Archive for the ‘Tarin in Italy’ Category


Tarin: The final days

July 1, 2010

I wanted to write another post wrapping up my trip.  I plan on keeping the blog up so I can look back on my trip, almost as a journal as well…

I miss Rome a lot. It was a truly amazing experience that I will never forget. I met some great people, and even though I didn’t speak Italian often or step too far outside of my comfort zone, I learned a lot.

The course itself was great. Having a combination of lecture and site visits made learning interesting, and Professor Stoughton was really terrific—hugs and tears definitely made an appearance at our farewell dinner.

During the latter half of the trip, I spent a lot of free time organizing my notes and planning my paper. We had 15 pages due the last day of class. The group of people I tended to spend time with (about half the class) included my roommates, the only apartment of boys, and another apartment of girls. We all got along really well and had similar interests, especially in terms of what we wanted on the trip. We spent several evenings at the Piazza Navona and Campo di Fiori. Nightlife in Italy is something that I miss a lot. People are outside, enjoying the weather and being social—and you can walk from one hot spot to the next. On one of our last nights, we went to all the places we enjoyed going to over the previous 3 weeks, and visited the Trevi Fountain in the evening (we had seen it that morning in class). I think the most frustrating part about seeing all these amazing places is that everyone is doing it! Tourists everywhere, especially at the Trevi. We didn’t stay long after taking a few pictures and enjoying the scene.

The highlight of my trip was spending a weekend in Sorrento and Capri. I was really impressed with how smoothly everything went, considering all the planning had to be done while we were in Italy, with none of us really knowing what we were doing. Professor Stoughton proved very helpful for us, even giving us restaurant suggestions. In general, his suggestions were always wonderful, and I never doubted him for a minute. The ACCENT staff were ok. They pointed us to some books and handouts we could look through. Sarah and I figured out most of the logistics.

Saturday morning (6:27 AM to be exact), we took a train from Rome to Naples (I think it was around 2 hours) and then from there, took the circumvesuviana (basically a subway-like train) to Sorrento (another hour or two). We stayed at Hotel Il Faro in Sorrento, after hearing that Capri was very expensive and crowded. Staying in Sorrento was what really made the trip so great. It was such a different scene from Rome. Everyone was so helpful and friendly. We even ran into the brother of the hotel owner who gave us directions! As soon as we saw our hotel, overlooking the bay/Mediterranean Sea, we decided that Capri would wait and we were going to spend our first day in Sorrento. We rented chairs and layed out and swam in the clear salty water. It was so refreshing and relaxing. That evening we walked around the city and found the restaurant Professor suggested to us. It was amazing and affordable. We sat on a pier overlooking the water and had fresh seafood. For my second course, I ordered fried fish—and that’s what I got. Literally, fish that were fried. Scales, fins, head still intact. Tasted great, but I could only eat a few. Luckily, I was full—I think having to rip the head off my dinner may have ruined my appetite otherwise. Read the rest of this entry ?


Tarin: first week recap

May 31, 2010

Let’s see if I can remember what I did on all these days last week!

Had lecture in the morning (on early Baroque) and went to the Musei Capitolini. Saw some works by Caravaggio, though most of the ones we will be seeing are in the Caravaggio Exhibit going on in Rome (displaying close to 40 of his paintings—huge exhibit).

In the evening, we went to an aperitivo. This is like a happy hour in the US, kind of. You buy a drink (for around 8-10 euro) and then get access to a buffet of finger foods and pastas. I ordered a beer and cinnamon mojito (bar tender suggested). It was made with vodka, not rum, and was SO GOOD. Who would have thought that combination would taste like anything remotely drinkable? The food was great, too. A lot of Italians go to these after work and before dinner to socialize. It was fun! The place it was at was called Fluid, and was pretty cool. When you stepped on the floor, a liquid squished out from under your foot (under the tiles). I suppose that’s the connection to the name…

Lecture in the AM. Then we went to the Galleria Doria-Pamphili and saw some more works of art. The gallery was in the Doria-Pamphili family palace, and they still live there! Crazy.

In the morning, we met at Piazza Navona and started the day with site visits. Lecture was in the afternoon. We visited some basilicas with the most AMAZING quadratura (illusionistic architecture) and three-dimensional painting. I couldn’t distinguish between painting and sculpture. There was even a fake dome painted. Just amazing. I hope I’m able to retain everything I’m learning. There’s a LOT of information being thrown out.

In the evening, a group of us went out for dinner (for a real Italian, multiple course meal). Sarah, Lisa, and I dressed up. It was very difficult to maneuver through the side streets made of cobblestones with gaping holes while wearing heels. I only lost my shoe once!

We met at Piazza del Popolo and visited several churches/basilicas. Friday’s we get done early, in case people want to travel and do things on the weekend. So, I ate lunch around 11:30 with a group of people. We were sitting outside and the restaurant was on the road, and vehicles were literally driving withing a foot or two of the people sitting on the outside of the table! It didn’t phase anyone. I’m definitely getting used to things here. We took the subway to get to the Piazza del Popolo, and it felt like a normal day. If everyone spoke English, and the city wasn’t 2000 odd years old, I would feel like I was in Minneapolis with a bunch of people taking a summer class. It’s nice how easy things really are.


Tarin: Vatican Museum

May 26, 2010

I had my first day of class on Monday. We had lecture in the morning and then went to a few of the Vatican Museums in the afternoon. We learned about some important Classical sculptures and key people in the High Renaissance to prepare us for the Baroque period we will be learning about. It was amazing to see the pieces we talked about in real life! We saw Laocoon & His Sons, a beautiful, emotional Greek sculpture that was a huge source of inspiration for Michelangelo. We also so the Apollo Belvedere and the Torso Belvedere, also inspiring. I think the two coolest things we saw were the Raphael rooms, where his (Raphael’s) huge frescoes fill the walls (one of which being the famous School of Athens), and the Sistine Chapel (by Michelangelo). I never dreamed I would see these in real life!

Because we had limited time, we had to pass by many of the brilliant works housed in the Vatican Museums. It felt so strange to walk past these famous paintings and sculptures that I had learned about in the past!

Class is great. I think it will be a breeze, mostly because it is interesting. Our lecture took a few hours but didn’t feel like it at all. Probably because of the anticipation of seeing them after we took notes on them. Definitely a great experience. If only all art history classes can be taught this way!



Tarin: First Weekend: Via Ottaviano, Villa Borghese & Pantheon Mass

May 24, 2010

On Saturday, a few of us headed to Via Ottaviano, a shopping street. Gotta love the Italian goods. A lot of things were moderately priced, so I’ll be going back I’m sure. I bought a few articles of clothing from a street vendor. There, my roommate asked the man operating the store if there was any way to try on a dress she liked. He told her to follow him and took her to a van without windows and proceeded to unlock the door. Not wanting to be taken, she came back to us. I doubt anything bad would have happened, but we’ve been told to be very wary. We were near the Vatican, and tour guides continued to approach us asking, “Are you English?” (of course we are, that’s why you’re approaching us) “Need a guide so you don’t get lost” (we know where we are) “we can get you in to the Vatican without waiting in line” (we aren’t going to the Vatican) blah blah! SO ANNOYING. We ignored most of them, and one guy even said “I’m not a gypsy you don’t need to ignore me” which made me question if he really was one. I’m pretty sure they were all tour “guides” trying to make some money, but every street corner we got bothered. We just wanted to shop!

To get to Via Ottaviano we took the Metro (subway). There are two lines, A and B. We took A, the newer of the two, and it wasn’t bad at all. Then we decided to check out another shopping street, so we got on line B. No air conditioning, very crowded, pretty rickety, and covered in graffiti. Definitely a little different. We got off on the street where the shops were supposed to be, but after walking awhile we decided it was too far and headed back toward the Metro stop. We ate lunch at a ristorante and it was very good! I ordered spaghetti with bacon, cheese, and chilis. We shared bread, water, and wine, as well as tiramisu and a caramel creme pudding thing. It was nice being at this restaurante because it was outside of the city center and was very Italian. I don’t think our server really spoke english, actually.

After eating, we decided to visit the Villa Borghese park. It’s huge and beautiful. And I didn’t bring my camera. So, I’m definitely going back. People rollerblade, ride bikes, sit on benches and blankets, play soccer, and just relax and socialize. We people-watched for quite a while. Italians don’t have the same concept of PDA as we do. There were many couples laying around making out, intimately. Women walk around in 4 inch stilettos on cobblestones. You will never see a person wearing sweat pants in public in Rome. Everyone is very well dressed, and appearances are super important. They are definitely nice to look at.

On Sunday, we went to the Pantheon for the Pentecostal Mass. At the end, rose petals were dropped from the oculus, symbolizing the Holy Spirit coming to earth. It was really amazing to see a traditional Roman Catholic church service in a 2,000 year old building. This was the 1,401 time the rose petal ceremony has taken place. After this whole experience, I totally understand why churches were constantly being made bigger and more majestic. Hearing the beautiful Italian choir music and staring up at a ceiling with light streaming down through a giant whole was really something! And I’m not even religious.

Before going to the Pantheon, we went to the Porta Portese flea market, the biggest in Europe. It only operates on Sunday, and we were only there for a half an hour, so we’re definitely going back! Today is my first day of class. We’re having an overview/intro of the time period and then visiting the Vatican! I’m excited, and maybe a little nervous, to see how this part of my trip goes. I tend to forget that I’m here for SCHOOL, not for vacation.


Tarin: Long day

May 22, 2010

I walked 13 or 14 kilometers today… Needless to say, I probably won’t be able to move tomorrow.

IMG_3083We left our apartment around 8:30 to meet up with people from class. The ACCENT center is near the Pantheon, so we went there first. It was amazing. So beautiful, and massive. It is amazing to me that Italians are still using these buildings that were built so long ago. The Pantheon is an actual Christian church that has services.



IMG_3303Once we met up with the group, we all walked to the forum to see some of ancient Rome’s best. It was an odd feeling to be walking around 2,000 year old ruins. The Colosseum was as awesome as I was expecting. It was just so HUGE. It’s awesome to see the bare boned structures, but what really gets me is thinking about what they USED to be like. The Colosseum was a huge stadium, with a retractable awning, bleacher seating, water fountains, tickets, the whole deal! And it was made in the 1st century AD! No crazy crane machines or bulldozers like we use today. Really, the entire Forum and surrounding area of ancient Rome was just awesome. Huge marble pillars and structures, gardens, the whole city layout. Really interesting. And it only cost 12 euro for a day pass to the Forum, Palatine, and Colosseum.


After visiting these historic sites, a group of us when to a pizzeria ristorante to get lunch. I ordered ravioli and an insalata verde. Very good! Dining out in Italy is definitely different than in America. There is much less of a rush. The food is made quickly, but the process of ordering and getting the check is much more relaxed. Most restaurants don’t mind if you only order one course, but a traditional meal starts with antipasto, and goes to the primi (first) course to the secondi, sometimes with dolce (desert) and formaggio (cheese) after. Way way way too much food for me! And you can’t take any leftovers home. Water comes in a large bottle and costs around $2, not free. It’s hard to pace the water drinking after a long day in the sun when servers aren’t coming by and refilling it every 5 minutes. You really only see your server when they take your order, bring it out, and you ask for your check. In a way it’s kind of nice. Eating is a time for socialization, and food is a huge topic of conversation.


Tomorrow’s plan: Go shopping (preferably where Italians shop, not tourists) and visit the Borghese park if time permits.


Tarin: Arrival in Rome

May 21, 2010

We left from Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport at 7:40 PM and arrived in Amsterdam on time, around 10:40 AM (Amsterdam time). It was big plane! Not a Boeing 747 (I was hoping)… but pretty close! We got dinner, and I chose the chicken meal, which was surprisingly good! Free wine and beer the whole way—I resisted though. I watched Dear John (not very good) and fell asleep to Avatar. In Amsterdam, we had a small layover, and left for Rome at 2:00. Rather than peanuts, we were given some sort of Dutch sandwich. We landed at 4, got on a bus around 5, and headed into Rome.

IMG_2952We got dropped of at a taxi stand and were taken to our apartments, which are scattered around the city. I’m rooming with Sarah and living with 3 other girls. The apartment is really nice. It’s in the Aurelia neighborhood, outside of Vatican City and across the Tiber river from class.

IMG_2969The first thing I noticed about Rome when we arrived was the traffic! People here are crazy drivers! Vehicles are parked pretty much wherever there is space. Some are facing forward, others backward, some even sideways. Tons of people ride vespas, and have no fear while doing it. They weave in and out of traffic like they’re invincible. The roads are a mess, and it doesn’t help that there are random walls divided different areas. You look at a map and think you can get from point A to B, but then realize there is a wall in the way! So you go around, but the street doesn’t go where you think it would. It will take a little getting used to.

After getting settled in, my roommates and I went to get money from a bancomat (ATM) and find somewhere to eat. We wanted to find a ristorante to get a big meal, but since we weren’t familiar with the area, we stayed close and ate at a pizzeria. We ordered two round pizzas, one with cheese and onions, the other with tomatoes, sausage, and peppers. We also bought two bottles of wine (for 5 euro each).

The next morning we used public transportation (bus) to get to our orientation. Finding the bus stop was difficult, but once on it was pretty straightforward. Well, after we realized we were on the bus going the wrong direction and corrected our mistake, that is. Our apartment is walking distance from class (between 20 and 30 minutes), so I will probably do that on most days. We took a break during the orientation, and some of us went over to a cafe for a snack and coffee. The Italians have the right idea—rather than order a triple shot of something at breakfast, they drink espresso and coffee several times a day at bars and cafes. The espresso comes in a teeny cup, and the cappuccino and cafe lattes (which I got) is similar to a small size in America. And it’s cheap—usually under 1 euro! After orientation, we got lunch. I was thirstier than I realized, and took a nice big gulp of… mineral water. Not a huge fan of the bubbles. They brought out Cokes for us, and bruschetta… and french fries? I suppose they were trying to appeal to our American tastes? Then we got pizza. I definitely prefer Italian pizza to American. It just tastes fresher.

IMG_2971Sarah and I decided to try and walk back to the apartment after the orientation and lunch. We stopped near St. Peter’s at the Vatican to take a few pictures, and it was amazing to see the difference in the number of tourists and shadier people trying to scam tourists! We started walking home, trying not to look lost by looking at our maps every two seconds… but it probably would have helped to look at the map a little more than we did, because we ended up taking a 20 minute detour. We made it home in time for the people from ACCENT to show us how to work everything in our apartment, including how to restore our power after a fuse is blown (which happened this morning from a hair straightener).

It’s colder here than normal, apparently. This is nice because the zanzare (mosquitoes) aren’t out yet. We live far enough away from the Tiber that it shouldn’t be a huge problem for us, but windows in Italy don’t have screens. So, I will never leave a window open with the light on at night. I didn’t bring enough warm clothes, either. In the sun, it can definitely get hot. But once inside, and in the shade, it’s much cooler. Our apartment is a lot colder than I expected, so we might get some extra blankets to sleep with.

IMG_2991After we learned how to use our appliances, my roommates and I went to the supermarcato to get groceries. I’m really indecisive in general, so it was really hard for me to shop when I didn’t know exactly what I was shopping for or what I was looking at. Sarah and I are making spaghetti tonight. We bought fresh basil, garlic, and tomatoes, and some pre-made Italian pasta sauce, as well as pasta fresco all’uovo (fresh egg noodles). Everything is just so fresh here, and you can actually taste the difference.

IMG_2984We don’t start school until Monday, so tomorrow some of us are going to go to the Colosseum and probably the Pantheon (which is right by school). I’m excited to see this famous and ancient architecture. It’s strange to see it every day waking down the street, though. Whether it’s buildings or statues or fountains, it’s mixed right in with modern Rome.

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