mercoledì 10 giugno 2009

I think Tiff forgot to write about the marathon, but it looks like I’m catching everyone up on our lives once again…
Two weeks before finals, we (MB, Meg and I) went on a Tuscany Bike Tour while Tiff worked on her final paintings. The ride was exhausting at times—we rode 13km around the Tuscan Valley! But, it was one of the best uses of our money while in Florence. The views were breathtaking and the tour guides were a plus. They were two guys from Scotland and a girl from Colorado. They all were highlights of this tour ;) Here is a fun pic of MB and Meg before our ride.

That next week, we had to say goodbye to our friends from the Richmond program. Tiff introduced Kyle Bonney to our group, and he introduced us to his friends. Saying goodbye was sad, but it was sadder to see them say goodbye to each other. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a guy cry….. This was definitely an eye opener for us because we knew our time was ticking away.
Finals week was treacherous. Tiff had her three paintings due, portfolio of prints, 2 written exams and a shoe design class. I had 5 written finals and a 25+ page short story due (all before Wednesday). We made it through the week to Tiffs Birthday that Friday.

She woke up to omelets and chocolate croissants (upon her request) and then we picked up her Bible cover she ordered from our leather friend. We then spent the day getting final gifts that were to overflow our already jam-packed suitcases. For dinner we went to the first place we ate in Firenze and had our “gelato creation” for desert. After that we went for the first time to a discotecca with her friends from class… it was definitely an experience I don’t want to repeat lol.
The next day we left packed for our final night in Florence. We ate dinner at our favorite restaurant at the request of “Fat Joe” who was our usual waiter. We spent the rest of the night hanging out at the Santa Croce Piazza watching the Monks put on a show.
Sunday, we all got up early and said goodbye to our apartment. Tiff and I took a taxi to the train station while Meg, Carolyn, and MB walked. They were leaving their luggage in Florence, but we had to take everything with us to Rome in preparation for our flight home. When we got to our Regional Train there was a US Marine and his grandfather on vacation. They helped Tiff and I get everything on the train. If not for them, we probably wouldn’t have gotten everything on the train on time. The grandfather told us stories as we sat on our 4 hr train ride to Rome. Eventually, we all passed out (not from his stories, but from tiredness) and woke up to beautiful Roma!
Tiff hung around in termini with our big suitcases while we took our luggage that was going to go to Greece with us to the hostel. When I returned, Tiff was crying from a book that she “hates the main character.” I think the character might have grown on her a bit….
We took the rest of our luggage to Josh Wall’s apartment. He is one of Tiff’s friends from Edmond who is a missionary in Rome for the next two years. We spent the day with him and then met up with the rest of the group for dinner.
The next day, Tiff and I eagerly boarded a train to the Fuimicio Airport only to see that we arrived 4 hrs early for our flight. We sat somewhere between the car garage and the terminals for a little rest. Once our flight came on the TV’s, we went to our check-in booth. At the beginning of our line, there was a Spanish lady who was having some trouble with her kids. The mother used a rope to tie all three of her kids by their belt loops to her stroller. The oldest of the three was at the end holding a rolly suitcase. It was very entertaining to watch the three kids get tangled up and then the mother frantically try to control them. Tiff and I agreed that it’s going to be a while until we have kids….
We arrived in Athens with only three hours to make our ferry and the ferry port was 1.5 hrs away by bus. By the time the bus left the airport, Tiff and I grew nervous. Traffic became heavy as we noticed it had already been and hour and a half. After two hours on the bus, we passed a horrible accident which was the obvious cause to the back up. By the time we made it to the port, we had no idea where to go. We had 5 minutes to catch our ferry and once we figured out which one it was—we ran to try and get on. As we got closer, the car bridge was being pulled away and the ferry was already away from the port. We missed it by literally 30 seconds.
Even thought this was a disappointment, it was just the start of our adventure. We wondered around the dying port town hoping to find an internet café. Locals pointed us in different directions which led us back to the Port after about an hour. When we returned, there was a Taxi driver who saw the desperate looks on our faces. He asked us if we needed any help and we explained to him our situation—our overnight ferry left without us and we had to get to Santorini tomorrow which meant that we needed a place to stay and another ferry ticket. He said he could take us to Athens city center to find a hostel, but it would be cheaper to pay for a hotel near the port. It ended up being a lot cheaper, but maybe not our best decision… the Taxi driver then called his friend who came and told us all the info we needed to know. He brought us to the cheapest hotel near the port (which was right across the street) and pointed at the internet café that was in the other section of the port. He obviously did this because he thought we were going to tip him, but our little adventure emptied our pockets. We purchased a hotel room that was two twins in a small room with old Abercrombie photos on the walls. We were thrown off by the “artwork” but the bathroom might have topped off Tiffs anxiety. Our bathroom was a sink, toilet, showerhead and a hole in the floor. I have to say it is a great idea in the architecture of the bathroom, but it was still rather hard to shower and not get the toilet paper wet. We ate McDonalds by the port as we watched sunset before heading back to our hotel… there Tiff was afraid to sleep in her bed and scared of the noises in the hallway but we eventually got an almost good night’s rest.

In the morning we made our ferry, shuttle to our hotel, and then laid in the warm sand on Santoini’s Perissa Beach. The sand is very, very small, smooth black stones… I took a pic because I knew I wouldn’t be able to carry it back to the states.

The next day we laid on the beach all day. Tiff bronzed wonderfully while I got burnt… story of my life. Meg, MB and Carolyn met up with us in Perissa and we ate a traditional Greek Dinner of Gyros Chicken and Greek salads.
Because I was so badly burnt, I went early to the town Fira the next day while the rest of the girls continued to tan. I was able to explore and snap away at the beauties of the Island.

For sunset, they all met up with me and we went to Oia (where Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was filmed). Here are some pics of the city (and some of where the movie was shot).
Sunset was beautiful in Oia. We were able to sit at an outdoor bar that overlooked the Aegean Sea onto the setting sun.

The day after that, Tiff and I rented a 4-wheeler and we went to the other points on the Island. We were able to explore almost every attraction the Island had to offer.
This alone was probably the highlight of the semester. No, I take that back… going to Santorini a highlight of my Life!

After a wonderful day exploring, we watched the sunset from another point on the Island. Our meal wasn’t so good, but the view was definitely worth it. Meg said that her new motto was “go Greek when in Greece.”

Tiff and I had a half day left before our ferry back to Athens. She spent the morning on the beach and I walked around taking some more pics. Tiff grabbed a quick salad as we said goodbye to our roommates Meg and Mary Beth. Here Tiff and I surprised them with a Italia coin necklace. It was broken in four pieces creating our own sisterhood.

lunedì 20 aprile 2009

Have a seat, let's play catch up

I’m sorry it has taken us so long to put up a new post, but hopefully Tiff and I can catch you guys up on what’s been going on in our lives…. Spring Break was great, and you will have to scroll down to read what all we did because Tiff wrote about that week and I don’t want to take away from her post…
But in order to tell you what all is going on, I’m going to tell you guys about what everything before and after SB. My friend Mallory from PCA/Baylor came to visit us and we all went down to Roma to pick her up. I’m pretty sure Mal set a world record for the shortest amount of time passed between landing in Italy and getting kissed by an Italian. I’m being totally serious here. We picked up Mal earlier in the morning and at dinner—she had our waiter drooling over her. I wish I could give more details but Mal would kill me… Anyways here are some pics from after we picked her up and then after dinner.

Since Tiff and I had been to Roma before, we spent the next day relaxing in the local parks and visiting a few places we haven’t been yet. One of the places we went to was the San Clemente Basilica across the road from the Coliseum. I had been there before, but it was so cool that I made Tiff come see it again with me. This Church has two levels underneath it that date back to the first century… To give you a little insight on Rome—there was no room to build sideways so they built upwards… this led to the many ruins in Rome and recent excavations of even newer ruins. San Clemente is one of those places.
Quick History: On the ground level, there is a Basilica built to remember Pope Clement XI. You follow the dark stairways down to the “first basilica” which was built in the 3rd century. Below the first basilica level was a Pagan Monastery which has vaulted ceilings and cave-like structures.
In one of these rooms cave-like, there was about a waits high, flat, cement bulge from the wall that had a hole in it. It stretched from one corner to the other and you could hear water flowing. The first time I came here, I had a tour and the guy told us it was tradition to reach down the hole and touch the fresh water from the rock before it hits the river below. I know I’m describing this badly, but just bear with me. Well, I tried to show Tiff how to do it by leaning into the hole and reaching to touch the flow, and my sunglasses fell off into the river bed. I stand up, told Tiff what happened and then decided to go get them. My first try was rough—remember, this hole was waist high already and to even tough the water, you had to bend into the hole… trying to stretch to touch the river bed was going to require my feet to be off the ground. After one failed attempt, another tour group comes in and we (me with soaking hair on one side because of the river flow and Tiff laughing uncontrollably from the sight of my lower body flailing around) sit in the corner of the room until the group leaves. Then we get a plan… I was going to hold Tiff’s legs while she reached as far down as she could. She was basically doing a hand stand, except that Tiff’s arms are about half as long as mine so she only got as far down as I did the first try… She then tells me that I have to go down again. I get kind-of a running start and Tiff holds my legs stable in the air---I wish we got a pick of this, but with people coming in and out of the room, we had to be quick to avoid trouble. But anyways, I dove in, legs straight up in the air, Tiff holding onto them and finally I grabbed a pair of sunglasses. But guess what—they weren’t mine. I had felt an umbrella while I was felling around in the water so I knew I wasn’t the only stupid tourist in Roma… Tiff decided to try again and she ended up grabbing the umbrella because it was all she could grab. Another group came in and when they left I dove in again. Finally I grabbed another pair of sunglasses and they were mine!! I think this whole adventure in the 1st century monastery room took about 15 minutes total, but with our adrenaline pumping it felt like an ETERNITY! Here is a pick of Tiff’s new pair of sunglasses and my rescued pair :)

Here are some pics from our afternoon at the famous Gianicolo Park (this is where a friend of mine proposed). Tiff made a crown of florwers for me and said that she's never before seen me in such a "perfect atmosphere" haha.

During the week of Mal’s visit, we took her to Piazza Michelangelo to participate in a Florentine tradition of eating cheese and crackers on the hill while watching the sunset. This is one of the many things my roommates and I participate in to help us orientate ourselves with Italian culture.
Here's Mal, Tiff, Meg and Mary Beth and the beautiful sunset!

Anytime during our week, or weekend—really whenever we get a chance, we will go sit by the Arno River and relax, read, and study in the sun. It is probably my favorite way to spend our free-time. Below you can see Tiff reading and Mal taking a nap.

The next weekend, my culture class went to Montalcino, Montepulcino, and Pienza. These three cities are located in the Tuscany Valley and are famous for their vineyards, historic guard towers and castles. Here are a few pictures from that trip. Isn’t Italy such a beautiful place?

During this trip, we were able to tour Basilica in Pienza, learn about wine at a vineyard situated in the Valley, eat at a world renowned restaurant in Montalcino, and tour a guard castle in Montepulcino.
I also was able to catch up with my friend Janie (from Ole Miss) who is also studying abroad in Firenze… here is a picture of us in Pienza overlooking the Valley.

Two weekends ago, I was able to go visit my friend from K-2 named Stacy. She is studying in Perugia, Italy, through the same program that I will hopefully be doing next semester. It was such a peaceful and blessed trip because I was able to fall in love with the small city of Perugia and meet a few people who will be there in the fall. Perugia is the capital of the Umbra region, tucked away in the heart of Italy. It is across the valley from Assisi, and unique for the chocolate it produces. One interesting fact about the chocolate factories is that they stop producing chocolate after Easter because of the heat. They produce all of the chocolate before Easter that they think will last purchases until late fall. So—if you want good chocolate, get it ASAP!
Here is a pic of Stacy and then a glimpse of Perugia.

These past three weeks have been a little hectic—we’ve had LOTS of visitors and of course… school work. Our first visitor (Cole, Meg’s BF) came about four weeks ago, traveled with us on our Spring Break trip, and then stayed with us in Firenze for the rest of his time off from work. He left earlier this past week—but before he left, we had two guys from Baylor stay with us while they toured Firenze. Their names are Trevis and Rus and their program in the Netherlands just ended and they are touring southern Europe before heading back home. Also that weekend, my friend Stacy, Adam and Jim from Perugia had a train layover in Firenze before their trip to the Isle of Elba.. That night was probably the most packed our apartment has ever been, but it was a blast to have a large sleepover. I think there was someone sleeping in and on anything that was available. Since then, we’ve only had one visitor who slept on our couch for two nights. Her name was Jill from the University of Tulsa who was studying in Barcelona… Other than visitors staying with us, Meg’s, Mary Beths’s, and Tiff’s parents have all come to visit us. Playing tour guide for all of these people has really kept us busy—but still, it’s always nice to see a familiar face.
With all of our friends now gone, we have been given a chance to catch up on things that have been up aside for another day (like blogging) but also homework and projects.. Easter weekend was the first weekend we have been actually been able to take a breath and get situated since Spring Break.
The night before Easter, Tiff wanted to work on her project of perspectives where she had to paint three pictures at different times, but of the same thing. She decided to do the river, so Mary Beth, Tiff and I got our stuff together and went out to the river after sunset. Tiff was painting fast with many dark colors and it was almost starting to look like Van Gogh’s Starry night… we played some worship music and Tiff started to get a little audience. One guy about our age says something in Italian and then calls her Monet. He hops over the wall and joins us on the cement block below. Mary Beth and I are caught in our own world of worship when he does this and hands Tiff a coke—they quickly become friends and continues to call her Monet. This guy, whoever he was, just became Tiff’s little admirer as she painted and he would shoo any other men who wanted to come and watch… Don’t you love protectors! Anyways, Tiff painting turned out beautifully and she gained a new nickname.
For Easter, Tiff and Mary Beth went to the Florentine tradition of “Lo Scoppio del carro,” but returned sad because they couldn’t see any of the ceremony due to the turnout. We later went to an Easter dinner hosted by a few Apicius students, but it still wasn’t the same as home.
This past weekend, Meg, Tiff and our friend Kyle Bonney ran in a half marathon.. I’m sure she’s going to want to tell you guys about it, so I’m going to save that for her…
I love you guys and I hope that we haven’t let everyone down because it’s taken us so long to put up a new post
Much love,
P.S. Here are just some fun shots that we’ve captured.

domenica 12 aprile 2009

Spring Break

For spring break Lizard, Mary Beth, Meg, Cole and I went to London, Liverpool, Dublin, and Paris. It was a trip of a lifetime. Our trip began as my roommates and I tried fit everything we needed for the ten days into a bag small enough to carry on to our flights. One of the coolest things about Europe is if you play your cards right you can find really cheap flights. The only thing is that sometimes to check your luggage it might cost more than the flight itself, so the process of packing our bags was very critical, as my roommates and I try to do almost anything to save a Euro or two. The bags had to be a certain weight and dimension. All of our bags were borderline on whether they were going to be approved with the strict carry on policies. Each of us let out a huge sigh of relief when we boarded our first plane with our carry on.

Our first plane left from Pisa, so we had to catch a train to from Florence to the Pisa airport. From there we boarded a plane to London. It was strange getting off the plane in London because London is very different than Italy. I feel like London is more like the United States. I was good to understand the signs and billboards and it is funny how at home I felt seeing Burger Kings and McDonalds and Starbucks. I was never in charge of directions, so it always amazes me that we find places through the mess of subways and metros but we found our hostel without much difficulty. At the hostel we met up Colleen, a cool girl from Baylor who is living in England for the semester. AKA the infamous Colleen from the Bologna trip.

Lizard and I really like hostels. It is such a bizarre experience. We walked in and there are all these random people in the lobby speaking different languages, drinking, and playing pool. Then we checked in and they gave us clean sheets, a code to our room and asked us if would like to put a down-payment on a towel. We got three towels to share between the six of us and headed upstairs to make our bunks. We were in a ten person room, in which none of our roommates were there when we arrived but it is fun to guess if they are a boy or girl depending on the luggage they leave by their bed.

By this time it was getting late and we were so hungry, so we exchanged our Euros for Pounds and we set out on our search for the nearest McDonalds. It was a lot colder in London than it had been in Italy and walking around in the bitter cold after a long day of traveling was just wonderful. We got stopped on the street on our way by these two black guys who had been drinking. They were really funny because they were actors for this American History play from the 1920’s up to the time of Obama. They talked to us about our political views and asked for help with their pronunciations with certain phrases. It was funny to hear these guys with beautiful English accents try to speak like they from the American ghetto. They were so funny and kept the conversation going without much feedback from us. I felt like I was watching a show because they were so outgoing and expressive. Not soon enough we ended the random encounter because we needed to find food and everything was closing down because it was nearing midnight. All I can say is that I have never loved McDonalds until I arrived in Europe. Eating a hamburger with the big yellow M on the wrapper is in some way comforting. The McDonalds we found was in the train station and the station did not have any walls and we were shivering while eating our fries. Random side story: This forty year old man wanted to get Lizard attention so he through a French fry, which they call chips, at her head. Just a tip for all the boys wanting to date Lizard reading our blog, throwing food at her head is not the way to do it.

When we got back to our hostel all our roommates were already sleeping so the six of us tried to get ready for bed in the dark as quietly as possible. Lizard and I were took the night shower shift. The showers…you know how sometimes in public facilities you turn on the sinks by pressing in the button and it is always a little frustrating because there never have enough time to wash off all the soup before the water turns off. Well that is the way the showers were. I think I had to press the button thee times to wash my shampoo out. But it is the little things like this that make hostels an adventure.

So the next morning I woke up to random people getting dressed in the room. I pretended I was asleep until they left because it is such strange time to meet someone. O yes, one more thing I really liked about the hostel was breakfast. You could eat breakfast at the hostel for free. There were dishes and cereal left on the cabinet. I think we all felt a little weary about eating there. I felt like I was in a hippy house. I had to pick off a little piece of leftover food that had crusted to my bowl before I poured my cereal. Then after eating you wash your own dishes with a moldy sponge and leave it for the next person. So much fun.

Lizard and I met a friend in our hostel that was from the United States who was also studying somewhere in Italy. His name was Andrew. The three of us did not want to go on the city tour so we broke off from the rest of the group and did our own sight seeing. We saw the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, ran through fields of daffodils, and took pictures at Big Ben, Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. We also saw London Bridge, the Tower Bridge, Shakespeare’s theater, and the London eye. I felt so sick this day. My eyes were watering uncontrollably, I was sneezing every two seconds, and had constant snot hanging from my nose. So I let Andrew and Lizard hang out for a bit while I drew pictures in my sketchbook, which was really fun.

The next day in London we went to the Tate Modern Art museum, which was out of this world cool. Then that evening me, Lizard, Mary Beth and Colleen went to Hillsong United’s church. It was so refreshing to go to church where people were passionate about God and where we could understand the message. Side note: A very good looking boy was sitting next to me and at the ending prayer I got to hold his hand. That night we went and ate dinner at the Texas Embassy which had Mexican food and Barbeque. It was wonderful to have a little bit of home.

Then we hopped on a train and were off to Liverpool, the home of the Beatles. I am going to be completely honest and say that I did not like the Beatles before I went to Liverpool. Meg set up a Beatles Magical Mystery Tour for us all to go on. The rainbow colored bus full of Beatles fans went to different sights around Liverpool that the Beatles played music at and wrote their songs about. We went to Penny Lane and saw the Strawberry fields. There was one point I really embarrassed myself. We stopped in front of a house and the guide said it was the house of Paul McCartney, I leaned over to Lizard and asked, “Who is Paul McCartney” and the guy behind me overheard and freaked out. Opps. We stayed at this really nice hotel because there are no hostels in Liverpool. We found this website where you can get hotels for really cheap if you book them two days before you arrive. The beds were like Heaven. Best part of Liverpool! Meg, Cole and I went to this bar called the Cavern. This was a bar the Beatles would play at. There was some guy in their singing Beatles songs. It was such a happy place with people singing along to all the songs and there was some really drunk woman dancing around the room by herself. I think it was this bar that converted me into a Beatles fan.

Off to Dublin, home of Guinness beer! I love Ireland and plan on moving there for a couple of years. Walking down the streets I could not help but think about the movie Once. I keep looking for guitar players on the streets in hope of finding myself writing music with a stranger in a piano store. No such luck. Marybeth and I think that Ireland has very good looking men and it is unfortunate that I did not meet one. During one of our days in Ireland, we went to a fishing city called Howth, where we had some amazing food for lunch and then hiked these trails along the shoreline. It was beautiful. The landscapes reminded me of PS I Love You and Tristan and Isold.

That evening we went to an Irish Pub that had live Irish music. This Pub literally changed my life. We walked into the pub and there was this circle of musicians with small drums, violins, and guitars. They were not playing to perform music but they were playing because they loved to create it. It was a free for all sort of thing, if you had a song you could start playing it and everyone else would add on. A random woman at the bar asked if she could sing a song, and she stood up and with eyes closed began to sing acapella an old Irish tune. A hush went through the crowd so the girl’s sweet voice could be heard. The men in the circle kept beat by tapping the feet on the wooden floor, and the woman, not caring about the people in the room, sang like she was for that brief moment doing exactly what she was created to do--share her simple beauty and voice with the world.

Then we were off to our final destination—Paris. We arrived in Paris late at night and we had to catch a bus that took us from the airport into town. When we got off the bus we had a couple minutes of confusion because we had no idea where we were and did not know how to find the metro, but once again somehow we made it to where we were suppose to go without any major problems. When we arrived at our hotel we were past check in time and we did not know what to do. Lizard broke into the hotel somehow and found a phone number to call. She can be so sneaky sometimes.

Day 1 in Paris I think Lizard and I walked 5 million miles trying to save money and not use the metro a lot. We ate the best baguette of our lives, saw the Eiffel Tower, the church of Norte Dame, and went to the Orsay Museum. Lizard and I both loved the Orsay. It was an impressionist museum with a lot of Monet, Van Gough, and Degas. We meet up with Mary Beth, Meg and Cole and had a good dinner that night. French food is so good.

Day 2 in Paris, I wanted to go to the Louve so I had my first real experience with navigation the metro by myself. I did well. The Louve was overwhelming because it was so big, but I saw the Mona Lisa. I have mixed feeling about the Mona Lisa. Then Lizard and I met up. At our hostel in London Lizard and I gave our phone number to this French guy name Stefane and he called us and wanted to meet up. He showed us some of his favorite spots in Paris. He took us to get French pastries and then took us to this place that overlooked the city of Paris. Then we met up with some of his friends and got hot chocolate. They wanted us to go to some discotechas with them but we said no because we had to catch an early morning flight.

Our trip ends with a slumber party at the airport, a bus ride from Pisa and then we arrived back in Florence barely able to walk home from the train station. I know this was the longest blog of all times but it still does not capture all that Lizard and I saw and did. It was the trip of a lifetime. I constantly wonder how I became so blessed to be able to see the world like this.

giovedì 5 marzo 2009

I hate school!

Just Kidding… I just said that bc Tiff titled her's "I love school" and I'd have to agree with that statement. I love my classes, not the work, but I love what I’m doing.
I really didn’t want to write a whole Blog about my classes, but I think I’m going to have to… I’m taking 15 hours this semester, but I’m only enrolled in four classes on Mon, Tues, and Wed: Italian Language & Culture, Writing about Florence, Women in Religion, and Fashion in Film. The last three classes became options after my anthropology classes were canceled. Funny enough, those three classes have been the source of all my time-consuming homework. For example, I wrote a 12-pg research paper this past weekend on Fashion which I never thought was going to be possible. Oddly enough I really enjoyed the research until it became crunch time.
My writing class has probably been the most frustrating because I’ve had a new story due every week. I think it’s going to be the most emotionally drowning class for me….
My Women in Religion class took us on a one-day, intensive field trip to Rome. We saw only three places that I’ve already seen, everything else was new (which was a relief) but now I can say that I have fully toured everything you can see in Roma. My teacher for this class is also my teacher for the culture part of my ILC class and she’s my favorite!
My Italian Language and Culture class has been the most interesting for me. I always feel like the 2.5 hr class flies by. As part of the class work in our culture class, we spend more time outside of the classroom then inside—then we write a newspaper article about our experience for the school newspaper. Last week I wrote an article on the history of The Kaffeehaus at the Boboli Gardens-- here is an excerpt:

"To end the month of February, my roommates and I visited the Boboli Gardens. We entered the gate by Via Romana and walked through the beautiful paths and openings throughout the left side of the garden. It wasn’t until we reached the opposite side before my interest was caught. We happened upon a small half-circled house facing a spectacular view of Florence. We all thought it was a guest house until I researched and discovered we were wrong.
In the late 1700s, it became fashionable to take coffee in a place other than one’s residence. This small half-circled hall is named the Kaffehaus, for that exact reason. It was built in 1776 by the order of Peter Leopold. The house is covered by a pale green dome, with three levels below. The bottom floor is surrounded by a platform with double-staircases that lead to the cave below. Extended from the cave is a series of grassy levels called Prato dell’ Ucello. Historically, the Kaffehaus provided Leopold and the members of his court with a scenic cafe, but now, it gives tourists with a marvelous view of Florence."

Mom, you'd absolutely love the Boboli Gardens.... here is one of my favorite pictures from there.

My number one dissatisfaction about my classes is that I am only in my Italian Language class 2.5 hrs a week. I really wish I was in it every day.
But, thank you Mom and Dad for sending me over here to learn from this place. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience so far. I just hope I board that plane home in may :)
Love and miss you guys!