So first thing’s first. Just so everyone knows, my internet has been sucking as of late. The thing is, we’re not supposed to have/guaranteed internet in our apartments, in the slightest, but because my kitchen windows literally look into Umbra’s windows, we’ve been able tosteal get the school internet, however limited. Lately however, the internet has been all but nonexistent. It blows.
But anyhow, this past weekend we went to Siena and Pisa and had a great time. After almost missing our bus to Siena, we had a lovely hour ride, and surprisingly easily found our way to the center. We had some lunch, during which everyone was rather sluggish, but soon we found il Campo, the famous open area in the city where students collect and read or write or just lie in the sun.
It is also where they hold the famous Palio horserace held every July. It was beautiful and I had a lovely conversation with the shop owner of a local china shop where I just bought some postcards, but seriously considered buying an oil bottle.
We then managed to get lost in the winding streets, then stumbled upon the gorgeous Catholic Cattedrale. After seeing the Cathedral we spent some time figuring out how to get to and on the train for Pisa. After a two hour or so train ride, we had to figure out how to catch the bus we needed to get to the part of town that our hostel was in, which took less time than I thought it would. Our hostel was really nice, more a converted house than a hostel, and the owner and his brother were very short (and I use that term strictly), nice, Italian men. They suggested a place to get dinner and after waiting 25 minutes for a table, we began to eat.
Now I have to say something about this dinner. It was the best meal I’ve ever had in my life—any of us have had in our lives. It was a real Italian restaurant. Not the kind made for tourists and Americans, but the entire menu was in Italian and the house wine was red and delicious (coming from the girl who prefers white). We got two appetizers, a cheese plate and a prosciutto/fritter thing that was so good. I had a melanzane pasta, the noodles of which I’m fairly sure were made in house.
We had delicious desserts, even though we were so full. Meanwhile, a table of about 10 Italian men had been eating this whole time (we were there for over 2 hours) and after we got our dessert, a couple of them brought over their bottle of grappa and offered it to us, of which we had already planned on ordering some. Grappa is an after-dinner shot that is supposed to aid in digestion, but is really just a slightly weaker form of vodka, but it was great because we got it for free, and the guys were so nice. We actually tipped this restaurant—something largely not done in Italy because we had such a great time and meal.
We went to bed as soon as we got back to the hostel and the next morning woke up promptly to check out and see the leaning tower. The torre di Pisa is more or less, hilarious. It’s at the most ridiculous and awkward tilt. Also our hostel had an awesome view:
Basically they started building it in the year 900-something and the ground sunk. Then they got sidetracked and didn’t finish it (a constant theme in Italian architecture). So it went through at least three periods of building and yet no one felt the need to stop building the crooked tower or somehow fix it. The last building attempt realized that if they kept building it straight, it was going to fall over or need a stilt, so they had to curve the building slightly so it’d be a little straighter. So not only is it leaning, but it is curved too. Also, the cathedral that is on the same ground sank when it was built too. Dumb.
Anyway, after taking all of our crazy posing pictures with the tower and debating buying a “leaning shot glass,” we went to the center of Pisa and hung out there for the afternoon. We had pizza at a very good pizzeria, so I can say I had a piece of Pisa pizza, and then we just sat by the river until we caught a bus to the train station to come back to Perugia.
This week has been crazy busy with work; the teachers started piling on the homework. I had my first quiz in Italian which wasn’t very easy but not too bad either. I have to write food diaries once a week for my food class, which I’ve actually found I enjoy writing. I love that class though. I had an olive oil tasting on Tuesday in class, which was so cool and I have an even better one later in the semester.
This weekend we’re staying in the city because there’s a general strike and we didn’t want to risk getting stuck somewhere, but it gives us a good reason to explore Perugia, which we’ve barely done. I really want to see the chocolate factory where they make the Perugino Baci that we all love here, and of which the Ciao Ciaos are always giving us free ones. Till next time!