Sunday, May 30, 2010

San Gimignano.... Bliss in a city...

This weekend we went to San Gimignano... So I know I have said this probably 20 other times, but this is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. We spent the day hiking around, seeing the beautiful city, and the amazing views of Tuscany! Plus, we officially tried the most delicious gelato!! It has won the world championship of Gelato for about the past 4 years! Yeah thats right! IT WAS SUCH A FUN DAY!! I LOVED IT!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rome if you want to...


This weekend was spent roamin' the streets of Rome!! It was amazing!!! There seriously are not words to describe that city. Basically you just HAVE to experience it! So we had 2 days to see Rome- most say it's impossible to see everything... I completely agree... but I was up for the challenge. I spent thursday planning exactly everything that I wanted to see and then mapped it all out. I knew I only had 2 days, but I was going to see as much as POSSIBLE!!

So here is what I saw...

1. The Trevi Fountain

2. The Colosseum
9,000 gladiators, 10,000 animals, 1,000's of spectators- battle to the death. IT was amazing-
a few fun facts:
the floor was made with wood and covered in sand to soak up the blood so the others wouldn't slip
the Colosseum could be flooded to recreate water battles
Giraffes, Rino's, tigers, lions, alligators, elephants, and more were brought into the area

3. The Vatican and Sistine Chapel

4. St. Peter's basilica

5. The Pantheon
6. the Spanish Stairs
7. the Roman Forum

I have to go for the moment, So I will complete my Rome trip later- BUT IT WAS SERIOUSLY UNREAL!!!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

And then we went to Montepulciano...

Well last weekend we got to take at little trip on our own. Me and a my friends decided we would go explore Montepulciano- it is a beautiful hill top city in Italy. If you want to see a beautiful view of the Tuscan countryside... this is the place to go. Only I would recommend going on sunny day... not when it is raining the whole time. Another little perk of this lovely city- it was the location of the Italy scenes in the final moments of the one and only movie NEW MOON!! Yes!! Although the book is set in Volterra, the movie was filmed in Montepulciano. Since we were in the very location that edward and bella stood... we felt it was an absolute MUST to recreate the intense final seconds where bella must stop edward from stepping into the sun or else their eternal love will be lost forever....

First watch the real thing... You tube- bella saving edward

Next sit back, relax, and love every second of this blissful recreation...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ode to Octopi....

HARKEN oh ye followers of this here blog....

I ATE OCTOPUS ON WEDNESDAY!!! Yes... il polipo...

please enjoy the following photos of my experience-

Needless to say it was quite the experience...
I was hoping there would be no difference,
that it would taste like other meat
if it was like chicken, It was sure to be a treat.
So I ate a whole little octopus,
I wasn't a wuss-
but I must say officially
non mi piacciono i popili!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Frolicking In Firenze-

Saturday May 8th I lived out my dream of visiting Florence (Firenze) Italy!! Lets just say that if I thought I knew what it was like to be completely awestruck before, after visiting I realized I didn’t have a clue!

We woke up early and hopped on a bus from Siena to Florence. The ride was especially beautiful as we were driving through the Tuscan countryside. When we got to Florence, I could barley pay attention to where I was going because I couldn’t help but look around! With hands on my purse and camera we set off following our group leaders (Professore e Sorella Boynton) into the city center.

We walked through the open market and I longed to stop and buy everything we passed! Purses, Leather books, Jackets, clothes, and Jewelry GALORE! We continued down the street and then rounded the corner and...

WOW!! There towering above my head was the Duomo. It was unreal.... Intricate sculptures and gold detail covering every inch of the huge building! I just stood there looking. We walked past the Duomo and continued to our first destination- The Uffizi- perhaps the most famous art museum in Florence. It features art from Michelangelo, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Leonardo di Vinci. Walking into that Museum was like stepping back in time. All the art was so amazing (I am going to run out of adjectives before I am done with this post because everything was so UNREAL!). We spent 2 hours walking through, looking at each piece but you could spend 10 hours and still need more time to really see everything!

After the Uffizi, next stop- The Accademia: Home of Michelangelo’s David. I walked through the first cou

ple rooms and looked at the art and some unfinished sculptures from the time. Based on the map I had looked at, it appeared that David would be at the end of the Museum. I walked into the next hall and... THERE IT WAS! It literally took my breath away; I was so surprised. And then we just stood there looking for so long because it is so amazing! The detail in the hands, the feet, and the muscles is truly magnificent. You can see the veins in David’s hands the muscles and tendons in his legs. What I kept thinking was how on earth could someone do this? It boggles my mind! We then finished walking through and saw even more sculptures- WOW, the time, talent, and work that it would take!

After such an experience we of course had to take a gelato break. Then it was on to Ponte Vecchio the old covered bridge in Florence. When you walk across the bridge, everything glitters. Why? Because Gold and Silver Jewelry Shops line both sides of the covered bridge. It is a beautiful br

idge and so old!

When we got to the other side of the bridge we decided to go to Piazzale Michelangelo. The Piazzale Michelanglo is a lookout point. We switch backed up a beautiful green hill and when we got to the top, this is what we saw...

BLISS, YES!!! I could have stayed up there for hours! Everywhere I looked it was so gorgeous!

The last hour was spent in the open Market where I purchase an Italia Jacket- A must have for all tourists. I knew I couldn’t leave Italy without one and I am so pleased!!

So Florence in a nutshell...

1. 1. Saw some of the most marvelous works of art in History

2. 2. Successfully evaded the gypsys

3. 3. Saw more nudity in one day than I have seen in my whole life

4. 4. Was completely AWESTRUCK! By the beautiful city...


So everyone, put it on your bucket list- See Florence and Michelangelo’s David before you die- It is an absolute MUST!


Friday, May 7, 2010

Formaggio anyone?

Although I have previously written about Italian food, once more the subject has arisen! I AM SURROUNDED BY THE MOST DELICIOUS FOOD EVER!! The past three days have been filled will food, food, cheese, and more FOOD! Obviously I am in heaven because I feel thateating has always been one of my greatest strengths. So Tuesday I had the amazing opportunity to eat dinner with the Torre Contrada. This is a really big deal! (I am going to do a separate post about the contrade of Siena so everyone will understand how important they are to the Sienese). Our whole group was starving and so we were ready this time- I was like “Bring on the food!” Our primo piatto was pasta, secondo piatto turkey, and for desert- Crostata! Wow it was all delicious!! Then Wednesday I had my first cooking class here at Dante Alighieri.

This was our menu...

Insalata caterina (salad)

Ravioli di ricotta e spinaci al pomodoro (spinach and ricotta cheese ravioli with tomato sauce which we hand made!)

Spezzatino toscano (veal with sauce) and Vedure alla griglia (grilled vegetables)

Panna cotta con frutti di bosco (cooked cream with berries)

And guess what? I learned how to make it all! My specialties were the pana cotta (I shall definitely make this when I get home because it i

s delicious) and I was quite good at helping put the dough through the pasta press- after a few slow attempts, our group became very efficient (Debs, you would be proud!). Yes, we hand made the ravioli- bellissima! After all our hard work we sat down and ate our 3 courses and dessert- bliss!

Yesterday, we once more had a food adventure! (I am sort of starting to feel like Julie from “Julie and Julia” since I’m blogging so much about food!) Our group got the chance to go to Gino Cucino’s cheese and salami shop. Gino is the “re del pecorino” (the king of pecorino cheese). The shop smell so good! We learned all about parmesan cheese and pecorino, Salami, and Balsamic vinegar. Here are some cheesey facts for you (pun intended!)

- When they make the cheese they store it for years at a time! We saw some cheese from 2004. At different ages the cheese has a different taste. The older the cheese, the stronger the taste and the harder the texture. The younger cheese is softer and has a lighter taster. (to my untrained taste buds, this is the one I liked).

- Although it may look like it is wax that covers the big cheese wheel, it’s not; It’s all cheese!! They use a little hammer to hit the cheese- based on the sound they know how hard or soft the cheese is.

- Gino also had a 30 year old balsamic vinegar- the older it gets the sweeter the taste, almost to the point of tasting like molasses or syrup. But if you want to buy vinegar that old be prepared to spend a pretty penny on it- a tiny bottle costs 30 euros!

We had such a fun time tasting the different cheeses at different ages and also the meat! It was so good- I sort of felt like I was in the movie Ratatouille (even though that is France J).

Tonight- Guess what we are doing? COOKING MORE FOOD!!! I can’t even wait!! I shall tell you how it goes later!

Ciao for now!


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A room with a view....

The view from my window...
the streets are all so beautiful!
The Leaning Tower of Pisa in real life! (not fake life)
Me holding up the tower, It started to fall and I caught it... :) (cheesy typical tourist picture, a must have)

More to come!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I cibi Italiani

Dear Family, Friends, and Readers-

The following post is about food, and not just any food- I am talking about I cibi italiani (Italian food)! Today I had my first experience having a full Italian meal. The Dante Alighieri Institute had a welcome festa for our group. When we walked into the room, the table was already covered with food. Beautiful pane (bread), bruschetta, grilled pomodori (tomatoes), three types of salami, and Orange Fanta to drink (which tastes totally different than American orange fanta- it’s better in my opinion)! Was I in heaven? Answer: YES!! I proceeded to gorge myself, trying everything minus the grilled tomatoes. When I finished I was totally full from eating and drinking so much. They cleared our plates and suddenly they place a huge plate of pasta in front of me!! WHAT?? Little did I know that everything I had just consumed was on the antipasti (the appetizers)!! I found out at the point there were 3 courses to go! Although I was stuffed to the brim, I never say no to food, and especially not to authentic Italian food. After our pasta con pesto, we were served turkey and a variety of grilled peppers and stewed eggplant. I nixed the eggplant, but the turkey was great. Finally, DESSERT! We ate Panacotta alla fragola- a crème Brule like substance covered with strawberries. Let me tell you- this meal was the epitome of bliss! I certainly wish I could package some up and send it to all of you! But no worries when I learn the Italian way of cooking, I shall just make you some when I get back.

Tonight we had family home evening with our group. After our lesson and a game, we had an Italian dessert called Ciobar- it is a hot, pudding-like chocolate substance and it is, of course, delicious! We also bought some treats called Delicè that are made by Kinder the company that is similar to hostess here- only better of course! I will be bringing some delicè home for sure!

And so the lessons to be learned from this post-

1. Authentic Italian food= bliss

2. Don’t stuff yourself on the first food you see at an Italian dinner- chances are there are many more delicious courses to come J!

Mi amo tutti!

The Piazza dei Miracoli! BELLISSIMA!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sittin' in Siena

Siena is amazing- enough said!! It is the most medieval city in Italy. It is beautiful with all the high city walls and tall buildings! Everything is made out of stone, the buildings, the walls, and the streets. The piazza del campo is officially my favorite part of the city so far. It is a big open stone area that everyone sits at it is basically a park, but there is no grass. Everyone sits on the ground, and the children play around. I love sitting and people watching! I have learned a few things while sitting in the Piazza...

1. Italians really have no problem displaying affection...

2. Italian children are darling

3. You can smoke a pack a day without ever buying a cigarette (purely breathing second hand smoke)

4. gelato and pizza... best combo ever!

I had my first experience going to church here in Italy! A missionary here is the branch president. He taught combined priesthood and relief society, then we had Sunday school, then testimony meeting- It was a really neat experience. I didn’t understand very much but I hope that changes.

Also! I found out my internship!! I will be working at a restaurant here in Siena, as an assistant to the chef... I just hope by then my Italian will be a little bit better by then!

Today I started my classes- I realized that learning Italian in America is a lot different than learning Italian in English! Io non parlo bene, but I feel that I will for sure get better! I have so many more stories to tell... I will write them tomorrow... the school is closing and so thus my internet is going away....

Ci parliamo!