"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible." -Vladimir Nobokov

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Florence, Week #6: My Life in Italy

Recently I realized that for all of the details I've given you about the interesting places I've been in Florence, I've told you little to nothing about what a typical day actually looks like. Firstly, here is my somewhat complicated weekly class schedule:

1:15-2:30pm: Italian
3:00-4:00pm: Art, Artists, and Patrons (In-Class Lecture)
5:00-7:00pm: Drawing

9:30am-12:00pm: Art, Artists, and Patrons (On-Site Visit)
1:15-2:30pm: Italian

1:15-2:40pm: Italian
5:00-7:00pm: Drawing

9:30am-12:00pm: Art, Artists, and Patrons (On-Site Visit)
1:15-2:30: Italian
5:00-7:00pm: Drawing

Free time, weekend excursions with friends (Copenhagen), or weekend trips with the program (Venice)

Here is what a typical Thursday looks like (just because that's when I have all three of my classes):

8:00am: Usually I'm able to drag myself out of bed by this time. I really wish I was better at getting out of bed. Once I'm up, I'm obnoxiously chipper!

9:00am: After a breakfast of coffee, bread, and delicious homemade jam, it's time to walk to my first class. Art history is always held at a different location. We've visited churches, convents, and museums, and they are all fascinating. We've mostly been focusing on the early renaissance so far, and while I've learned about some of the artists in previous art history classes, a lot of them are new to me. Being on site is a new experience for me, and it's amazing what a difference seeing the work of art in person can make. For instance, it's difficult to really understand WHY Ghiberti's test panel for the bronze doors of the baptistery won the contest over Brunilesci's panel until you see them side by side, in person.

The Ufizi

 12:00pm: Class lets out and we head back to Linguaviva, an Italian language school and the home base of our program. We have an hour and fifteen minutes for lunch. Most of the time I eat food from the supermarket that I store in the Linguaviva fridge, but occasionally I'll get a sandwich from the Mercato Centrale. Last week I tried Lamprodotto (stomach). It was good, if a little chewy for my taste. But I had a nice conversation (in mostly Italian!) with the lady who sold it to me!
1:15pm: Next it's time for my Italian class, with one of my favorite professors on the program. He is this ball of positive energy: always listening, doodling on the board, and talking about how much he loves Michelle Obama. We spend most of the class sharing our homework (usually a prompt like "what's your favorite song/poem/film/etc") and then the rest of it learning grammar. My Italian has improved so much! 

2:30pm: After Italian, I usually walk across the river to the British Institute Library, one of the only English libraries in Florence. I like it because it's a library and I love libraries, but also because it's close to the studio where I have drawing, it has great wifi, and every Thursday they serve high tea. I'm not kidding. Imagine a bunch of little old British ladies serving tea and dessert. It's the best.
5:00pm: My last class of the day is drawing. The class is taught by a rotating trio of British guys, and occasionally a girl, depending on the day. Mostly they are there to give pointers and suggestions while you draw. We are learning a technique called "sight size," in which you stand several feet back from your easel to make your observations and use a string to compare proportions between your drawing and the model. The first few days were a bit rough, and I found myself mentally exhausted after two hours of drawing, but it has gradually gotten more relaxing. Considering that this is the first drawing class I've taken since freshman year of high school, and my first time drawing a live model, I'm doing much better than I expected!  

7:00pm: After class I usually catch the bus home. It's always nice to sit and chat with friends or simply have some quiet time to look out the window. I love crossing the Arno river and seeing the lights reflected in the water.

8:30pm: Dinner! This is always the highlight of my evening. My host parents are excellent cooks. We always have a first course of pasta, a main course of meat and vegetables, and coffee for dessert. The tv is usually on in the background and we always watch a satirical news show called "Stricia Noticia." This usually sparks conversations with our host family about current events, or the two ridiculous female dancers they always feature at the beginning of the show, who never say anything and just smile at the cameras. One of my favorite things we've had for dinner was a pan fried cheese dish that I can't remember the name of unfortunately. I literally ate cheese for dinner, you guys. Italy is perfection.
9:30pm: Thursday's are my busiest days, but luckily the next day is the beginning of the weekend. My evenings are spent listening to audiobooks or podcasts, and catching up with friends from home. Occasionally I'll go for a late night gelato run with my friend Rachel, who lives right around the corner. The gelataria in our neighborhood is open until 1am!
11pm: After a long day, sleep is the only thing I need. Buona note!

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my daily routine. Note: not all days are this packed!

By the time you read this, I'll be on a class trip to Rome! Stay tuned for a recap!

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