Have Duck, Will Travel

Italian Wandering

Bartholomew enjoys gelato.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Bartholomew the Acrophobic and Aquaphobic Pirate Duck.

My friend Holmes and I are in Italy for our spring break, so we decided to bring along our rubber duckies, Bartholomew (mine) and Ferdinand (hers). The ducks are greatly enjoying their vacation, and we are enjoying photographing them.

It’s a funny little pet project of ours, shooting the ducks throughout our travels. The airport is particularly amusing, as who expects to see two college students setting up ducks and shooting them?

Eventually, we hope to write a children’s book about our traveling ducks. Holmes will photograph them (our illustrations) and I will write the story!

I took this photo in Lucca, after a day of bike riding and riding a carousel (an ostrich, naturally; it was the most ridiculous animal there). We needed the gelato!

Bartholomew would like to say that anyone who tries to eat his gelato (coco e cioccolate) will suffer the consequences. He’s serious. He has a gun.

Hand Made Souvenir!

Florentine Scribblings

Well, I’m departing the grand old US of A tomorrow for the last spring break of my undergrad career. I’m going back to Florence (!), this time to visit my sister, who’s studying there (though at a different school than I did).

I recently finished up one of my sketchbooks, but was faced with a dilemma. The one I bought latest is…well…massive. It doesn’t fit in my carry-on, and like hell am I going to lug it across the city (even though I would if I had an art class there…). Anyways, I had a few lineless moleskine notebooks lying around, so I decided to use one to make a trip journal/sketchbook.

I love to write and draw, but rarely do I have a small notebook with me. I’ll be carrying this one so I can sketch and record silly comments whenever I want. I’m also going to tape in all of my train tickets and museum entry passes, restaurant cards, store names, etc.

I am so looking forward to this trip. I cannot wait to return to my home-away-from home.

Cultural Readjustment: A Work in Progress

Florentine Scribblings

I never thought it would happen.

All of my study abroad handbooks said things along the lines of “you will be homesick and then you will be fine” followed by “the reentry will be difficult and you will be homesick for your host country.”

I looked at those and laughed; I thought that I wouldn’t be affected by homesickness of any sort. I had no longing for home while in Italy–there was that desire for my comfortable bed, but beyond that, I was content in Italy.

Today, it hit me.

I’ve been Stateside for nearly two weeks now. Those two weeks have been jam packed, all in an attempt to acclimate myself to being home, along with family reunions and temporarily relocating for a brief summer job.

I was sitting in training this afternoon, and I thought of Italy. My time there felt so distant, as though it never actually happened. I pushed it aside and got on with my day. Now, waiting to fall asleep, I long for Italy. I long for the museums, particularly the Palazzo Pitti. The laid back attitude, the ability to walk clear across the city. I miss apertivi. I miss my mid-morning cappuccino.

How long does the cultural readjustment last?

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.

Mi piaccino gli apertivi.

Florentine Scribblings

So my Italian grammar may be incorrect. I’ll correct it once my Italian improves a bit–it has been over six months since I’ve spoken it with any frequency before arriving.

After a day of travel, I arrived in Florence, cold, exhausted and excited. I did the math and realized that I had been awake for over 24 hours–I think the final count was 28. All I could think was, “Now I know how Jack Bauer feels at the end of the day.”

Italy has a spectacular custom called “aperitivo” or “apertifs.” Now, what are apertivi? You know how when you go to a bar, get something to drink and decide that you’re hungry too? Now you have to buy food. Not so with apertivi. Food is provided with the cost of your drink–as much food as you want to eat. These aren’t your typical bar peanuts. These are full out meals. The bar I visited (a mostly Florentine establishment) had home-made Chinese style food. It was delicious, not your usual New Year’s Eve stuff. This has to be the greatest thing ever.

We asked our Italian hostess if we could eat the food. She looked at us, very confused.  Through a pidgin Italian-English-hand signals language, we managed to ask her if we needed to pay for the food. She said no, and we told her that in the States we need to pay for the food as well!

My classes start on Monday, but tonight I have a cooking class. I’m really looking forward to it, as I can’t cook well!

I’ll have something more writing related up soon, probably a word portrait of the city.

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!