"Venus Favors the Bold"
Corrie, Kelsey, and I have decided to get out of Macerata for an "artists' retreat." I read about these artists' retreats that they have all over Italy--paying big money to spend a week in the Tuscan countryside, take a trip to Florence and San Gimigniano, and then spend 3 or 4 days writing, painting, dancing. Vacationing. These trips (before you add in the cost of the flight) cost upwards of 3000 dollars.
Since we don't have that kind of money and since we have seen Florence (not that it isn't worth seeing again, mind you), Kelsey, Corrie, and I decided we would have our own little artists' retreat. We are going to spend two days in Sulmona, a "town nestled in the mountains" in Abruzzo, the region just below ours (we are Le Marche).
We liked the idea of Sulmona after we read that it's Ovid's
hometown (therefore, the "artist" part of the retreat would be blessed by one of the patron saints of poetry), and museum nearby. Sulmona's sweetness surpasses Ovid, for they are the makers of "confetti"
--almond candies that are best known as part of Italian weddings.
We're leaving Monday morning. Hopefully we'll come back rested, sweetened, and very creative.
Don't worry, we'll fit Florence in next time.
We postponed the artists' retreat, due to scheduling, and are planning to leave instead this Friday.
"Life is a combination of magic and pasta."
The girl two seats down from me in the computer lab turns on various computers and starts playing music on them. Yesterday she turned on the computer next to me, started playing Spanish love songs, and moved to another computer. Today she is hooked on bad rap. I can't tell if it's American or not, although I do recognize certain words
that, if others could recognize these words, might not go over well in this, the University's public Mac lab.
Or maybe they would. Italy is a strange place.
Friendly computer ragazzo just asked if someone had possibly printed a "guida di Mac"--a good 18 pages--on the University's laser printer. He looked straight at me. I shook my head "no" and was tempted to point at bad-rap girl, but he dropped the issue before I had a chance.
We are "straniere" and proud of it.
Jackie and I ventured to Cityper
(Macerata's version of a mall, complete with giant grocery) this afternoon. On the bus ride back, I tried to validate my ticket and inserted it upside down. The machine started beeping and flashing, confirming what our fellow passengers had already observed: this gal's not from here.
Unfortunately, it takes much less than an angry validating machine to signal my foreigness here. It's not that I'm trying to stick out - I just do. Comparing myself with Italians, answers to the question "Which of these things is not like the other?" would include a combination of (but not limited to): shoes,
hair, expression, accent, sense of time, opinion on early 80s music, policy on showering, and height.
Height...during this visit to Italia, I'm surprised to find pants that actually fit me. They're actually long enough! I may not know how to validate my ticket, but the short guy on the bus had to have his mom hem his jeans. Although, I suppose genetics doesn't have much to do with cultural assimilation.
We have decided to start something new (yes, we know, the whole BLOG is new for us): a quote of the day. What can we say? We are quote people.
"We must agree on what matters: kissing in public places, bacon sandwiches, disagreement, cutting edge fashion, literature, generosity, water, a more equal distribution of the world's resources, movies, music, freedom of thought, beauty, love."
Casa Guidi Windows
Walking into the city center today, I spotted two arched windows with grey-blue open shutters on an old building that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. They were high windows, small enough, standing out above the other windows because of their arch. They looked like they wanted to sing.
That--arched windows ready to sing--is one of the little things.
Tattoos for Sale
Yesterday Corrie and I went to the beach at Porto Recanati,
which is about a 40 minute train ride from Macerata.
When I woke up yesterday morning, Corrie was in the kitchen and the window was open, and she pointed outside and said "Look. It's a cloudless
day." So we caught a train to the coast.
Porto Recanati is a cute Italian coast town with a boardwalk, sea-foam colored buildings, and pebble beaches dotted with striped umbrellas and bikini-clad Italians. We took our green backpacks all the way to the edge of the water (since we would have had to pay to sit under the umbrellas), and cleared soft spots on the rocks to sit down. Corrie lay down, immediately sat back up, and said something to the effect of "just our luck."
the "cloudless sky" had turned black and sunless.
After deciding to ignore the imminent signs of rain, we tried to sun bathe (without sun) for about 10 minutes. There were still immigrants milling around, trying to sell us tattoos and beach towels and other sunny day novelties (Corrie was able to ignore them by playing dead), so we didn't feel so bad about sun bathing (without sun) until we started to FEEL the drops of rain, and noticed that even the people who had paid for umbrellas were leaving.
The rest of the afternoon we spent wandering around Porto Recanati (luckily the rain wasn't heavy, just sprinkling lightly), admiring the bright homes and colorful side streets, and writing in our journals. We were approached 4 times by a tall African immigrant in a long black robe asking for money for food (the fourth time Corrie was like "ancora NO!"--we STILL don't have money to give you!), and we played with a couple of month-old puppies who were having serious trouble climbing a small set of stairs (one--Spike was his name--kept falling on his side). I felt oddly like I was in a Chekov story ("The Lady with the Pet Dog"
maybe?) much of the afternoon. The town was strangely familiar, and I still can't place why. I am not sure what it reminded me of. Another town in Italy? Another country? Someone else's stories?
We went home at 4, arrived in Macerata (where it was raining harder), and got pizza on the walk back to our apartment. The pizza guy, when he saw our backpacks and swimsuits, said "Did you go to the sea? No. Not today, right?" We just laughed.
"You may have the universe, if I may have Italy." - Giuseppe Verdi
What is Italy?
Roman Holiday, the Arno Bridge, Venice, Tuscan farmhouses, mafia, Sofia Loren, lasagna.
But what else?
To two eager American girls in the small town of Macerata, Italy is a collection of little things. In the midst of Venetian gondolas and Roman Vespas, they opted for long walks in the sun-drenched country side and gelato al limone in small town piazzas. Sounds romantic, huh? Hmm. Vediamo.
Corrie Cook and Jackie Goyette are studying the finer points of La Dolce Vita. Maybe studying isn't quite right. Living? How about embracing. Both are interested in pursuing professional careers, and do plan on it when they finally grow up. But between then and now, there is the summer... and gelato.
"I am not like them, but I can pretend." - Roman graffiti on a side street
Ravioli in the Morning
This morning, early (for me), we walked to Da Ezio, a trattoria inside of the city walls, to learn how to make ravioli. Corrie has been asking about work--she is interested in cooking--and yesterday she went to a variety of spots to see if she couldn't even just watch them prepare in the mornings. Luckily, she got a few responses, and I decided to tag along and ask, in my most polite Italian, if I could watch too. We are going back in an "oretta" to make homemade pasta. When we were leaving, the sweet signora at the trattoria said "Come back in an hour. No problem. Nothing is a problem here!" She doesn't realize that yesterday the television in the apartment under ours exploded, and a week ago we got caught in a hail storm in the mountains of Le Marche. We are catastrophies. But happy ones!