Quando sei malata in Italia and San Costanzo Day

Trip Start Jan 06, 2011
Trip End Apr 30, 2011

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Flag of Italy  , Umbria,
Monday, January 31, 2011

For those of you who have been following me on Facebook or chatting with me through Gmail, you'll know that I've been feeling kind sick the whole time I've been in Italy.  I had the beginnings of a sinus infection when I arrived in Perugia, and the cold weather and living in a house with seven other girls where we were passing germs back and forth didn't really help things.  About a week and a half ago, I visited the pharmacy here and was able to get a mild antibiotic prescribed to me by the pharmacist.  One of the things that I really like about Italy is that pharmacists are trained to diagnose and treat minor ailments like a sinus infection, so you don't have to go all the way to the doctor if you're only feeling kind of bad.  The medicine helped a lot and I thought I was completely over my sinus infection after a few days. 

Unfortunately, I started feeling bad again on Friday night.  I got a really bad cough and a fever, which got worse on Saturday.  Even though I was feeling better today in comparison to Saturday, I still decided to go to the doctor this afternoon so I could get completely better.  The staff at Umbra made me an appointment at a clinic with a doctor who speaks English and also gave me directions there.  I walked to the clinic, and even though I made the mistake of trying to go up the staff elevator, I found the doctor's office without too much trouble.  I was surprised and excited that I only had to wait for a minute or two before the doctor invited me into the examining room.  When I go to the doctor at home, I often end up waiting around an hour and sometimes more to see a doctor.  The doctor examined me and asked me a few questions about my symptoms, and then she wrote me a prescription for three different medications.  The visit was 26 euros, or $35.64, without any insurance and for which I can request reimbursement from my study abroad insurance.  After that I walked to the pharmacy, where again, I was helped immediately.  The pharmacist spoke fairly good English, so with my Italian and her English, she was able to give me directions on how to take the medicine.  All three of my medicines, again without insurance, were only 20 euros, or $27.41, for which I'll file for reimbursement.  The whole process, walking included, took under one hour--not bad in my opinion.  I'm looking forward to feeling better soon!

On a happier note, Saturday was a huge holiday in Perugia--San Costanzo Day.  Perugia has three patron saints: Saint Constantius, Saint Herculanus, and Saint Lawrence.  Saint Constantius, or San Costanzo, is known as the first bishop of Perugia, according to local tradition.  To celebrate his feast day, every January 29th, many of the shops close down and Perugians gather in the streets for the festivities.  There were booths selling random knickknacks set up in Piazza Italia near the bus station and some along the main street in the Center, Corso Vannucci. 

The biggest tradition for San Costanzo Day is eating "torcolo," which is essentially a ring shaped fruitcake.  You can buy a small torcolo in any of the bakeries for around 7 euros, or a larger one for a little more, or you can attend the free torcolo tasting in Piazza IV Novembre, where they have tables set up with many different varieties.  My friends and I decided that we might as well try the free torcolo first, but unfortunately it seemed like every other person in Perugia had the same idea!  The tent area with the tables was crammed full of people as soon as the tasting began.  Everyone was pushing and shoving and trying to get a piece of torcolo.  We couldn't even get close to a table, but one older lady started passing pieces back to us and we got out of there quick.

Another big tradition involves showing the Virgin Mary's wedding ring, which happened on Friday evening, I believe.  I'm not sure where Joseph got the money to buy Mary a wedding ring or how the Perugians got a hold of it, but the Cathedral here supposedly has it.  They show it off once or twice a year on special occasions.  Also, it's traditional for single young women to go see San Costanzo's statue--if he winks at you, you get a husband that year.  My friends and I decided we would be okay without husbands this year though.

Perugia also has a huge market that runs all day during San Costanzo Day.  For my fellow South Carolinians, it was kind of like a cross between the flea market and a festival like the Peach Festival.  Merchants were selling all kinds of things, from clothing to shoes to books to kitchen gadgets to food.  We even saw one table with huge candles shaped like flowers and another with yummy waffles.  You could also buy candies, dried fruit, nuts, dried fish (that smelled really bad), prosciutto, other pig parts that you probably don't want to know about, and more torcolo, of course.  I bought a freshly-made crepe with Nutella. Unfortunately, it was really, really cold out on Saturday, and being sick, I couldn't stay out too long.  We headed back home and I spent most of the rest of the day lounging around and trying to feel better.

Other highlights from this past week include visiting the Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria, an art museum, in Pallazo dei Priori, the town hall, seeing a free jazz concert at the UniversitÓ per Stranieri, and...getting an Italian haircut!  I decided to be brave and go for sweepy bangs, even though I haven't had bangs since I was ten years old, and I also got some layers in the front.  I have to say, I think this is probably my favorite haircut that I've ever had.  And that also means that I've now had my hair cut on three different continents!

I'm really excited because this Friday my Contemporary Global Issues class will be visiting Assisi, about 25 or 30 minutes away.  Since my class focuses on Saint Francis's philosophy, it will be really interesting to see the places where he lived and walked and worshiped.  Of course, I've also heard that Assisi is absolutely gorgeous, so it'll be great to finally see it for myself.
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Diane Pritchard on

LOVE the hair! You look so European! ;)

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