Thursday, August 30, 2007

An end to Summer.

Oh, where does time go? It seems like only a few weeks ago I was wandering this city, looking endlessly for our apartment, our school, a good gelateria-pizzeria-whatever-else-eria. And now, tomorrow is the last day of lessons. I just finished the third and final part of our final exam, and now I'm arranging our hostel situation for our return trip home. I had meant to post a blog for Verona, and for Otranto, and for all the other really amazing things we've done since I last posted, but each time I get around to posting, there is either a difficulty with internet or an insurmountable amount of picture editing. And the longer I wait, the more the content piles up, and it just snowballs.

Quindi, once I get back to the states (we fly in from Dublin Tuesday afternoon) I'll be posting a lot of retroactive posts from our last few weeks in Lecce. I can't just let all of this content go to waste, and hopefully at least a fraction of you still care to read/see it. So, that's that.

Our train leaves Lecce early Sunday morning, and we're spending Sunday night in Rome. Our flight out of Rome leaves Monday at 18:00, and we'll arrive in Dublin sometime around 22:00. Then, after a day of traveling, we decided to cut costs by just sleeping in the airport (check back to see how that goes), considering our flight leaves Dublin early Tuesday morning.

I have a feeling i'm not going to want to do anything at all once I get back. But, alas, the grind is about to start again. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't ready for it.

So, the next time you hear from me, I'll be on my side of the Atlantic.

Till then.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Giusseppe's internet cafe has reopened, so now I have access to my pictures from our vacation happenings.

I still have a lot of content from Florence and Verona, as well as a recent trip to the seaside town of Otranto, so today I'll just post the best shots from Florence.

Our hostel in Florence was, without a doubt, the best hostel of all of our travels this summer. Only a two minute walk from the main train station, Luna Rossa hostel had only private rooms, with satellite television and internet connections in each room; neither of which are necessities, but nicities nonetheless. Oh, and the view from the third story window wasn't too shabby, either.

Our first night was spent wandering around the city, with few to no plans made beforehand.

We stumbled upon the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio almost accidentally, and I liken the shock I felt to the first time we saw the Colosseum or the Pantheon. Just knowing how long it took and to what lengths Brunelleschi had to go to complete the dome makes the novice architect shake his head in disbelief. Absolutely amazing.

We had made plans before we left Rome to meet up with our friend Dan on the Ponte Vecchio, sometime in the evening.

We eventually found him, and we decided to take the trek up the hundreds of steps to the Michelangelo Gardens on the opposite side of the Arno River. One of my advisors at school had told me before I left this summer to see the Michelangelo Gardens, if for nothing more than the view.

The best advice of the trip, by far.

Dan, Frankie and I spent the remainder of the daylight hours up there at a cafe with an amazing view, and not to mention one of the best beers this side of the Atlantic, Chimay.

We couldn't rationalize leaving the cafe until we saw a sunset, so we stayed, and we saw an amazing tramonto.

The next day we spent at the Uffizi Gallery, and I'm sad to say I have no pictures from the four hours we spent there. I was going to bring my camera, but Dan reminded me, yet again, that no picture can do those works justice. He was right.

The next day after the Uffizi we left for Verona, and that's where the next post will pick up.

Alla prossima.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Siamo tornati.

Well, we're finally back in Lecce after an amazing break. I'm writing this in the school computer lab, because I'm back to life sans internet (oh, the horror), and our favorite internet cafe is closed for the summer. So, we have to find a new one, and then there will be an extended trip report, with Florence and Verona pictures.

I promise.


Friday, August 03, 2007

New beginnings.

I don't often like to delve into my personal life on here (go figure, an online diary, and no personal stuff?), but this without a doubt warrants mention.

I asked Frankie to marry me today, and she said yes. Thankfully. The setting was quite storyworthy, but that's for another time. Long story short. Big castle on a big hill set atop the mountains overlooking Verona. We decided to buy some panini and a good bottle of wine and picnic at Castello San Pietro. Notes are written all over the ledges on which we were sitting, most of which are love notes. She wrote one to me, and I wrote one to her. But, mine wasn't just any old love note.

Yeah, I'm suave.

Cheers to us!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Roma, l'ultimo giorno.

Monday morning we woke up to a quaint, traveler budget-esque breakfast of fresh fruit and toast, with some succa d'arancia (orange juice) we found left over in the fridge. I checked around in the kitchen's cabinet for a Moka pot to make some coffee, but had little success. We decided to grab a cup on the way into the city, at one of the dozen or so bars along our street.

After coffee we randomly ran into one of our good friends Dan walking across Piazza Reppublica. He had rented a bicycle and was on his way to the Borghese. We were all pretty ecstatic to see each other, as we both had some decently interesting travel stories to share, he especially. We decided then to spend the day together because we all really cared about seeing one thing in particular: the Vatican.

Because of lack of time (we're in Verona now! O, dio mio it's gorgeous) and a bit of a lack of sleep, I'm just going to upload the pictures sans explanation, unless absolutely warranted. It works well this way, though, because I couldn't begin to explain in words what we saw in the Basilica and Piazza San Pietro. We spent two hours completely speechless. Unfortunately, none of these pictures can adequately convey the sights either,'s better than just my aimless rambling.

Seeing Michelangelo's Pieta was without a doubt the highlight of my day, after spending about a week studying it in a class last year. Again, I forgot where the statue was located, so seeing it behind glass, under the light from the Dome of St. Peter's Basilica, was absolutely amazing. Again. A picture can't suffice. It's not possible.

After the Vatican Dan, Frankie and I all went on a goose chase around Rome, looking for three of four Caravaggio paintings that Dan was on a mission to see. We found a priest in the Piazza of the Vatican who pointed us to one church in Particular, San Luigi dei Francesi, in which three Caravaggios are prominently displayed by the altar. It had been a while since I studied Caravaggio, but the paintings were fresh in Dan's mind. Se we searched, and we found them. And they, again, were breathtaking.

This painting, of all, The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew, was the gem of the series. They all were flawless, but this one in particular drew our gaze for what seemed like an hour. And, as my friend Dan pointed out, this series of paintings in San Luigi rival any painting in any museum, because Caravaggio painted them all specifically for this church, almost 500 years ago, and there they remain to this day.


Afterward, we headed back to the Pantheon with Dan, because we were early enough to get inside.

And, because after a year of reading Shelley's Rome blog, I've had yet another sighting of her posting material. This one, however, is quite the find. I present to you, Mr. Arrotino.

Here's the full story, if you'd like some more information. I suggest you do, too. Her pictures are much better than mine, but I was walking down a street market in front of our hostel when I saw him walk by. I had to be quick, you know.

Anyhow, both days in Florence and both in Verona are on their way.

Ciao, ragazzi.