Monday, March 18, 2013

Benedictine Monks

Let me tell you about the Benedictine monks...oh wait I can't because I don't know anything about them. That was a recurring theme this weekend during our field trip to Siena and Pienza. We went with the BU program from Venice, which is an art program and not a language program, which is all fine and dandy except when I want to stab my eyes out during a guided tour discussing the composition and colors of some painting from the 14th century by some person that "I'm sure most of you have heard of before." But other than that, great trip. Siena is a really cool city. It's divided into 17 neighborhoods, each represented by an animal. You are born into a certain neighborhood depending on your family and there is a complex set of interactions between the neighborhoods including rivalries because twice each summer there is a famous horse race called the Palio. Each neighborhood gets a horse and there is a big race in the main piazza and the winning neighborhood has endless celebrations and such. Very cool. My kind of town. Oh and the jockeys ride bareback, but only the horse needs to cross the finish line, not the jockey. It was quite chilly while we were in Siena but we were still able to climb the facade of the "new" Duomo that was never finished so that was fun. Plus, dinner was paid for so my stomach was happy. We stayed the night in a cute little hotel and started the morning off by driving to the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore. More art blah blah...the frescoes were impressive, but I'm still not buying that the guy's whose life is depicted on the walls performed a miracle and made whole a broken wheat sifter. I can say my friend Amanda now knows me well because she came up to me and said "I know that in this whole church your favorite thing is the picture of that cat." And indeed she was right. Our last stop was Pienza, this tiny tiny little town in the gorgeous Tuscan hills. Thankfully we had some free time so I was able to slip away with some friends and escape into nature for a little bit. I can't even describe how beautiful the Tuscan hills are. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the views were breathtaking. I took some time to explore on my own. I made friends with a cat and saw a house that had a caged parrot living outside. After lunch, we took a tour of the Pope's palace and then got back on the bus for a five hour bus ride home. But I finished Harry Potter e La Pietra Filosofale so life was good. Once back in Padova, I went with my friends Malka and Lauren to our friend Nick's Italian friends' apartment, which was highly entertaining as they are Sicilian and crazy. As always, I was quite content to finally make it to my bed, as I had a mountain of work for Sunday and now I must face the pouring rain on this gross Monday morning to get to the BU office to do more work before class. Woo!

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