Archive for March 18th, 2004

Settling into the new routine…

Wednesday I wake up and look out my window to see the sun shining brightly from just behind the Duomo. I am content to wake up like this every morning. As I’m dressing and preparing to leave the apartment, I can hear my other roommates moving around, making breakfast… They eat healthy things for breakfast like cereal with fruit, while I head to the ‘bar’ where I take a caffe’¨ macchiato and a criossant or other pastry. Normally I eat all the healthy wholesome things in the morning but whenever I come to Italy my eating habits change completely. There’s something to be said about standing around a bar with other Italians, munching on a pastry and quickly sipping your shot of caffe’. It looks kind of silly but it’s a culture that I like.It’s market day in Siena, and after another intensive class, I and 3 fellow students (two Californians and one Parisian) head straight there. We are all amazed at how large it is. There are at least three rows of stands, going on for what seems like miles. We agree to meet at a certain times, and then let loose through the clothes, shoes, purses, pottery, etc. I find a couple of nice tops and a pink pashmina and I’m set. In a away it’s exhilirating to agressively go through everything and make sure nobody else takes it. I’m energized but hungry as I meet my friends near the stadium.

We dine at the same restaurant as a couple days ago, and the flirty waiter decides to ask me on a date in front of everybody. I giggle and say I’ll come back later, but will I really? Probably not… After a very oily lunch, we find ourselves having coffee on a terrace with an incredibly view of Siena… We are content to stay here for a while but end up going our seperate ways.

I stop at home to drop off my things from the market, and as I’m on my way out I find Bastian (good looking Swiss roomate who is 33, is a landscape architect, and can cook) sketching while looking out his window at the view of Siena. It turns out that he is also a very talented artist, and he shows me some of the sketches and water colors he has done in the past 3 days here in Italy. I try to keep from swooning, and run out the door.

In the afternoon I talk to an American, Cristina, on the phone who lives in Siena. I know her from slowtrav.com. She tells me to walk around the center and look up at the buildings for fake windows. Apparently back in the day when they were constructed, one had to pay tax for the amount of windows they put in, so there were a lot of ‘pretend’ windows simply painted on to the buildings, just for aesthetics. I wander towards the Duomo, ice cream in hand, looking up as I go along. Sure enough I find them, usually toward the tops of the buildings. I photograph a few for amusement, then head to the Museo dell’opera to climb up for a panoramic view of Siena.

I find myself on top of an old wall-like structure, which I believe was originally supposed to become another church but construction was halted for whatever reason. From where I am, I can see rolling green hills, cypresses, various random walled towns in the distance. I’m snapping away with my camera when my roommate Una comes along. I take one more picture and realize that I have taken 3 rolls of film in a matter of 3 days. This is just silly. I put my camera away – for now.

We become dizzy from descending the spiral stairs to get to the bottom, but find our land legs once again and walk into a small fruttivendolo (where you buy fruit). I find two large, ripe Sicilian blood oranges and as I am holding them and smelling them, I can clearly imagine the red juice dripping down my hands and bursting with citrus flavor inside my mouth. Together they cost me 80 cents.

I meet up with my friend Silvio. He is very sweet and of course fashionable, from top to toe…he is all in red and black and the hair is spiked in a pretend sort of mohawk (faux-hawks I think they are called). He brings me to an old classic enoteca (wine bar) and we order a glass of chianti classico each. When the server brings us our wine, I don’t even have to pick up the glass to smell the earthiness…I close my eyes and inhale through my nose. The only word that can come to mind is ‘earth’. It nearly tastes of earth too. Beautiful.

We chat for hours about our families, Italian culture, American culture, politics, relationships. At a quarter to nine we go our seperate ways. On the way home, I run into my roommates, who are on their way to the Dublin Post, an Irish pub. It is St. Patricks day, after all!. I run home, change my clothes, and go as fast as I can to meet them at the bar. People are all over Piazza Gramschi, just outside the bar, chatting, drinking and listening to live Irish music. It feels funny to speak Italian to people while drinking Harp Lager, but it works.

Bastian suggests to Una and myself that the three of us head to the Piazza del Campo before heading home. We arrive, hoping to see the Torre del Mangia lit up, but it’s kind of a disappointment. Still, beautiful. I mention that I’ve been advised to see the Duomo at night. We head to the Duomo, chatting away, and we are silenced by what we find. The cathedral is lit up (with normal floodlights I suppose), and it’s gothic structure is dramatic against the black sky. It’s incredibly different to see it without tourists…so quiet and peaceful. We are all beside ourselves. On the way home we are very quiet, in our own worlds, reacting in our own ways. I realize how proud I am to be half-Italian, and how happy I am to be so in love with such a beautiful country. I go to bed with a content smile on my face.

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