Archive for March 16th, 2004

A whirlwind of words…

Monday I sit in class and feel my confidence waning as I listen to the teacher speaking 100 km / minute. It’s quite intensive and I first wonder if I’m in the right class. I am able to relax once I get talking with the other students. We are all of the same ability and according to my Swedish roommate who once studied with this teacher, we simply got stuck with a fast talker. Which is actually a good thing because the news is this fast.After school I meet my Scottish/Yugoslavian roommate Una and her new friend/classmate Alejandra, from Miami. We have lunch together and the waiter is a bit of a flirt. I have Pici (a Sienese pasta) with sort of a mushroom sauce, and a salad & more wine… The girls have a tough time with Italian since they are beginners and I don’t want to speak English but luckily they love listening to Italian and are eager to learn so I am able to speak Italian with them… Una speaks several different languages and Alejandra speaks Spanish so it all works out.

We meander afterwards to a gelateria and I don’t hesitate to order a small cone with chocolate and hazelnut flavors… My first perfect gelato in a year and a half…. ah, heaven…

This brings us to the Piazza del Campo again… We lay under the sun (SUN!) in the giant shell-shaped piazza staring up at the Torre del Mangia in all it’s gothic wonder. An hour goes by and we haven’t budged. We realize that ‘siesta’ is probably over and the shops must be open as it’s now 4 in the afternoon. We look into the shops on Banchi di Sopra and I buy myself some nice spring shoes… ah, the soft leather here is irresistible….

It’s impossible to get anywhere in this town without stopping to take pictures. The architecture here is amazing…Nothing like what we have in Seattle…

Una and I stop in a oddly shaped supermarket where we purchase fruits, cheeses, and many other things for our kitchen….We head home by 7pm and all we have for dinner is sliced pears with asiago cheese and delicious prosciutto… followed by cookies which the good looking Swiss roommate has decided to share with us. We four roommates are quite a group. It’s nice that we aren’t afraid of each other. We all sit in the kitchen for a couple hours babbling in Italian, English, a bit of French, and more Italian and some English…before we all head to our respective bedrooms to study.

I sleep terribly. My body is in Seattle time. I wake up VERY early Tuesday morning and think ‘Oh well.’ I throw open the shutters of my window to the cool morning. The sun has risen from behind the Duomo and my stare is fixed on my fortunate view for a few minutes.

Una and I stop at another bar for caffe’ before school. The barista is young, adorable and has funny hair. We order our usual caffe’ macchiato and croissant. We make tired morning chit-chat in Italian, finish our drinks and pay up.

I settle into my classroom and find that today it’s much easier to listen to the teacher, and I am less shy about speaking up in class. My brain literally buzzes the entire time but I keep up pretty well. After class I take lunch with two ladies from San Francisco and a Swedish woman as well. We are joined with a French woman in our class, who is my favorite person so far (nobody could possibly have a more kind demeanor than this woman), but she can’t eat with us, as she has to make some phone calls.

We head back to school where we are to meet several more students plus a teacher for a guided walking tour of Siena. The guide/teacher, Silvia, is very sweet as well as fashionable, and conducts the tour entirely in Italian. I’m really enjoying myself and wishing that I had experienced such an immersion when I had lived in Switzerland. I half-listen to her as I snap photos here and there in the various piazze and palazzi anoutsidede the Duomo, of tourist sites as well as abstract angles of things. Ths sun is bright this afternoon and I’m warm and comfortable without a jacket.

She leaves us at the Duomo and the group disperses. It’s just me, Bastian (good-looking Swiss roomate who I find out is 33), Una and Alejandra. We snap photos of each other on the steps and Bastian leaves the girl-talk after a while… The girls and I head to a small shop so Alejandra can have a panino since she hasn’t eaten all day. She doesn’t know what to order so I tell her to have the man make it with pecorino cheese (sheep cheese) and wild boar salami. She shrugs her shoulders and repeats everything I have just said. She loves her sandwich, thank goodness.
We spend an hour trying to find the cheapest internet cafe in Siena (where I am sitting now!): Tonight my roomates and I have a plan to cook a big dinner together and have it with a nice bottle of wine.

My hunger pulls me away from the internet cafe and to my apartment…

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