Nobody likes Torino. Most Americans probably can’t even find it on a map. And many Italians, upon hearing that one lives here, will generally say something like “Oh, I’m sorry,” or “Torino’s so dirty.” Once, I got a flat out “I hate Torino.”
But the thing is, I’ve come to quite love this city.
Something about Torino that I love–and I’ve alluded to this several times before–is its authenticity. Very few come to Torino for tourism: one guidebook I have calls it “the Detroit of Italy,” and Rick Steves doesn’t even mention it. Consequently, this city doesn’t put on a front for people. Unlike the more iconic Italian cities, Torino isn’t trying hard to hang onto its past. The 15th century is over, Torino is trying to make it in the 21st. A lot of it is pretty dingy and post-industrial, but that’s okay. Most cities are like that, to some extent–it’s just more noticeable here. A lot of it is really nice too. Better yet, all of it reflects today’s Italy.
I think that it is really easy to love a city when you’re a traveler on vacation. It’s much harder when you live there and regularly experience its shortcomings. But I think that this also enables you to appreciate it–its people, piazzas, parks, street musicians, markets, and even the rose salesmen (just kidding. It would take someone superhuman to appreciate them)–so much more.
Early tomorrow morning I’ll be leaving Torino for the last time and that will be really hard. But good things await! For the next 20 days, I’ll be trekking around Europe on a journey which, if all goes as planned, will take me to Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Paris, Carcassonne, Ireland, and London. First stop: Milan (for something like the eighth time).
At the end of my last post, I mentioned an upcoming trip to Greece. Well, that trip has come and gone, and after several misadventures, it was quite successful.
Our time in Greece began when we arrived in Patras, a coastal town with an airport the size of your local Acme. Upon landing, we were informed that, surprise!, it was Easter weekend, so public transportation throughout the country would be very limited to non-existent for the length of our stay. Thus, we were forced to immediately alter our plans. Despite our original intentions, we ended up spending the entire weekend in Athens. And despite the riots and Athens’s not so great reputation, we loved it.
The thing about Athens is that it’s kind of dumpy, but if approached with a certain attitude, it’s actually really charming. It seemed less like Europe and more like the Middle East. The people we encountered were warm, friendly, helpful, and, surprise!, speak less English than you think. Also, the neighborhood immediately surrounding the major sights is pretty nice, and Athens has several really big and really pretty public parks. [Aside: Greece has an incredible landscape. Absolutely stunning].
And of course, the major Athenian sights are great. To be fair, of all the places I’ve been in Europe thus far, Athens is the most personally significant due to my THC and PPE education. So I guess my opinion of it is a little biased.
We went to the Acropolis and the Agora—places where the likes of Plato, Aristotle, and St. Paul dwelt and taught. Both of those sights were accompanied by great museums, which were stocked with additional artifacts and information.
But let me tell you about Greek-Easter, because although it was a problem for our travel plans, it was also a cultural experience that I’m so glad to have had. To start, I was a little disappointed by Italian Easter (which took place the weekend before—the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches use different calendars). In fact, I think it was the only time this semester that I would have rather been in South Jersey than Italy. But it’s all okay now, because Orthodox folks seem to take Easter pretty seriously.
The celebration started a little before midnight on Saturday night. We had been instructed to go stand in front of a nearby church, where we joined about 100 other people, most of whom were bearing large, unlit candles. At midnight, a few priests came out and I guess they had a flame of sorts because within a few minutes all of the aforementioned candles were aglow. Then they began chanting what I assume was a resurrection themed liturgy (in Greek, of course), and everyone kissed each other a la American New Year’s Eve. And then all hell broke loose Christ was raised from the dead: the chanting got much louder, the bells stared ringing rapidly, some fireworks went off, and people set off these loud bomb/noisemaker things. It was pretty intense. But more importantly, it was really neat to celebrate Easter in such a way that made it feel like the resurrection is an event worth counting down to.
The next day, we hung out on a beach and found some roast lamb for dinner. A second Easter well spent, I think.
So, I went to Rome a couple of weekends ago, because it would be a shame to live in Italy for four months and not go to Rome.
I’m ashamed to admit that despite the city’s immense significance within Western Civilization (i.e. it was pretty much the center of the world for a millennium or something), I know very little about it. This made it a bit difficult to fully appreciate the sights the way they should be appreciated. But one does not need to be a historian to be impressed by the enormity of the Colosseum. Or the architectural complexity of the Pantheon (seriously, how’d they do that?!). Or the beauty and liveliness of Rome’s many piazzas.
We saw and enjoyed all of those things, but I think my favorite part of the trip was exploring some of Rome’s more obscure sights. For example, at some point in the history of Christianity, it was in vogue to save the bones of deceased monks and use them to decorate places of worship, and we visited one such church. We also found the church where the apostles James and Phillip are said to be buried. Also, there’s this one famous sculpture by Bernini, which depicts St. Teresa of Avila having a vision. I mostly wanted to see it because freshman year I read a book by her, so seeing this sculpture was a nice follow up to that.
And then there’s the Vatican. Again, we did the major sights: St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum. St. Peter’s is particularly noteworthy because it has the largest interior of any Christian church (thanks, Wikipedia!) and after IKEA, it is probably the biggest building I’ve ever been in. It also houses Michelangelo’s Pietà, a sculpture so beautiful that it has allegedly driven people insane (some sort of psychological condition, I think). The Vatican Museum holds an immense collection of ancient artifacts and other art. Unfortunately, it was extremely crowded when we were there, so it was hard to see very much. We were able to see the Sistine Chapel though, as well as Raphael’s School of Athens, which is a personal favorite.
So that was Rome.
Another cultural (?) experience that I had during this trip was the night train, which we took to and from Rome. Night trains are interesting. A second class ticket gets you a seat in a six-seat compartment—if the compartment is full, it’s pretty tight. Under these conditions, one learns to quickly become comfortable with the five other strangers. It was also a good way to practice my Italian.
One other thing: in my last post, I expressed general unimpressedness with Milan. Well, I spent an entire day there before leaving for Rome, and it was quite enjoyable. So I take back my previous comments. The thing about Milan is that it is the most contemporary Italian city that I’ve been to—this is not a complaint. Sometimes it’s nice to get a little break from feeling like you’re in the fifteenth/first century.
Speaking of feeling like you’re in the first century, I’m going to Greece tomorrow. Things are about to get very Greece-y over here.
I suppose I should probably write about my recent trip to Florence, which occurred a couple of weeks ago over spring break. One reason I’ve been putting this off is that we did so much, so the thought of recounting it all here is a little overwhelming. But alas, I shall try.
The trip started with a stop in Milan, where I met my mom. I got there a few hours before her flight landed, so I checked out the duomo, awkwardly poked around high end stores I didn’t belong in, and met up with a friend from Eastern for lunch. Milan’s duomo is extraordinarily impressive, but to be honest, the city doesn’t have very much to see other than that (except Leonardo’s Last Supper, of course).
We spent our first night at a cozy bed and breakfast in Bologna, and wandered around the neighborhood the next morning. Bologna’s a pretty cool little city that’s worth a second trip. And apparently it’s also the center of communism in Italy–though I don’t recall encountering Marx et al. while there, and only learned this piece of trivia after the fact.
But the majority of our trip was spent in Florence, a city that prides itself in being the heart of the Italian Renaissance. And that it was. Some background: for a while, Florence/Tuscany was ruled by a family called the Medicis, who, amongst other things, commissioned a whole bunch of great art. The later Medicis also put Michelangelo through art school (because they realized his potential) and inspired Machiavelli’s The Prince (because they were also tyrants or something). Consequently, 15th century Florence had a pretty rich culture, and there are a lot of impressive artifacts which will attest to this. Florence is no longer the political and cultural capital of Italy, but its glory days are pretty well preserved.
We did and saw quite a bit in Florence, and I’m not going to go into every detail of that here (if you really really care about it and happen to be in the US, ask my mom about it–she’d love to describe it for you!). But to summarize, we went to several museums and churches, took many leisurely strolls through the city’s piazzas, and drank cappuccini. I’m taking an Italian Renaissance art class this semester, and was able to see a good number of the works that we’ve studied, which was great. Art means a whole lot more and is far more interesting when one understands what it means and why it was important. I’m extremely lucky to be taking a couple of art history classes here, especially because I more or less have access to most of what we’re learning about.
Another thing we did was spend some time in the Tuscan countryside. I’m not sure that there’s another place on earth that parallels the beauty of this region. We also visited a couple of wine and olive oil production centers (“factories” isn’t quite the right word here, as the places we went were actually more like big houses with vineyards, olive orchards, and fancy machines in the basement). It was neat to learn about this stuff because, as it turns out, wine and olive oil are pretty important to Italian culture. We had some samples, of course–Chianti red is some of the best in the world, second only to that of Piedmont (oh, look! I currently live in Piedmont! Cheers!)
In addition to Florence, we also did shorter trips to Siena (there’s a cool cathedral there) and Pisa (there’s a structurally unsound tower there, and a cathedral too). And on the way back to Torino we hit up two of the Cinque Terre.
So it was a pretty busy trip. I was very satisfied with what we did, and felt like we used our time really well. It was also nice to finally get out of the north and explore Italy and its culture a bit more.
I must admit that I missed Torino just a little while in Florence. Whenever I travel anywhere else, I always end up thinking that while those places are great, Torino feels more authentic and vibrant. This city sure has grown on me, and it will be really hard to leave it when the semester ends.
Speaking of leaving Torino, I’m going to Rome tomorrow! There are a dozen of cliches about Rome that I could make here, but I’ll just save them for my next post.
As promised, I will now recount the various activities that have taken place in my life over the past few days because I think some of them are kind of interesting and such.
It all started with a field trip to the Borgo Medievale, a replica of a typical medieval village that is located in a large and lovely park here in Torino. When one mentions the Borgo Medievale to anyone who has spent an extended period of time in the city, the first thing they will say is, “well, it’s fake, you know!” This is because it is a replica and there are plenty of real medieval villages in the surrounding area that are just as accessible. Interestingly enough, the replica was built in the 1860s, and Americans like me find this amusing because it is still old by our standards. [Aside: living in Italy has taught me that words like “antique” are quite relative]. In some ways, this experience was comparable to going to Venice—yes, there are many more authentic options around, but sometimes it’s nice to go somewhere established and maintained for tourists. Anyway, we took a tour of a castle, saw a drawbridge, and visited a gift shop, amongst other things. We were able to able to see in a very tangible way just how much medieval folks were concerned with their own protection. Villages were constantly being conquest, so many elements of their design are focused on protecting the castle and its occupants in case of an attack.
Switching gears a little bit, we also went to this great little town called Ventimiglia, which is a hilly beach town on the French Rivera. It was astonishingly beautiful, and I felt like I was in a painting the whole time. I also felt like I was in the Caribbean, because that part of the Mediterranean is so clear and blue, and the plant life is kind of tropical (palm trees and lemon trees—what fun!). We spent part of the day just sitting on the beach, which was rocky, not sandy, as I think is typical of the French Rivera. For probably the five hundredth time in my life, I was reminded of how much I love the ocean—its enormity, rhythm, danger, and life. I could have sat there all day, but we explored the area in the afternoon which was also great. We walked up on of the hills, checked out an eleventh century church (which was like nothing I’ve ever seen before), hiked along a cliff-side trail, watched some surfers, and picked/stole rosemary from an abundant terrace-garden. Also, I went to France for dinner.
In more local news, the Torino Chocolate Festival is happening this week, and we’ve already investigated it a couple of times. Apparently Torino is known for its chocolate (who knew?) and there are a bunch of area chocolatiers in town selling their wares. I was finally able to try Italian hot chocolate, which is something I had been wanting to do since coming here. Unlike its American counterpart (i.e. strange Nestle powder stuff mixed with hot water), Italian hot chocolate is straight up melted chocolate that is further liquefied with steamed milk or cream. It is rich and wonderful. Because of the chocolate festival, there have also been various other artisan fairs happening all over the city. On Sunday, we stumbled upon a farmers-market thing, where local food producers were selling fruit, wine, cheese, olive oil, bread, cured meats, and honey. The vendors were friendly and informative and their samples were generous.
I also had my first/only midterm this week, because I do go to school a little bit sometimes. It was in Italian Renaissance Art, and we had to compare and contrast several sets of seemingly similar works. I’m really glad to be learning this skill, and appreciating art is something that I want to be good at. The exam was also good practice for my upcoming trip to Florence.
So, it has been a busy week or so, and it’s about to get busier: on Friday, I will head to Milan, where I’ll meet my mom before we set off for Bologna, then Florence (and Pisa and Sienna, I think), then the Cinque Terra, then back to Torino. This year’s spring break promises to be the best one yet, and I’m incredibly excited.
A couple of weekends ago, we went to Venice, and thanks to a public transportation strike that’s preventing me from getting to school today, I finally have time to write about it now.
The weekend that we went was the final weekend of Carnivale, which is a world-wide celebration that takes place during the weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday. The Venetian Carnivale celebration dates back to 1162, so its a big part of their culture. Traditionally, Venetians would wear masks to the Carnivale festivities, thus allowing them to remain anonymous in their debauchery. These masks enabled people of all social classes to party together as equals, spouses to cheat on one another, and priests to participate in various unholy activities. Eventually, Carnivale got so out of hand that when Napoleon came to power in Northern Italy, he put an end to it. The celebration resumed back in the 1970′s in an attempt to promote tourism, and although it maintains some of its original elements, it is far more tame. For example, people still don costumes and masks, but only because these are fun things to do, and not because they need to conceal their identity for whatever reason. In fact, the mask industry is kind of a big deal–there are several shops that are open year round and exclusively sell handmade masks, which can cost hundreds, even thousands, of euros. Like any good tourist, Martha, Tyler, and I opted to buy some cheap knock-offs for a couple of euros apiece from a tacky gift shop.
All of this said, we didn’t really participate in the usual Carnivale activities that much, and instead explored the city a lot. Since it was Carnivale weekend, it was super crowded, and we tried to avoid the more popular sights, as these areas were literally packed with people. Fortunately, all of Venice (not just the main attractions) is beautiful and worth seeing.
The main part of Venice is a small cluster of islands in the Adriatic Sea. There is a bridge that connects one of the islands to the main land, but other than that there are no roads. Instead, one gets around via canals, footbridges, and narrow walkways. The name of this post is a little misleading: all of the streets have names, but they are neither prominently displayed nor labeled on maps. This, combined with the fact that the streets are maze-like and sometimes disorienting, means that it is extremely easy to get lost. But that’s okay–like us, a lot of people just go to Venice to wander around. For various reasons, Venice hasn’t changed much in the past couple of centuries. This plus the lack of cars makes it feel like you’re walking around in the 18th century, which is really neat.
One of the major landmarks in Venice that we did make an effort to see is St. Mark’s Square, which is a huge piazza on the Adriatic that houses St. Mark’s Cathedral. I studied the Basilica of St. Mark’s a little bit in my Medieval Art and Architecture class, so I was excited to be able to see it in person. St. Mark’s is a Byzantine church that was built during the 11th century. It is topped with several domes and was decorated in such a way that displays the power and wealth of the Byzantine Empire: the vast interior is covered in mosaics, most of which are made of gold. Also, according to legend, St. Mark is buried there, thanks to the efforts of some Venetian merchants who smuggled his remains to Italy from Alexandria. Visitors aren’t allowed to take pictures of the interior, but if you want to see what it looks like, you can look here.
Basically, Venice is everything all the guidebooks say it is and more. The city has a mysterious and mischievous aura that feels somewhat fantastic, and every nook of the city is picturesque. Yes, it is super touristy, and a little inauthentic, and it doesn’t really reflect contemporary Italy, but sometimes that’s okay. One of the common criticisms of Venice is that because it’s such a major tourist destination, most of the people there know English and you don’t actually hear that much Italian. This is true. But after living in a very authentic Italian city for six weeks, this was somewhat refreshing. Venice was preserved for and appeals to foreign tourists; Torino does not. It’s great living in a place that reflect real, modern Italy, and not just the romanticized version of the country that you see in movies, paintings, and at Olive Garden. However, it’s also nice to take a break from that every once in a while and simply be an American tourist on vacation.
Stay tuned for next week’s post, where I’ll talk about my trips to a replica Medieval village, the French Rivera, and the Torino Chocolate Festival (this should be a good weekend…).
The past couple of weeks have been relatively uneventful, so I don’t have any exciting stories to share. So instead of going into detail about what I’ve been doing, I thought it would be more fun to tell everyone about what I’ve been eating. Italy is known for its cuisine, after all. Also, I just had a particularly satisfying lunch.
There’s a public cafè in the castello, and that’s where we have our lunch on school days. It’s called V&V, and it’s owned and run by a family whose names are Vittorio, Victoria, and Victor (no joke). Lunch begins with a huge plate of fresh pasta, followed by a little buffet of assorted Italian and American finger foods. During the first week, Vittorio* reminded us that there are starving children in Africa, so we are required to finish everything on our plates. Even though everything is delicious, this can be a challenge, as the portions are extremely generous.
We make our own dinners in our apartments, which have great little kitchens. Most of our produce, meat, and cheese comes from an open market that’s about a mile down the street. The market is huge, colorful, loud, and can sometimes be a little overwhelming. It’s in an area with a lot of African and Middle Eastern immigrants, so at any given moment there are probably around ten different languages being spoken/shouted around us. Shopping for produce is actually a great opportunity to learn some basic Italian nouns, and the vendors are pleased to teach us the words for things like “clementine” and “zucchini” (clementine
, respectively). It’s also great practice with the metric system, and we’ve learned things like what a kilo of parsley looks like. The meat section is…interesting. Some of the meat is what you would find in the butcher section of Wegmans. But some of it looks like the stuff I dissected in my eleventh grade physiology class. Some of it has feathers. Some of it has eyes. Some of it would be hard to identify without a basic understanding of the respiratory system. The other day we saw several skinned rabbits on display. Rumor has it you can also buy entire sheep heads—eyes, teeth, and all. At this point, we’re just sticking with chicken.
Contrary to what one might expect, there aren’t Italian restaurants everywhere. Come to think of it, there are probably more Italian restaurants in Philly than there are in Torino. Restaurants in general are pretty uncommon. Instead, there are cafès everywhere, which are similar to American coffee shops (though I have yet to see a Starbucks). Also, Turkish food is all the rage here, and there are pizza kebap places everywhere. As the name implies, these places sell pizza and kebap—shaved meat (usually lamb) that is slow-cooked on a vertical spit. You can also get a combination of the two: pizza topped with meat, lettuce, tomato, onions, chili sauce, and yogurt. It’s all very tasty.
Entirely unrelated to the rest of this post, the other day my Italian Renaissance Art class to a trip to a castle outside of the city where a Leonardo da Vinci exhibit was happening. On display were replicas of a few of his inventions, some of his sketches (including the original self-portrait), and some modern works that were inspired by da Vinci’s iconic paintings. It wasn’t crowded at all, so we were able to get nice and close to everything. It was incredible to finally see the work of an artist that I’ve been hearing about since childhood. Leonardo really was a genius, and his work was extremely significant in the history of Western art.
There was also a replica of his Last Supper (the original is in Milano and is in terrible condition). It turns out that the Last Supper is gigantic—the figures are basically life-sized. It was painted in such a way that the viewer feels like he’s physically present at a Seder with thirteen guys, witnessing a really awkward moment in their friendship. It’s tense, emotional, human, and, in Leonardo’s true fashion, revolutionary.
*Vittorio is very friendly and likes to talk to us, but he doesn’t speak a word of English. So, communication with him involves lots of nodding/smiling, charades, or a translator (random SJIU staff members or his son Victor).
Yesterday in my Medieval Art and Architecture class, we learned about icons. I spent the rest of the day thinking about the topic and doing a little bit of further research, followed by a long discussion about it at the dinner table. Thus, I decided to do a little post about icons and religious art in general, because these are things that I am learning a lot about and am very much surrounded by.
There are churches everywhere in Italy (at least the places I’ve been). Based on simple observation, they are predominantly Roman Catholic, and most of them are quite old. They are also beautiful on both the outside and inside, and their doors are usually unlocked. When we can, we pop inside and explore for a few minutes, trying to appreciate and understand the art, its placement within the building, the structures, and the architecture. Sometimes you’re not allowed to talk in the churches, but we’re usually quiet anyway because there’s so much to take in and it’s so pious. It kind of feels inappropriate to be anything but silent.
I know that historically speaking, most of the churches that we’ve encountered were probably commissioned by a noble or pope or some other rich person as a means of displaying their power and whatnot. But these intentions aside, when I see some of these paintings and statues, all I can think is that whoever made these things must have loved God a whole lot.
In addition to learning about it in class, I’ve been able to experience Eastern Orthodox art in a more tangible way. Last weekend, Martha, Tyler, and I somehow ended up attending what we can only assume was an Eastern Orthodox mass. The entire thing was in Italian (and probably Greek too), so it was difficult to follow along. To further complicate things, the order of worship was quite different from that of a Roman Catholic mass. It seemed fairly ritualistic and mystical. Since we didn’t really know what was going on, we just stood in the back and tried to participate as best we could. The sanctuary was really small, so people probably noticed that we were out of place and rather confused, but they didn’t seem to care.
The room was really dim, illuminated only by these little candles that people lit throughout the duration of the mass. The walls were pretty much covered by icons of saints, Mary, and Christ. There were also a few smaller icons of Christ by the door which people kissed as they entered. It felt really holy.
My favorite part of the service, and probably the only part that I understood and could thus appreciate, was communion. Everyone went up at once to receive the elements, which consisted of wine and a substantial chunk of bread. There was no line; the congregation kind of just descended on the altar all at once (except us—we opted to abstain). This was also the part of the mass where people greeted each other and chatted. I found this really interesting because it made communion feel like a very communal activity, as it should be. Also, during this time some women went around handing out really good cookies, apple juice, and wine, which we found amusing and wonderful. The whole process took about fifteen minutes, and the service ended immediately afterwards. It was kind of funny because the whole service was so solemn, and then it quite suddenly became extremely casual.
I’ve been here for about three weeks now. There’s still so much to see and learn when it comes to art, religious and otherwise.
I was going to do a post about the first week of classes where I list various details about each of my courses, but I don’t think I’m going to do that right now. Some general comments regarding my first week: this will probably be my easiest semester of college, but I think I’m going to learn a lot, and I’m really excited about the various projects and field trips which will be taking place in the near future.
One reason that I anticipate learning so much is that even though I won’t be writing very many papers, or reading 500+ pages per week, I will be engaging with course material in a way that I never have before.
The one course that I do want to describe a bit here is my Italian class and my experience with the language so far. Our class meets for an hour every day and so far it’s been kind of fun, albeit challenging. The class generally consists of the professor speaking to us in Italian, and us trying to figure out what she’s saying based on the context and her body language. It’s like a game. I wasn’t sure how much I would like it, because I’ve never really enjoyed the foreign language classes that I’ve taken before. But I think this will be different. For starters, I want to learn the material. There is far more at stake here than just my GPA; I need to learn Italian so that I can do simple things like order take-out and haggle with vendors at the local market.
Furthermore, our professor is great. She’s this little Italian woman who taught in the US for a while and has just returned to Italy. Each class period we end up going on a little tangent where she tells us stuff about Torino and Italian culture and customs. It’s really interesting and helpful.
As for the language itself, it’s been neat to be able to pick up on the linguistic nuances that differentiate Italian from American English. Because I’m here for an extended period of time and quite immersed in the language (not many people speak English, even in the city), I’ve been able to really pay attention to things like pronunciation and spelling. For example, Italians pronounce their vowels a lot more, so words are more drawn out than in American English. I find that kind of interesting, and I think that’s one reason that the language is so beautiful to listen to.
Another thing that I like about the language is the use of the word allore (pronounced ah-lure-eh, and in an Italian accent). My classmates and I noticed that our Italian professor used the word a lot, but she had never defined it for us, so we asked what it meant. She told us that it roughly translates to “well,” or “that is,” but this seems to be a somewhat crude translation. I’m not sure that there really is an English equivalent to it. Allore is kind of like a filler word in conversation and other interactions, and from my observation it seems like it’s usually said with a happy or indifferent sigh. It seems like something that people say when they’re ready to move on with the conversation. It also seems like people say it without making a conscious effort to. So, if I was fluent in Italian and I casually spoke the content of this blog post, I would say allore between each paragraph, but probably without realizing it. For some reason this word fascinates me. It’s been fun trying to figure out what it means and how it’s used. Also, it’s a really pretty to hear.
That said, I still don’t know much Italian. Just enough to do simple things like get around Torino and buy groceries (though we’ve accidentally made a few mistakes with this, such as the somewhat gross hazelnut jelly-goop that we thought was just store-brand Nutella). Every once and a while, I’ll see a little kid and realize that they know more Italian than I do, which is a really strange phenomenon, as I am typically more competent than babies. Today I heard a mother counting from one to ten with her toddler, and I got really excited because I fully understood what she was saying. It’s certainly humbling to be at the same level as a child. However, I know that I’ve learned a decent amount even in just two weeks or so, and I’m confident that I’ll pick it up more and more.
This past Saturday the other SJIU students and I had the pleasure of moving from our home sweet…mall and into our permanent apartments in Torino. For the past ten days, we’ve just been living out of suitcases and without kitchens, so we were excited to finally be able to settle down somewhere.
And “somewhere” happens to be the center of Torino—an area that one of the SJIU staff members described as “posh.” The street we’re on, XX Settembre (pronounced: Venti Settembre, translation: September 20th), is one of the city’s main corridors. We spent the weekend exploring the area a little bit, and it appears that we’re fairly close to several interesting landmarks, including the city’s main train station, the Po River, a huge open-air market, various cathedrals/churches, museums, and some Roman ruins that predate birth of Christ. In general, the city seems pretty lively and has a rich culture, so I’m excited to live here.
The apartment that we ended up in is really nice. By that I mean: hardwood floors, a balcony overlooking September 20th, and lots of natural light. We also have some fun stuff like a pull-out leather couch, and Tyler already went to the market to get a little potted plant for the windowsill.
As Tyler has sung several times since arriving in Italy last week, “I think I’m gonna like it here.” (Cue the dancing maids and orphans).