Let's get started!
So as many of you know, I spent Christmas & New Years in Italy with two great friends from high school (Italians not Americans). Luca Fierro and Maria Fossarello. I spent most of my time with Luca & his family in Udine, (Northeastern Italy) but before I say anything else, I must say that I am blessed to have great friends all over the world who are very willing to host me. I can't get over how amazing my stay with the Fierro's was. I mean, towards the end, Luca did want to get rid of me, but that's because I almost got the entire family sick. Sorry again!!
22-25 December in Udine
So I arrived in Venezia Maestre and then took a 2hour train to Udine. Luca & Mariella waited for me at the station, and surprisingly I was not that tired from the 14hour train ride from Paris + the 2hour train ride from Venice. So I was ready for a day out! We went directly to "The Pizzeria" as we all called it. I didn't get any pizza that day, but I would soon return to indulge in my Italian pizza dream come true. Luca's sister, Linda, is currently in Uruguay- doing the same thing her brother did 3 years ago- however, I guess in Linda's case, she chose the right language to learn (ha-ha-ha). Luca's mother, Anna, didn't speak much English so most of our conversations were Spanish + French + Mayra's Italian + English. Salvatore, or as I called him Francisco, is Luca's dad. He is such a jolly man. He knows almost everyone in Udine (because of his pizzeria) and has a smile that would cheer anyone up.
For Christmas, Luca got me a ½ Italian ½ French book, which illustrates different writing styles (ex. Odes, Past Tense, Hymns, Ignorance, Negatives etc.) Very amusing to read, and I get to learn Italian while reading! Love it! Christmas dinner was great, we had invited over Tia Maria who made this incredible “crostata con marmellata di albicocche” everyone knew it was my favorite and let me eat all of the leftovers (which was half). We went to 10pm mass and then took a walk in downtown Udine. We went ahead and did some window shopping. I was so happy to be able to do those things, it only reassures me that I want to live in the city in the future.
26-30 December in Sappada
Before heading out for Sappada, the day after Christmas, I stopped to get my first pizza! Made with love, as they put it.
Yes, it was very delicious. So, Luca’s family owns a house in Sappada which is a small town near Austria high in the Alps. The drive was only about 1hour30mins. So, I was by no means prepared for the snow in Sappada (as in shoe-wise). Thank goodness there were a pair of moon boots waiting for me; they saved me from frozen toes.
The house was very cute and cozy. What made everything even better is that Luca had a lot of family in the small town that also came for the holidays. We usually had coffee with them in the afternoon and met up during the day. I met two of Luca’s cousins, Eleonora & Davide, who were complete sweethearts. In Sappada, I went “skiing” for the first time. The reason the work skiing is in quotes is because I only went down the slope 1.3 times. Skiing was just not for me. So after two hours, I gave up. However, I didn’t have to pay for the rented skiing equipment because the shop keeper felt sorry for me, and since it’s a small town, everyone is nice to FAR away foreigners. So “skiing” in the Alps is something I can cross of my life of things to do before I die.
Besides the skiing, that same day I got to ride in a helicopter for the first time. Nevelandia, the snow game park in Sappada had helicopter rides around the city & mountains for 35euros, but because Luca’s cousin’s fiancée was the pilot, we got to ride for free!! The helicopter ride was one of the coolest experiences in Italy, I simply couldn’t believe that I was in a helicopter in Italy in Europe with some of the coolest people. I took a video during the ride and is uploaded at the end of this post.
Sappada had such a warm community atmosphere. It makes me want to live there when I retire. Sappada = Big Warm Hug.
31 December - 02 January in Savona
Anyone that knows Maria Fossarello, knows that she does things at the very last minute. Just like she planned her New Years Eve reunion. I believe that we got a hold of her on December 29th and headed to her place on the 30th at night. Yup, that is right. Luca and I bought our tickets the day of and made our way to Savona, Italy. Three trains later, we arrived at 9:30am. Maria, was of course late to pick us up, but only by about 15 min, so we forgave her. We then made ourselves comfortable in her brother’s room (Martino, who was out skiing for the week). Maria’s house….. is from a book. Spiral staircases, big windows that look out into the sea, ceilings that are actually works of art, marble, more spiral staircases, several entrances, and everything else. It was also another home.
Joining us for the New Year’s festivities were Margherita, Luca, Marco, Cris, and Maykol. We are all of the same age, and we all helped in the dinner preparation which by the way was one of the most best awesomestestest dinner I have had in Europe! It was that delicious and scrumptious. Cheese soufflé, lasagna, spinach rolls(?), and brownies!! Did I forget to mention that Margherita is studying Italian Gastronomy? Yeah pretty much, a dinner to die for.
It was great to be with two friends that I’ve had held close for three years. Although I might not talk to Luca & Maria every month, they still are a big part of my life and who I have become. I know they’re two real lifetime friends. I’ve got some Italian love in me.
So the day after New Year’s Day, Luca and I were off to Venice. It was a rainy day, but nonetheless Venice had something to offer. We met up with Ele & Davide who live very close to Venice. We had an adventure trying to find Plaza di San Marco. A beautiful plaza with il Duomo di San Marco, and beautiful Venetian buildings. I bought some masks & glassworks because they’re the two symbols of Venice. The masks are worn during the festival in February and Venice just has some of the best glass makers in the world, beautiful beautiful things. We left after about 5 or 6 hours because we were so tired from traveling, but I hope I will get to go back once it gets warmer. See you later Venice!
One last pizza, some souvenirs later, Anna’s amazing packing skills and 2 bike rides later, I was on my way back to Paris. It was such a sad departure, because I had no desire to leave Italy… the Fierro’s actually. I had made a home in Udine in the past two weeks. Luca as my brother/guardian always reminding me to drink my cough syrup, Anna always teaching me Italian and never giving up on me, Salvatore always trying his hardest to speak in French. Why would I leave Udine??? Well who said I wasn’t going back? Shhhh! Don’t tell them, it will be a surprise.
04 January moved into my new apartment!
I arrived in Paris at 8:30am and got to Joinville at around 9:30am. My host mom told me that they would probably drive me to my apartment that night. I was a bit surprised that I moving would have been so fast, but at the same time I was very excited about my apartment. So I immediately start packing. 3 suitcases, 10 shopping bags, 1 computer bag, and 1 duffle later, the car was packed and we were on our way to rue Maurice-Ripoche. I arrived at the apartment at 11pm. Let’s just say that the first impression my fellow apartment residents got of me was not at all a good one. I live on the second floor, with no elevator, so getting everything upstairs was a little noisy for a Monday night at 11pm. It was such a long day, that I didn’t have the energy to unpack for at least 4 days. It was not until my friend Silvia came that FRIDAY morning that I decided to unpack and get fully settled.
So I had been in a “long transition” state of mind for the month of September and October and I didn’t want to have that same “long transition” for all of January and February. Unfortunately, it kind of had to be that way. Silvia stayed with me for about a week and a half, and semi-forced me to get going and move on. I guess this “long transition” is just the getting used to and getting used to living alone, with no-one around all the time. It’s my first time living on-my-own. Completely. 100%. In Paris. In France. In Europe. In 2010. So it took a while for me to get in the rhythm of things. It didn’t help that I didn’t get my reimbursement check from Marquette until a couple days ago. So I was “sans argent” for the entire month of January. NOT a good thing considering it’s the Soldes in Paris! The Sales! Don’t worry I have caught up. I didn’t enough of the window shopping to go in for the kill!
Having a studio is going to help me a lot. Its going to teach me how to cook for myself every night, to be very clean, to do a lot of things I normally wouldn’t. I am excited to be able to spend time alone and “reflechir” on what I will be doing a year from today. I want to read a lot of books, watch a lot of theatre productions, films, and visit many museums. I want to be fulfilled with the philosophical spirit of Paris. Now that I am actually in the city, it’s a completely new chapter for this year in France. I have to pay the electric bill. I am going to start babysitting for a French family. I am never let down with this city (well except that everyone goes to sleep at 10pm). Well anyway, I am very excited for this semester, I know there are many more amazing things to come.
February Vacation = Reading and Planning
So I am on break until February 22, so what am I going to do? Well since it’s cold outside, I plan to do a lot of reading for my literature class next semester. I am very very very excited because we will be studying XIX and XX century French literature! I am continuing my classes so I will have: 1) XX century French History 2) XIX and XX century French Lit 3) Essay Writing 4) Intro into Linguistics II 5) Contemporary French Cinema. I can’t wait for my classes to start, I loved all my professors and I will have the same ones next semester. Also, I won’t have any classes on Friday so that is an A+++++.
Well now that I have semi-updated everyone I will try to do it again in the week because I have already gone to Chartres and seen more of Paris. Keep tuned.