets chocolate and cheesy murano glass wine stoppers. it's crazy expensive here, but i found a piece of pizza for 1 euro. awesome.

so here is what I have done:

Peggy Guggenheim Collection



this may have been my highlight of Venice. Ironic that it's modern and postmodern stuff that would be my highlight, but not really if you know my background. The bio of her i read last year told a story of how an art collecter came to see her in Venice and they were standing next to the Marini statue of the horse and rider (you can unscrew the penis). she said to the art collector something along the lines of "all of Venice centers around this hard spot" as she held the penis. then she unscrews the penis and hands it to the collector and asks her to kiss him. he practically ran away. anywho....saw the sculpture!! laughed out loud. hope they gave that penis a good washing. highlights of the collection include the goauche Max Ernst painting, the Carlo Carrà collage, the George Grosz and the Stuart Davis sketch. easily the best part for me was seeing the Modigliani, Portrait of Frank Haviland. I think i sat on the bench in front of this for atleast 30 minutes, if not more. it made me so sad. it's not often you get to see a Modigliani, atleast for me anyway. i think i saw a work on paper in a gallery in the city. I can't think of any museum in SF that has one of his pieces. you can see Picassos, Miros, Matisses....etc. just not Modi. so usually i stand in front of his stuff for along time, as well as when i come upon an Otto Dix. same thing.

another nice part of the gallery was the visual timeline along the wall of how Guggenheim and Keisler built the NYC gallery. it featured some of the original chairs, and had some lovely gouche sketches. which i like, as you can tell. also, the headstone over Peggy's urn was nice and to the point, and her ashes are buried next to her 12 or whatever beloved dogs.

Churches
lets see...i have been to so many...the three that have stood out are the Church (and Scuola) of San Rocco, the Frari, and the Madonna of the Miracoli. i have seen so many Tintorettos. the man just likes to puke bodies onto the canvas, doesnt he? there was one, in the San Rocco church, which had me totally baffled and i still havent a clue what it is about. it had what looked like winged horses and many men running in angst. yep. the wood carvings with the school of San Rocco were amazing...totally blew me away and reminded me of the stuff that i saw in Urbino.

The Church of the Madonna of the Miracoli...if you ever go to Venice, go to this Church. its tiny and plopped down alongside a small canal. the entire outside basically moves with color. the Lombardo family used so many different colors of marble and made these patterns that both vibrate the church and help visually elongate its short length. you dont really need to go inside. its the outside that blew me away. hard as hell to find. i went completely in a circle around it. and the store across from it is a classical guitar shop and was spouting out Vivaldi's Four Seasons while i was climbing around the church. definately a moment.

So i'm really excited about tomorrow. instead of going to the Ducal Palace or St Marks Basilica and stand in the long lines, im skipping those and heading to the Maritime museum. 4 stories of nautical history of Venice. the city itself is nautical history. i looked it up and they have Peggy's gondola, the last privately owned gondola in venice. and i could use a day without seeing another Madonna con Bambino.

also, i found one of only like 3 places in Venice that builds gondolas. i think ill ty and fit that in on my San Polo trek to find glass for mom. so i think thats my last day in Venice. the internet cafe i am sitting at is like the hopping place...its run by brits and they are having a party here tomorrow night. for halloween. speaking of Halloween, i wish i could celebrate with you guys.

I love you so much, Italy! thank you for your wonderful people, your gorgeous landscape, your art in all of its forms, your language, your funny politics, your incredible reality tv, and the best food ever (vegans beware). arrivaderci! i land in SFO on monday at 1:30 pm, with a cute boyfriend waiting for me when i get off. sigh. burrito and my boyfriend. a perfect way to end my Italy trek.
itsolivia
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the clouds cleared today and therefore, i went to Burano to take some pictures of the beautiful houses. it looks like this and a lot like this. the fishermen paint their houses bright so they can see them from the sea. Burano is famous for these houses and lace. i hate lace. i walked quickly by each and every lace store. on the way to Burano, the masses get off at Murano, the land of glass. i was going to go and get mom and Skip's mom some glass, but i was warned not to shop for glass there. so thats fine. ill just look for some in San Polo or something.

the sun was so nice today. i ferryboat-hopped and just sat at the edge of the boats spacing out, but it made me very homesick and reminded me of San Francisco in bizarre ways. walked through the park to go to the Biennale but balked at the 12 euro entry fee. if it was the art biennale, id jump at it, but its the architecture one, something im so uneducated in, but appreciative of. so i decided if i have money left over and time, id go back on Saturday. got lost for the umpteenth time and ended up at the train station, wtf. had pizza. again. haha. i did get a good suggestion for a sushi place!!! so i think i will go if i can find someone to go with me. i hate having sushi alone. its one food i like to talk about.

OK, im officially homesick. I'm sick of tourists. I'm sick of being a tourist. I miss my boyfriend. I miss my friends. I miss dancing. I miss non-Italian food.

I love hearing Italian. I am so happy and proud that i came out here alone. It made for some lonely times and some exciting times. I've learned a ton. I can now watch TV and make out some of what is being said. I can pick up words and pretend that I know the phrase. Responding is a different matter, but whatever.

Ok, I am off to go find some more gelato. Venice is expenive as hell, so im living on pizza and panini and gelato and apertivi.

tomorrow, i am checking out some Tintorettos (its hard not to here, they are everywhere), some Titians, and the Guggenheim collection. Very excited about the Guggenheim collection; i can live without seeing another church. But i've got a couple must sees (Dan, im definately going to San Rocco). id like to go to the Island that Venetiens bury their dead (San Michele), just to see some famous people, like Ezra Pound.

oh, and i shopped. but its not clothes or shoes. its art. i bought two etchings and a gorgeous splurge, a photograph of Orson Welles on a boat in Venice. the man at the helm of the boat is the shop owners father where i bought the photo.

PS: Nip and Tuck in Italian RULES.
itsolivia
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nerd alert! so my alarm was set at 7:30am, so i could race down to St Mark's and stand for the webcam and say hi to Skip. we got on the phone and he played human chess with me and moved me around to make sure it was me. then he grabbed these pics. the second one is me waving at you guys! sorry for the lack of cut. im in a hurry and want to post these and always forget how to post behind a cut. xoxox



itsolivia
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a: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!
b: i had some spritzer with the people who work in the hotel. they rule.
c: i got lost again
d: and ended up in Saint Marks Square

and you know what? i dont care how many people dislike Venice for it being touristy. brings tears to my eyes the amount of romance and happy families there are enjoying it all. and for good reason.

so, i stood in the square and called Skip and directed him to this website:
http://www.sionvalais.com/venezia.php

and then told him to find me in the St Marks one, but it was too bright. but i stood there jumping up and down waving. i love him.

so i will be at St Marks tomorrow AM at like 7 am my time, 10 your time if you wanna see me. xoxox
itsolivia
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In Venice. it is amazing. its foggy. i love it all. I am afraid to blink.

I am pretty unclear of the time. 4 pm italy time i guess. ive been in Venice for almost three hours. as soon as i got on the train between Verona and Venice, i noticed an immediate difference from everywhere else ive been to and thats hearing English being spoken outloud around me. You start noticing the visual difference of being around more travellers. Lots more English...lots more. Lots more German, French, Dutch.... outside the train windows, the fog got more and more dense and i barely made out that land turned to water, and boats replaced cars.

Get out of the train station and circle around the vendors selling plastic gondolas and fake carnivale masks, and there is the Grand Canal. whoa. so i get a ticket for 7 days for the vaporetto use and jump on the boat. the group of three tourists next to me were spearheaded by this ex-Hippy who was from Minnesota. amazingly, she was a bitch. She pushed past me and yelled for her friends saying, "We must get in line! we cannot miss this boat!". i move aside. she obviously isn't on Italian time yet, since there isnt anyone else in a hurry here and really, if they miss the boat, what are they late for? they just left the train station so they arent missing a plane or a train. and its practically siesta time, meaning (as we all know by now) everything is closed except food places. So we get on the boat (plenty of room) and the last stop was at the Rialto bridge, not the Lido stop as expected. Minnesota immediately bitches to her friends and is basically putout by the fact that, oh dear, they HAVE to get off and get another boat. I am staring at her bitching, loudly, and all i can think of is, "you are in VENICE. who the fuck cares if you missed a boat. it is VENICE. its all gorgeous and you're alive and in VENICE and the city is sinking, selfish lady!" uggggghhhhhhhhh.

Venice is the biggest "giver" of any city. it constantly is giving its resources, and its land, and its history and culture, in a grand way, so people like this lady can fret about having to ride two boats instead of one, as her friends are embarrassed for her. ok, sorry, had to vent...sorry! mi piacere. sooooo.......

I get off at the San Samuele stop. Venice literally does take your breath away, even after years of seeing visuals and, ha, being on the gondola in Vegas. (how very Baudrillard/Simulacra.)

I find my way over side canal bridges and down alleys that close into you a little like the movie Labyrinth, and to my hotel, the gorgeous Hotel Art Deco. for one, they gave me a nice nice nice rate. why? travelling alone carries some sympathies apparently. and two, my room is so cute and big....it has little deco era desks and lamps and huge pillows and watercolors of Venice and i love it. and three, they offer a masseuse, and she is cheap for Italy standards. i am getting a massage. and four, the two people at the front desk were so excited that i spoke even the slightest Italian and that im young, that they are taking me out to dinner tomorrow night, in San Polo. nice.

i had lunch at this osteria around the corner from my hotel. seated next to me were two Austrians (Army, they kept raving about Vienna non-stop), and we shared some wine and cheese and talked Venice. they gave me must sees for the Architecture Biennale (one of them is featured in it) and also gave me their addresses and emails for whenever I want to go to Vienna. and ive only been here for 3 hours!

after lunch i wandered and got lost. getting lost is the most beautiful thing here. i think im throwing away my map. bridge after bridge after bridge. a couple of them led to alleys going nowhere, some led to doors of private residences. gondoliers singing operas, even sitting alone by themselves in their boats. not as cheesy as it sounds. and not as many tourists on some of these side streets. i hope i get to see Saint Marks Square flood. please let it flood.

ugh, i love it here. as long as i can continue to block out some (not all) of the masses. Skip, you would die. Mom, you too. rest of LJ: you too. including the ones who have already been here once or twice or three times a lady.

jesus im rambling. what am i doing here at the computer??? i am going to go get lost.
itsolivia
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GO RED SOX!

last night was a bit melancholy. Saturday nights in Verona seem to be date night. i left my hotel and went to dinner not expecting the mad amount of couples making out, the full restaurants, the gazing at the sky and cuddling. since ive started dating Skip, ive actually gone from being grossed out by large amounts of public affection, to being understanding. that said, i spent the better part of the evening cursing my bad luck of not having enough time on my cel phone to call Skip and also pretending he was walking next to me or talking to me as i ate my gelato by the Piazza Bra fountain. which is pretty crazy, i know. but its MY VACATION and i can act totally crazy. right? so Skip cheered me up last night with cute text messages to my phone while i watched a combination of Forrest Gump in German (i know, scary) and the usual Isola dei Famosi. which is on every night. and i love it so.

i woke up this morning with that little bit of itch and soreness in the back of my throat that normally would have me chugging EmergenC and popping some pills but since im in Verona, i thought id get out of bed early and go walk in the fog up to the Roman ruins, since its my last day here. Not the best of ideas, but i hate being sick when im on vacation, so im pretending im not sick.

The ruins were of this tiny little theatre, nestled below an old 12th century church built over and to the side of a Roman basilica. a kitty with a messed up tail ran over to me and sat on my lap as i read the guide and tried to imagine Shakespeare being presented here. headed up the stairs and through an overgrown garden with roman tombstones for a beautiful yet foggy view of Verona. i started feeling a little dizzy so i bought some water and sat by the river, knowing i should go home. i pressed on, but not to see anymore churches or ruins. instead, i went looking for a small carry on suitcase.

Dear Italians: I am fully embracing your leisurely pace, your slow walking, the way you close and open and close and then open stores all day. But today I wish it would just accommodate those who are used to things that just stay open when they open. Also, i know today is domenica, and that means that no one should shop, so most of you just are closed. but have you looked at your streets? they are full of people looking, with long sad faces, at your pretty shoes and your rolling luggage pieces, visitors with stout German figures, red British cheeks and sick crazy curly-headed lasses from SF. My bad....i shouldve shopped on sabato. sigh.

I think that my being a bit ill and my being homesick for my boyfriend and my friends havent made today, or last night, easy. I leave for Venice tomorrow morning. please please let there be some not overly priced shoes there. and pretty please let it not be as touristy as im preparing myself for....
itsolivia
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Ciao, ragazzi!

it poured today in Verona; just in the AM though. this made for a fun morning of me having left the hotel without my parka, and instead relying on my velvet blazer. my tights were a great barrier for my legs though. so i hopped from 16th century building to 16th century building, looking for an umbrella in a store.

instead, i ran into a Chinese food place to grab something non-Italian. The Italians love their food so much, that finding anything else is like stumbling across a rainbow at this point. Since ive had it to here with pasta, panini, veal, beef with rosemary, pizza, more pizza and yet more pizza, Chinese sounded delightful. and it really wasnt half bad. and the owners fell in love with me because i asked for chopsticks and since THEY HAD NONE for patrons to use, they ran upstairs to get some out of their own kitchen. im telling you, Italians really dont stray far from the meat of their earth. so i had some ok spring rolls (non cooked, i might add...like little burritos...sigh. burritos), chicken with chili sauce and wonton soup, and read my Verona book.

on my way to Castelvecchio, i swung through several shoe stores, trying to find Skip some sneakers that he doesnt have. so scared to buy him ones that suck. saw some great shoes for me, but im at the point in my trip where i need to buy another suitcase or something. if i do THAT, then ill buy like 3 pairs of shoes. Verona is full of shoes. and men singing operettas in the street to you for change.

Castelvecchio was built by Cangrande II della Scala, somewhere after 1355. he built it like a fortress to keep out the citizens of Verona, who were very pissed about the rising taxes. It is complete with moat and the gorgeous Ponte Scaligero, a bridge he used a couple times as an escape route from the city. In the 1960's, the very cool Italian architect Carlo Scarpa was asked to turn Castelvecchio into a museum. the building is now this gorgeous blend of early Renaissance architecture mixed with modernist 60s stairways, halls, overhead walkways that filter light in from the views of the river, and little mid century flourishes. Some paintings stand in the center of the room on old easels. The artwork is mostly Veronese, between 14th and 18th century, with some highlights from the mannerism period (since northern Italy was the birthplace of the Lombardy school, home to Caravaggio and Mantegna etc). A Titian and a couple of Tintorettos, a couple Bellinis (not the champagne) and some Canalettos round out the museum.

What really blew me away, however, was the first floor religious statuary. you can really see that the Veronese style comes from the dirtier and far more raw styles of the North, especially Germany, rather then the plush prettier styles of Tuscany. The Crucifixion with Saints was downright early 1920's Expressionist realized in a 15th century sculpture, with Christ howling in pain, his arms the size of toothpicks. Gorgeous.

found this site....for more on Museo di Castelvecchio, click this link.

also today: three espressos, a morning cappuchino, and a machiatto con panna and one gelato...coffee flavored.

oh and also: i went to an art store to buy a bigger sketch pad and some conte pencils.

tomorrow: Della Scala family tombs (they all nicknamed each other after DOGS), the Duomo to see Titian's Assumption (one of them), and the exciting San Zeno Maggiore, which houses the tomb of San Zeno, Verona's beloved first Bishop, and now patron saint of the city, who came from Africa. apparetnly some beautiful Romanesque architecture is there, as well as a nice creepy crypt, encasing San Zeno himself.

Buona Sera!
itsolivia
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so ive been walking around my first day of Verona, in the mist, singing "My Verona" (or Sharona). ive tripped and slipped probably 5 times on the same street. am i high? visually, Verona is stunning...enough cannot be said about the moorish style renaissance bridges and arches.

ok, so to update:

Family Health
nephew is going to Arizona for surgery on his brain and the aneuyrisms. brother is in pain, and is going to the hospital in SF when he leaves Tahoe/hangin' with the parents. i am glad David had the chance to go up to Tahoe, since our family has incredible memories of living there.

Urbino
I spent my full day in Urbino hiding from rain and slipping down insanely steep mossy steps grooved into the medieval streets. You can walk all of Urbino in less then 2 hours, and slip for one of those hours, weather permitting. The Ducal Palace was amazing. the wood doors were the finest wood inlaid doors ive ever seen. the imagery was three dimensional within the inlay, and this was carried out into the beautiful study:



also spent some time in the home of Raphael (Raffaello), his earliest fresco could be seen here. the house also featured his first chair, his first art table, complete with spilled oil, and many many studies of subjects.

went for a nice stroll along the outer rim of the fortress walls, that give huge sweeping views of the countryside below. the rain cleared and some cat followed me for about an hour. i love vacation. at around 5pm, Italians take a passeggiata, which is a stroll around and through the main center piazza. Urbino's passeggiata featured alot of men standing around, hats propped, overcoats on, watching and catching up on the day. i tried to stealth shoot some pictures since these are the types of images i like to paint, and i need source material for the upcoming show Skip and i are partaking in.

Verona
yesterday i woke up in Urbino early, took one last walk around the city at 6am, and then packed up my duffle and headed to the bus, to catch 2 trains for Verona. easy travelling compared to the other day, but arriving to Verona was a bit dreary. bad rain and some awesome lightning greeted me and i grabbed a cab to my hotel, grossly named Hotel Romeo e Giulietta. my room is adorable and wee. the rain turned to mist and I took a stroll around the city. so glad for my black wool hooded parka and my knit scarf. ran around looking for good food and an internet cafe. while Urbino featured a couple cheap ones, this was impossible to findhere in Verona. for food, pulled into a trattoria to have dinner...

...and had the best conversation with an American couple eating next to me. we broke out in talk after trying to hide from the smoke of cigarettes; Italians love a cig with their meal. So anyways, this couple (Megan and Eric) were from Thousand Oaks and were in Rome when i was there. turns out they got married there, in a beautifully small quiet ceremony. they chose Rome for its beauty and warmth. they also chose it strategically, since they both have huge families but wanted a small wedding. what better way to weed out the second cousins and unknown fourth aunts then to get married in Rome. they had to arrive a week before to establish some time in Italy and go to the Italian and US consulates. Italians love weddings and the couple were chased down the streets with congratulations and flowers from strangers. we also discussed politics, soccer, italian tv, Verona and what i need to stay away from when i go to Venice ("dont go to glass factories cuz they rip you off, and stay off of San Marco, or atleast the square from 10am to about 8pm, because you will only hear english spoken"). i havent really been around too much English on this trip, but i chose some off the beaten path destinations until now. anywho, they have gone to Rome, Siena, Florence, Venice and now Verona, and wouldnt stop talking about how Verona has been better then Venice. oh dear.

so today, im waiting for the rain to clear a bit more until i trek outside of the little area i am staying in. i already love the people here....god what a gorgeous city. lots of bicycles. lots of flowers. lots of umbrellas. Skip was actually trying to come out here during this leg. It's bittersweet to be in a beautiful romantic city and not to share it.

and now, some Googled verona pics:
one. (i am staying to the left, and onto a side street, of the colliseum)
two.
three.
four.
five.
six.

GO RED SOX!
itsolivia
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greetings. what. a. day. im still laughing at the ridiculousness of it, so i will include visuals. they are playing Leadbelly here in the cafe. this reminds me of Skip so much...i love it.

first, let me direct you to this map:



I left Perugia at 9 am. at 4:30 pm i arrived in Urbino (just a little north of Urbania, west of Pesaro). my original itinerary had me taking a bus straight from Perugia to Urbino. they are few and far between, because Italian bus systems like to keep to their regions (Perugia is in the Umbria, Urbino is in the Marche). a bus from Perugia to Urbino would take 1.5 hours. due to strikes, i had to take the route that most people told me i'd have to take, which was via train. imagine an Amazing Race segmant, "you must take atleast four connections to reach Urbino, a tiny renaissance castle town 1 hour away from your starting point, Perugia". so i did that and it goes a little something like this (and please reference the map for the hilarity of this route):
1) public bus from medieval center of Perugia to Perugia train station. that part is easy
2) train 1: Perugia to Foligno (arrive 11:05 am, if on time)
3) train 2: Foligno to Falconara Marittima (leaves Foligno 11:12. if train 1 is late i miss train 2)
4) train 3: Falconara Marittima to Pesaro
5) public bus from Pesaro to Urbino, with many many stops along the way. a version of Greyhound, if you will. (arrives at 4pm outside the fortressed walls of steep ass hilly Urbino).

my connections were all late. i had a near hearttattack when train 1 was late to meet train 2. but if ive learned anything, its that everything in Italy is late or closed. and all the views were gorgeous. and if i wanted to, i couldve taken a ferry to Syria or Croatia at Falconara, but youre lucky i didn't.

so i reach Urbino. tired. hungry. i did feel a bit like i was in Ladyhawke, walking up the steep cobbled road. no cars, really. just a beautiful steep road, starting from a side fortress gate. i got lost. and then found my way to my hotel.

and i thought Perugia was amazing.

Urbino is really "magical", and i dont say that to be funny. its just insane. its the renaissance in microcosm. cannot wait to take pictures.
i googled Urbino:
so here you go.

now if only pizzerias or food anything was open. cuz its not. and why? because its Monday, duh!

ok, more tomorrow
itsolivia
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+ the cold weather added to the medieval flair of the city. there is nothing more i like then seeing my breath come out into the freezing air, even when the sun shines.
+ old people here fought harder for the free chocolate then the kids, and that says a ton. i mean, elbows are weapons. and so are italian leather stiletto boots on matronly women. saw a giant perugina baci the size of a small car. drink some chocolate liquor flavored with mint.
+ i bought a couple of chocolate SALAMIS. yes, fake chocolate salami sausages, complete with a dusting of fine sugar to complete the realistic skin and sugar string.
+ i had a looooong dinner last night with a group of Italians, one of whom i met in Rome. an interesting exercise, partly exhilirating and partly holy shit scary. not a single one of them, other then Paulo, spoke English at all. not their fault; more mine for not readying my language skills more before coming over here. and there i was seated between 10 hot women and a couple of guys and kinda like a deer in headlights. but after an hour, i loosened up and they asked me the usual ("aaaaah, San Francisco!! eees beautiful!? si?" and "Bush or Kerreeee?"). i still can't roll my R's but my pronunciation is better after last night. dinners in Italy are hours and hours of eating and drinking. its their equivalent to the U.S. watching TV (yet the women are amazingly skinny here) and they eat all night. so i finally got my main secondi course at 11pm. and i was already stuffed with cheese, prosciutto, wine, awful beer, and these wonderful olives stuffed with lamb and cheese and then FRIED. heaven. i also showed them my Italian Conversation lifesaver of a book and how Skip had scribbled out the offensive lines such as "Do you have a condom" or "Would you like to go home with me". i love him. and they all thought he was handsome (or, "andsoom.") duh!
+ things i miss in the US: super carnitas burritos from El Castillito Taqueria. spicy tuna rolls from Sushi Zone. cheeseburgers. tacos. salsa. thai panang. spicy black bean sauce. big cobb salads. friends. boyfriend. family. not in that order. can you tell i am hungry?
+ things i don't miss about the U.S.: huge cars. the SUVs of Italy are the tiny two seater smart cars. i love the small cars here.

i leave tomorrow morning for a town with a population of a little over 4000. so you may not hear from me until Verona, after the 20th.

also: i think May or June an Oakland move will commence for Skip and I. this has me bouncing.

ciao!
itsolivia
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hey there:

OK, first off:
WEBCAM of PERUGIA!

opening day of eurochocolate. a rain may be ruining my photo oppurtunities, but its not ruining my appetite. so far, i have tried chocolate raviolis, chocolate noodles, a piece of a giant chocolate troll, many many hot chocolates (the type i mentioned before...liquified chocolate. they literally stick chocolate in the cup and stick it in the espresso machine and steam it), and various types of free bars, bonbons, truffles, etc. so, in case those of you who want gifts from me: its only going to be in chocolate form.

other news:
+ pretty lame but the bus from Perugia to Urbino is no longer is in service due to (no surprise) strikes. this means my 1.5 hour ride is turning into a 4 part train/bus ride lasting about 4 hours. i would cancel this part of my leg if i didnt want to see Urbino and the Ducale Palace bad enough. although, i hit this sort of snafu in Thailand in 2001 when i had to go one hour distance and i stupidly took the longer 4 hour bus ride the locals and monks take. i ended up with a nice scar on my leg, sweat everywhere, and a lunch of fried peppered crickets. yum! atleast ill have chocolate this time. and who the hell am i kidding??!! im in Italy. on vacation. anything i do, it's going to be atleast interesting and fascinating in some way. and more people can laugh at my hilarious Italian.

+ speaking of my Italian...Dan, you were so right. im using "Questo" or "Quello" and just pointing when i reach a blank and they are fine with it. why do i think its rude though? god i hate pointing. Skip got to hear a brief Italian chat when a group of high schoolers walked by me while i was on the phone and shouted Ciao's and Come Va's to me and i responded back. everyone is so damn nice. and if one more person starts speaking to me in French, ill move to France. its because im pale that they must think im french, right?

+ i am fascinated by Italian reality TV. as if i am not addicted to it in the US. The italians are all hooked on Isola dei Famosi, a Survivor-like reality show that dumps famous stars and singers on an island in the Dominican Republic. they have a live feed for the elimintation ceremony. even more importantly (for the guys watching), a couple of the women are half nude. and not just like running around in bikinis. theyll go topless and throw a sheer shawl over themselves and then go frolic in the water. also, one of them struts around like this with her thong. priceless. Italian Big Brother shows most of the sex in night vision.

+ Italian dubbed TV i have seen include a HILARIOUSLY dubbed O.C., That 70's Show, Friends, Seinfeld, the Japanese original version of the Ring, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (awesome since it features Venice), and a couple Robert DeNiro movies. also, that Chuck Norris tv show is a HUGE hit here. i also watched the last debate dubbed before i eventually saw it on BBC World.
itsolivia
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greetings from medieval cold Perugia...

last night, there was insane thunder and lightning. i am staying in a hotel that is housed in a 13th century building. it felt very Scooby Doo, and i made a couple calls to Skip with little "eeeeep....scary...."'s.

Perugia is now decorated to the hilt with a chocolate covered stage for the bands to play on. the main street is full of vendor booths. everything smells like chocolate. the Germans are out in droves. the bands may be wearing clothes of chocolate. i am serious.

since last i updated, i have been asked to have lunch by two very different Italians...one very creepy and one very sweet who serves me my morning cappuch' and cornetto down the cobbled alley. flattered. but non.

i treated myself to a very fancy long dinner tonight. the waiter/owner looked just like Anthony Quinn. i asked for a glass of the house wine and he gave me the bottle. always ask for house wine in Italy---it is always a very very good wine and cheap, too. house wine here means "this is the wine the owners of the house would drink". so i got a bottle to myself for 6 euros and had maybe half of it. dinner was amazing....Perugia is the largest city in Umbria; Umbria is the leading truffle region of Italy. i had a great gnocchi dish with white truffle sauce and a insalata misto with a truffle drizzle.

lots of rain. lots of nice italians. no sightseeing. ive done ALOT of caffe sitting and reading, which is what my vacation is all about. i would update more but....

in other less then good, non Italy news: my mother wrote me to update me on the health of my nephew Christopher, since his motorcycle accident. the "High Risk" part is freaking me out and im a bit sad as i just got this email bout 15 minutes ago. from mom:

Chris had two aneurysms at the base of his skull. The one on the left is small and can be "coiled". The one on the right is large and he will have to have surgery. They will have to put a shunt in that weakened vein which will remain there for the rest of his life. Problem is that there are only two places in the west that will do this surgery because of the location of the aneurysms, and it is fairlyhigh risk. About 50 scan pics were downloaded to disk Tuesday and the disk was FedEx'd to San Francisco (University of California Medical) and to Phoenix, Arizona. The neurosurgeon in Reno felt fairly sure that Chris would be flown to SF. We are waiting for Doctor's to respond and will know more hopefully soon. Naturally, everyone is hoping Chris will go to SF.
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