Time to play catch-up… I hope you’re wearing something comfortable, and have plenty of free time, ’cause this post is looooong.
So November 4-8 I was away on a field trip for a few days, followed by some travels with my roommates. For school we went on our North field trip to Milan Wednesday the 4th and Thursday the 5th, then Thursday night we went to Venice, and Saturday afternoon, the 7th, when our field trip technically ended, Heather, Becca, Alexa and I all went to visit one of Heather’s family friends in Vicenza!
Wednesday morning we got up around 5:30am so we could all get ready in time to be at Termini station at 7:15 to catch our 7:30am train. The ride was pretty uneventful, took about 4 hours to get there. Once we got to Milan we took the metro to get to our hotel where we could drop our stuff before the exploring began. After lunch at McDonald’s (how exotic) our big group split into two, and we set off to explore the streets of Milan, and more specifically, the retail shop windows (see Thanksgiving post, our job in Milan was to get inspiration for our own shop window project). Milan is known as the fashion capital of the world, so I was walking past stores I’ve never even seen in real life before–Fendi, Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Emporio Armani, Versace–stores I don’t even feel comfortable stepping foot into (Which you can’t, by the way, should the doorman deem you unworthy)!
We also spent some time in lighting showrooms and design showrooms, such as B&B Italia, Artemide, and Flos (the showroom I’ve modeled my lighting project for) and a few others. That took up most of our afternoon, so after doing that we were on our own for a few hours for dinner/resting/whatever else, and later that evening we met back up at Milan’s Scala Opera House, where we saw a ballet performance of Giselle. The ballet was a first for me, and it was really pretty neat. We were in the cheap seats (very top row) along the sides, so I wasn’t actually able to see anything unless I stood the whole time (I may have dozed off once or twice) and I didn’t really know what was going on, but it was still fun to see!
After the Ballet on our way home, we stumbled upon Milan’s Duomo… quite the site! Construction was started in the Baroque period of the 1600s, and finished in the 1940s…
On Thursday the 5th, we split into our two groups again and went to Milan’s Triennale museum, where we got to see a lot of Italian design, everything from the Fiat to furniture to household items. Then we went to see Achille Castiglioni’s studio–a famous innovative Italian designer whose workspace is now a museum. It was neat because everything in his studio is as he left it after he died. His widow and daughter now give tours of his workshop and tell about his life and ideas and everything–really neat to see. The Castiglioni museum was by far my favorite part of the Milan portion of the trip.
Thursday afternoon we grabbed our bags and hopped a train and a ferry to Venice! I had been to Venice once before five years ago during a high school music trip, but had only spent one afternoon there. I remember it being hot and muggy and miserable, and not having enough time to really do much of anything important, so I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about going back. This go-round was a completely different experience, and I really enjoyed it! The weather was cool and rainy, and there were platform catwalks all throughout the city squares for people to walk on, since Venice is having a major flooding/sinking problem (glad I’ve gotten to enjoy it before it’s all under water!) We didn’t get to Venice until later in the evening, so we basically crashed, then in the morning we split into our two groups once again for a little walking tour around Venice. We walked down to St. Mark’s Cathedral, stopped at another Italian design shop (it had been closed and deserted, so we didn’t learn a whole lot there). Then we walked to the Biennale, Venice’s big museum that is housed in the city’s old Arsenale. It’s a huge beautiful space formerly used for shipmaking, so it’s really a neat experience.
After the Biennale, we jumped on a water taxi for Murano. You may have heard of it–it’s where pretty much all of the beautiful Venetian glass is made and has been made for centuries. In Murano, we were lucky enough to be able to go to the glass-blowing school for a demonstration and see the Master do his work. This guy was so good, one of my classmates drew a lamp shade on the ground with sidewalk chalk, and the Master took one look at it, and made a real-life lamp out of it! Then, he took scraps of glass, melted them together, and in under a minute fashioned a horse figurine out of it. One of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time. That oven they use gets so hot that about two minutes after the guy made the horse figurine, he took a scrap of newspaper to it and the paper caught on fire! I got lots of pictures and video. It was definitely the highlight of the trip!
After we finished ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the Master’s work, we were free to roam and shop around Murano for about an hour. We then caught the water taxi back to the main area in Venice, cleaned up, and had a meal all together with our classmates and professors. Dinner wasn’t my favorite thing in the entire world…. Of course being on the water, the meal consisted entirely of seafood. Like real seafood. Like seafood that still had its eyes. And scales. And legs. And heads. Gross! But of course the meal was served with some great wine, and we all had a great time, despite being grossed out!
After dinner we headed back to our hotel for the evening. Saturday morning we regrouped and went back to the Biennale to an exhibit called “Making Worlds”–every nation has its own building for showcasing exhibits done by people from that nation, and it was very interesting to see. We spent a couple hours poking around the different buildings, saw a lot of interesting/weird things, but overall it was pretty cool. Here are a couple of my favorite things I saw…
After finishing up at the Biennale, my roommates and I had to head back to our hotel to grab our bags, then catch the ferry to the train station where we departed around 3:30pm for a city called Vicenza! I had never really heard of it, but Heather had a friend of a second cousin who lives there and invited us up, so we knew we just couldn’t turn it down! Sita is an American woman living in Vicenza, working for the military base there as an elementary school teacher. She is probably one of the nicest, most generous people I’ve ever encountered! She drove us around all Saturday evening and Sunday, showing us things we had never even heard of, little treasures nestled into small Italian towns. Also, working for the military, just about everything she has is American–the military literally picked her up and moved her to Italy–they packed up all her furniture, her car, everything and moved her over here! Stepping into her condo was like walking into my own home–she had a big leather sofa, a big kitchen and dining area, closets, a dishwasher, a toaster even! It was wonderful! And she had American tv! And American food! (They can buy it on base–she had triscuits and post cereal and bacon and cheetos and cinnamon raisin English muffins–it was glorious!) Vicenza was a very cute place. Sita also took us to some of her favorite nearby places–Marostica and Bassano del Grappa. I also ate the best pasta I’ve ever had, it was called fagottini and was a ham and pear dish–it was SO good. Hoping to find the recipe when I get back home (which is in only 16 days now, by the way).
Here are some highlights from our stay with Sita in Vicenza (since I know this post is getting rather book-ish… sometimes I just have a lot to say, ok?! 🙂 )
After all that exploring, we headed back for Rome around 6pm on Sunday, the 8th of November. It was about a six hour train ride… or so we thought. We had heard there was going to be a train strike (infamous and not uncommon here in Italy) so we got to the train station in Vicenza a little early to be safe… Luckily our train was still running, so we said our goodbyes to Sita and headed for our designated platform. We were taking a train from Vicenza to Padova, and Padova to Rome. Our first train was delayed about 15 minutes and moved to a different platform, but no big deal… We still caught it and had given ourselves a little extra time between trains in Padova, so we were doing just fine. Once we got to Padova we jumped on our train to Rome at 7:35pm and settled in for the long haul (about 4.5 more hours). All was going well until a couple hours into the trip. All of a sudden our train came to a screeching halt, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t think a whole lot of it until we saw police and paramedics with spotlights board our train… then a man sitting across from us overheard one of the men working on the train say something about what was going on, so he translated for us… turns out we had hit a person. Yes, you read correctly, a PERSON. I swear folks, you can’t make this stuff up–I think I could write a horror story with some of the experiences I’ve had over here this semester! So we sat there for another hour and a half before we finally got going again, and wouldn’t you know it, not another hour later our train came to its second screeching halt! Of course this freaked us a little bit, who’d we hit this time? A little while after sitting there a man came through to tell us the train was having some “technical difficulties” (I’ll say!) but they were getting it fixed promptly. After a little more sitting and waiting, we finally made it back to Rome, only about two and a half hours later than was originally planned (finally got home about 3am). But luckily we made it in one piece, and had an overall great time.
So that’s the North field trip for you! I promise (yes PROMISE this time) to update REAL soon! Last weekend a group of us girls went to Barcelona and had a wonderful time, so I have to fill you in all that. My time here is winding down and it’s a little bittersweet… I still have so much to see and do here! (Unfortunately some of that might get squandered by remaining projects for school…) But I’m so very excited to see my family and my friends and be home for Christmas… It’s time to get back I think. Just 16 days! 🙂
Tomorrow I’m going to the Vatican museums, and maybe a few other touristy places in Rome. You know I’ll take lots and lots of pictures to share!
Thanks for reading all this (it’s longer than the 5 page term paper I wrote last week, ha!)… Hope you enjoyed it! SEE YOU SOON!!!