Wednesday, September 30, 2009

most eventful weekend ever

What a weekend! So much to say… well my Australian roommates (the older ones) and I decided to go to Assisi Saturday. It was definitely made to be because at work on Thursday I told my co-worker Cristi that I wanted to go to Assisi and so we spent an hour looking for trains and stuff. We weren’t finding anything so Cristi decided to call her friend Romina who lives about an hour away from Assisi to see if she knew any way to get there. Romina said that she was going to Perugia on Saturday and that she could take us with her! What a doll she was. Well she and I had a nice conversation about things. She said I would have to come out to her house someday. I was like heck yeah! When we got to Perugia, we decided to go to the photo booth and take a picture like little girls. As we were coming out of the booth this creepy guy came up and started perving on us, especially Christine. He was like, “oh you have my wife's eyes. She died so young.” We were all just like “oh ok. Well we have to catch our train so…” anyway, we got to Assisi safely. So the first thing we did was go to St. Francis’s Basilica. OH. MY. GOSH. It was incredible.
I took a ton of pictures outside, but INSIDE was just… I can’t even formulate an intelligent thought to describe the impact of the interior. As Rick Steves says, “the upper basilica is practically wallpapered with Giotto’s frescoes.” Frescoes I have seen now:

And more!!
Well after we went to the basilica, we did a little shopping. Then we realized that we were running out of time! I then proceeded to drag my mums around Assisi in search of more gorgeous cathedrals. We found them! We saw St. Claire’s cathedral

and San Rufino.

They were both stunning, but still St. Francis's was... well... better. Then we decided to head back to the train station to learn how in the world we were going to get home. No one was very helpful, but that’s ok! We ending up calling Romina again, and she said she would give us a ride again. She is the sweetest person I have ever met! We didn’t even know each other, and she was going to drop everything to give us a ride. Well we got everything arranged and we had another hour. There was one more church I wanted to see. Im really glad I did. It was Santa Maria degli Angeli. It was built in the 1700s so much more recent than the other cathedrals I had seen that day. It was built around the tiny church that St. Francis lived in. It was quite a remarkable sight.

Well finally we got on the train. We got off in Perugia, and guess what? The old guy that was perving on Chris was still there! Hahaha so we ran away as fast as we could. We shortly learned that we should have stayed on the train, and that we had two more hours until there was a train that would eventually get us to Siena (at 11 pm). We called Romina and told her not to worry about giving us a ride and decided to make the most of the time in Perugia. We took the bus to the historic center where there just happened to be a huge antique market. So of course I had to buy some earrings and a purse. We enjoyed the time in Perugia and finally got back to Siena.

Sunday I got up early again to get to church. Again the service was wonderful. Annie and another friend taught the RS lesson and they did a really great job. Sacrament meeting was the primary program. It was a full house and there were four kids in the primary (plus the two children of the BYU professor). After church Annie asked if I wanted to go to the Campo to sit outside. I said I did but I had to use the john first. When I got out, everyone was gone! Except Sarah was still there. So I asked if she wanted to go to Campo to meet up with them, and she did. Well no one was at the Campo and I had seen that Giulio was at his store, so Sarah and I said goodbye and I went in to talk to Giulio. When I walked in he did a double take, then he looked me right in the eyes and said, “Ilaria, come stai?” I bought a sandwich because I had forgotten my lunch. I went upstairs and ate and read for a little waiting for the lunchtime rush to die out. Half an hour later I went back downstairs. Here’s where it gets good. There was a full line but he came up to the counter and said “When are we going to see each other?” I said, “I don’t know. You tell me.” He asked how Wednesday was, then asked for my phone number. I gave it to him, then as I was leaving he yelled after me “I’m going to call you!” and I walked away (singing) very pleased, and ready to go to San Gimignano.

I got to the bus station and found my mums and told them about Giulio. We got onto the bus after a little confusion about which one to take. All the other students from Dante Aleghieri were under the same impressions as us: this was a tour of San Gimignano with the teachers from Dante. Well none of the teachers were there, and we quickly learned that this was a wine tasting tour. We first went to Monteriggioni, a medieval town. We spent 20 minutes there.

Then we went to a wine tasting. It felt like we were there for a year. I did eat some prosciutto and bread, and I smelled the wine (is that toeing the line? I dunno. I didn’t want to drink it, if that redeems me at all.) We had a nice conversation with a couple from Scotland.

Then we loaded back on the bus, and went to San Gimignano. By this time, we were getting a little cranky. The day was fading away and we hadn’t been to San Gimignano yet. Everyone from Dante had the same feelings. We finally got to San Gimignano.
We were given 50 MINUTES to see this city.

I was pretty mad. Chris, Julie and I contemplated taking a taxi back to Siena, but quickly we made the decision to make the most of the 50 minutes. We did go to the world’s best gelato shop.

And of course we did some shopping. I tried to find something of interest, but there just wasn’t time. After that we were herded back onto the bus, en route to another wine tasting. This place was gorgeous! But the thing is by this time it was dark and we all agreed that we should have come here earlier. It was this beautiful garden run by a family. It was a nice time, but again, I just ate the snacks and smelled the wine. I can’t believe I paid for this. Writing about it now, ex post facto, I’m getting angry again. Hahaha… well needless to say, I would have preferred to spend my Sunday in other ways, but quella è vita!
Today I learned about: how to properly taste wine
Today I adtmitted: that i am victim of the killers
Today I gave: my phone number to two different italian guys
Today I ate: the gelato from the celestial kingdom

Friday, September 25, 2009


Seems like a lot has happened since I last wrote. My Australian sisters left and now I have two Australian mamas (Chris and Julie) living in Rita’s house with Annie and me. They are awesome!! I am taking advantage of the fact that they want to go to Assisi and going with them on Saturday. Sunday after church we are going to San Gimignano. So since I have a lot to say, I’ll make a list:
-I went to the market yesterday and bought yellow shoes

-I get to go home for Thanksgiving!
-I am going to Assisi Saturday and San Gimignano Sunday
-I tried Orzo (it’s a drink very much like coffee but made from toasted barley) and liked it!

-I met a really awesome guy named Giulio who works at a gelato shop and gave me baci (anyone who doesn’t know what that is, it’s staying like that). Rita wants me to marry him
-My family is coming in two months!
-I have a phone card so I can call people some time; I just have to figure out when to do it
-I am super happy that everything is settled with the flight and the visit of my family
-Work is awesome. If the architect accepts my proposal, we are going to build a walkway out of composite wood—thanks to me! no one here had even heard of it, but I found a dealer here in Italy! I was quite proud if I may say so.
-The language has been hard the last few days. I need to study my language books.
-Annie and I are going to be the best of friends, just like I predicted

So my Australian aunties are incredible.

Last night we started talking about religion and got into this incredible conversation about God, love, life, repentance, revelation, and everything in between. Chris said that it was a great church meeting. For her, church isn’t a building; it’s a conversation or a feeling. I thought that was a great way to look at it. She reminds me so much of my mom! I am so grateful that Julie shared her story about when she was twelve she thought that church was missing the “oomph.” A few years later she left the Catholic Church she was raised in, and is now a practicing Pentecostal. I can say that I know that feeling, but not about the Church, in regards to my life. There are times that I am missing the “oomph.” Guess what? That is when I am missing the Spirit. The Spirit is the “oomph.”

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

floor plans and fingernail polish

yesterday was my first day at work and i have to say it: i know i am doing the right thing. my new friend alissa and i were talking about how when we are so moved by something it can bring us to tears. now don't laugh. actually i don't care but here's what happened. cristina pulled up a floor plan on the computer and showed me how they notate it when they have made structural changes. when she was showing me i was just overwhelmed with how much i love architecture--my eyes welled up! it was crazy. and i got all tingly and i was just blown away but how much i love creating something beautiful where there was a defect before. its a miracle to me. i asked my boss (his name is sandro senni- love it) if i could go to the interior design show in verona "abitare il tempo" and he said he would work on it. since he is a professional, he can get in for a discount AND go on any day he wants to. so its like a 50 50 right now. i am looking forward to working again today. and i took some of the blueprints that dont have a bunch of lines all over then so i can practice making floor plans. :) teehee
in other news, for this week there are six girls living at nonna's there are 4 seventeen-year-old girls from australia! they are all awesome. last night we stayed up 'til like midnight doing our nails and talking about boys. it was awesome. they are obsessed with america and they love how i say "lollipop." hahaha they are so fun i wish they were here longer than a week. one of them is like the australian version of xan. when she does an american accent, i could swear its her.
my permanent roommate, annie, is also wonderful. we get along great and i need her because she is very mature. i would spend all my time painting my nails with the 17-year-olds but luckily i have annie to keep me in check. we are going to be earlier tonight.... life is good.
today i am going to experience: the italian laundromat for the first time
today i am going to get: gelato from copa cabana
today i wish i had: a toothbrush with me
today: the sun is shining and i love it

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

on my mind

Is on my mind
This Nothing
Is burial
A body is folded
In fresh cloth
Laid to rest.
This Nothing
is ascension
From three days’ death
To Eternal light.
This Nothing
Is burial
Of scrap of bread
Incorporated into me.
This Nothing
Is ascension
Of hand to mouth
Lip to cup
Of healing water
This Nothing
Is burial
Of estrangement
Breaking myself
Against the laws.
This Nothing
Is ascension
Of the prayer
Of the hope
Of exaltation.
This Nothing
Is Everything
But Nothing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

i reach for the sun

I reach for the sun.
Sometimes I feel alone
In my solitary search,
Like no one wants to know
The ecstasy of pure light
Pure love
Pure purity.
The outstretched hands all fall
As they are burned by the sun
Or fatigued by endurance
Or distracted by something closer.
And there are my five tiny fingers
My expectant lonely palm
Reaching for the sun
Wanting to give up.
My hand stands like one lonely tree.
And when my hand is alone
Then the wind begins.
So easily shaken
The treehand that stands alone.
And just as the leaves begin to wilt,
There is another hand
Reaching down from the sun.
It pulls up the others’
And mine
And finally my limp treehand
I reach for the sun
And the sun reaches back for me.

the reason i live, i work, i breathe

My first fast Sunday here was nice. I kind of felt like an idiot in SS because they asked me to read something and I had no clue how to say some of the words, and the other girl from BYU speaks flawlessly. Oh well. Everything was really good. I even bore my testimony. Lately I’ve been realizing how important the Church really is to me. Everyone here knows that I am a member. I mean it really is the reason that I do any and everything. In my testimony I said “La chiesa è la ragione che io vivo, io lavoro, io respiro.” “The church is the reason I live, I work, I breathe.” It’s nearly impossible to explain to people here! I miss America in that respect, that the LDS Church is more understood, because drinking and smoking are not such a huge part of our culture.

After church, I met up with Fabiano to go to the museum by the Duomo. I thought it was awesome. He literally fell asleep on the couch. The design was super pretty too. The floor was made of huge slate or shale tiles. I found something interesting in the museum (which used to be a hospital). This skull with the message that pretty much say the couplet penned by Lorenzo Snow, “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.”

See! Other people do believe the same things as us! We aren’t total freaks! Well since Fabi fell asleep I kept looking around. When I went back to his couch he was gone. So I decided to go to the piazza before I had the skype date with the fam (which was very fun!).

After I spent like 10 hours on the computer, I went to catch the bus and there was this guy from Idaho that I had met on Saturday. I went over to say hi, and ended up meeting a ton of girls from the USA. We talked for a while and we all decided that they should come over for my b-day tomorrow. I was excited because I am the only American here so far. So we agreed to meet at 6 on Monday. Well Monday I was in my one on one lesson with Manuela when all of the sudden she says “it’s 6 o’clock!” “Managia!!” and I ran to the bus. I was about 10 minutes late. ONE of the girls I had met the day before was there. She had some other girls with her, who were equally friendly so I asked if they wanted to come to my house. The one girl that was there said “uh…I dunno cuz I have to go to my family’s house…” I had asked Rita if I could have 5 girls come over and it took some convincing but she said yes. I was so mad! It was my birthday, and they didn’t even come to the bus stop to tell me they couldn’t make it.

When I got home, Rita was like, “Why are you alone?” and I proceeded to yell (in Italian, which I think gives it a little extra something) that young American girls have no manners and that they think it is acceptable to not show up to appointments that they make and how it is my birthday and we made these plans etc… Then Rita showed me that she bought plate, napkins, spoons, and cups, she cleaned the patio and the inside of the house. That was the worst—that Rita had done all this work for my birthday and then no one showed up. She make this huge Insalata di pane too.

I promise, there is a happy ending. So she brings me inside, gives me dinner and gelato and tells me to ask some other people if they want to come the next day. I said that sounds like a good plan. So at school I asked my friends if they want to come to my party and they all say yes! We have a lecture at 5, then right after we are going to my house to eat the insalata di pane and the rest of the gelato and actually celebrate my 21st b-day. Malin was incensed when I told her that the other girls didn’t show up. ☺ I love Europeans.

In other news, I met my architect today! He is super nice, about late 40s. He said that most of the work they do is restoration. I said I am interested in that definitely. I start work on Monday! I am so happy.

if you knew their story

Mary Lou Kownacki said, “There isn't anyone you couldn't love if you knew their story.” I’ve found that more and more true since I first heard this quote about three years ago. Every time I give someone a chance and get to know them I end up liking them, or at least appreciating them as a human being and “loving” them. I think that this theory can apply to much more than just people. When “Crush” by david archuletta comes on the radio, the first thing you say is, “I LOVE this song!” then you crank it up and sing every word. But really, do you love that song? When you think about it that song really stinks. “Do you ever think, when you’re all alone, what we could be, where this thing could go?”??? but the thing is, you KNOW the song. You can teach yourself to like certain foods, and eventually you grow to crave them. What I’m saying is, you spend time with someone or something, you know it, you love it.

That’s what happens you learn. I admit it—I even like math when I spend enough time learning the intricacies of it. It’s like I say: “it’s in the details.” You can have a chair that’s pretty, or you can have the Barcelona chair that was designed at the Bauhaus in Germany in the mid-century modern style by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1929 before Hitler closed all artistic institutions in Germany and is still a classic piece of design today. You appreciate it more now don’t you?

Well what it all boils down to is this: I hope that everyone realizes that being open minded brings more love and intelligence to life, and more love and intelligence makes you a more interesting person! Learning= increase in knowledge= increase in light= increase in spirit. Who doesn’t want that? Taking the risk to learn about something gives you one more thing to love and gives you that much more of the Spirit. I love it.

today i met: the architect that i am going to be working with for the next 10 weeks!
today i rocked at: verbi pronominali
today i appreciate: my angel mother
today i finally learned: that making a good slide show with iphoto is SO easy

Friday, September 4, 2009

ce la faccio

Bad news first—I had a lot of frustrations today that I have to deal with tomorrow. I have to get a permit of residence. Sounds simple right? FALSE. I have to copy my entire passport, health insurance card, and the paper that confirms my visa, fill out some more papers, pay a tax at a tabbacheria, and then pay for the whole bleeping thing. That’s going to be a total of over 40 euros. And the secretary at the school asked me for my first 3 weeks rent (510 euros) which means I pay 170 euros a week to live half an hour away from the school and come back out to the country while all the city students hang out… (if you know me at all you know that I have a hug fear of missing out on all the fun.) I had to pay 30 euros for the bus pass to facilitate this. AND I was supposed to pay 10 euros to use the wireless at the school and 20 euros for the textbook, but I haven’t paid for the Internet yet because it sucks. And the list goes on and on. I REALLY wish that these people were upfront about all the little expenses.
Total for things that I didn’t know I had to pay for: 100 euros. That’s a lot of money that I don’t have. Ok I’m done complaining now ☺

Scholastically things are going marvelously. Class today was incredibile—my teacher is indescribably wonderful. There was a concept that I just was NOT getting because I had never uselearned it before and because there isn’t an equivalent in English. I was literally to the point of tears, and when there are only three people in the class you can’t pretend like you understand. I asked her to explain it again and she did. All of the sudden it made sense! The Spirit works in amazing ways, I’m telling you. Then we had to write sentences using this particular verb tense, and she said mine were perfect. It was a miracle.

The food here is SO good. Rita has to be the best cook in Tuscany. EVERYTHING has olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Rita cooks vegetables from her own garden. Yesterday, she served halved Roma tomatoes with oil and balsamic vinegar. OMG they were so delicious. A few days ago she made this insalta di pane. It was crumbled up bread with tomatoes, artichokes, mushrooms, cheese, some other vegetables, and of course oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and rosemary. She cooks everything from scratch and we eat less pasta than I thought I would. The gelato is unbelievable (ok for you people who are like “what about your money problems??” gelato is extremely affordable and when I have spare coins, I buy some.) The cinnamon flavor is the best. The only thing I don’t like is the way they do breakfast. They eat prepackaged muffins or like little Debbie type things. I usually end up eating fruit and bread. It is insane how much prepackaged food they eat here! Which brings me to my next point: recycling. I think the Italians think it’s a joke. No one recycles here! And with all that prepackaged crap and everyone drinking bottled water, I do not approve.

I spent today with all my awesome friends after school. My favorite thing about Europeans: they don’t mind waiting for other people. Example: I was looking for some black shoes today while we were walking to lunch. All my friends told me to go in and take my time. They all stood in a circle outside and talked. I don’t think I’ve ever had more patient friends. And anytime anyone stops to look at anything, everyone else waits for that one person, no eye rolling, no foot stomping, no checking of the watch. It’s wonderful!

So we went to the market today and my new bestie, Fabiano from Geneva Switzerland, bought me a cake for my birthday! He’s an interesting person. He has the swarthiest French accent and he used to work as a jewelry salesman. He seems like a fake character from a movie: a Frenchman who sells jewelry, eats organic food because “you can really feel zee diff’rinse,” buys women gifts for their birthdays, and come on—his name is Fabiano. He’s really awesome though, there’s something about him that I like. We talked a little about being Mormon and he told me about how he wants to set his own limits. This was a great quote, “I ‘ave no rools. Eez a paradocks, but I layke to set my own limitz.” Best part is, he said it while smoking a nice fresh cancer stick.

Ok well I suppose that is enough. Things are going really well, I can’t wait for church on Sunday, my friends are awesome, the weather is heavenly. I think I’ll finish watching Jurassic Park III and eat some Italian chex mix type stuff. They call it Snack Friends: Huge Party! Time for a huge party in my mouth. ☺

Today I bought: two pairs of Italian shoes for less than I was expecting to pay for one
Today I was reaffirmed in: my decision to study architecture
Today I wish I had: my carcerato with me
Today I was accused of: using Rita’s towel to clean off my make up