Decaying Elegance

Italian Wandering

I find ruins infinitely more fascinating than whole buildings. There’s a romantic wondering in what the finished edifice, square, town, looked like and felt like.

Italy certainly is the place to think of such things.

The other day, my friend K and I went on a day trip to Pompei. This was a dream come true for me–Pompei was my first historical interest, back when I was a wee kid of four or so.

Well, even trudging through the impending (and rapidly incessent) rain, I couldn’t help but feel transported. My imagination roamed over rocks, buildings stripped of their decorative frescoes, roofs, walls, floors. I delighted in slipping through the delapidated houses, some excellently preserved and others little more than a corner.

I just don’t get the same feeling with entire villages, even if they are ancient. Walking through Florence’s medieval section doesn’t awaken quite the same sense of wonder–but when I pass the store with the glass floor (where you can see the ancient remains of previous Florentine buildings), that feeling wakes up in my chest. Passing newer buildings, destroyed by bombs during WWII and never repaired, brings it about, too.

And there’s the romantic in me, crafting worlds and stories around a few old rocks.

On an unrelated note–I’ve been in Italy for two months! My, how time flies. I hope to make a few more posts in the near future. I’m embarrassed to see that I haven’t written a new post in twenty days.

Incipit vita nova

Florentine Scribblings

Though I’m not set to depart Florence until May, I know there are three things that I’ll leave with—a kick-ass shoe collection, a taste for capuccini and a love of Dante Alighieri. My course on Dante, Petrarca and Boccaccio is amazing—it may be my favorite course (definitely my favorite lit course!). My professor is incredibly knowledgeable about Dante, not to mention sarcastic and quite funny.
It’s odd, but because of this course, things are starting to make sense. While I still don’t like politics, I can see their importance in the way the world works. How people can love their city/country so much that they risk everything for it (and often sacrifice everything). The connections between politics and the written word are falling into place. By understanding the world that Dante lived in, I can better understand his writing. If I care half as much as he did, my world would make more sense, and from there, I’ll have a better grasp of my own writing. There goes my internal romantic.
And his words! Oh, they are so perfect, so beautiful. I wish I could write such things. “Dante never made mistakes in his writing. In his life, yes, but in his writing, no,” my professor said this morning. Every word choice was deliberate. Every thought executed exactly. If only language had not changed so much over time, so we could better comprehend his meaning. Gentle, sweet, honest—all of these words meant something else in Dante’s day.
Dante begins La Vita Nuova:

“In quella parte del libro de la mia memoria dinanzi a la quale poco si potrebbe leggere, si trova una rubrica la quale dice: Incipit vita nova. (In that part of the book of my memory before which little could be read, a rubric is found that says: [Here begins the new life]).”

So, here begins my new life. However, not one changed by Love, but one changed by Thought.

Venetian Carnevale Beats Halloween in Salem, MA.

Florentine Scribblings

Yep. Carnevale is just so much fun–I wish I could return another year and participate fully, huge ball gown, wig and full face mask. My half mask (very simple and completely different from everyone else’s–mine looked as though a child painted it poorly and stuck some faux gems on, but that was part of the charm).

Venice is even more of a labyrinth than Florence. Since the city is on the water (in the water, in some cases, such as the flooded St Mark’s Square), places that are geographically close together. My friends and I ended up on the wrong island, and instead of  having a direct line to St Mark’s…well, we could have gone swimming.

We ran through the alleys, the narrow streets. Our hearts thumped. We were late. If we ran…maybe we could get there…no such luck. We raced, myself and two friends changing position as the leader. People crowded closely, guarding the four bridges we needed to cross. “Permesso! Permesso!” I bellowed. We grabbed each others’ shoulders, flying through the streets in a maddening game of crack the whip. It was stressful, insane, but above all…fun.

I may have missed the first boat to the mainland (but I did get there–thankfully there were two boats waiting). Would I have traded making that first boat with not having that little jaunt through the city? Nope. Whenever I think of Venice, I’ll remember that weaving, laughing, forty-five minutes.

With the extra long bus rides from Florence to Venice (the first being at six am…ouch), I managed to get some writing in. Alas, no good short stories, but the ‘impression’ writing I did turned out good–some of it may end up in future stories or perhaps in essays.

On getting lost (or, exploring)

Florentine Scribblings

Yesterday, two of my flatmates and I decided to go on a quest. Our Grail was the Coop, a large supermarket outside of the Florence Center. We took a wrongish turn and completely missed the supermarket.

What we found was something better.

In our wandering, we stumbled into the outskirts of Florence. Gone was the hustle and bustle of the tourist district. Instead, there was a magnificent calm. Sure, cars and scooters rushed by with the same sense of urgency, but the street vendors of San Lorenzo were no where to be seen. No catcalls, whistles or hawking of wares here.

It’s the Florence known to the locals. We found schools, not only universities but elementary schools. We listened to kids at recess, found another train station, and just were overwhelmed by the peace. We could see the mountains from there, the buildings, the smaller towns. The buildings are shorter, less crowded together.

I might just move here one day.

On the road again…

Florentine Scribblings

Well, I’m taking She Thinks Too Much on the road. On Sunday, I’m departing the States for Florence, Italy. For four months.

I’m going to be studying there, fumbling my way through a foreign language (well, io capisco un’ po’ l’italiano). Not to mention living on my own in a completely new city. And attempting to learn to cook.

So what does this mean for the blog? Hopefully, only that the updates will be a little less frequent. I’m not going to have internet access in my apartment, but I’m hoping to update once a week from my uni.

The posts might be a tad more travel-and-fish-out-of-water focused, but I’m hoping that I’ll be able to apply my experiences to writing.

Of course, I’ll be journaling daily. Some of my word sketches might make appearances here throughout the next few months (alas, the pencil ones won’t until late May).

Here’s to people watching, laughing, and trying not to freak out too much!

Inspiration from Art, or, Why I Love Museums

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

The old adage says a picture is worth a thousand words.

The same is true for a house, a sculpture, even an old necklace.

Museums are a treasure trove of ideas. When I’m at school, I’ll spend hours wandering the corridors of various museums, notebook in hand. A damaged Sphinx provides a line of poetry. A painting inspires a scene or brings back memories (I have a fondness for Saint Sebastian after the Uffizi Gallery, so every painting of him I see reminds me of Italy).

When I was in high school, I often flipped through my massive European History text. One painting (I wish I could remember who painted it) caught my eye, specifically one individual. It was a painting of an Italian family, huge and varied in ages. Towards the back there was a young man, staring out at the viewer. Captivated, I later wrote a few scenes about him, alas, they came to nothing.

I always want to know what happens in the dark corners of paintings and photographs, or what has just been interrupted. Telling the stories myself is a lot of fun.