Field Trips, Masks, and Football games

Trip Start Jan 14, 2008
Trip End Apr 28, 2008

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Monday, February 4, 2008

This last weekend was sure a busy one!  On Friday, we didn't have class because we had a field trip through school to go to Sienna and San Gimignano.  We had to meet at the train station to get on the coach buses, but since we had to be there so early, we stopped at the McD's there and had some American a to-go cup, which after a few weeks of having a few sips be considered a cup of coffee, it was a nice break!
First, we went to Sienna, which was a little over an hour away.  It used to be the stopping point between Rome and Florence, so there is a lot of history there.  They hold a horse race there two times a year, and it is very well known all over Europe.  Each region of Sienna is represented by a different horse, and you cheer for the horse from the region you were born in.  You can't change who you cheer for and it exciting because many families are in different regions.  The horse race is held in the main piazza and afterwards, who ever is the winner, the people march up to the church to celebrate and thank the god for their victory. We also saw the San Domenico church.  It wasn't as old as the Duomo, but inside there was the thumb and head of Saint Maria.  She walked to France to ask the Pope to return to Rome, and he listened to her.  After she died, the people of Sienna wanted her body, but so did Rome, so they compromised and Sienna received the thumb and head, and the rest of her body is in Rome.  It was kinda gross to see a little tiny finger on display, but it was interesting! 
We walked through the city streets, and everything is still maintained from the way it was so long ago.  They haven't done much to remodel because they are really trying to preserve the city how it is.  They obviously have electricity and plumbing, but it isn't what most are used to. We also went to the Duomo in Sienna and it was so beautiful!  It's made out of marble and very very big considering Sienna is such a small town.  There were statues from Michelangelo and Donatello inside, along with many other fresco style painting and mosaics on the floor.  
Afterwards, we went to the main piazza and had free time to just wonder around ourselves.  Amy and I actually ran into a girl from our high school there because she was studying abroad in Sienna.  Small world, huh?  It was pretty cold and a little rainy that day, so we had a coffee and then did some shopping!  We both bought some shoes.  I finally found a pair of boots that I liked and will now attempt to fit in over here with my footwear!
Everyone from school met up in the piazza and we traveled another 45 minutes or so to San Gimignano.  It's an even smaller Tuscan town there, but the views were incredible!!  I've never been able to see so far! We had free time there for the 2 hours we were there.  Some of us just walked up to the looking points and went through the few streets that they had.  There are many towers in San Gimignano, but we weren't able to go up any because we were there during siesta time and nothing was really open.   We did, however, find a gelato place that was open, and treated ourselves to some.  I think it was the best gelato I've had since being here!  Even though not many stores were open, it was just nice to relax and take in the views that were there!
We got back around 7 that night and Amy and I just spent some time shopping in the city center.  We both bought a pair of skinny jeans to go with our new shoes.  I can't believe I actuallly bought them because I really don't like that style, but with boots on, they looked good and now I'll fit in the style over here!  Then we went out to eat at a restaurant near our apartment that we had wanted to try.  We found our new favorite pizza place!! 
Saturday, we had to get up early again because we were taking a bus to Venice for Carnavale!  We found some group that was offering a really good deal to go to Venice and a lot of people from school signed up for the trip.  We left at 10 and got home at 3am, so even though it was only a day trip, we were able to be there for a long time.  Once we got there, we had to take a train for a few minutes to actually get to Venice because there aren't any roads, just water canals!   It was rainy and cold, but there were still a ton of people there, and the costumes that some people had on were amazing!  Courtney and I bought a little masks to wear, so we felt more festive!  It was cool to see Venice because I've never seen a city built on the water like that.  No cars, just boats!  The streets were so tiny and narrow because they are just used for people to walk on.  We find of felt like we were in a theme park that day because everyone was dressed up, there were Christmas lights all over, and since there were no real roads, it just gave off a different feel.  We followed the masses to the main piazza called San Marco.  There was a huge stage all decorated for live music and people were just all over, having a good time! It was so interesting to see the buildings there too, because even though it was foggy and cloudy, they were still so beautiful. I regret not knowing what the buildings are, or what they are used for since we didn't get to tour any of them, but maybe I'll end up going back when the weather is nicer and learning about them sometime!  
Sunday we caught up on some sleep and booked some trips.  I'm all set to go to Milan in a couple weeks, Seville and Barcelona for Spring Break, and Ireland over Easter.  It didn't feel good to spend so much money at one time, but I can't wait to go on the trips, because it will all be worth it then!! 
That night we had tickets to the Fiorentina football (soccer) game versus Milano! I've never been to such a big soccer game before and it was quite the experience!!
  We didn't get there too early, and so learned our lesson, because if you don't get there super early, you won't get to sit in your seat.  So we found some other friends of ours from school and stood with them down by the field.  It turned out to be better because we were very close and could see just fine!
  I've been to some pretty loud Packer and Badger games, but this game was something else!  They were constantly cheers and yelling and everyone was always in unison.  I wish I could have understood what they were saying, but Rosa knows Italian pretty well, and was able to tell us that there were some nice and not so nice chants going on!  There was a section for the Milan fans, and they would occasionally start burning something (I think a Florence flag) in the stands.
It was a really fun experience to go to a soccer game and just absorb what was going on.  The game itself was even fun to watch, but Florence lost at the end.  We live so close to the stadium that if we go to another game, we will know to walk over there earlier now!
All in all this weekend was a lot of fun and I was able to see many different aspects of Italian life!  I have my first quiz this week in Italian so I'll have to start to do some real studying!  Sometimes I forget that I'm actually going to school too!
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